Vogel, Robert

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Vogel, Robert

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Robert Vogel was born in Vienna, Austria on November 4th 1929. His family escaped and took refuge from nazism and war in England. There he went to King Henry VIII's Grammar School in Abergavenny and to Cardiff High School in Cardiff. In 1949 he decided not to accept an already awareded scholarship to Oxford University in order to accompany his family to Canada. The family settled in Montreal, where his father owned a leather product store and he himself worked in an import-export house and drove a taxi while studying.

Robert Vogel died suddenly on April 3rd, 1994. He was then working with Terry Copp on a new work on the Canadian air war. He was survived by a wife and a son.


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In 1952, Robert Vogel graduated from Sir George Williams University in Montreal. That same year he won the Governor-General's Silver Medal for History. He became a lecturer at Sir George Williams University in 1955 and stayed there until 1958. He came to McGill in 1952 to do his Master's degree with Prof. H.N. Fieldhouse and later to do a Doctorate. In 1958 he joined McGill's Faculty of Arts and Science as a lecturer. At McGill University, Vogel became Assistant Professor in 1961, Associate Professor in 1964, and Full Professor in 1969.

Professor Robert Vogel taught European, British and German History with a special emphasis on 20th Century Diplomacy and War. During four decades of teaching, first at Sir George Williams University and later at McGill University, he developed a beneficial and trustworthy relation with his students. Students respected him and considered him to be an interesting, inspired and colorful teacher. In the 1970s, Professor Vogel won the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Robert Vogel wrote several books regarding 20th Century Diplomacy and War. His area of interest focused on Canadian involvement in the Second World War. Together with Terry Copp, he wrote a five-volume history of Canada's military role in the Second World War - "Maple Leaf Route" - and received the C.P. Stacey Award in 1990. His "A Breviate of British Diplomatic Blue Books, 1919-1939" was his Ph.D. thesis, which was published later and represents an enormous contribution to British Diplomatic History.

Robert Vogel's main contribution to McGill University was his involvement in various administrative positions. From 1962 to 1966, he was Secretary of the History Department and from 1964 to 1966 Secretary of the Faculty of Arts and Science. In 1966, he became a Chairman of the History Department and held that position until 1971. As Vice-Dean of the Social Science Division, he served from 1969 to 1971. In 1971, he became Dean of the newly created Faculty of Arts and held that post until 1981.

As a holder of these different administrative positions, Robert Vogel was involved in many of McGill University's activities and affairs. One of them was the Pauline Vaillancourt affair concerning the non-renewal of her appointment. The affair had raised a debate on academic freedom both in the McGill University community as well as in the wider academic community. He was also very interested in the question of the structure and government of McGill University and the place of McGill University in Quebec and in Canada.

Robert Vogel participated in many other University activities. He became a member of Senate in 1968 and a member of Board of Governors in 1978. He also took part in the Tripartite Commission on the nature of University government. His participation in different committees, councils, associations and foundations was eminent and outstanding. He was an active and long-standing member of M.A.U.T. (McGill Association of University Teachers), C.A.U.T. (Canadian Association of University Teachers), where he was also a member of the Committee of Disclosure of Information, University Press Committee, and the Faculty Club Council.

Robert Vogel was very prominent, provocative and noteworthy man. He was respected by his colleagues, as well as by his students. His involvement in so many different activities made him famous in certain circles in other parts of Canada in addition to the United States and in some Western European countries, especially Austria and England.

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