William S. Allen

Published March 21, 2013

William S. Allen, a retired professor in the Department of History, died on March 14 in his Buffalo home after a long illness. He was 80.

A native of Evanston, Ill., Allen earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Michigan, a master’s in history from the University of Connecticut and a doctorate in history from the University of Minnesota.

He was inspired to specialize in modern German history after spending a year abroad in Berlin, where he saw the aftermath of World War II.

An expert in the rise of Nazism in Germany, Allen taught at several universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Missouri and Wayne State University, before joining the UB history faculty in 1970, He taught at UB for more than 30 years, retiring in 2001.

During his career at UB, he served as chair of the history department and as president of the Buffalo Center Chapter of United University Professions. He won a number of teaching awards, including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award.

His first book, “The Nazi Seizure of Power,” was translated into 10 languages and used as a textbook in German history courses.

Allen was politically active throughout his life, working for nuclear disarmament and civil rights, and against the Vietnam War and neo-Nazi intolerance. He served as George McGovern’s campaign manager in Erie County during the 1972 presidential election.

Allen was a board member of the Holocaust Research Center of Buffalo and often lectured about the Holocaust in area high schools. He liked sailing the Great Lakes and enjoyed Irish culture and history, especially the works of James Joyce.

Allen is survived by his wife of 32 years, Karen, a former UB faculty member.

Services are private.