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German Scholars and Ethnic Cleansing, 1919-1945

German Scholars and Ethnic Cleansing, 1919-1945

Ingo Haar
Michael Fahlbusch
Foreword by Georg G. Iggers
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 322
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  • Book Info
    German Scholars and Ethnic Cleansing, 1919-1945
    Book Description:

    Recently, there has been a major shift in the focus of historical research on World War II towards the study of the involvements of scholars and academic institutions in the crimes of the Third Reich. The roots of this involvement go back to the 1920s. At that time right-wing scholars participated in the movement to revise the Versailles Treaty and to create a new German national identity. The contribution of geopolitics to this development is notorious. But there were also the disciplines of history, geography, ethnography, art history, archeology, sociology, and demography that devised a new nationalist ideology and propaganda. Its scholars established an extensive network of personal and institutional contacts. This volume deals with these scholars and their agendas. They provided the Nazi regime with ideas of territorial expansion, colonial exploitation and racist exclusion culminating in the Holocaust. Apart from developing ideas and concepts, scholars also actively worked in the SS and Wehrmacht when Hitler began to implement its criminal policies in World War II.

    This collection of original essays, written by the foremost European scholars in this field, describes key figures and key programs supporting the expansion and exploitation of the Third Reich. In particular, they analyze the historical, geographic, ethnographical and ethno-political ideas behind the ethnic cleansing and looting of cultural treasures.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-705-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xviii)
    Georg G. Iggers

    It is striking how little has been done in West Germany to examine the role of the historians in the Nazi period and their participation in the genocide, much less so and much later than in some other academic disciplines. The leading historians in the post-1945 period emphasized that the bulk of German historians continued to be honest scholars and remained aloof from the regime. Werner Conze, one of the most important historians and mentors of the post-1945 generation of West German historians, still commented in 1983 that “a serious confrontation [Auseinandersetzung] with Nazi historiography was not necessary because the...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xix-xix)
    Ingo Haar and Michael Fahlbusch
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xx-xxii)
  6. Chapter 1 German Ostforschung and Anti-Semitism
    (pp. 1-27)
    Ingo Haar

    The subject ofOstforschung, German academic research on Eastern Europe in the Weimar Republic and Third Reich, would seem to have been exhausted in the historiography. Yet a closer glance brings to light a certain conceptual insecurity. On the one hand, historians have described the discipline as a “success story” that developed and applied innovative methodologies.¹ On the other hand,Ostforschunghas come to stand for a politically compromised research agenda that disqualified itself through active participation in the National Socialist program to “germanize” East-Central Europe.² In order to better understand the roleOstforschungplayed in National Socialist policies, historians...

  7. Chapter 2 The Role and Impact of German Ethnopolitical Experts in the SS Reich Security Main Office
    (pp. 28-50)
    Michael Fahlbusch

    The Conference of German Historians (Deutscher Historikertag) at Frankfurt in 1998 was devoted to a controversial topic unparalleled in German historiography. It was a subject that had attracted much public attention even before the conference had started. The question under discussion was whether German historians had not only supported the NS regime ideologically, but also contributed to the Holocaust policy via their scientific research.¹ The papers delivered demonstrated that the major interest of some of the historians had indeed been not the teaching and study of history, but rather the pursuit of so-calledVolksgeschichteandVolkstumsforschung(i.e., ethnopolitical research into...

  8. Chapter 3 The Nazi Ethnographic Research of Georg Leibbrandt and Karl Stumpp in Ukraine, and Its North American Legacy
    (pp. 51-85)
    Eric J. Schmaltz and Samuel D. Sinner

    In recent years a new generation of scholars has increasingly turned its attention to the problem of academicians, “technocrats,” and middle managers who put their knowledge and skills at the disposal of the Nazi regime. Certainly not members of any “lunatic fringe,” this educated elite collaborated with the Nazis voluntarily and enthusiastically. In the field ofOstforschung(research on Eastern Europe) a number of scholars helped advance grandiose policies of racial imperialism in the occupied territories. This sophisticated segment of German society served the Nazi machinery of death, then went on to pursue successful post–World War II professional careers....

  9. Chapter 4 Volk, Bevölkerung, Rasse, and Raum: Erich Keyser’s Ambiguous Concept of a German History of Population, ca. 1918–1955
    (pp. 86-99)
    Alexander Pinwinkler

    Recent debates on the role of German historians and of German historiography in the period encompassing the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the early Federal Republic assign a relatively minor function to the person and work of Erich Keyser (1893–1968). Hermann Aubin, Werner Conze, and Theodor Schieder are much more conspicuous topics of current discussion than is the historian Keyser, a member of the faculty at Danzig, then at Marburg after 1945. Much greater influence on the development of postwar German historiography is attributed to these other historians than to Keyser. In overviews of the history of the...

  10. Chapter 5 Ethnic Politics and Scholarly Legitimation: The German Institut für Heimatforschung in Slovakia, 1941–1944
    (pp. 100-109)
    Christof Morrissey

    In the independent state of Slovakia (1939–1945), the National Socialistoriented German Party (Deutsche Partei, hereafter DP) exercised political leadership over the country’s small but influential ethnic German minority. ¹ The DP’s primary goals included strengthening the Germans’ special position, both in relation to the country’s other ethnic groups and within the structure of the Slovakian state. Out of the various German-speaking settlements within the territory of Slovakia, the DP strove to forge a culturally homogenized “Carpathian German” ethnic group (Volksgruppe), politically unified along National Socialist guidelines and subordinated to the Reich’s foreign policy.² Cultural politics, including scholarship, played a...

  11. Chapter 6 The Sword of Science: German Scholars and National Socialist Annexation Policy in Slovenia and Northern Italy
    (pp. 110-138)
    Michael Wedekind

    In the backwash of the Balkan war of April 1941 and, subsequently, after the German occupation of Italy, in September 1943, the Third Reich realized a lesser known expansionist strategy that focused on the annexation of provinces south of its 1938 (former Austrian) border. In both cases, the underlying political design had been launched and successfully advocated by leading circles of Austrian National Socialists. Even though no definite conceptions of the future status of the occupied territories had previously been worked out, the expansionist model was integrated into the general dispositions concerning German domination of Yugoslavia and, two years later,...

  12. Chapter 7 Romanian-German Collaboration in Ethnopolitics: The Case of Sabin Manuilǎ
    (pp. 139-154)
    Viorel Achim

    During World War II, several important Romanian intellectuals were involved in a big project of the government headed by Marshal Ion Antonescu aiming at the restoration of the Romanian borders from before 1940 and the transformation of Romania into an ethnically homogeneous country. The contemplated means were population exchanges with neighboring countries and population transfers.¹ Professors, researchers, and experts in statistics, demography, ethnography, economics, geography, history, and others areas contributed, through their research and work in specific fields, to the substantiation of various aspects of the project.

    The aspects relating to population—primarily the Romanian population of the country and...

  13. Chapter 8 Palatines All Over the World: Fritz Braun, a German Emigration Researcher in National Socialist Population Policy
    (pp. 155-174)
    Wolfgang Freund

    Do you know your family tree? Are you interested in your family’s history? Does your family have German origins, especially Palatine origins? If so, you might be in contact with the German genealogists and migration researchers who know best the local and regional history of those who left Germany in the last two centuries to start their lives over in North America. Many of those who left the Palatinate in southwestern Germany for the New World went to Pennsylvania, where genealogical interest is quite strong today. That state’s genealogists often ask their Palatine colleagues for help in tracing family histories...

  14. Chapter 9 German Westforschung, 1918 to the Present: The Case of Franz Petri, 1903–1993
    (pp. 175-199)
    Hans Derks

    It has been just a few years since the concept of GermanWestforschungwas revived in ongoing debates about the role of scholars before, during, and after World War II.¹ An entire library has become available relating to the study of GermanOstforschungand thisOstforschungitself.² Today one can perceive competing schools in this research, which is partly based on different geographical orientations. In several respects thisOstforschungresearch is comparable to the recent Polish work onWestforschungby scholars like Jan M. Piskorski of Poznań.³ It comes as no surprise that recently someone proposed to organize a colloquium...

  15. Chapter 10 Otto Scheel: National Liberal, Nordic Prophet
    (pp. 200-212)
    Eric Kurlander

    Born in 1876 to a modest, middle-class family of Danish-evangelical extraction, Otto Scheel would go on to become one of Germany’s greatest Protestant theologians and a leading National Liberal politician. But raised in the border region of Tondern, Schleswig-Holstein, Scheel also developed an extraordinary devotion to ancestral hearth and home (Heimat). This love for his native “blood and soil” would lead Scheel, despite his liberal pedigree, to become an ardent supporter of Nordic racial superiority and Pan-Germanvölkischnationalism. Later forced to endure the national embarrassment of the Versailles Treaty and the vicissitudes of Weimar republicanism, Scheel’s career culminated, not...

  16. Chapter 11 The “Third Front”: German Cultural Policy in Occupied Europe, 1940–1945
    (pp. 213-235)
    Frank-Rutger Hausmann

    It has taken almost half a century for researchers of different backgrounds to engage in intensive research on the role of art and culture in the Third Reich. The primary historiography of this era narrowly focused on personal history, lavishing attention on even the most insignificant events. Until recently, this has been called into question only by historical studies with a social bent, focusing on mentality. Besides a considerable body of Holocaust research, there also exist now important studies on party and organizational history, and on the role played by law, medicine, art, theology, natural sciences, technology, and the representatives...

  17. Chapter 12 “Richtung Halten”: Hans Rothfels and Neoconservative Historiography on Both Sides of the Atlantic
    (pp. 236-259)
    Karl Heinz Roth

    During the course of 1946, the surviving members of the former Königsberg historians’ group, who had fled that year to West Germany, approached their mentor Hans Rothfels, who was then living and teaching in the United States. They wrote remorseful and even guilt-ridden letters. Would their professor, who had lost his chair in the summer of 1934 and the European continent just before the outbreak of war, be interested in renewing the contacts between them? Would he be angry with them and ask embarrassing questions about their conduct during the prewar years when he was being marginalized? Or would he...

  18. Chapter 13 Polish myśl zachodnia and German Ostforschung: An Attempt at a Comparison
    (pp. 260-271)
    Jan M. Piskorski

    It is a generally known fact that in nineteenth-century Europe, national ideas gained currency on an unprecedented scale. Even though medievalists and modern historians justly emphasize that researchers of contemporary history sometimes simplify the issue of the formation of nations and also the matter of possible earlier conflicts influenced by national issues, there is nevertheless no doubt that these were different and less wide-ranging processes.¹

    Growing nationalism was, as is often stressed, a general European phenomenon, related to shifts that originated in the French Revolution, Herder’s national-linguistic idea, and Romantic thought. The radicalization of nationalism at the end of the...

  19. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 272-283)
  20. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 284-287)
  21. Subject Index
    (pp. 288-294)
  22. Names Index
    (pp. 295-298)