The Unfree Professions: German Lawyers, Teachers, and Engineers, 1900-1950

Synopsis

How could educated professionals have supported the Nazi movement and collaborated with Hitler's inhuman policies? Jarausch examines this fascinating and largely unexplored subject, tracing the social, ideological, and political development of three representative German professions--law, teaching, and engineering--from the late Empire to the early Federal Republic. Based on a reformulated professionalization theory and on authoritative statistics, he describes professional prosperity and prestige in the Second Reich and analyzes the social crisis brought on by hyperinflation, stabilization, and Depression during the chaotic Weimar years. Threatened with the loss of livelihood and frightened by cultural disorientation, many experts embraced neo-conservative ideas and cooperated in Hitler's seizure of power. Welcoming the apparent restoration of their authority in the early Third Reich, professionals collaborated in the racial purges and warping of ethics, practices, and organizations under Nazi rule. During the Second World War, the radicalization of SS terror threatened the very survival of the professions so that most practitioners were only too happy to be rescued by Allied victory. Exploring the reluctant democratization of the post-war professions, Jarausch concludes with a reflection on the lessons of the German experience for the relationship between professionalism and liberty.