Scientists for the Regime

By Behrens, Rolf | Jewish Political Studies Review, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

Scientists for the Regime


Behrens, Rolf, Jewish Political Studies Review


Scientists for the Regime Deutsche Orientalistik zur Zeit des Nationalsozialismus 1933-1945 [German Oriental Studies during the Time of National Socialism 19331945], by Ekkehard Ellinger, Deux Mondes, 2006, 595 pp. [German]

Reviewed by Rolf Behrens

To readers familiar with the nature of political discourse currently prevalent in Germany, many of the positions cited in Ekkehard Ellinger 's study will sound strangely familiar: the United States' efforts in the Middle East are primarily motivated by oil interests (396), whereas Germany's activities are of a purely idealistic nature (405), Zionism is the root cause of the conflict in Palestine and across the Middle East as a whole (369), whereas the Palestinians are the victims of imperialist powers that deny them even the basic necessities of food and clothing (416).

These were some of the more moderate analyses presented by German professors of Oriental studies during the time of National Socialism. That these opinions are widespread among German thinkers and lay people today may at least in part be attributed to the fact that most of these scientists kept their jobs after the war and went on to educate countless German students. No wonder that there has not been a serious attempt at Vergangenheitsbewältigung or "coming to terms with the past" in this field.

Ekkehard Ellinger set out to fill that gap with his doctoral thesis and he does a remarkable job at exposing the personal, structural, institutional and ideological interaction between the school of Oriental studies and the National Socialism regime. In his extremely wellresearched and original study he shows how German Orientalists lined up to become enthusiastic service providers for the Nazis' ideology and war efforts. In the first part of his comprehensive work, Ellinger describes the network of people, organizations and institutions in German Oriental studies.

In the second, even more revealing part of the book, he analyzes and deconstructs the actual publications of German scholars, frequently juxtaposing their statements with facts, thus exposing often cynical distortions made by German scientists. The author also gives a fascinating glimpse into scholars' careers after the war. The book is accompanied by a very helpful 80-page lexicon presenting short biographies of the scholars dealt with in the book.

According to Ellinger, German professors of Oriental studies showed remarkable alacrity to cooperate with the new ruling powers from the beginning. Only two Orientalists dared to question decisions by the National Socialism regime, but their opposition was overrun as early as May 1933. Most scientists manifested an "inconceivable readiness to denounce" their Jewish colleagues, thus helping to remove them from universities in accordance with the anti-Jewish Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums (Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service). Seven Jewish professors of Oriental studies lost their positions due to this law.

As Ellinger shows in his analysis, German researchers were not at odds with the new ideology: they had strong contempt for democratic ideas even before National Socialism's rise to power, and racism and anti-Semitic views were rampant among German academics at the time. Orientalists - including the academic elite - were thus anxious to participate in the new system and serve the Nazi regime. The regime in turn recognized the huge potential of these scholars for their ideological and military efforts. Oriental studies were officially defined as a kriegswichtig (strategically important) field of science. Accordingly, the state not only financed and expanded institutes for Oriental studies, but also enlisted scholars in military and intelligence organizations: a large number of German Orientalists subsequently served in the Wehrmacht and in the German secret services.

Re-Making the History of the Middle East

The German Orientalists' task was twofold. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Scientists for the Regime
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.