Turkey's Modernization

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This book chronicles the story of a group of individuals caught at a crossroads and targeted in the cross fires of history. In 1933 events in their native Germanic lands presented them with a "Hobson's choice"-leave if you can or die! Their lives were saved because Turkey was discarding the society and culture inherited from the Ottomans' derelict and shattered empire while recognizing and addressing the need to modernize its society, culture, way of living, and system of higher...
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This book chronicles the story of a group of individuals caught at a crossroads and targeted in the cross fires of history. In 1933 events in their native Germanic lands presented them with a "Hobson's choice"-leave if you can or die! Their lives were saved because Turkey was discarding the society and culture inherited from the Ottomans' derelict and shattered empire while recognizing and addressing the need to modernize its society, culture, way of living, and system of higher education.

Using a collection of third-party archival documents, cotemporaneous family and collegial correspondence, memoirs, oral histories, photos, and other surviving evidence Arnold Reisman documents the fears, the courage, the heartaches, and the determination of these brilliant people as well as their contributions to shifting established paradigms in several fields of knowledge. He also speculates about Turkey's inabilities to fully capitalize on these emigres' legacy. The book is intended for lay readers interested in history of the 20th Century, history of science, history of Turkey, the Holocaust, and in a case study of post-Islamic national development.

"This book adds to our knowledge of an important aspect of the Holocaust, and of the behavior of Nation States in the modern world of woe and grief."
- Sir Martin Gilbert, Winston Churchill's official biographer and a leading historian of the modern world. He is the author of The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War.

"This book should be on the 'must-read' list of books about World War II and the years preceding it."
- Dr. Israel Hanukoglu, Former Science Adviser to the Prime Minister of Israel. Currently Professor and Chairman of the Department of Molecular Biology, College of Judea and Samaria, Ariel, Israel.

"This book involves five major topics: science, history, politics, economics, and the arts. It is the earliest comprehensive essay in the English language, on the German émigrés who, while taking refuge in Turkey after 1933, contributed to the modernization of its higher education, and to the implementation of research activities and social reforms."
- Prof. Dr. Feza Günergun, Chair for History of Science, Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University, Beyazit-Istanbul, Turkey.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780977790883
  • Publisher: New Academia Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Pages: 604
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.34 (d)

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Turkey's Modernization

Refugees from Nazism and Ataturk's Vision
By Arnold Reisman

New Academia Publishing

Copyright © 2006 Arnold Reisman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-9777908-8-3


Illustrations Foreword Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Atatürk's "Üniversite Reformu" 2. The Émigrés 3. The Builders 4. The Preservers 5. The Creators 6. The Social Reformers 7. The Healers 8. The Scientists 9. Problems They Encountered 10. Turbulence Due to WWII 11. Attempts to Emigrate to the US 12. Correspondence 13. Memoirs and Then Some 14. Momentum Lost, Opportunities Foregone-Turkey's Policies and Practices Concluding Remarks Epilogue APPENDIX 1 Contemporary Mission Statements of the Original Three Turkish Universities APPENDIX 2 List of the Émigré Professors and Their Disciplines APPENDIX 3 Quantitative Cross-country Comparisons Notes References Index


As a sophomore at UCLA, I remember juniors and seniors excitedly discussing "the German professor's" philosophy lectures. I couldn't wait till I could take his course as an elective outside of my engineering major. Sadly for me, he died just before the semester I was to take his class. Little did I know then that over half a century later, I would be learning about Hans Reichenbach's life, talking via long distance to his 96-year-old widow, Maria, and his daughter, Elizabeth. As a first-year graduate student I was unaware that Richard von Mises, William Prager, and Arthur von Hippel, authors of seminal texts I was reading, would appear in the course of my research for a book manuscript on their forced exile years.

While moving away from mathematical dynamics of fluid flow and the highly experimental materials science and beginning to read or my dissertation in the fast-emerging field of Operations Research, I quickly learned about America's pioneers in the science of management-the time studies of Frederick W. Taylor and the motions studies by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth (Cheaper by the Dozen, 1948). I was also impressed to learn that the modern American (as well as urban Turkish) home kitchen was designed to conserve limb motion and body movement. It was not until doing research for this book that I learned who had first converted these efficiency ideas into kitchen-design blueprints. In the 1920s Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, an Austrian architect, integrated this concept into large multi-dwelling complexes that had been built in Austria and Germany for working-class families. I also learned that there was an anti-Nazi underground in Austria and that Schütte-Lihotzky, (and a fellow Austrian architect) left Turkey to join this movement. I did not understand that each time my doctoral advisor would invite me to have lunch at the UCLA Faculty Club, I would be sitting in the same room as the great Turkologist, Andreas Tietze, the superb sinologist/sociologist, Wolfram Eberhard, and the renowned theatrical producer and opera director, Carl Ebert.

Long after my student days, I listened to Paul Hindemith's music being performed by the Cleveland Orchestra. By the time the children of my children had reached young adulthood, I had spent many a Saturday morning at the Atatürk Arts Complex in the Taksim Square of Istanbul where the music was always god, as was the company of my Turkish friends, and the ticket price always low thanks to municipal subsidies. I have only recently learned that the original concert hall was designed by Clemens Holzmeister in collaboration with the very same Carl Ebert whose theatrical and operatic productions I had so enjoyed in Los Angeles back in the 1950s (Fig. 1).

In the late 1950s, I did not reflect on the possibility that the optical, solar, and radio telescopes I was helping design would be used over the coming decades by astronomers who, like me, had been lucky to escape from the Nazis. Nor could I have known in the early 1940s that, in Istanbul, only one night's voyage away across the Black Sea from Feodossiya, there were young displaced persons like me. But, unlike me, they were living fairly normal, happy lives surrounded by family, and each was receiving a good education. They were under the protection of the "barbarian" Turks while I was in Feodossiya and elsewhere often just trying to be on the "right side" of the battle between armies of the "proletariat" Russians and those of the "civilized" Germans. It was the Germans that I feared most.

I was keenly listening to the news coming in from Europe when the Soviet Union cut off ground traffic in an attempt to starve the Allies out of Berlin during the first stand-off of the Cold War (1948), but I did not make the connection that Berlin's mayor at that time was Ernst Reuter, whose life had been saved by a Turkish invitation to help set up their universities and city planning organizations.

As an amateur sculptor, I enjoyed seeing a Rudolf Belling sculpture every time I went to give guest lectures at the Maçka campus of Istanbul Technical University. The older I become, the more X-rayed, CTed, and MRIed I get. So when that happens, I think of physicist, Friedrich Dessauer, an early X-ray researcher, and Carl Weissglass, his engineer. I also think of radiologist Max Sgalitzer, a victim of excessive exposure over a lifetime of pioneering this wonderful diagnostic medium, and his Istanbul wing-mates, Walter Reininger, the engineer and inventor of an early dosimeter, and Margarethe Reininger, an early radiological nurse, one of a husband-and-wife team.

As I researched material for this book, I came to the conclusion that Erica Bruck's research publications and laboratory manuals/standards have influenced the heath care I received in California, Wisconsin, and Ohio. The same is true for my children and grandchildren who are scattered around the globe. Also, with age, many more of my friends have to fight off cancer, a dreadful disease indeed. Each time the word comes up, I think that if a cure is ever found, zoologist Curt Kosswig will have played a role in that outcome.

Ignorant as I am of immunology, I cannot help but wonder whether the work in this field by immunologist Felix Haurowitz influenced the use of Bacillus Calmett-Guerin vaccine (BCG), an anti-tubercular agent, widely used to prevent reoccurrence of bladder cancer. As I followed the controversy surrounding the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's exhibit entitled "The Crossroads: The End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb and the Cold War" and the uproar in 1995 regarding the refurbishment of the warrior plane Enola Gay, all to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, I had no idea the museum's director at the time was Dr. Martin Harwit, the son of Felix Haurowitz. And to my great, although pleasant, surprise, while in the final stages of getting the manuscript ready for the publisher, one of its guest copy editors, Jean Hull Herman who spent sixteen years as editor-in-chief of MÖBIUS The Poetry Magazine was shocked to learn that Erich Auerbach, one of her literary idols, wrote his classic account of the genesis of the novel, Mimesis, while in Turkey.


Excerpted from Turkey's Modernization by Arnold Reisman Copyright © 2006 by Arnold Reisman . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2006

    A little known episode, with much to teach

    This book provides a perspective to the personal stories of individuals who escaped Nazi persecution, and helped Turkey create a modern infrastructure of universities and health care institutions.

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