Early in his political career, Adolf Hitler declared the importance of what he called “an antisemitism of reason.” Determined not to rely solely on traditional, cruder forms of prejudice against Jews, he hoped that his exclusionary and violent policies would be legitimized by scientific scholarship. The result was a disturbing, and long-overlooked, aspect of National Socialism: Nazi Jewish Studies.
Studying the Jew investigates the careers of a few dozen German scholars who forged an interdisciplinary field, drawing upon studies in anthropology, biology, religion, history, and the social sciences to create a comprehensive portrait of the Jewone with devastating consequences. Working within the universities and research institutions of the Third Reich, these men fabricated an elaborate empirical basis for Nazi antisemitic policies. They supported the Nazi campaign against Jews by defining them as racially alien, morally corrupt, and inherently criminal.
In a chilling story of academics who perverted their talents and distorted their research in support of persecution and genocide, Studying the Jew explores the intersection of ideology and scholarship, the state and the university, the intellectual and his motivations, to provide a new appreciation of the use and abuse of learning and the horrors perpetrated in the name of reason.
Alan E. Steinweis is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont.
Table of Contents
1. An "Antisemitism of Reason"
2. Racializing the Jew
3. The Blood and Sins of Their Fathers
4. Dissimilation through Scholarship
5. Pathologizing the Jew
What People are Saying About This
Christopher R. Browning
Although the complicity of various professions with the Nazi regime has been well demonstrated, Alan Steinweis shifts the focus beyond the free professions, hard sciences, and technocrats to scholars in the humanities and "soft" social sciences. He is concerned with how scholars in these disciplines both legitimized the regime's insistence that there was a "Jewish problem" to be solved and lent their expertise on Jewish matters to help the regime shape its destructive policies. Steinweis makes clear that this "tainted" scholarship was not done by a tiny minority of "quacks" and infiltrating radicals but was produced by respectable and mainstream scholars. Christopher R. Browning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill