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Izzet Bahar : « German or Jewish: The German Scholars in Turkey, 1933-1952 »

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I always found the name false which they gave us: Emigrants.
That means those who leave their country. But we
Did not leave, of our own free will
Choosing another land. Nor did we enter
Into a land, to stay there, if possible forever.
Merely, we fled. We are driven out, banned.
Not a home, but an exile, shall the land be that took us in.


But none of us
Will stay here. The final word
Is yet unspoken.
Bertolt Brecht1
December 1938

I.Izzet Bahar  

University of Pittsburgh  

The removal of German, Austrian and Czechoslovakian scholars from their academic  posts by the Nazi regime due to racial and political reasons, and the settlement of some of  them in Turkey at the invitation of the Turkish Government, has been a topic of interest in  a number of recent studies. Concomitant with racist regime criteria, most of those  scholars, regardless of their actual religious tendencies, were regarded as Jewish.  Coincidentally, in that same year, Turkey was also searching for ways of modernizing its  old-fashioned and seemingly anti-reformist academic educational system. Thus, the  dismissal of German scholars turned to be a perfect match and a considerable number of  scholars found asylum and employment in the newly established Turkish educational  institutions.  

In this study, the Jewish identity of about 80 German scholars who according to the Nazi  Regime were deemed to be of Jewish origin will be analyzed. Various questions can be  raised on this issue. How interested were they in Judaism? What was their relationship to  the local Jewish community? Did German humiliations and the Holocaust reshape their  thinking about their feeling of where they belonged? How can we relate their socio religious behavior in Turkey with their German cultural background? What about the  Turkish foreign policy? Did their Jewish origin have any significance for the Turkish  government? Finally, when there were alternative choices after the war, as to where to  live and work, what choices did these scholars make? The fact that about 35% of these  scholars decided to return to Germany will be given serious consideration and will be  discussed thoroughly. 

Introduction 

As soon as Hitler came to power, as one of his implementations, he issued “Law for the  Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” on April 7, 1933 to prohibit non-Aryans  from working as civil servants any more. According to the third provision of the law:2  

Civil Servants who are not of Aryan descent are to be retired; if they are  honorary officials, they are to be dismissed from official status.  

A second decree of four days later, defined what is meant with non-Aryans:3  

A person is to be regarded as non-Aryan if he is descended from non-Aryan,  especially Jewish, parents or grandparents. It is enough for one parent or  grandparent to be non-Aryan. This is to be assumed especially if one parent or  one grandparent was of Jewish faith.  

Thus, according to these two rulings, regardless of their academic positions and merits,  and regardless of their self-identification, all public employees of Jewish race without  exception were obliged to quit immediately their positions in the German governmental  institutions. Concurrently, for Jewish German scholars all of whom were civil servants,  there was no longer any future in Nazi Germany, and they had to find a new country to  earn their bread, to practice their profession and even to save their lives. But, for these  desperate individuals the question was, where to go and how?  

Coincidentally, in that same year, 1933, the young Turkish Republic was also in search of  civil servants capable of modernizing its old-fashioned and seemingly anti-reformist  educational system. Indeed, in the early 1930s Istanbul Darülfünun, the only academic  institution in the country, with its old-fashioned medrese system, was far from a dynamic  and scientific educational institution. Furthermore, due to the existence of some  antagonism among its academic staff towards Atatürk’s western policies, the institution  was regarded as a hindrance delaying, if not preventing, the young republic’s ambitious  reform movements. Indeed, according to Prof. Albert Malche, an Austrian expert in  pedagogy, who was asked by the ministry of education to prepare a reform report, a new  spirit and dynamism in higher education could be attained only by replacing the non productive and old-fashioned academicians with those modern, contemporary scientists  who could be brought from Europe.  

Thus, the dismissal of the German scholars of high academic ranks and Turkey’s search  for academicians so as to reform the educational system turned out to be a perfect match.  Indeed, succeeding Prof. Malche’s report, more than one hundred German scholars were recruited through a contract by the Turkish Educational Ministry and found refuge in  Turkey.  

In the present study, we will analyze the Jewish identity, home and national notions of  those German scholars. These scholars can be viewed as typical examples of individuals  belonging to the well-educated urban upper-class of German-Jewish origin. How  interested where they in Judaism? What was their relationship to the local Jewish  community in Turkey? Considering that they were named as “haymatloz” (stateless), in  Turkey, what was their notion of home and nation? Did German humiliations,  mistreatment and the holocaust reshape their thinking about their national identities and  their feeling of where they belonged? How can we relate their socio-religious behavior in  Turkey with their German cultural background? What about the Turkish policy and its  approache to exiled German Jewish scholars? Did their Jewish origin have any  significance for the Turkish government? Finally, we propose to consider the post-war  final home country decisions made by these scholars. Their preferences can be seen as an  indication of their notions of identity, home and nation. Accordingly, our final question  will be, when there were alternative choices after the war as to where to live and work for  the rest of their lives, what choices did these scholars make?  

Jewish Identity of Scholars and their Relationship with Local Jewish Community  

In the present study, we focus on 95 German scholars, for whom we have evidence in  support of Jewish origin or links. See Table attached for the list of these scholars. Among  them, 12 scholars were not actually Jewish in origin but their wives were. In view of their  insistence not to divorce their wives in spite of the advantages that they could have  enjoyed and the events they chose to be exposed to, these scholars are also included in  our analysis. In fact, among them, the family of the astronomer Erwin Freundlich seems  to be the most traditionally Jewish, although Dr. Freundlich himself was not Jewish.  

The memoirs, the memories of the scholars and their family members published in  different books, and although limited, the oral testimonies of some members of the  Turkish Jewish community, will be used here in making an assessment of the refugees’  social life in Turkey and in evaluating their Jewishness.  

Memoirs of German scholars  

Several memoirs written by exiled scholars are valuable for our purpose. Among them,  the most detailed is the one written by Ernst Hirsch.4 Hirsch was a promising young  scholar of law when he was dismissed from the Frankfurt University. During the 19 years  he was in Turkey, Hirsch actively taught in Istanbul and Ankara Universities, and made  profound contributions to the modernization of the Turkish commercial legal system. In  1952, he received an offer from Berlin University and returned to Germany. Hirsch,  describes himself as a German citizen of Jewish religion who does not have any  conviction to Judaism.5 For him, to be a German and to be Jewish are not conflicting  concepts. Hirsch describes his relationship to Judaism explicitly: 6  

I never see Jews as different and distinct people. For me Jewishness has  always been the belief of my ancestors, exclusively, and nothing more.  Nevertheless, I did not see also a reason to leave my existing belief and to  convert to another one. … Since, I do not have typical Jewish characteristics  and since for years I kept a distance from all kinds of Jewish communities, I  should not be viewed as Jewish neither from religious nor from social aspects.  

Fritz Neumark, an economist from Frankfurt University, was another scholar who wrote  about his exiled years in Turkey.7 Until his return to Germany in 1951, Neumark worked  for 18 years in Istanbul University. With his excellent academic and social skills, and  particularly, with his early competence in Turkish language, he became one of the most  popular academicians among the German scholars. Different from Hirsch, in Neumark’s  memoir there is no explicit mention of his feelings towards Judaism. Nevertheless, his  silence about his Jewish origin and the scarcity of details on the Nazi Germany’s Jewish  policies can be seen as indications of his aloofness to Judaism, or even the non-existence  of a Jewish identity. In fact, his wife was an Aryan and his two children were baptized at  early ages.8 Moreover, according to a source, he was an unbeliever.9  

Among the memoirs, although it is the shortest, the one written by the Hungarian born,  Frankfurt pathologist Philipp Schwartz was the most widely cited. Unlike the other  memoirs, it was not written decades after, but in the last years of the war. Thus, it has a  diary character and contains important details. Furthermore, as leader and representative  of the exiled scholars, Schwartz was the key person, the “true ‘spiritus rector’ of the  whole Turkish venture.”10 Interestingly, in his memoir, different than others, there are  hints of a Jewish nationalism. For example, in a very different context, with one sentence,  he mentions his view on Judaism: “Judaism can only survive as long as Jews have the  consciousness of being a nation.”11 In another place, he mentions how it was difficult for  a Jew to be accepted in a rather hostile and competitive German academic environment.  In Schwartz’s memoirs, it is the last paragraph that particularly reveals his close  relationship with Judaism. In this paragraph, he explains how he was sent to London  three times by the Turkish Government to convey messages to Chaim Weizmann, the  President of the World Zionist Organization.12 He even claims he was the person who  arranged Weizmann’s visit of December 1938 to Turkey. In spite of all his interest in  Jewish matters, Schwartz stayed in Turkey until 1951, and then interestingly preferred to  go back to Germany. However, after two years he moved to the United States.  

Memories, recollections of family members and testimonies from locals in Turkey  

Like the memoirs described above, the memories of scholars and their family members  also serve as a useful source for analyzing the social and cultural lives of exiles and their  Jewish identity. However, in these recollections there is almost no mention of their  religious behaviors or activities.  

Indeed, in her memories Frances Hellmann, one of the daughters of Karl Hellmann  describes the aloofness of the German Jewish colony to any kind of religious practice.  According to her, except for the Freundlich family, there was no one in the “entire  community of German émigrés who observed any Jewish holidays whatsoever! By then I  was approaching my twenties, but was totally clueless as to the meaning of Passover.”13 Another émigré child, Martin Haurowitz, in his memories states that he never heard a  Yiddish or Hebrew word or phrase neither from his father nor from any other professor or  their wives with whom they were in social contact.14  

From the Jewish nationalism point of view, other than Schwartz’s mentioned activities,  the memories or evidences also do not attest any kind of such interest among the German  refugees. As the only exception, we can show the pediatrician Albert Eckstein’s efforts in  Ankara. Eckstein’s son and wife describe in their memories how, with initiative of Chaim  Barlas, the representative of the Jewish Agency in Turkey, Eckstein tried to help in  transportation of a number of Jewish children from Sweden to Palestine through Turkey  using his good relationship with the Turkish prime minister.15 However, it seems in  Eckstein’s activities, which were few in number, humanistic considerations were the real motivations rather than Jewish nationalistic drive.16 Eckstein is another scholar who  preferred to return Germany after the end of the war.  

Other than the memoirs and memories of German refugees, a number of accounts of  Turkish Jews can be also seen as valuable sources for our purpose. Interestingly, all of  these accounts attest to the non-interest of German scholars in Judaism or the Jewish  presence in Turkey. For example, the Jewish students of those scholars and the members  of the Istanbul Jewish community who had some rare social interactions with them,  particularly emphasized that they could not notice any kind of Jewish identity among the  scholars.17 Similarly, the members of the Ankara Jewish community affirmed that they  did not notice any special attention or interest from refugee doctors even in their doctor patient relationship.18 The head of the Ankara Jewish community, who was active for the  two decades starting from 1942, also did not have any remembrance with the refugees.19 According to his recollections, none of the Jewish German émigrés in Ankara ever visited  the synagogue of Ankara even for reasons of curiosity.20 Thus, the interviews and  evidences reflect the absence of any contact between the German scholars and the local  Jewish community for any reason. In the registers of the Ashkenazic community of  Istanbul, there is not any document that illustrates a Jewish marriage, birth, Britt Mila  (circumcision) or Bar – Mitzvah involving German scholars. Even those who died during  their stay in Turkey were not buried in a Jewish cemetery, but in Muslim cemeteries.21  

As can be seen, as a common feature, all of our sources indicate that the Jewish scholars  who emigrated from Germany to Turkey did not have classical Jewish identities. Besides  they were not practising Jews, they also did not exhibit any kind of behavior, social  interaction or consciousness which could reflect their Jewish origins or connection. Thus,  they present a common but very distinctive and peculiar socio-religious behavior which  needs to be scrutinized.  

The 83 scholars of Jewish origin presently investigated can be seen as representatives of  well-educated, highly acculturated and vastly urbanized upper-class Weimar period  German Jewry, with their typical backgrounds, values, mindset and behavioral habits.  Thus, their aloofness to a Jewish identity can be understood only through the analysis of  similar German Jewish elites of the pre-Nazi era Germany. Moreover, thinking of  Turkey’s conditions as a sterile social laboratory, free from direct influence of the vicious  racial policies of the Nazi regime and of brutal war conditions, the behavior of the  refugees can be used to verify the approaches widely-accepted for defining the general  behavioral characteristics of the upper class German Jewry of the first decades of the  twentieth century.  

In order to understand the reasons of the socio-cultural behavior of the exiled scholars, a  brief analysis of the cultural evolution of German Jewry will be enlightening.  

Survey of the Cultural Background of the German Jewish Scholars and its  Reflection on their Life in Turkey22 

Beginning from the last decades of the eighteenth century, a very unique Jewish existence  evolved in the German states as a result of continual interrelation with the major German  society. The first period of this era, known as the age of the emancipation of the German  Jewry, is also the period of transformation of multiple German states into a nation–state,  along with the transformation of the estate societies into a civil society largely bourgeois  in character. During the process of political consolidation and centralization, a highly  ideological culture charged with enlightenment rationalism and the ideal of Bildung played a significant unifying role. Bildung can be defined shortly as a combination of  “education with notions of character formation and moral education.”23 The same  concept of Bildung was also adopted with its full values by the German Jewry with a  passion to be accepted as equals by the German society. As described below by George  L. Mosse, it became the basis of the newly forming identity of German Jews in their  search to humanize their society and their lives:24  

Such self-education [Bildung] was an inward process of development through  which the inherent abilities of the individual were developed and realized.  The term “inward process” as applied to the acquisition of Bildung did not  refer to instinctual drives or emotional preferences but to cultivation of reason  and aesthetic taste; its purpose was to lead the individual from superstition to  enlightenment. Bildung and the Enlightenment joined hands during the period  of Jewish emancipation; they were meant to complement each other.  Moreover, such self-cultivation was a continuous process which was never  supposed to end during one’s life. Thus those who followed this ideal saw  themselves as part of a process rather than as finished products of education.  Surely here was an ideal ready-made for Jewish assimilation, because it  transcended all differences of nationality and religion through the unfolding of  the individual personality.  

Nevertheless, in spite of their cultural and social endeavor, the German Jews did not gain  their full emancipation until 1871. Even then, although they were seemingly entitled to  legal equality, they never become an integrated part of the German society due to the  growing political and racial anti-Semitism, and the never ending social discrimination. As  a consequence of this “incomplete emancipation and partial integration,”25 the history of  the “post emancipation German Jewry can be seen as history of its subculture.”26 As  German Jews confined within the invisible boundaries of the subculture, they steadfastly  continued to hold and internalize the bourgeois notions of Bildung in order to “assert and  reassert” themselves to the major community; they gave special emphasis to moral and  secular individualism to ensure a dignified place in the major culture. Indeed, according  to the ideals of Bildung, it was not the personal religious and national heritage, but the  education and individual achievements, that were most important. Thus, as Mosse stated,  “The new self-identity of the German Jews was expressed within a framework that gave  it form and discipline and served to transcend Judaism and Christianity.”27 

Other than the frustration of not being able to be an integrated part of the major society,  there was another concurrent factor that had considerable influence on the formation of  the German-Jewish identity. By time, the German Jews had to face (usually with lack of  

realism) an increasingly narrow vision of Bildung. Beginning from the last decades of  nineteenth century, the original concept of Bildung which was highly elaborated in the  writings of the German philosophers like Wilhelm von Humboldt, Schiller and Goethe  gradually started to be distorted by the Germans themselves. With changing political and  economic conditions, more and more tangible elements of the popular culture owned by  masses that were nourished by the rudimentary education of Volkschulle took the place of  the abstract humanitarian notions that flourished from elite gymnasiums and universities.  Discipline, patriotism and conformity took precedence over self-cultivation and critical  mind of the Enlightenment. Particularly, after World War I, with the gradual upsurge of  emotional and irrational appeals to nationalist symbols and to the myths of the distant  Germanic past, the original impartial notions of Bildung, which were so important for  Jews in their endeavor to integrate into the German society, were tainted and lost most of  their original depth. Again, once more, with an unconscious reaction, cultured and  articulate German Jewish bourgeoisie continued to cling to their wholehearted  commitment to the classical concept of Bildung like a faith. However, their attitude,  similar to some educated Germans that were still loyal to the original cultural ideals, no  longer corresponded to the realities of German life. Concomitantly, most of German  Jewry felt themselves more and more outsiders and isolated from the major society.  

In spite of the growing alienation, Jews still regarded the current heightened nationalist  and romanticized tendencies with optimism, and viewed the hostilities as temporary.  Most of them until the very day of the Nazi regime or even later failed to comprehend the  dimensions of the imminent danger that chauvinism and racism might cause, and  believed that the classical tradition would defeat the evil ultimately. After all, wasn’t  Germany the cradle of the Enlightenment and home to great humanist philosophers like  

Schiller, Herder, Lessing and Goethe? Has not in this country “the Jew became a  bourgeois from a martyr and like a miracle resurrected with a light penetrated  darkness?”28 As nationalism and racism escalated, German Jewry adhered to the classical  ideals of Bildung which defined their identity irrelevant to their religious beliefs national  substance more passionately as if it was their own substance. For them the concept of  Bildung “lifted immutability and become a secular religion.” It was “the religion of  humanity … a secular faith, not dependent upon revealed religion- a faith, however,  which took nothing on trust and whose truths were discovered only by a critical mind  constantly refined through self-cultivation.”29 Strikingly, it was the German Jewish  bourgeoisie and intellectuals rather than the middle class Germans, who with persistence  continued to be the stubborn representatives and custodians of the older humanitarian and  purely German values of reason and culture that surfaced with the enlightenment.  Nevertheless, their strengthened belief in the freedom of the individual from all  dominations and in the superiority of reason also gradually eroded their ties with  Jewishness. As described by Paul Mendes-Flohr, Judaism was regarded as outdated:30   

In hastening to identify with German Kultur, the Jews often viewed their  own culture as an impediment, as ill suited to cognitive and axiom-logical  requirements of the modern world. The tradition and folkways of their  ancestral faith were not infrequently regarded as unmodern, even embarrassingly anachronistic. Jews often internalized the negative image of  Judaism that prevailed even in enlightened circles.  

Through their belief to individualism and potentials of human reason, the intellectual  German Jews arrived at a final point of transcendence that was beyond Judaism or any  other religion. According to Mosse it was the ideals of Bildung that replaced religion: 31  

The void between traditional Christianity and Judaism as a revealed religion  was filled by the ideal of Bildung, which has prevailed among the German  bourgeoisie during the period of Jewish emancipation. It provided a  meaningful heritage for some of the most articulate and intellectual German  Jews. … At a time when many Germans found a secular religion in  nationalism, Jews also found a secular faith-in the older concept of Bildung,  based on individualism and rationality.  

However, as exemplified by the exiled scholars like Fritz Neumark, Karl Hellmann and  Felix Haurowitz32, in spite of their aloofness to religion, it was not uncommon among  

German Jewry to baptize their children presumably motivated by the desire to protect the  children from having to suffer anti-Semitism.  

In the light of the above analysis, the socio-religious behavior of the exiled scholars can  be explained to some extent by the described identity of the German Jewry. Indeed, they  were the very last typical and perfect examples of the most articulate and intellectual  German Jewry that disastrously disappeared under the racial policies of the Nazi regime  during the Holocaust. During their stay in Turkey, these scholars followed inherently the  footprints of their co-religionist of the pre-Nazi age and sustained the same Bildung ideals of the German-Jewish tradition which were actually abandoned or transformed by  the Germans, themselves, decades ago. Thus, their lifestyle in Turkey can be seen as a  reflection of German – Jewish socio-cultural behavior of the pre-Nazi Germany. The  ideals that they inherited continued to guide them in their daily lives in Turkey, and  formed a common ground in their relations between each other regardless of their  supposed origin. It is also possible to say that although there was little contact between  them, they also shared values and patterns of thought with their new Turkish  acquaintances. Similar to most of their German co-religionists of their age, the elite Jews  in Turkey were aware of their Jewishness. They were Jews by title, but they had little, if  any, ties with Jewish traditions. As the last heirs of a long tradition which gradually  evolved throughout the years since the Enlightenment, the personal self-conviction of  German-Jewish scholars was apparently beyond any kind of revealed religion. It might  even be more appropriate to see them as members of some kind of religion of humanity.  The absence of any religious ceremonial acts in certain occasions like wedding or even  funerals, during their stay in Turkey can be explained as outcomes of their indifference to  an established religious conviction.  

From another standpoint, for several reasons, Turkey could be seen as an ideal and  “sterilized” social laboratory for observing the behavioral characteristics of German  Jewish identity of the pre-Nazi era. First, in Turkey, like being in vacuum, they were  living in a Muslim majority with which they had limited contact. They never mixed with  the Muslim society and always remained a distinctive and segregated community with  their different language, customs and social life. Secondly, the non-existence of  discriminative, racial, more importantly brutal policies, and the relatively peaceful  conditions in Turkey permitted the exiles to be less affected with adverse the conditions  of the regime as has been the case in Germany. Thus, the exiles did not directly face the  unbearable, humiliating and brutal anti-Semitic policies of Nazism which could have  diverted their mindset vis-à-vis Germans and German values. The third important point  is, in fact, an outcome of the second. In Turkey, the exiles did not also experience, or  were not influenced by, the newly surged vibrancy in search of Jewish roots, or by any  inclination to embrace a new kind of Jewish identity that appeared and gradually grew in  Germany beginning from the early years of the Nazi regime in response to discriminatory  racial laws. In sum, under Turkey’s living conditions, the inherited ideal of Bildung based  on the Enlightenment remained unchallenged and continued to be a specific but implicit  form of identity of the exiles without much alteration.  

The “Jewishness” Factor in the Approach of the Turkish Government to Exiled  German Scholars  

Whether the Turkish government had a special interest in the Jewishness of the German  scholars is another point of interest which needs to be scrutinized. In a large number of  articles published in the last two decades, a common approach has been to introduce  Turkey’s policy as reflecting a conscious and determined humanitarian act to save Jews  from the Nazi persecution. This event has even been likened to the acceptance of the  Sephardic Jews in 1492 by the Ottomans. This suggestion can be found, for example, in  the publications of the Quincentennial Foundation established in Turkey to commemorate  the 500th anniversary of the expulsion from Spain. Here is an excerpt: “History followed  its course. The young Turkish Republic took the place of the Ottoman Empire. In 1933  the Great Atatürk invited to Turkey German university professors of Jewish origin who  were under the threat of the Nazi persecution.”33 However, our sources do not provide  any evidence that supports the existence of such a humanitarian motif in the recruitment  of these scholars. As suggested by Fritz Neumark in his memoir, the Enlightenment  principle of “harmony of the common interests”34 or the raison d’Etat policy probably  explains better the Turkish motivations. A talk given by the Turkish Education Minister,  Reşit Galib on July 1933, at the end of his first meeting with Schwartz and Malche can be  seen as a reflection of the Turkish mindset:35  

Today is a [special] day in which we accomplished an exceptional and  nonexamplary work. About 500 years ago when we captured Istanbul, the  Byzantine scholars emigrated to Italy and we could not avoid it. …  

Consequently, the renaissance emerged. Today, we are taking the payback  of it from Europe.  

A set of Turkish archival documents recently disclosed sheds further light on the  approach of the Turkish government and gives further support to the hypothesis of the  lack of Turkish interest in the Jewishness of the scholars and the absence of concrete  intentions to help them. Of course, political concerns due to possible reactions of the  German government might have also been influential in the appearance of such an  attitude on the Turkey side. An interesting document is a letter written by Albert Einstein  to the Turkish Prime Minister, İsmet İnönü. In this letter dated September 17, 1933,  Einstein, as the president of the “OSE” society in Paris, asked for İnönü’s help in  allowing for “forty professors and doctors from Germany to continue their scientific and  medical carrier in Turkey.”36 As can be seen from the Yiddish and French bilingual  letterhead of Einstein’s letter, the Jewish character of “OSE” was very explicit. İnönü declined the request of Einstein in his response sent on November 14, with the argument  that it was not possible to hire additional scholars any longer:37  

… As you surely know, distinguished Professor, we have already engaged  under contract more than forty professors and physicians who have the same  qualities and the same capacities, and most of whom are under the same  political conditions as those who are object of your letter. … Under the  circumstances in which we are, it will unfortunately not be possible for us to  hire a greater number of these gentlemen.  

However, interestingly, Schwartz’s memoir, which was written close to the end of the  war, contradicts İnönü. Schwartz describes how in early 1935 he learned from the  Turkish Health Minister that during the period of correspondence with Einstein in 1933  the Turkish Government was actually in search of German scholars, particularly doctors  in order to fill the “empty posts in Ankara.”38 According to what Schwartz learned from  the minister, the Turkish government had come to an agreement with Professor Von Laue  Sauerbruch, an Aryan German scholar who visited Inönü in the summer of 1933 and gave  him a special mission to identify German scholars, particularly doctors that Turkey  needed. Ironically, in spite of the long and time consuming correspondence, this attempt  turned out to be dead ended and none of the German scholars proposed by Sauerbruch  ended up accepting an offer from the Turkish government. Seemingly, in the face of the  newly emerging posts in the German Universities, which were vacated by the  academicians of Jewish origin, the German scholars did not feel any need or desire to  apply for the challenging positions in the newly founded institutions in Ankara. Professor  Sauerbruch later worked in German occupied Balkans as an official representative of the  Nazi administration.  

On the other hand, a report prepared in the summer of 1939 by Herbert Scurla, a senior  officer in Germany’s Ministry of Sciences and Education who was sent by the Nazi  administration to monitor the German academicians in Turkey, reflects an interesting  change in the Turkish approach to German scholars.39 In the late 1930s, the Turkish  government apparently became more trustful with the exiled German scholars than the  Aryan scholars who were working in the country under the consent of the Nazi regime.40 Due to her unpleasant experience with Germans during the First World War, Turkey was  regarding these Aryan scholars as German/Nazi elements who were working for the  German interests rather than the Turkish ones. Indeed, the discomfort of Turks was not unjustified. As can be seen from the report of Scurla, Aryan scholars were expected to  report regularly to the Nazi officials in the embassy, receive instructions from them and  work in accordance with the Reich policies.41  

Final Choices  

As a last point, we focus on the final choices of the exiled scholars for continuing their  life after the crisis period was over. This choice can be meaningful in assessing once  more their identity and personal inclinations/preferences. The attached table lists where  these 95 scholars ended up continuing their scientific (or medical) careers. After leaving  aside the 16 refugee scholars who died during their stay in Turkey, 39% of them (i.e., 31  scholars out of 79) preferred to return to Germany. This percentage even increases to  58%, if we consider exclusively the scholars who were in Turkey at the end of the war  (i.e., 29 scholars out of 50). From these results, it is possible to see that although these  scholars had many alternatives the end of the war, a high percentage chose to go back to  Germany. The decisions of these scholars are even more meaningful when we consider  the fact that that most of them lost family members or friends in the Holocaust. Their  ‘choice’ can be seen as a firm evidence of their inherent German character. As Brecht  wrote in his poem, at the end, most of exiles spoke their final words in Germany.  


  1 “Concerning the label Emigrant” in Bertolt Brecht Poems 1913-1956 Ed. by John Willett and Ralph  Manheim (London: Eyre Methuan Ltd., 1979), p. 301. In 1938 December, Brecht was also a political exile  in Denmark.  

2 “Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” in A Holocaust Reader, ed. by Lucy S.  Dawidowicz. (West Orange: Behrman House Inc., 1976), p. 38.  

3 “First Decree for Implementation of the Law for Restoration of the Professional Civil service, April 11,  1933,” in A Holocaust Reader, p. 41.  

 4 Ernest Hirsch, HatıralarımMy Memories- Kaiser Period, Weimar Republic, Atatürk’s Country (Ankara:  Banka ve Ticaret Hukuku Araştırma Enstitüsü, 1985) Turkish  

5 Ibid, p. 45.  

6 Ibid, p . 46.  

7 Fritz Neumark, Boğaziçine Sığınanlar- Those Who Took Sheltered in Bosphorus, (Istanbul: Istanbul  University Press, 1982)  

8 Fritz Neumark, p. 34.  

9 Haymatloz- Exil in der Turkei 1933-1945- CD-ROM prepared by Vereins Aktives Museum –  Berlin/Germany, 2000.  

10 Neumark, p. 74.  

11 Philipp Schwartz, p. 73. 

12 Ibid, p. 100. A recent book written by Rıfat Bali sheds light on rather mystifying mediator activities of  Schwartz between the Turkish Government and Weizmann. Bali states that during Weizmann and his  wife’s visit Turkey in December 1938, other than Schwartz he met with several German scholars  (according to the description in Mrs. Weizmann’s memoir, one of them must be mathematician William  Prager.) in the house of Sami Günzberg, a Turkish Jew who had close relations with the president and  Turkish notables in Ankara as their dentist. Schwarz also accompanied Weizmann in his meeting with  Turkish prime minister during his visit in Ankara. See, Rıfat Bali, Sarayın ve Cumhuriyetin Dişçibaşısı,  Sami Günzberg – The Chief Dentist of the Court and Republic, Sami Günzberg (Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2007),  pp. 115-130. Turkish.  

13 Frances (Hellman) Güterbock’s memory quoted by Arnold Reisman. See, Arnold Reisman, Turkey’s  Modernization, Refugees from Nazism and Atatürk’s Vision (Washington, DC: New Academic Publishing,  LLC, 2006), p. 399.  

14 Martin Haurowitz’s memory. Quoted by Reisman, p. 411. Martin Haurowitz defines his father as  agnostic.  

15 Klaus and Dr. Erna Eckstein-Schlossmann’s memories. Quoted by Reisman, p. 404.

16 In a book written on Albert Eckstein, he was described as a member of a “Jewish Organization.”  However, in a personal communication of 2000, the writer could not specify the information and his  source. Probably, what he means was Jewish Agency which Eckstein had no direct relation. See, Nejat  Akar, Anadolu’da Bir Çocuk Doktoru, Ord. Prof. Albert Eckstein – A Pediatrician in Anatolia, Ord. Prof.  Albert Eckstein (Ankara, 1999), p. 76.  

17 Personal interviews with Yomtov Garti, Melanie Garti and Joseph Dannon, autumn 1999. 18 Personal interview with Beki L. Bahar, autumn 1999.  

19 Hirsch who was in Ankara between the years 1943 and 1952, in his memoir states that he did not have  any contacts with a Jewish community after 1933. Hirsch, p. 46. 

20 Personal interview with Joseph Levi, autumn 1999.  

21 Aykut Kazancigil, Ugur Tanyeli “Niye Geldiler, Niye Gittiler? Kimse Anlamadi – Why They Came and  Went Back? No Body Understood.” In Cogito-Turkiyenin Yabancıları – The Foreigners of Turkey (Istanbul:Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2000), p. 130. 

22 In addition to other sources, two works on German Jewry used extensively in this study and frequently  referred are: David Sorkin, The Transformation of German Jewry, 1780-1840 (Detroit: Wayne State  University Press, 1999) and George L. Mosse, German Jews, Beyond Judaism (Bloomington, Indiana  University Press, 1983).  

23 George L. Mosse, p. 3. Since the meaning of Bildung is embedded part of the half-millennium of German  history that shaped it, for a comprehensive meaning, emergence and evolution of its ideals see, Sorkin, pp.  15-21, and Sorkin, “Wilhelm Von Humboldt: The Theory and Practice of Self-Formation (Bildung), 1791- 1810” in Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 44, No. 1. (Jan. – Mar., 1983), pp. 55-73. 

24 Ibid.

25 Sorkin, p. 5.  

26 Ibid, p. 173.  

27 Mosse, p. 18.

28 Rabbi Caesar Seligmann, A sermon preached in the great synagogue of Hamburg, in Festpredigt zur  Jahrhundertfeier des Philanthropin, 16 April 1904 quoted by Mosse, p. 15. 

29 Ibid.  

30 Paul Mendes-Flohr, German Jews (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), p. 35. 31 Mosse, p.42.  

32 Dr. Martin Harwit (Haurowitz) who was being raised as a Protestant describes in his memoir, how he  learned his father and mother were Jewish when he was fourteen years old. Although the Haurowitzs were  Czechoslovakian in origin, their attitude to Judaism can be shown as an illustrative example of the trend.  See, Reisman, pp. 410-412.

33 A Retrospection, The Quincentennial Publication, 1992, p. 19. 

34 Neumark, p. 11.  

35 Horst Widmann, Atatürk ve Üniversite Reformu – Atatürk and the University Reform. (Istanbul: Kabalcı Yayınları, 1999), p. 48. 

36 Albert Einstein, letter of September 17, 1933 addressed to Turkish prime minister. See attached  Document no.1 (BCA-Turkish Prime Minister Archives no.: 030.10.116.810.3). This letter was sent to the  Turkish president as an attached letter of Sami Günzberg. Günzberg’s letter also included a detailed list of  31 proposed Jewish-German scholars.

37 İsmet İnönü, letter of November 14, 1933 addressed to Albert Einstein. See attached Document no.2  (BCA-Turkish Prime Minister Archives no.: 030.10.116.810.3B). The translation to English was done by  Gad Freudenthal and Arnold Reisman. See, Reisman, “Jewish Refugees from Nazism, Albert Einstein, and  the Modernization of Higher Education in Turkey (1933-1945), in Aleph: Historical studies in Science &  Judaism 7. (Annual 2007), note, 35. 

38 Schwartz, p. 95.  

39 The Scurla Report was founded in German Foreign Ministry Archives and presented firstly by Klaus Detlev Grothusen in 1981. See, Faruk Şen, Ayyıldız Altinda Sürgün (Istanbul: Günizi Yayıncılık, 2008),  pp. 27-31.  

40 Particularly, in Ankara there were an important number of Aryan German scholars. Most of them were  employed in the Agricultural Institute and some in different medical institutions.         

41 Şen, pp. 49-51, 55.

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