Campus pogrom

September 16, 2005

September 15 marked the 70th anniversary of the promulgation of the Nuremberg Laws, which excluded Jews from Germany's universities.

Before Hitler came to power, Jewish academics represented about one in seven of the university teaching profession. Many had left Germany even before the Nuremberg Laws. Their expulsion was accompanied by a steep decline in the number of student enrolments, especially in "luxury" subjects such as philosophy, though marginal subjects favoured by the Nazis such as race studies increased in popularity. Despite the overall contraction of the university sector, non-Jewish academics were reconciled to the departure of their Jewish colleagues by the improvement that resulted in their own promotion prospects, though as the philosopher Karl Löwth recalled, they also comforted themselves with "incredible opinions about the 'World Jewry' and its international networks, which would supposedly find a marvellous job abroad for every dismissed Jew". The Second World War brought new opportunities: Franz Alfred Six, professor of political science at Berlin University, commanded an SS Einsatzkommando in the Moscow region in 1941 and Joseph Mengele's research work as an SS doctor at Auschwitz was intended to qualify him for a professorship.

British academics can congratulate themselves on how different conditions are in Blair's Britain from what they were in Germany two generations ago.

A. D. Harvey London N16

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