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History of Antisemitism

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Leo Baeck InstituteYear Book Vol. 58,195^215

Advance Access publication 2 July 2013


Taboo and Classification: Post-1945 German

RacialWriting onJews*

* I was greatly helped by Mitchell Ash, Steven Aschheim, Margit Berner, Lorraine Daston, Eric
Ehrenreich, Uwe Hossfeld, Veronika Lipphardt, Paul Mendes-Flohr, Gabi Motzkin, Martin Ritter,
Dirk Rupnow, Hans-Walter Schmul, Eugene Sheppard, Andrew Shryock, Alexander von Schwerin,
and Danny Trom. I am particularly indebted to Sander Gilman and Ezra Mendelsohn for critical
remarks on an earlier version of this article. I wish to thank Irene Tschurin for her diligent assistance
in locating and reviewing relevant materials.
Hans-Walter Schmuhl, Grenzuberschreitungen: Das Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut fur Anthropologie, menschliche
Erblehre und Eugenik 1927-1945, Gottingen 2005, pp. 301-302. I was rst drawn to expressions of
tension between older forms of knowledge and new constraints when, searching for publications
from the National-Socialist period unavailable in Israeli libraries, I discovered that many
unquestionably racist texts were reprinted in the 1950s and 1960s. Re-publication followed a certain
set of unstated criteria that were themselves the result of a dynamic form of negotiation. Works that
explicitly supported Hitler, National Socialist doctrine and policy, and antisemitism were not
reprinted. In many cases the relevant statements, particularly in the preface, were removed without
an indication of the omission. For discussion see Gerhard Kaiser, Mathias Krell, Ausblenden,
Versachlichen, Uberschreiben. Diskursives Vergangenheitsmanagement in der Sprach-und
Literaturwissenschaft in Deutschland nach 1945, in Bernd Weisbrod (ed.), Akademische
Vergangenheitspolitik: Beitrage zur Wissenschaftskultur der Nachkriegszeit, Gottingen 2002, pp. 190-214.
Examples of writers discussed in this article include: Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss, Als Beduine unter
Beduinen, Freiburg: 1954 originally published with the same title in Freiburg 1933; idem., Umgang mit
Arabern des Ostens, Nuremberg 1949, which is identical with Araber, Nuremberg 1943. Both appeared
in the series Umgang mit Vo lkern. Hans F.K. Gunther, Platon, als, Huter des Lebens: Platons Zucht- und
Erziehungsgedanken und deren Bedeutung fur die Gegenwart, Babenberg, 1966 which rst appeared in 1928
and was republished in 1935; idem., Formen und Urgeschichte der Ehe: Die Formen der Ehe, Familie und
Verwandtschaft, Gottingen 1951, originally published 1940.. Egon von Eickstedt, Die Forschung am
Menschen, 3 vols. Vol. II, Stuttgart 1940. [1962]. Other examples include Arnold Gehlen, Der Mensch:
seine Natur und seine Stellung in der Welt, Berlin 1940, republished (with important omissions) in
numerous editions after 1945. Cf. Der Mensch: seine Natur und seine Stellung in der Welt, Bonn 1950.
Another example is Erich Rothacker, Probleme der Kulturanthropologie, Stuttgart 1942. Republished
with modications as Probleme der Kulturanthropologie, Bonn 1948. Eugen Fischers Rehobother Bastarden
(1912) was republished up to 1961.
All translations from foreign sources are the authors own.
The Author (2013). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Leo Baeck Institute.
All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:

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In the library catalogue in The Berlin Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology,
Human Genetics, and Eugenics, founded in 1927, we nd six categories of humans.
Five of the six categories are geographical, while Judentum (meaning both Jewry
and Judaism) constitutes the sixth.1 Such categorization reects the belief of many
German scientists and scholars (non-Jewish as well as Jewish) in the rst half of the
twentieth century that Jews were a racially dened population and Judaism
fundamentally a racial phenomenon. The question with which this paper is
concerned is: did German scientists and scholars continue to hold this belief after
the Second World War?


Amos Morris-Reich

Uta Gerhardt, Soziologie der Stunde Null. Zur Gesellschaftskonzeption des amerikanischen Besatzungsregimes in
Deutschland 1944^1945/6, Frankfurt am Main 2005.
Writing on the biology of the Jews outside Germany ourished in English (and Hebrew) in the 1950s.
For a historical overview see Nurit Kirsh, Population Genetics in Israel in the 1950s: The
Unconscious Internalization of Ideology, in Isis 94 (2003), pp. 631-655.
See in particular Rita Chin, Heide Fehrenbach, Geo Eley, Atina Grossmann (eds.), After the Nazi
Racial State: Dierence and Democracy in Germany and Europe, Ann Arbor 2009.
I am closer to the interpretation developed by Andrew Zimmermann, Anthropology and Antihumanism in
Imperial Germany, Chicago 2001. For a recent expression of the view of a paradigmatic shift and the
rise of racial determinism see Andrew D. Evans, Anthropology at War: World War I and the Science of
Race in Germany, Chicago 2010; Sheila Faith Weiss, The Nazi Symbiosis: Human Genetics and Politics in the
Third Reich, Chicago 2010.
Uwe Hofeld, Geschichte der biologischen Anthropologie in Deutschland: Von den Anfangen bis in die
Nachkriegszeit, Stuttgart 2005, pp. 367-368. Discussion of the history of the discipline in the National

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This is a question more easily asked than answered because, on several registers, it
runs up against complex historical and methodological diculties that concern the
changing relationship between science, Rasse (race), and antisemitism after 1945.
Historians acknowledge that, while the idea of Stunde Null does not reect
historical reality in any simple sense, it is an important West German cultural
construct nonetheless.2 The structural tension that stands at the basis of the
following is the fact that there was no Stunde Null in the sciences of race, but there
was something that came close to it with regard to references to Jews therein.3
Whereas the role of Rasse for understanding German history in the rst half of the
twentieth century is widely acknowledged, it is only now emerging as a category of
analysis for the study of the second half,4 and to unpack the relationship between
the science of race and references to Jews in this latter period necessitates
recognizing the changing status of race in public discourse and within science, the
changing relationship between racial sciences and the political sphere, and the
redenition of the relationship between sciences of race and antisemitism. But
attempting to bring together these dierent variables involves introducing ^ at
least to some extent ^ contradictory and even objectionable assumptions.
One necessary starting point for any attempt to answer the question posited above
must be recognition of the fact that the crimes of National Socialist Germany were
motivated and justied by means of antisemitic ideas of Rasse. One consequence of
this was that aspects of the history of science were identied after the war as in fact
belonging to wider structures of the history of politics, violence, and genocide. But
there is now also a growing body of literature that shows that the history of various
branches of race, such as genetics and physical anthropology, from the turn of the
twentieth century and in both the Weimar and National Socialist periods, was in
fact integral to that of science.5 Thus, to analyze post-1945 developments means to
extend this perspective further into the history of science.
Such an extension, however, must engage with particularities specic to West
German culture, without attention to which the analysis of individual cases
remains opaque. Most probably because after 1945 the sciences of race became
associated with the National Socialist regime and its racial policies, individual
scientists were motivated to attempt to generate distance from that past.6 Maybe

Taboo and Classification


Socialist period was generally avoided. See Benoit Massin, Anthropologie und Humangenetik im
Wissenschaftsgeschichte?, in Heidrun Kaupen-Haas, Christian Saller (eds.), Wissenschaftlicher
Rassismus. Analysen einer Kontinuitat in den Human-und Naturwissenschaften, Frankfurt am Main 1999, p. 17.
See Dirk Rupnow, Veronika Lipphardt, Jens Thiel, Christina Wessely (eds.), Pseudowissenschaft:
Konzeptionen von Nichtwissenschaftlichkeit in der Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Frankfurt am Main 2008.
Hofeld, pp. 422-424.
See Rita Chin, Heide Fehrenbach, Introduction: Whats Race Got to Do With It? Postwar German
History in Context, in After the Nazi Racial State, p. 3.
Mitchell G. Ash, Wissenschaft und Politik als Ressourcen fur einander, in Rudiger vom Bruch,
Brigitte Kaderas (eds.), Wissenschaften und Wissenschaftspolitik. Bestandsaufnahme zu Formationen, Bruchen
und Kontinuitaten im Deutschland des 20. Jahrhunderts, Stuttgart 2002, pp. 32-51.

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the most important characteristic of West German history of science, at least in our
context, concerns the emergence of an opposition between legitimate sciences of
race (genetics, physical anthropology) and pseudoscientic ideologies of race ^
While necessary for an understanding of developments after the war, this
opposition does not reect the status of the respective elds of knowledge before
1945. Furthermore, while related to them it nevertheless also diers from our
contemporary views; for if human genetics is viewed today as a valid science,
physical anthropology, which according to the binary specic to West Germany
now fell on the side of science, has today lost much of its former credibility.
Furthermore, from early in the second half of the twentieth century onwards, most
historians and historians of science viewed races not as simple biological entities
but as constructs that always involved non-biological considerations. The writers
addressed in this article, however, were committed to the scientic validity of the
idea of race and viewed the 1950 United Nations declaration denying the scientic
status of race as politically motivated.
Whereas in the academic discourse there was a great deal of conceptual, personal,
and institutional continuity with the period before 1945,8 after the war the term
Rasse virtually disappeared from the public German lexicon.9 The social and
political signicance of the sciences that dealt with race changed dramatically
after 1945 also because science and politics no longer served as mutual resources
for each other with regard to race.10
In the recongured interface between society, science, and race, statements about
Jews were redened as political and as potentially or latently antisemitic.
The immediate consequence of this situation was the destabilization of discussion of
Jews, up to then an integral component of the scientic discourse of race, by authors
who wished to be taken as partaking in legitimate science or serious scholarship.
The structural nucleus of this article concerns the consequence of this discrepancy
between, on the one hand, the classication that constitutes the general discourse,
and, on the other, thetaboothat constrains discussion of a particular object.
Once this structure is grasped numerous varieties of tension begin to surface in
dierent cases, ranging from the almost complete disappearance of references to
Jews, through their re-encoding by way of linguistic or photographic materials,


Amos Morris-Reich


The analytical framework of Mary Douglas can stabilize the object of our discussion. Douglas
established taboo as always dependent on classicatory schemes and the denition of an object or a
thing, for instance to be classied as belonging to a certain class or diverging from it is always a
by-product of a systematic ordering and classication of matter. Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger:
An Analysis of the Concept of Pollution and Taboo, London 2002, p. 44. For an attempt to study this
culture in terms of latency see Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Nach 1945: Latenz als Ursprung der Gegenwart,
Frankfurt 2012.
I do not know of literature on taboo within science. On classication cf. Emma C. Spary, Utopias
Garden: French Natural History from Old Regime to Revolution, Chicago 2000; Brian W. Ogilvie, The
Science of Describing: Natural History in Renaissance Europe, Chicago 2006, in particular pp. 215-229. On
classication from a science studies perspective, see Georey C. Bowker, Susan Leigh Star, Sorting
Things Out: Classication and Its Consequences, Cambridge 1999, pp. 195-225.
For parallels with the eld of history see Gadi Algazis work on Otto Brunner: Herrengewalt und Gewalt
der Herren im spaten Mittelalter: Herrschaft, Gegenseitigkeit und Sprachgebrauch, Frankfurt^New York 1996.

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to their practical reclassication by way of medical or geographical contraction.

This article, then, detects and documents small tensions in local, concrete, and
practical decisions that scientists and writers on race were compelled to make with
regard to the use of sources, signiers, tropes, or ideas.11
Discussion of Jewish racial dierence did not come to a complete halt after
1945. But its destabilization led to a complex, ambivalent, and multilayered
intellectual structure, fraught with tensions and gaps of various kinds.12 The
dierent manifestations of tension, therefore, can rightly be considered part of one
intellectual structure.
The tensions and inversions built into this structure, however, entail that the
attempt to contextualize individual cases is fraught with diculties. How, for
example, are we to understand the sharper break with regard to Jewish racial
dierence in Rassenkunde, a eld hitherto more deeply and directly antisemitic,
than in physical anthropology; or the repeated claims for higherJewish IQ average
than the respective Wirtsvolk (host-population, a word to which I return below)
made by a younger geneticist who did not view himself as antisemitic? To make
sense of these cases necessitates situating them within the particulars of West
German culture. It means on some occasions positing certain contextualizing
assumptions such as the opposition between legitimate science and antisemitic
ideology; while from our current perspective this opposition is problematic
because a self-servicing device by which scientists were able to legitimate their own
racist work, nevertheless without positing it the cases remain impenetrable.
In the sections that follow I examine the three German scientic discourses
arguably most closely associated with the idea of race in the German context:
human genetics, Rassenkunde (racial ethnology), and Anthropologie (physical
anthropology).13Rasse was interwoven into numerous elds but these three were
practically founded on Rasse and undergirded by racial classication. The
temporal framework of this article is conned to the period between 1945 and the
early 1990s. In this period three dierent trajectories of three dierent elds of
knowledge can be identied. After the early 1990s the intellectual structure of
taboo and classication breaks up or dissolves.

Taboo and Classification




On his scientically antisemitic writings prior to and during the National Socialist period and his
work with Mengele, see Eric Ehrenreich,Otmar von Verschuer and the scientic Legitimization of
Nazi Anti-Jewish Policy, in Holocaust and Genocide Studies 21 (1) 2007, pp. 57-58. Von Verschuer
mentions Jews briey in his Genetik des Menschen: Lehrbuch der Humangenetik, Munich^ Berlin 1959, p.
237, as well his comments on the frailty of Jews to tuberculosis, based on research he conducted
during the National Socialist period, p. 263. And in a similar vein Erblehre vom Menschen, in idem
et al., Der Mensch und seine Stellung im Naturganzen, Konstanz 1965, p. 101. In the bibliography made in
his honour his publications on Jews were removed, see Ehrenreich, p. 67.
Yael Hashiloni-Dolev has provided us with a comprehensive sociological analysis of the study of
reproductive genetics in Israel and Germany. While she notes the gigantic repression of the history
of genetics in Germany from 1945 up to the 1970s, her analysis focuses primarily on German society
from the 1990s, which she characterizes as one deeply aware of its murderous past. What we lack,
therefore, is a description of the process of change. Yael Hashiloni-Dolev, A Life (Un)Worthy of
Living: Reproductive Genetics in Israel and Germany, Dordrecht 2007, p. 27. Anne Cotterbrune, Die
Westdeutsche Humangenetik auf dem Weg zu ihrer universitaren Institutionalisierung nach 1945 ^
Zwischen Neuausrichtung und Kontinuitat, in Das Heidelberger Institut fur Humangenetik: Vorgeschichte
und Ausbau Festschrift zum 50-jahrigenJubilaum in (1961-2012), Heidelberg 2012, p. 32.
For recent studies on Vogel see in particular the rst articles in Cotterbrune and Eckart. On Vogels
early work for Nachtsheim, together with a German Jewish remigrant from Palestine, Walther
Hirsch, see Alexander von Schwerin, A stranger in Germany: the pediatrician Walter Hirsch and
population genetics in West Berlin, unpublished manuscript presented at the conference The Study of
Jewish Biological Dierence After 1945, in Berlin, October 2012.

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Against the foil of the complete removal of Jews from discussion among the rst
generation of geneticists whose career continued into the postwar era ^ as
exemplied by Otmar von Verschuer14 ^ my account focuses on a prominent
member of the younger generation, FriedrichVogel (1925-2006), and his attempt to
remove antisemitic signiers from human genetics as part of its scientic
Born in Berlin in1925,Vogel grew up during the National Socialist period and was
drafted into the German army immediately upon graduation from school. After
his release from an Allied prison in 1946 he took up the study of medicine. Several
of his obituarists noted that the choice of genetics for his doctoral dissertation and
eld of research was considered a brave move, given the disciplines tainted
reputation from the National Socialist period. He completed his dissertation at
the Max Planck Institute for comparative hereditary Biology and hereditary
Pathology in Berlin-Dahlem under the supervision of Hans Nachtsheim.
Nachtsheim was considered at the time as arguably the only prominent human
geneticist untainted by collaboration with the National Socialist regime. In 1957
Vogel passed his habilitation and, in 1962, was appointed director of the newly
founded Institute of Human Genetics and Anthropology in Heidelberg.
Two sets of, to some extent, contradictory facts serve as the matrices of the
following discussion.16 The rst is that, despite the dierence between human
genetics and physical anthropology institutionally, methodologically, or
semantically deep into the 1960s (with the introduction of molecular genetics), it is
practically impossible to completely separate the study of Erblehre (heredity),
human genetics, and physical anthropology. Institutionally, methodologically, and


Amos Morris-Reich


Cornelius Borck, Verhaltungsgenetik und Elektroenzephalographie: Friedrich Vogels

Grundlagensforschung fur einen genetischen Humanismus, in Anne Cotterbrune, Wolfgang Eckart
(eds.), Das Heidelberger Institut fur Humangenetik, pp. 130, 140.
See Alexander von Schwerin, Humangenetik im Atomzeitalter: von der Mutationsforschung zum
genetischen Bevolkerungsregister, Heidelberger Institut fur Humangenetik, 87. Cotterbrune, Das
Heidelberger Institut fur Humangenetik.
Friedrich Vogel, Lehrbuch der Allgemeinen Humangenetik, Berlin 1961.
Ibid., p. 565.
Ibid., p. 567.
Ibid., p. 663.

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personally, in sources and resources, avenues of publication, and scientic networks

they were thoroughly intertwined. The second set pertains to Vogels background
as a student of Nachtsheim, who up until 1945 worked closely with von Verschuer
but after 1945 turned against him. Already in the early 1950sVogel viewed his work
as opposed to the murderous biopolitics of National Socialism (in the 1990s Vogel
stated his belief in what he termed genetischer Humanismus (genetic humanism),17 but
he was educated in an academic environment deeply steeped in ideas of racial
heredity and his early work on genetic mutations was shaped by methods
developed in the context of racial studies, focusing on normal variability and
genetic pathologies, now recast to address the fear of atomic radiation.18
InVogels writing over time it is possible to discern the gradual development of a
strategy intended to address directly and critically the tension between taboo and
classication. In 1961 he published a Handbook of General Human Genetics,19 in
which Jews appear in statistical tables based on older tables. But he does not merely
reproduce the older tables; he also notes that no communities have remained
genetically isolated ^ several racial scholars viewed the Jews as the classic case of
the isolated community ^ due to Verjagung (persecution) and Wirren (political
turmoil),20 in other words, due to conditions imposed on them from the outside.
Vogel briey discussesJews in the context of Ashkenazi genetic diseases.21
An entire section of Vogels 1961 work is devoted to the question of the Rassenseele
(racial-soul), a term that carries specic National Socialist connotations. He
begins his discussion by admitting that the topic is still emotionally sensitive,
especially since the tradition of Gobineau and Chamberlain ascribed preeminence
to the Germanic race, a claim that contributed to the methodical liquidation of
enemies of the Nordic master-race. Vogel rejects the vulgar prejudices of Hans
F.K. Gunther but, in a footnote, praises Bruno Petermanns 1938 monograph on the
subject of Rassenseele.22 Vogel therefore applies the West German demarcation line,
but at this stage, the concepts and language at his disposal are still ripe with
National Socialist antisemitic connotation.
Vogel elaborates on the dierences in IQ between black and white people, noting
the Jews higher IQ average than that of their Wirtsvo lker (host-populations) ^
before the National Socialist period the term Wirtsvolk was employed by both nonJewish and Jewish authors; its antisemitic connotations, born from its close
association with the supposed parasitic nature of the Jew, were only established

Taboo and Classification



Alex Bein,The Jewish Parasite: Notes on the Semantics of the Jewish Problem, with special reference
to Germany, in LBI Year Book, vol. 9 (1964), pp. 3-40.
Vogel, pp. 666-667.
Ibid., p. 667-668.
Friedrich Vogel, Peter Propping, Ist unser Schicksal mitgeboren?Moderne Vererbungsforschung und menschliche
Psyche [Is our Destiny Born with Us? Modern Study of Heredity and Human Psychology], Berlin 1981. The
book appeared with a publisher whose owners, the non-Jewish Siedler and the Jewish Severin, were
persecuted by the National Socialists. For a comprehensive account of Jewish intelligence, see
Sander L. Gilman, Smart Jews: The Construction of the Image of Jewish Superior Intelligence, Lincoln 1996.
Brock interprets the term mitgeboren in the title as a semantic shift away from angeboren and as an
expression of an attempt to move away from a determinist interpretation of genes to a humanistic
one. Brock, p. 141.
Vogel, Propping, p. 115.Vogel cites his Jewish colleague Walter Hirsch as evidence. See von Schwering,
A Stranger in Germany, p. 11.
Ibid., p.118.
Ibid.,p. 119.

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later.23 It seems clear that Vogel believes he is taking a critical stance towards
antisemitism. But his use of the word Wirtsvolk carries with it antisemitic
connotations. Was he unaware of these? Is it, perhaps, that the scientic language
at his disposal is still saturated in antisemitic overtones? Or is his stance, after all,
more ambivalent than the later historian wants to believe in that Vogel meant to
imply that it is good that Jews are no longer hosted on what is for them foreign
European soil? Vogel also cites Fritz Lenz, a National Socialist geneticist, as an
authority.24 In the same vein, he denies that racial mixture has negative genetic
eects on the ospring of acreative race,25 but on sociological grounds he accepts
the view that racially mixed marriages are destined to misery and anguish.
In his 1981book, co-authored with his student Peter Propping (born 1942), Jewish
IQ is treated in greater detail.26 The context is again supposed genetically based
racial dierences in IQ,27 especially with regard to the percentage of Nobel Prize
laureates. While Jews were dispersed throughout the world the book argues, based
on the classication of Jews as a racially or biologically dened group, they
remained genetically isolated because of religious decrees, and therefore IQ
dierences can be viewed as genetically embedded.28 Vogel mentions certain
factors, such as the Jews urban character, the laws prohibiting them from owning
land or working manually, their concentration in commerce which reinforces their
business acumen and adaptability, as well as their respect for and appreciation of
learning and knowledge. Generation after generation they suered murderous
persecution at the hands of the Christians, he writes, and the more intelligent
among them survived, according to Vogel, because they were protected by their
communities.29 While their value is here inverted, Vogels discussion is still
dependent on a set of antisemitic beliefs and motifs.
In 1986 Vogel and Karl Sperling organized the International Congress of Human
Genetics in Berlin, the rst international meeting of human geneticists in postwar
Germany. This event, particularly Vogels moving welcome address, was
considered the beginning of the disciplines coming to terms with its past. But an
even sharper illustration of the transformation in German human genetics
from Fischer and von Verschuer to Vogel appears in the latters book Human


Amos Morris-Reich


Rassenkunde was the site of an intersection of anthropological and humanist
methods, including those of history, philology and the study of religion with

Friedrich Vogel, Arno G. Motulsky (eds.), Human GeneticsProblems and Approaches, Heidelberg 1997.
Ibid., p. 18.
Ibid., p. 19.
Michael. R. Speicher, Stylianos E. Antonarakis, Arno. G. Motulsky (eds.), Human GeneticsProblems
and Approaches, Heidelberg 2010.
Ibid., p. 230.
Ibid. p. 229.
Ibid., pp. 290, 432, 505.
Ibid., pp. 577-578.
Ibid., pp. 706-707.

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GeneticsProblems and Approaches, published in English jointly with Arno Motulsky.30

Motulsky, a renowned Jewish professor at the University of Washingtons School of
Medicine, was born in Germany and survived the Holocaust.
The textbook opens with a history of human genetics in a number of countries.
The section on Germany stresses the intimate connection between the discipline
and antisemitism. It portrays the founding fathers of human genetics in Germany,
those scientists and scholars who assented to National Socialist leadership and
philosophy, such as Fischer, Rudin and vonVerschuer, as well as Fritz Lenz who, it
will be remembered,Vogel still quoted as an expert on Jews.31 The section discusses
vonVerschuers contribution to Mengeles medical experiments in Auschwitz at the
height of the Final Solution. Vogel and Motulsky state that this was one of
the most macabre and tragic chapters in the history of mans inhumanity to man
in the name of pseudoscientic nationalism32 (This passage was reprinted in the
2010 edition of the book).33
In the third edition considerable space was devoted to the Jews. Some of the
discussion of race here relates to visual materials that were published in Germany
in 1937,34 and also to cases of dizygotic twins where the biological father of each
twin is dierent that human geneticists had reviewed for German courts following
the Nuremberg Racial Laws.35 But most of the discussion focuses on genetic
diseases among Ashkenazi Jews,36 the relationship between genetic selection and
drift,37 and the Jews superlative IQ average.38 Accepting the post-1945 West
German opposition between science and pseudo-science, and attempting to arm
the position of human genetics on the side of genuine science,Vogels writing career
therefore exemplies transformations in scientic belief systems as well as the
tortuous gradual eradication of antisemitic signiers. This by way of the implicit
redenition of racial dierence as genetic dierence, and by limiting its expression
to specic genetic diseases and IQ averages.

Taboo and Classification



Proctor, pp. 138-179.

Hans F. K. Gunther, Rassenkunde des judischen Volkes, Munich 1930. The most comprehensive treatment
of Gunther remains that of Hans-Jurgen Lutzhoft, Der nordische Gedanke in Deutschland, 1920-1940,
Stuttgart 1971. This account, however, is also a document of its time. See also the more recent Peter
Schwandt, Hans F.K. Gunther: Portrat, Entwicklung und Wirken des rassistisch-nordischen Denkens,
Saarbrucken 2008.
Hans F.K. Gunther, Platon als Huter des Lebens: Platons Zucht- und Erziehungsgedanken und deren Bedeutung
fur die Gegenwart, Munich 1928.
Heinrich Ackermann, Jesus: His Message and its Appropriation in the West, Gottingen 1952.


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biological notions of race.39 With the introduction of the West German opposition
between racial science and racial ideology, Rassenkunde became the epitome of the
latter and Hans F.K. Gunther, the most prominent racial writer of the 1920s and
the 1930s, and unquestionably the most inuential writer addressed in this article,
became the personication of the racial ideologue.
In his mammoth study on the racial characteristics of the Jews, Rassenkunde des
judischen Volkes (1930), Gunther developed the idea that the Jews were a mongrelpeople, an anti-race that had developed following a long process of Gegenauslese
(counter-selection), with potentially devastating consequences for the natural
order of humanity.40 But in terms of the history of scientic classication Gunters
inuential denitions persisted, for they were the basis of physical anthropology.
Gunthers postwar writings show how, in an attempt to regain scholarly legitimacy,
he shifted his focus from race to religiosity and, in a partially transformed
intellectual context, came to displace his former antisemitic tropes and signiers.
Gunther was not tried in Nuremberg, but nevertheless as Himmlers teacher and
as a close associate of Rosenberg, belonged to a small group of writers that was
denitely linked to National Socialism. He spent three years in an internment
camp, but was released after it was decided that, although he had been a member
of the National Socialist establishment, as a mere Mitlaufer (bystander) he had not
initiated or perpetrated its criminal acts.
While his ideas remained basically the same, signicant transformations did
occur in Gunthers choice of topics, style of writing, and use of visual images. His
writing between 1922 and 1945 had been based on a xed denition of race, and
while race permeates his postwar work, it does so dierently. He no longer
trumpets his denition of race. But when he analyzes the religious attitudes of
Indo-Europeans ^ the subject of a 1963 work ^ his racial denitions are still visible
between the lines. Some of the older key terms, such as race and Nordic are
present, but their frequency and visibility is reduced. Race, in eect, recedes to the
Identied now as the personication of the racial ideologue, his attempt to
republish his book, Platon als Huter des Lebens encountered opposition.41 Gunther
decided to temporarily publish under a pseudonym and shifted the perspective of
his studies from race to religiosity. In 1952, and under the name of Heinrich
Ackermann, he published a two-volume study entitled Jesus: seine Botschaft und deren
Aufnahme im Abendland,42 and in 1963, under his real name, the study on


Amos Morris-Reich


Hans F.K. Gunther, Religious Attitudes of the Indo-Europeans, transl. byVivian Bird in collaboration with
Roger Pearson, Uckeld 2001.
See Susannah Heschel, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany, Princeton
Gunther, p. 30.
In the National Socialist period Gunther would not cite a Jewish scholar as an authority. The
discussion on the ethnic, racial, and religious dierences between Judean and Galilean Jewry/
Judaism of that period is still a major theme in contemporary scholarship. Cf. Sean Freyne, Galilee
and Gospel, Gottingen 2000.
Gunther, p. 72.
Ibid., p. 88.
Ibid., p. 139.
Ibid., pp. 136-137.
Ibid., pp. 152-165.

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Indo-European religiosity just mentioned above.43 This shift can be explained as

indicative of an attempt, on Gunthers part, to pinpoint race as the deepest root of
culture and religious form while, at the same time, moving race to the background
of discussion.
Without employing a historically unsustainable, idealized distinction between
uncorrupted scholarship and antisemitic writing, Gunthers 1952 study on the
historical Jesus, when compared with his pre-1945 publications, is nevertheless
indicative of important changes in styles of argumentation. On closer examination,
the study conforms to the corpus of theological literature dealing with Jesus that
crystallized in the writings of Ernst Renan, Walter Grundmann, and others.44 The
discussion of Christs racial background began in the nineteenth century, when
scholars sought to reconcile Christianity with the growing inuence of racial
theories that viewed the Jews as members of an inferior race. Susannah Heschel
has recently noted that this line of thinking ourished in the Protestant theological
discourse of the twentieth century and well into the 1960s and 1970s. Gunther
describes Jesus non-Jewish childhood in the Galilee.45 He draws on early and
contemporary scholarship, from Renan and Bultmann to Josef Klausner, the latter
a professor at the Hebrew University, and cites Hebrew, Greek and Persian
Gunther argues that much of Christs teaching was based on Semitic religious
beliefs, which were often of non-Jewish origin, that is, they were originally Aryan
ideas developed in Persia and Greece.47 He incorporates some of his earlier
antisemitic notions and themes, such as the interpretation that love thy
neighbour referred only to a Jewish neighbour,48 his concern with the emphasis of
Semitic religions on slave-master relations, the portrayal of Semitic forms of belief
as passionate and irrational, and the claim that Hebrew is more a language of
prophecy than philosophy because its syntax lacks the precision of Indo-European
languages.49 Gunther employs explicit racial formulations identical to those used
in his racial studies (indeed, he cites his own works).50 He recalls Paul de Lagardes
contention that the heart of the Christian Church is found in the Gospels,
especially Saint Paul.51 While no less racist, Gunther disputes Walter Grundmanns
view of Pauls canonical status. The appropriation of Indo-European religious

Taboo and Classification



Unlike Rassenkunde, physical anthropology after 1945 may have been politically
marginalized but it remained scientically unchanged. Consequently, physical
anthropology provides us with our richest source for the confrontation between
taboo and scientic classication. Three generations of physical anthropologists,
Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt (1892-1965), Ilse Schwidetzky (1907-1997) and Rainer
Knuman belong to a single school of racial anthropology, which lasted from the
Weimar period to the 1990s. Eickstedt was the supervisor of Schwidetzky, his
assistant and successor in Mainz. Knuman, one of Schwidetzkys leading
disciples, became a professor of anthropology at the University of Hamburg.
Precisely because in the National Socialist period Eickstedt was not considered
the leading physical anthropologist in Germany, he was able to establish a more
central place for himself and his pupils after 1945.58 But the eld as a whole was
tainted by its close aliation with National Socialist racial politics and Eickstedt
and his followers sought to distance themselves from racial ideology. In what
might seem today as a paradox, in an attempt to uphold the scientic legitimacy of
physical anthropology (against the allegation that it fell on the side of racial
pseudo-science), anthropologists were driven to justify the validity of their

Ibid., p. 176, p. 192.

Ibid., p. 197.
Ibid., p. 47.
Ibid., p. 57.
Ibid., p. 60.
See Dirk Preu, Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt (1892^1965). Anthropologe und Forschungsreisender. Selbstbild und
Entwicklung der deutschen Anthropologie im 20. Jahrhundert am Beispiel des Begrunders der Breslauer Schule,
2 vols. [unpublished dissertation, University of Jena 2006].


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forms resulted in the replacement of Jewish or Semitic revelation with European

mysticism,52 a mysticism that is absent in Semitic religions.Love thy neighbour
was universalized and became the basis of European humanism.53
In his 1963 book, Gunther states that the protection of race is both a consequence
and a requirement of the world order ^ a direct assertion of the Indo-European
religious heart.54 He quotes early twentieth century scholarly works that elaborate
on the cruelty of Semitic religions.55 He cites his own studies that describe Semitic
religious intolerance as alien to Indo-European religiosity56, as well as links
between the Oriental spirit and the desert.57 Taken at face value, his book is an
academic treatise on the roots of Indo-European religiosity; but its subtext is a
political discussion of race in the present.
Gunther did not alter his beliefs but he did alter his mode of argumentation
exemplifying that the transformation of patterns of argumentation do not
necessarily correspond with transformations in belief systems.


Amos Morris-Reich


Eickstedt is quoted and discussed in Britta Lange,AfterMath: Anthropological Data from Prisonerof-War Camps in Reinhard Johler, Christian Marchetti, Monique Scheer (eds.), Doing Anthropology
in Wartime and War Zones:World War I and the Cultural Sciences in Europe, Bielefeld 2010, pp. 319-320.
Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt, Ausgewahlte Lichtbilder zur Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes, Begleitheft,
2nd edn. 1933, p. 19. Christopher M. Hutton, Race and the Third Reich: Linguistics, Racial Anthropology
and Genetics in the Dialectic of Volk, Cambridge 2005, pp. 149-150, 159-160.
Quoted in Massin, Anthropologie und Humangenetik im Nationalsozialismus, p. 14.

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disciplines concepts, methods, and forms of human classication. In this vein

Eickstedt and his pupils insisted that their classication of Jews was scientically
rather than ideologically motivated. But as the discussion of Jewish racial
dierence was, after 1945, redened as partaking in antisemitic racial ideology,
their discussion was necessarily self-contradictory.
Eickstedts writing career on Jews illustrates some of the complexities of the
relationship between race and antisemitism in the twentieth century. Eickstedt,
the founder of the Breslau/Mainz School of physical anthropology, studied and
worked with Felix von Luschan and Eugen Fischer before obtaining an academic
post in Breslau in 1929, where he was awarded a habilitation degree in 1930 and a
teaching post in 1933. As part of his anthropological work on prisoners of war,
Eickstedt reported in January 1916 to von Luschan his only partial success in
measuring qualities of Russian Jews.59 While his keen interest in measuring Jews
testies that he viewed Jews as a physical (or racial) anthropological group, and in
this sense contributed to their racialization, at this stage it seems likely that he was
not directly motivated by antisemitism. His statements and activities during the
National Socialist period, however, painted in a dierent light his earlier activity.
Eickstedt borrowed from Gunther the basic typology of European races and the
methodological dierentiation between Volk and Rasse, although he inverted their
relationship. Eickstedts request to join the National Socialist Party was turned
down (after quarrelling with a local party ocial), but he worked closely with the
partys political oce, writing evaluations for the Reichssippenamt (Reich Kinship
Oce), and in disputed cases determining whether individuals were full-edged
Jews, half-Jews, or quarter-Jews. His scientic views on the Jewish question fell well
within the large mass of antisemitic laws and ideas.60
During the National Socialist period Eickstedt undertook a major
anthropological study of the racial prole of the population in Upper Silesia,
trying to prove the presence of Nordic racial traits that would qualify the
population for Germanization. Eickstedt ed Breslau/ Wroclaw and obtained a
position at the University of Mainz. The following year he exploited the rejection
of his request for membership of the National Socialist Party by claiming that he
had never been close to the party or its ideology. During the National Socialist
period Eickstedt warned of the Jewish threat in terms of Uberfremdung. After the
war, Eickstedt appropriated the opposition between science and politics and in
1959 wrote that: racial madness developed not out of racial studies or racial
knowledge, but out of Rassenunwissen (racial ignorance).61 After 1945 his work
makes no mention of the Jews, but a direct line runs from Eickstedt to Schwidetzky

Taboo and Classification



I return to the tacit re-introduction of discussion of Jews through older photographs later in this
section. Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt, Ursprung und Entfaltung der Seele: Entwurf und System einer
psychologischen Anthropologie, Stuttgart 1963. See Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss, Rasse und Seele. Munich
1933, pp. 78-81.
See Eickstedt, n. 2111 on pp. 2466-2467
Ibid., p. 1657 and p. 2256.
Ilse Schwidetzky, Einfuhrung in die Vo lkerbiologie, Stuttgart 1950. Eickstedt, Die Forschung.
See Hofeld, Geschichte der biologischen Anthropologie in Deutschland, p. 406.
Egon von Eickstedt (ed.), with the assistance of Gunther Holtz and Ilse Schwidetzky, Ausgewahlte
Lichtbilder zur Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes. Erlauterungen, Stuttgart 1933, pp. 12, 15, 19-22.
Jakob Michelsen, Ilse Schwidetzky, in Ingo Haar, Michael Fahlbusch (eds.), Handbuch der vo lkischen
Wissenschaften, Munich 2008, pp. 634-638.

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and Knuman, with whom such statements resurface. Eickstedt also makes no
direct mention of Jews in his truly out of the ordinary book of 1963.62 This book of
over 2500 pages brings together physical anthropology with Heideggers
phenomenology and Einsteins physics (footnoting together Georg Simmel and
Hans F.K. Gunther,63 among many others). The closest he gets to mention Jews is
the reproduction of two photographs of Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss to capture
distinct racial essences in movements.64 The latter, which Clauss claims is an Arab
woman, is designated Armenider Erlo sungstypus, which encompassed the Jewish
type in Felix von Luschans classication.
Neither Eickstedt nor Schwidetzky altered their racial beliefs after 1945, but
certain important semantic changes are visible. The term race was replaced by
Vo lkerbiologie (population biology) until the early 1960s. Eickstedt re-titled the
revised, enlarged edition of Racial Study and Racial History of Humanity as Forschung
am Menschen (Research on Man). The Journal of Racial Studies was rechristened
Homo in 1949 and became the ocial journal of the German Anthropological
Association.65 Less than two decades after the end of the Second World War,
however, Schwidetzky announced that the time was ripe to re-address the problem
of human races with Neue Rassenkunde (new racial studies).66
Under Eickstedts supervision in Breslau, in 1934 Schwidetzky completed her
dissertation on the Polish national movement in Upper Silesia between 1825 and
1914, and was granted a habilitation in 1937 for her treatise on the ancient Slavs.
Schwidetzky frequently contributed articles to Eickstedts journal Rassenkunde.67
When Eicksted left for Mainz, he invited her to work with him. In 1961 she
succeeded her mentor as head of the Anthropological Institute, gaining wide
recognition in the following years. Schwidetzky published in the English-language
journal The Mankind Quarterly and other journals considered racist at the time. As
one of the most prominent female academics in West Germany, she was seen as the
matriarch of German physical anthropology. Only in 1980, on the eve of being
granted an academic award in France, did controversy erupt and student protests
break out over her aliation with the National Socialist Party.68
Benoit Massin criticizes Schwidetzkys history of racial studies for its blatant
falsications regarding the disciplines role in the National Socialist period,
especially concerning her own institutes legal-anthropological involvement in the
racial evaluation of individuals. Particularly interesting in our context is


Amos Morris-Reich


Ilse Schwidetzky, Grundzuge der Vo lkerbiologie, Stuttgart 1950. The historical book of physical
anthropology criticized by Massin is Ilse Schwidetzy with I. Spiegel-Rosing, Maus und Schlange.
Untersuchungen zur Lage der deutschen Anthropologie, Munich 1992.
Ibid., p. 68.
Ibid., p. 108.
Ibid., pp. 276-282.
Viktor V. Bunak, Rassengeschichte Osteuropas, in Ilse Schwidetzky (ed.), Rassengeschichte der
Menschheit: Europa II: Ost- und Nordeuropa, Munich^Vienna 1976, pp. 50, 52. D. Ferembach, Histoire
raciale du Sahara septentrional, in Ilse Schwidetzky (ed.), Rassengeschichte der Menschheit Afrika I:
Nord-und Mittelafrika, Munich^Vienna 1975, pp.164-165. Ilse Schwidetzky, Rassengeschichte von
Deutschland, in Ilse Schwidetzky (ed.), Rassengeschichte der Menschheit: Europa V: Schweiz, Deutschland,
Belgien und Luxemburg, Niederlande, Munich^Vienna 1976, pp. 92-93.
Wolfram Bernhard, A
sien IV: Sudwestasien, in Ilse Schwidetzky (ed.), Rassengeschichte der Menschheit,
Munich 1993, pp. 147-177.

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Schwidetzkys discussion of Jews in her 1950 book Grundzuge derVo lkerbiologie.69 Here
she focuses on the analysis of wandering as a biological phenomenon
(Wanderbiologie), mentioning Jews numerous times, for example, in discussion of the
Babylonian Exile,70 and in her assessment that a number three or four times bigger
than the current population size of the Jews has been assimilated by their
Wirtsvo lkern.71 She also discusses the extinction of peoples, claiming that the
selection processes introduced with the Europeanization of the world brought
about the extinction of some peoples but led to an increase in the numbers of
others.72 Hence, while including Jews within her account of wider biological
tendencies, she is careful to avoid mention of their more recent historical fate.
Even more interesting for our purposes, however, are decisions made with regard
to the representation of Jews in the series Rassengeschichte der Menschheit (The Racial
History of Humanity), an extension of Eickstedts project, which Schwidetzky
founded, edited, and to which she contributed.The multi-volume series in German,
English and French was generally arranged geographically according to nation
states. In most of the countries covered ^ including those in Western Europe and
the Americas-Jews were omitted from discussion and passed over as a distinct
racial category. Nonetheless, in three cases they were mentioned as a separate subpopulation: Tunisia, Ukraine, and Germany.73 In the case of Tunisia, the article
notes that Jews arrived in 1492 and lived there until the establishment of the State
of Israel. The article on the Ukraine was based on older statistics in which Jews
were separately classied. The statistical table was reproduced, but Jews were not
discussed in the body of the text. This moment exemplies precisely what in this
paper is termed asmall tension.
Schwidetzky briey discussed the Jews in her essay on Germany. She did so
indirectly, noting their absence, in a brief paragraph that dealt with the
evolutionary tendencies of selection, admitting that the impact of the Jewish
peoples annihilation on the German psyche was still unknown. In this way she
alluded toJewish racial dierence while eschewing its direct discussion.
The most comprehensive discussion on the Jews in this series is in the section
dealing with the State of Israel, which appears in Wolfram Bernhards 1993 volume
on Southwest Asia.74 The account begins after the Second World War and claims

Taboo and Classification


that, following the establishment of the State of Israel, many Jews not only from
Europe but also from Middle Eastern countries back-wandered [zuruckgewandert]
to Palestine, where today they make up the majority.75 Bernhard emphasized the
dierence between the majority of Jews in Israel, who arrived after 1948 from the
various diasporas, and the minority, whose presence there has remained unbroken
since Biblical times.76 Bernhard provides a racial map in which Israels population
is marked Juden.

The decision not to discussJews in Europe or the United States but to discussJews in
Israel was not an object of explicit reection. Rather, it ensued from a covert form
of negotiation that concerned the boundaries of the discussion of Jewish racial
dierence and rendered certain objects legitimate and others taboo.
We have no direct evidence as to whether an editorial decision was made with
regard to the representation of the Jews in the series as a whole and it seems likely

Unlike the term zuruckgekehrt (returned), the term zuruckgewandert does not have Zionist connotations
but rather connotes The wandering Jew, p. 149.
Ibid., p. 174.

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Wolfram Bernhard,Asien IV: Sudwestasien, in Ilse Schwidetzky (ed.),

Rassengeschichte der Menschheit, Munich 1993. With kind permission of
Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag Munich.


Amos Morris-Reich


Egon von Eickstedt, Die Rassischen Grundlagen des deutschen Volkes, Cologne 1939, pp. 28-31. The Jews,
according to Eickstedt, arrived far earlier than the Gypsies, in fact before Germany was
germanized. But the two peoples are described as accommodated (beherbergt) by host-peoples
(Wirtsvo lker). The Jews are characterized as merciless (mitleidslos) and vindictive (rachsuchtig) p. 30.
Their poisonous destructive spirituality (zersetzende Geistigkeit) and their underlying alien form
(Andersartigkeit) create constant tensions and disharmonies. Eickstedt concluded this section stating
that it is only natural and healthy that all defensive measures against this threatening force should
be taken and with full force (mit aller Kraft), p. 31.
Cf. A. Buhan,Europa, in Georg Buschan (ed.), Illustrierte Vo lkerkunde, Stuttgart 1910, p. 346.
See Jaroslav Suchy, Die Zigeuner, in Karl Saller (ed.), Australien, Indochina-Indopakistan, Die Zigeuner,
Munich^Vienna 1968, pp. 185-191.
Rainer Knuman, Vergleichende Biologie des Menschen. Ein Lehrbuch der Anthropologie und Humangenetik,
Frankfurt am Main 1996, p. 429. For mention of the protests, see Alte Lehre zementiert, in Der
Spiegel no. 20 (12 May 1997), p. 218.

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that it was negotiated tacitly. Either way, Jews no longer appeared as a single metageographical category. If they were discussed, then it was either through the State
of Israel or as a sub-group dispersed among local populations. Importantly, the
discussion of Israel remained linked to historical records, and avoided antisemitic
tropes or Eickstedts and Gunthers older characterizations.
The eect of the taboo on the classication of the Jews may be appreciated
negatively when compared to a similar case: Gypsies. In a 1939 publication,
Eickstedt ended his discussion of the German people with two Fremdvo lker (the
literal translation two alien peoples or nations, does not carry the weight of the
original German): Gypsies and Jews.77 While at the exact moment of time in which
this statement was made it had dramatic political implications, scientically it was
by no means novel.78 While the Sinti and Roma were systematically persecuted
during the National Socialist period, the postwar taboo was not extended to their
discussion. Hence after 1945, based on Eickstedts same classication system and
the alleged presence of Indo-Afghanistan and Iran-Afghanistan admixtures, the
discussion on European Gypsies was relegated to a non-European volume in the
series where they appeared as a separate class alongside Australian Aborigines and
the Asiatic population of Indo-China.79
Rainer Knumans second edition (1988) of his 1980 textbook provides the last
instance, in this genealogy, of themes, beliefs, or signiers that for most of the
period after 1945 were unstated. A short passage, in particular, sparked a public
controversy, which began with student protests in Hamburg and reached the
national press. In comparison with the earlier opposition that Gunther had met,
physical anthropology had only now fallen into disrepute.80
This passage included several antisemitic tropes and signiers (adverse selection,
parasitism, fundamental non-European dierence, and responsibility for being
objects of hate) and a specicallyWest German frame of discussion (the opposition
between science and ideology in respect to his discipline, underscoring what he
sees asJewsalleged superior intelligence). But from the perspective of the history of
taboo and classication an even more interesting aspect is found in Knumans use
of photographs.

Taboo and Classification


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An Example of the Reintroduction, Reproduction, and Reclassication of

Photographic Material

Amos Morris-Reich

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Taboo and Classification


At the end of all three editions of his book (1980, 1988, and 1996) is a series of
photographs of racial types together with titles. Knuman did not divulge the
original contexts of the photographs and many clearly stem from an existing
repertoire. Tucked away within the series of photographs is one particular image,
that of a bearded man, which is entitled Armenider aus Kurdistan (Armenoid type
from Kurdistan), but is in fact of a Jew from Jerusalem.81 Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss,
who took the photograph in Jerusalem, described his subject as a Jewish carrier
from Kurdistan, Redemption type, Middle Eastern race.82


Knuman (ed.) 1980 p. 433; idem (ed.) 1988 p. 348; idem (ed.) 1996 p. 433. Eickstedt, Die rassischen
Grundlagen des deutschen Volkes, p. 29. Eickstedt characterizes the Jews as a racial mixture that is
primarily of the Armenoid type. On standard characterizations of the Armenoid type see Klaus
Taschwer, Lo sung der Judenfrage. Zu einigen anthropologischen Ausstellungen im Naturhistorischen Museum
Wien in: Kirstin Breitenfellner und Charlotte Kohn-Ley (eds.), Wie ein Monster entsteht : zur
Konstruktion des anderen in Rassismus und Antisemitismus, Bodenheim 1998, 170-171, as well as Niels C.
Losch, Rasse als Konstrukt: Leben und Werk Eugen Fischers, Frankfurt 1997, p. 280.
Clauss, p. 81.

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As the photograph appeared originally in Clauss most important publication as

part of an extensive photographic series of that individual, it seems highly likely
that Knuman was aware of the original context of the photograph. If this is so,


Amos Morris-Reich

then he disguised it through reclassication although we cannot entirely rule out the
possibility that Knuman was unaware of the original context of the photograph.
The fact that the reader remains in a state of uncertainty as to whether this is a
case of unstated, concealed, or genuinely absent beliefs is an essential characteristic
of the intellectual structure addressed by this article.

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Based on a degree of continuity in scientic writing on race coupled with
destabilization of the discussion of Jews, this article retrieves small tensions in the

Taboo and Classification


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dierent trajectories of human genetics, Rassenkunde, and physical anthropology

between 1945 and the early 1990s. Raising complex questions of historical
contextualization, between the new post-1945 context and the older scientic
traditions, it was shown that what were apparently the same ideas were at least in
some ways not the same (Vogel) while seemingly dierent ideas were shown to be
the same old ideas (Gunther).
The three interconnected but separate cases examined here show the opposition
between science and pseudoscience ^ methodologically an important semiotic
shifter in the history of science ^ to be more complex than it at rst appears. At the
end of the historical period surveyed here human genetics was recognized as a
science, Rassenkunde as essentially awed, and physical anthropology as somewhere
in between the two. But these denitions were the product of the period after 1945,
while prior to that time the three shared their racial classications. Interestingly,
and as the three cases have documented, in a certain way scientists in respective
elds partook in and conformed to the labelling conferred upon their elds. The
disentangling of the trajectories of human genetics, physical anthropology, and
Rassenkunde through references toJews followed a specically postwar course which
is so powerful that it is intuitively projected onto the pre-National Socialist period.
The question whether the destabilization of discussion of Jews aected the course
of the very forms of classication remains open.
The reason this article does not continue through to the present is that the
structure at the centre of this intellectual exploration gradually loosens up. While
German scientists would unquestionably still be wary of studying Jews in genetic or
racial terms, they no longer seem bound by the same intellectual structure. Why is
this so? And what can be learned from this? These questions merit a study in their
own right and without having conducted the necessary research I can only suggest
at present that it is then that forms of knowledge about genetics, Jewishness, and
Germanness start to change rather dramatically. While we still lack the historical
and conceptual means to fully account for the complexities these subjects involve
after 1945, it is also probable that it is only because this structure no longer holds
sway that it now oers itself to historical reection.