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The Expulsion of Academic Teaching Staff from German Universities, 1933–45

Grüttner, Michael

In spring 1933, a political purge began in German universities, affecting around one fifth of their academic staff. This study examines the various stages of this process, uses new data to create a collective portrait of those dismissed and asks why they received so little support from their unscathed colleagues. An analysis of the reasons for their dismissal shows that approximately 80% were driven out on antisemitic grounds, even though less than a third belonged to the Jewish community. Their lives after their dismissal varied greatly. Whereas some managed to pursue highly successful careers while in emigration, others were murdered by the Nazis or committed suicide. At the same time the purge policy improved the career chances of younger academics and it is no coincidence that it was from their ranks that the largest number of supporters of the Nazi regime were recruited. Not until the second half of the war did leading German politicians and academic leaders recognise a further effect of this policy, namely that the emigration of numerous influential scholars had provided the Allies with a ‘considerable gain in potential’, including in highly significant military research.
Published in: Journal of Contemporary History, 10.1177/00220094211063074, Sage
  • Dieser Beitrag ist mit Zustimmung des Rechteinhabers aufgrund einer (DFG geförderten) Allianz- bzw. Nationallizenz frei zugänglich.
  • This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.