One of the finest books on this period and topic. The research is thorough, the analysis careful and moderate, and the range of the book is broad. It will appeal to scholars in a variety of fields. The biographical sections on Oppenheim, a fascinating figure, are superb, and the many complexities of his life are contextualized beautifully as are those on Oppenheim's pamphlets during WWI concerning Jihad. A learned book of the highest caliber.
—Prof Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College
Gossman's book unrolls fascinating threads in the network of relationships that Max von Oppenheim had woven.
— Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, 'Akteur für Kaiser und Hitler', explizit.net
, 4 March 2013
An excellent biography of Max von Oppenheim showing sovereign mastery of the sources and fairness in his approach.
— Walter Laqueur, 'Hitler’s Jews: Max Von Oppenheim and the Myth of German Jewish Guilt', Tablet
, 21 August 2013
An absorbing study
— Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Common Knowledge, vol. 19.3, 2013, p. 571
Born into a prominent German Jewish banking family, Baron Max von Oppenheim (1860-1946) was a keen amateur archaeologist and ethnologist. His discovery and excavation of Tell Halaf in Syria marked an important contribution to knowledge of the ancient Middle East, while his massive study of the Bedouins is still consulted by scholars today. He was also an ardent German patriot, eager to support his country's pursuit of its "place in the sun".
Excluded by his part-Jewish ancestry from the regular diplomatic service, Oppenheim earned a reputation as "the Kaiser's spy" because of his intriguing against the British in Cairo, as well as his plan, at the start of the First World War, to incite Muslims under British, French and Russian rule to a jihad against the colonial powers. After 1933, despite being half-Jewish according to the Nuremberg Laws, Oppenheim was not persecuted by the Nazis. In fact, he placed his knowledge of the Middle East and his connections with Muslim leaders at the service of the regime.
Ranging widely over many fields—from war studies to archaeology and banking history—The Passion of Max von Oppenheim tells the gripping and at times unsettling story of one part-Jewish man's passion for his country in the face of persistent and, in his later years, genocidal anti-Semitism.
Since publication this book has been viewed over 1600 times (last updated November 2013).
Title: The Passion of Max von Oppenheim: Archaeology and Intrigue in the Middle East from Wilhelm II to Hitler
Author: Lionel Gossman
Publication Date: February 2013
Number of pages: 416
Dimensions: 6.14" x 9.21" | 234 x 156 mm
BIC subject codes: JFSR1 (Jewish studies), JPFQ (Fascism and Nazism), HBJF1 (Middle-Eastern history), HBJD (European history), HDDC (Middle and Near Eastern archaeology)
Illustrations: 20 black and white
ISBN Paperback: 978-1-909254-20-6
ISBN Hardback: 978-1-909254-21-3
ISBN Digital (PDF): 978-1-909254-22-0
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 978-1-909254-23-7
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi):
© Lionel Gossman
Unless otherwise stated, all contents of this book are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported license.
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I. FAMILY BACKGROUND, DIPLOMATIC CAREER, ROLE IN WORLD WAR I
1. The Oppenheims
2. The Charm of the Orient
3. Attaché in
Cairo. "The Kaiser’s Spy"
4. The Spectre of Pan-Islamism and Jihad. The Background of Oppenheim’s 1914 Denkschrift betreffend die Revolutionierung der islamischen Gebiete Unserer Feinde
5. Oppenheim’s 1914 Denkschrift
6. Promoter of German Economic Expansion and the Berlin-Baghdad Railway
PART II. THE ARCHAEOLOGIST: TELL HALAF
7. Discovery and Excavation, Publications and Critical Reception
8. Financial Difficulties. The Fate of the Tell Halaf Finds
PART III."THE KAISER’S SPY" UNDER NATIONAL SOCIALISM. "LEBEN IM NS-STAAT"
10. The Oppenheims and their Bank under National Socialism
11. Waldemar and Friedrich Carl von Oppenheim, so-called "Quarter-Jews", during the National Socialist Regime: Work for the Abwehr
(German Counter-Intelligence) and Association with the Conservative "Widerstand"
12. Max von Oppenheim, "Half-Jew," during the National Socialist Regime
(i) Oppenheim and the Race Question
(ii) Support of the Regime
13. Plotting for Nazi
Germany. Oppenheim’s Role in the
Policy of the Third Reich
14. Max von Oppenheim’s Last Years
PART IV. MAX VON OPPENHEIM’S RELATION TO NATIONAL SOCIALISM IN CONTEXT. SOME RESPONSES OF "NON-ARYAN” GERMANS TO NATIONAL SOCIALISM
15. Two Jewish Organizations: the Verband nationaldeutscher Juden (Association of German National Jews) and the Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten (Jewish War Veterans Association)
16. Some Individuals: Schoeps, Pevsner, Kantorowicz, Landmann
17. By Way of Conclusion
APPENDIX of originals and translations of passages quoted
INDEX OF NAMES
Lionel Gossman is M. Taylor Pyne Professor of Romance Languages (Emeritus) at
University. Most of his work has been on seventeenth and eighteenth-century French literature, nineteenth-century European cultural history, and the theory and practice of historiography. His publications include Men and Masks: A Study of Molière; Medievalism and the Ideologies of the Enlightenment; French Society and Culture: Background for 18th Century Literature; The Empire Unpossess’d: An Essay on Gibbon’s "Decline and Fall;” Between History and Literature; Basel in the Age of Burckhardt: A Study in Unseasonable Ideas; The Making of a Romantic Icon: The Religious Context of Friedrich Overbeck’s "Italia und Germania;” and several edited volumes: The Charles Sanders Peirce Symposium on Semiotics and the Arts; Building a Profession: Autobiographical Perspectives on the Beginnings of Comparative Literature in the United States (with Mihai Spariosu); Geneva-Zurich-Basel: History, Culture, and National Identity, and Begegnungen mit Jacob Burckhardt (with Andreas Cesana). He is also author of Brownshirt Princess: A Study of the 'Nazi Conscience', and the editor and translator of The End and the Beginning: The Book of My Life by Hermynia Zur Mühlen, both published by OBP.
Taking Oppenheim’s life in its totality from his ancestors and the founding of their family bank in the eighteenth century all the way to the end of his life just after the demise of the Nazi regime, Gossman’s The Passion is probably the best biography on Oppenheim so far in the English language.
— Mehmet Yerçil, German History (forthcoming)
An interesting book about a very interesting individual. There has been a surge of interest in recent years in German efforts to foment jihad across the British and French Empires, but this will be the first deeply resourced, three-dimensional account of Oppenheim, and the first to make sense of his role as an assimilated Jew (German of Jewish descent might be a closer fit) who saw service to the German state and German scholarship as the highest possible calling.
— Anonymous reviewer