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.
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
[...] Gossman has chosen a particularly interesting biographical subject. More importantly, he has succeeded in writing both a readable and scholarly work, clearly based on thorough and intensive research, as the copious but invariably useful footnotes testify.
"The Passion of Max von Oppenheim: Archaeology and Intrigue in the Middle East from Wilhelm II to Hitler". Journal of Contemporary European Studies (1478-2804), vol. 22, no. 1, 2014. doi:10.1080/14782804.2013.865374
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
7. Discovery and Excavation, Publications and Critical Reception
8. Financial Difficulties. The Fate of the Tell Halaf Finds
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" (German Resistance)
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 Middle East Policy of the Third Reich
14. Max von Oppenheim’s Last Years
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
INDEX OF NAMES