The Passion of Max von Oppenheim: Archaeology and Intrigue in the Middle East from Wilhelm II to Hitler - cover image


Lionel Gossman

Published On





  • English

Print Length

416 pages (xxvi + 390)


Paperback156 x 22 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.85" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 24 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.94" x 9.21")


Paperback1282g (45.22oz)
Hardback1672g (58.98oz)



OCLC Number





  • JFSR1
  • JPFQ
  • HBJF1
  • HBJD
  • HDDC


  • HIS014000
  • HIS026000
  • REL072000


  • DD231.O66


  • Nazi history
  • anti-semitism
  • Middle East
  • German history
  • Jewish history

The Passion of Max von Oppenheim

Archaeology and Intrigue in the Middle East from Wilhelm II to Hitler

  • Lionel Gossman (author)
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

Dartmouth College


[...] 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.

Stuart Parkes

"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

Full Review


Lionel Gossman

M. Taylor Pyne Professor of Romance Languages (Emeritus) at Princeton University