Version classiqueVersion mobile

The Passion of Max von Oppenheim

 | 
Lionel Gossman

III. “The Kaiser’s Spy” under National Socialism; “Leben Im ns-Staat, 1933–1945”

9. Questions

Texte intégral

  • 1 Cologne: DuMont, 2001.
  • 2 Ibid., pp. 90–92.
  • 3 Der Tell Halaf und sein Ausgräber Max freiherr von Oppenheim (Berlin: Vorderasiatisches Museum; Ma (...)

1By all accounts this period of Oppenheim’s life and activity is marked by unanswered, perhaps unanswerable, yet unavoidable questions. “How was Max von Oppenheim able to protect himself and his work so successfully from discrimination and persecution?” asks his biographer Dr. Gabriele Teichmann—the Director of the Oppenheim Family Archive— towards the close of her richly informed contribution to the outstanding collective volume put out by the Max-Freiherr-von-Oppenheim-Stiftung and entitled Faszination Orient: Max von Oppenheim, Forscher, Sammler, Diplomat.1 Having considered the explanations Oppenheim himself provided in the manuscript of an unpublished autobiographical memoir on which he worked in his last years, Teichmann concludes that these “are not completely convincing.”2 In similar vein, Nadja Cholidis and Lutz Martin, who participated in the restoration of the Tell Halaf finds and who view Oppenheim’s career almost heroically, in the light of his motto “Kopf hoch! Mut hoch! Und Humor hoch!” [“Head high! Chin up! Keep smiling!”], acknowledge in their 2002 book Der Tell Halaf und sein Ausgräber Max Freiherr von Oppenheim—albeit in an endnote—that “it has to come as a surprise that Max von Oppenheim lived through the Nazi period, despite many annoyances, without serious threat either to his person or to his work. He himself suggests that this was thanks to influential friends, his international reputation, and his knowledge of the Orient. But it is well enough established that these factors alone would not have sufficed to provide protection. The present state of research into this part of his biography does not permit us to offer a convincing explanation.”3

  • 4 Vol. 19, pp. 562–63.
  • 5 Vol. 101 [1955], pp. 3–8.
  • 6 In the handsome Festschrift offered to Caskel himself to mark his 70th birthday (ed. Erwin Gräf [L (...)

2In the absence of reliable information, some have opted simply to avoid any mention of his situation as a non-Aryan during the years of National Socialism. In her otherwise informative article on Oppenheim in the Neue Deutsche Biographie4 Ursula Moortgat-Correns is silent on the topic. Similarly, Werner Caskel, who was Oppenheim’s long-term assistant and collaborator, and who, moreover, was half Jewish himself, contrives to say virtually nothing about this period in his obituary tribute to Oppenheim in the venerable Zeitschrift der deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft5 and does not even mention that Oppenheim was of part-Jewish descent.6 This is obviously not a course we can follow here. Our effort to gain some insight into the matter will involve us in many seemingly digressive discussions as we approach if from a variety of perspectives.

3Let us look first at the situation of the family as a whole and of the Bank from which the family cannot be dissociated.

Notes

1 Cologne: DuMont, 2001.

2 Ibid., pp. 90–92.

3 Der Tell Halaf und sein Ausgräber Max freiherr von Oppenheim (Berlin: Vorderasiatisches Museum; Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 2002), note 25, pp. 68, 70.

4 Vol. 19, pp. 562–63.

5 Vol. 101 [1955], pp. 3–8.

6 In the handsome Festschrift offered to Caskel himself to mark his 70th birthday (ed. Erwin Gräf [Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1968]) there is likewise no mention of the part-Jewish background that led to Caskel’s having to give up his professorship at Greifswald. We are told only that "On July 1, 1938, Caskel left Greifswald and moved with his family to Danzig" (p. 20).

Acheter

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search