LINGUIST List 8.146

Fri Jan 31 1997

FYI: Book on the Persecution of Linguists

Editor for this issue: Helen Dry <>


  1. Martin Haase, Book on the Persecution of Linguists

Message 1: Book on the Persecution of Linguists

Date: Fri, 31 Jan 97 11:42:32 -0500
From: Martin Haase <>
Subject: Book on the Persecution of Linguists

I would like to draw your attention to a fascinating book
which may not be noticed, because it is not about language,
although it is concerned with linguistics (and it is written
in German).

MAAS, Utz: Verfolgung und Auswanderung deutschsprachiger
Sprachforscher 1933--1945. Band 1: Einleitung und
biobibliographische Daten A-F. -- Osnabrueck: Secolo 1996.
ISBN: 3-929979-23-3. 288pp. DEM 98 (about 60 USD).

As the title says, the book deals with the ``persecution and
emigration of German-speaking language researchers'' during
the period of Nazi rule in Europe. The first 157 pages give
a general overview about the people involved, about the
political background, the events and their consequences. It
becomes obvious that the present aspect of the language
sciences was largely determined by the described events. Of
course, the main focus of the book is on Germany and
Austria, but the consequences for the development of the
field in the US are discussed as well (esp. pp. 36-41).

The second part of the book contains the biographies of
persecuted language researchers. In this first volume, only
the letters A-F (47 biographies) are treated in depth
(although the biographical data of other people can be
retrieved from the huge apparatus of 774 notes). In the
preface, the author leaves it open whether a second volume
containing 131 biographies will appear. The reason for using
the unfamiliar term ``language researchers'' comes from the
difficulty to clearly attribute the majority of the scholars
to one specific field. Until the middle of the century, it
was not unusual to work on the borderline of linguistics,
philology, and literature (e.g. E. Auerbach, K. and H.
Collitz, or L. Spitzer) or in even wider fields of
investigation (e.g. K. Buehler or E.A. Cassirer). Not
surpringly, there are a great number of Yiddishists and
Hebraists. Inspite of their sometimes impressive
contribution to the field, some of them are hardly known

The author studied not only published material, but mainly
relied on personal interviews, public and private archives,
unpublished or hardly accessible material. His provocative,
but well documented approach makes the book highly readable.

Martin Haase

- -----------------------------------------------------------
Dr. Martin Haase, Universitaet FB 7, D-49069 Osnabrueck
Tel.:+49-541-969-4340, FAX:+49-541-969-4256
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