September 18, 2006


How a Professor Trained as an Engineer Came to Write a History of Holocaust Survivors Who Found Refuge in Turkey (Arnold Reisman, History News Network)

While browsing through an Istanbul book store I came across “Turkey and the Holocaust.” Being a Holocaust survivor and considering myself somewhat knowledgeable about its history the book grabbed my attention. I knew nothing about what was so painstakingly documented by its author Stanford Shaw. Noticing my agitation the shopkeeper engaged me in a conversation. Suddenly I realized that this Turkish native was very familiar with a subject which, upon my return to Cleveland, I learned that stateside people teaching Holocaust history were as ignorant on the matter as was I. Dealing mostly with the Turkish government’s role in saving Turkey-connected Jews residing in both occupied and Vichy France, the Shaw book briefly touches on the subject of the German and Austrian intellectuals invited to Turkey by Ataturk for the purposes of creating a modern system of higher education. This peaked my interest. With the help of professional archivists worldwide and a number of friends who live in Turkey and in Israel, I set about researching and writing the story.

The book chronicles the story of a group of individuals caught at a crossroads and targeted in the crossfires of history. In 1933 events in their native Germanic lands presented them with a “Hobson’s choice”—leave if you can or die! Their lives were saved because Turkey was discarding the society and culture inherited from the Ottomans’ derelict and shattered empire while recognizing and addressing the need to modernize its society, culture, way of living, and system of higher education.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 18, 2006 12:00 AM
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