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Surprising Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism: Research and the Adluri/Grünendahl Debate

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Whether or not Indology contributed to Nazism and the Shoah from the eighteenth century onward should be a straightforward empirical question examined with historical methods based on archival documents, original publications, insights, judgments of truth, and awareness of moral or existential bias of both the researcher and the researched. In the “Indologiestreit” between Vishwa P. Adluri (2011) and Reinhold Grünendahl (2012) published in this Journal, however, the question about the Nazification of Indology is overshadowed by Edward W. Said’s political-literary narrative. Why? What is Said’s mesmeric reproach of British and French depictions of the “Orient” all about? And why does it haunt the arguments of Adluri and Grünendahl? More curiously, why does Said omit German Indologists from his indictment of Western imperial power, sexual, and biblical fantasies of the “Orient”?
1 23
International Journal of Hindu
Studies
ISSN 1022-4556
Hindu Studies
DOI 10.1007/s11407-015-9180-3
Surprising Aryan Mediations between
German Indology and Nazism: Research
and the Adluri/Grünendahl Debate
Karla Poewe & Irving Hexham
1 23
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DOI 10.1007/s11407-015-9180-3
International Journal of Hindu Studies 19, 3: 263–300
© 2015 Springer
DOI
Surprising Aryan Mediations between German
Indology and Nazism: Research and the
Adluri/Grünendahl Debate
Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
Whether or not Indology contributed to Nazism and the Shoah from the
eighteenth century onward should be a straightforward empirical ques-
tion examined with historical methods based on archival documents,1
original publications, insights, judgments of truth, and awareness of
moral or existential bias of both the researcher and the researched. In
the “Indologiestreit” between Vishwa P. Adluri (2011) and Reinhold
Grünendahl (2012) published in this Journal, however, the question about
the Nazification of Indology is overshadowed by Edward W. Said’s
political-literary narrative.2 Why? What is Said’s mesmeric reproach of
British and French depictions of the “Orient” all about? And why does it
haunt the arguments of Adluri and Grünendahl? More curiously, why
does Said omit German Indologists from his indictment of Western
imperial power, sexual, and biblical fantasies of the “Orient”?3
The Arguments
In his paper entitled “Wissenschaftsgeschichte im Schatten postoriental-
istischer De/Konstruktion” (The History of Science in the Shadow of
Postorientalist De/Construction, 2008), Reinhold Grünendahl contrasts
what he considers to be a competent factual history of German Indology,
namely that of Ernst Windisch (1917 and 1920), with its opposite construc-
tionist literary work by Raymond Schwab (1950), which focused primarily
Author's personal copy
264 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
on French Indologists. According to Grünendahl (2008: 458), Schwab
portrays the work of French Indologists as scientific and disinterested
in political matters, while the few German Indologists mentioned were
said to have approached their work from the perspective of nationalistic
yearning linked to a romanticization of the remote spiritual past of Asia.
We want to know what is true about this claim and what is not.
Grünendahl attributes the fact that the much later English version of
Schwab’s work received recognition outside of France to the inclusion of
a Foreword by Edward W. Said (1984: vii–xx). This bothers Grünendahl
because with Said’s endorsement Indology is thrust into the turbulent
waters of the postmodern and postcolonial discourse, thereby jeopardizing
from the outset any factual debate about the history of German scholarship.4
Evidence for the claim that Friedrich Schlegel in writing about India had
Romantic-nationalistic interests is ignored (Grünendahl 2008: 459). Instead,
Sheldon Pollock (1993) ran with the German Indology/Romanticism
presumption placing, furthermore, anti-Semitism and specifically Nazi
anti-Semitism at its center (Grünendahl 2008: 461, 463).
In 2011 and 2012 this Journal published a continuation of the debate.
Far from agreeing with Grünendahl’s (2008) reservations about Said’s
framework, Vishwa P. Adluri approves of Pollock’s expansion of it.
According to Adluri, Pollock’s Deep Orientalism (1993) provides “one
of the most radical and most novel reformulations of Said’s thesis” (2011:
253), turning the scholarly gaze from Asia toward Nazi Germany’s treat-
ment of Jews as it colonized and dominated Europe itself. Grünendahl,
who prefers scholarship to be focused on a scholar’s factual analysis and
his work in the context of his own scholarly community, finds these imagi-
native narrative constructions objectionable. He thinks it particularly
grotesque to say that “the Germans” continued, however subliminally, to
trace a seamless cultural-historical lineage centered on the Aryan leitmotif
from Schlegel’s eighteenth-century German Romanticism to twentieth-
century Nazism.5
Somewhat surprisingly, Said says the same thing albeit in a different
way. According to him, the various “teleological enthusiasms” after
Schlegel’s book Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (On the
Language and Wisdom of India, 1808) “seemed to confirm” Schlegel’s
“pronouncement made in 1800” that the Orient is “the purest form of
Romanticism” (Said 1978: 137). That is, Sanskrit and things Indian
Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 265
flowed into Romanticism and replaced “Hebrew and the Edenic fallacy,”
thereby making “India the fons et origo of everything” (137). In other
words, Schlegel infused Romanticism with the purity of Indian wisdom.
Nationalism was not an issue. However, making India the source and
origin of everything turns the Judeo-Christian tradition into a fallacy by
comparison, which may have invited later “teleological enthusiasms” as
a reaction.
But finding an alternative to Christianity and its parent religion Judaism
does not necessarily imply anti-Semitism or a National Socialist world-
view. Indeed, as Nicholas Boyle (1991: 659, 660) points out, Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe in his Venetian Epigrams phase was “explicitly
and violently anti-Christian,” but as Todd Kontje (2004: 121) shows he
maintained a deep attachment to the Old Testament and was not anti-
Semitic.6 Furthermore, although Goethe initially found “Indian religion
worthless, its influence corrupting, and images of Indian idols hideous”
(Kontje 2004: 121) therein empathizing with “image-less Muslims”
(Kontje 2004: 121, citing Goethe 3.1:163), he eventually revised his
views and embraced India. The issue is of course that Said recognizes
Goethe’s appreciation of organic and essentialist Orientalism but misses
Goethe’s second Orientalism based on India’s eclecticism and strange
fusions (Kontje 2004: 123).
In sum, Adluri, Grünendahl, and Said work with a cultural-historical
lineage starting in India but have significantly different emphases. Adluri
(2011: 253) argues that our gaze should shift from Asia to focus on
Germany’s treatment of Jews in Nazi-dominated Europe. Said accepts two
lineages. One starts with ancient India and ends with German Romanticism,
which he sees as replacing the “Hebrew and the Edenic fallacy,” meaning the
Judeo-Christian tradition (Said 1978: 137). The other, which is marked
for destruction, is encapsulated by his term “Orientalism” and runs from
the “beginning of the nineteenth century until the end of World War II”
(Said 1978: 4). Finally, Grünendahl (2012: 190) rejects the idea of a
seamless cultural-historical lineage centered on the notion of Aryan
altogether.7 Leaving aside for the moment Adluri’s acceptance of Said’s
empirically unreliable method, which Grünendahl totally rejects, in the
next three sections we want to deal with Grünendahl’s (2012) outrage at
the idea that the Aryan notion connects German Indology to National
Socialism and genocide. Does it? And what has any of this to do with
Author's personal copy
264 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
on French Indologists. According to Grünendahl (2008: 458), Schwab
portrays the work of French Indologists as scientific and disinterested
in political matters, while the few German Indologists mentioned were
said to have approached their work from the perspective of nationalistic
yearning linked to a romanticization of the remote spiritual past of Asia.
We want to know what is true about this claim and what is not.
Grünendahl attributes the fact that the much later English version of
Schwab’s work received recognition outside of France to the inclusion of
a Foreword by Edward W. Said (1984: vii–xx). This bothers Grünendahl
because with Said’s endorsement Indology is thrust into the turbulent
waters of the postmodern and postcolonial discourse, thereby jeopardizing
from the outset any factual debate about the history of German scholarship.4
Evidence for the claim that Friedrich Schlegel in writing about India had
Romantic-nationalistic interests is ignored (Grünendahl 2008: 459). Instead,
Sheldon Pollock (1993) ran with the German Indology/Romanticism
presumption placing, furthermore, anti-Semitism and specifically Nazi
anti-Semitism at its center (Grünendahl 2008: 461, 463).
In 2011 and 2012 this Journal published a continuation of the debate.
Far from agreeing with Grünendahl’s (2008) reservations about Said’s
framework, Vishwa P. Adluri approves of Pollock’s expansion of it.
According to Adluri, Pollock’s Deep Orientalism (1993) provides “one
of the most radical and most novel reformulations of Said’s thesis” (2011:
253), turning the scholarly gaze from Asia toward Nazi Germany’s treat-
ment of Jews as it colonized and dominated Europe itself. Grünendahl,
who prefers scholarship to be focused on a scholar’s factual analysis and
his work in the context of his own scholarly community, finds these imagi-
native narrative constructions objectionable. He thinks it particularly
grotesque to say that “the Germans” continued, however subliminally, to
trace a seamless cultural-historical lineage centered on the Aryan leitmotif
from Schlegel’s eighteenth-century German Romanticism to twentieth-
century Nazism.5
Somewhat surprisingly, Said says the same thing albeit in a different
way. According to him, the various “teleological enthusiasms” after
Schlegel’s book Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (On the
Language and Wisdom of India, 1808) “seemed to confirm” Schlegel’s
“pronouncement made in 1800” that the Orient is “the purest form of
Romanticism” (Said 1978: 137). That is, Sanskrit and things Indian
Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 265
flowed into Romanticism and replaced “Hebrew and the Edenic fallacy,”
thereby making “India the fons et origo of everything” (137). In other
words, Schlegel infused Romanticism with the purity of Indian wisdom.
Nationalism was not an issue. However, making India the source and
origin of everything turns the Judeo-Christian tradition into a fallacy by
comparison, which may have invited later “teleological enthusiasms” as
a reaction.
But finding an alternative to Christianity and its parent religion Judaism
does not necessarily imply anti-Semitism or a National Socialist world-
view. Indeed, as Nicholas Boyle (1991: 659, 660) points out, Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe in his Venetian Epigrams phase was “explicitly
and violently anti-Christian,” but as Todd Kontje (2004: 121) shows he
maintained a deep attachment to the Old Testament and was not anti-
Semitic.6 Furthermore, although Goethe initially found “Indian religion
worthless, its influence corrupting, and images of Indian idols hideous”
(Kontje 2004: 121) therein empathizing with “image-less Muslims”
(Kontje 2004: 121, citing Goethe 3.1:163), he eventually revised his
views and embraced India. The issue is of course that Said recognizes
Goethe’s appreciation of organic and essentialist Orientalism but misses
Goethe’s second Orientalism based on India’s eclecticism and strange
fusions (Kontje 2004: 123).
In sum, Adluri, Grünendahl, and Said work with a cultural-historical
lineage starting in India but have significantly different emphases. Adluri
(2011: 253) argues that our gaze should shift from Asia to focus on
Germany’s treatment of Jews in Nazi-dominated Europe. Said accepts two
lineages. One starts with ancient India and ends with German Romanticism,
which he sees as replacing the “Hebrew and the Edenic fallacy,” meaning the
Judeo-Christian tradition (Said 1978: 137). The other, which is marked
for destruction, is encapsulated by his term “Orientalism” and runs from
the “beginning of the nineteenth century until the end of World War II”
(Said 1978: 4). Finally, Grünendahl (2012: 190) rejects the idea of a
seamless cultural-historical lineage centered on the notion of Aryan
altogether.7 Leaving aside for the moment Adluri’s acceptance of Said’s
empirically unreliable method, which Grünendahl totally rejects, in the
next three sections we want to deal with Grünendahl’s (2012) outrage at
the idea that the Aryan notion connects German Indology to National
Socialism and genocide. Does it? And what has any of this to do with
Author's personal copy
266 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
things colonial, Christian, and Jewish?
The Word “Aryan”: Houston Chamberlain and Edward Said
The use of the word “Aryan” and the answer to the above questions that
Nazis would accept later came from Houston Stewart Chamberlain.8
Bypassing the issue of the origins of a primeval race, Chamberlain
simply states “being ‘Aryan’ is not the point, becoming ‘Aryan’ is what
matters” (1938 [1915 Foreword]: 10). And how does one become Aryan?
The answer is simply by “the inner liberation from entangling and suffo-
cating Semitism” (erstickenden Semitismus) (Chamberlain 1938 [1915
Foreword]: 10).9
The importance of the publication of Chamberlain’s work Die Grund-
lagen des XIX. Jahrhunderts (The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century)
should not be underestimated. It became the guiding ideal and supporting
framework of some Indological research for the next three decades. It
encouraged the notion, as further developed by Hitler’s chief ideologue
Alfred Rosenberg, that all research begins with a clear goal, has a purpose,
and therefore cannot be done without presuppositions.10 Furthermore, it
took on paradigmatic importance so that Indologists like Paul Deussen
and Leopold von Schroeder, for example, came to accommodate their
work toward Chamberlain’s guiding ideal (Baumgärtner 1977: 51).11
Although it has to do with the rejection by several völkisch publishers
of Alfred Rosenberg’s Der Mythus des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts (The
Myth of the Twentieth Century, 1935), the following story helps to
underline the popular acceptance of Chamberlain’s Foundation. Of the
four völkisch publishers that initially rejected Rosenberg’s book, J. F.
Lehmann bothered to say why. He agreed that the book gives support
and ammunition to like-minded people in their battle for a German
worldview. But such a work, for Lehmann, must also show the enemy
the ideals for which its author is fighting, and this in such a light that
they too will say: “something is offered here that I have missed until
now, something better is offered than what I had” (Baumgärtner 1977:
54).12 Furthermore, while Lehmann agreed with Rosenberg’s critique of
the Catholic Church, he rejected Rosenberg’s approach. In Lehmann’s
view, Rosenberg should show his “Catholic brothers” the way to a new
German rebirth and not insult or offend them so that they feel rejected
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 267
and hurt right from the beginning, and thus don’t want to know anything
further. According to Lehmann, one has to do it the way Chamberlain
did: “one also recognizes what is good about them (the enemy), even
praising it to the sky, to make those readers receptive for the bitter truth,
and then one tells them with love, having first awakened and opened their
consciences, what is wrong” (Baumgärtner 1977: 54). This approach might
help explain why Chamberlain’s extraordinary praise for the persons of
Paul and Augustine helped people overlook his intention to destroy the
whole Judeo-Christian tradition (Baumgärtner 1977: 46).13
According to Chamberlain, in the beginning was not the Word but the
division of roads; taking wrong roads necessitates the eternal return to a
“new beginning” (see his 1915 Foreword in the 1938 edition).14 Words
like “Indo-European,” “Indo-Germanic,” “West-Indo-Germanic,” “Nordic,”
or “Germanic” became various permutations of “Aryan” because, in his
view, only Indian philosophy and poetry is pure, clean, real, own, and
free of pollution by Semitic ideas (Chamberlain 1938 [1915 Foreword]:
10).15
But Europe, or the West, is of course not free of Semitic ideas. Know-
ingly or otherwise, Said’s Orientalism takes off from presuppositions
that are analogous to Chamberlain’s although addressed to European and
American intellectuals of the post-1960s—a time of academic unrest.16
Said might as well have said: being critical of colonialism is not the
point, becoming a Menippean satirist is what matters (Veeser 2010: 91).
By essentializing Western scholarship as dominance founded on “biblical
tools of literary interpretation” or on a “glorified yeshiva” (Veeser 2010:
100, 94), Said’s Orientalism offered a radical literary style that attacked
especially the Judeo-Christian mental attitudes of Western (Orientalist)
scholars (Varisco 2012: 269–72). His approach met with approval from
restive students. It also mobilized significant segments of academia and
the public to support the Palestinian cause (Varisco 2012: 252, 269; Veeser
2010: 197).17
In Said’s thinking, British and French “Orientalists” remained ensnared
and entangled in Semitism and, therefore, focused on biblical lands (1978:
168, 169). Indeed, it is in line with this ethos that they scattered all over
the Orient appropriating, defining, and editing everything. In his argument,
the work of British and French Orientalists is imbued unconsciously and
unreflectively with Semitism, and thus lacks creative power (Said 1978:
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268 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
166, 167).18
And just as Orientalists appropriate everything, so they protect them-
selves from unsettling Oriental influences (Said 1978: 166, 167). Thus in
the name of European domination and power, and for its sake (Said 1978:
5), Orientalist scholars reduce the Orient’s “exotic spatial configurations,
its hopelessly strange languages, [and] its seemingly perverse morality
into a “series of detailed items presented in a normative European prose
style” (166–67). In other words, for Said, British and French Orientalists
worked against Friedrich Schlegel. In Said’s sense only some European
travelers of the mind, like Goethe for example, are spared the depreca-
tion because for him the “Orient is a form of release, a place of original
opportunity”—a place of original purity (Said 1978: 113, 166–67).19 As
Goethe writes, “There in purity and righteousness will I go back to the
profound origins of the human race” (cited in Said 1978: 167; emphasis
added).
It would appear that Said left German Indologists out of his critique
because in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century he did not see them
make the division between the superior European-Aryan and inferior
Oriental-African that he accuses French and British Indologists of doing
(Said 1978: 99, 206). And so he complains that even the eyes of Louis
Massignon (1883–1962), the tireless fighter on behalf of Muslim civili-
zation, were “filtered through metaphysical,20 ultimately dehumanized
lenses: they are Semitic, European, Oriental, Occidental, Aryan, and so
on” (Said 1978: 271–72).21 Through these lenses the “Islamic Orient was
spiritual, Semitic, tribalistic, radically monotheistic, un-Aryan” (Said
1978: 271). In other words, at that time Aryan was not anti-Semitic in the
sense of anti-Jewish. Since both Jews and Arabs are Semites, the Aryan
and Semitic Jewish gaze judged the Semitic but un-Aryan Islamic Orient
to be inferior.22 The “Orient” was Semitic-un-Aryan, “Europe” Semitic-
Aryan.23
The Word “Aryan”: Leopold von Schroeder and Adolf Hitler
In fact, the word “Aryan” changed meaning for scholars that entered
Chamberlain’s sphere of influence.24 One such scholar is the Indologist
Leopold von Schroeder (1851–1920) whose intellectual and political
orientation is informed first and foremost by his uncertain and insecure
Author's personal copy
Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 269
existence as an ethnic German in Estonia. While the word “Aryan”
maintains its ambivalence, he locates Aryan origins in Europe, not India
(Schroeder 1923: 216, 220, 226). It is Nordic and increasingly associated
with worldview (Schroeder 1911). He is interested in what he calls mys-
teries (Mysterium), understood as religious, cultic, and mythological
dramas that lift common people into a higher sphere and put them in
touch with Aryan antiquity, which predates the oldest time of India.25 To
Schroeder, the crucial point of his book Die Vollendung des arischen
Mysteriums in Bayreuth (The Completion of the Aryan Mystery in
Bayreuth, 1911) is final proof that the great dramas of Richard Wagner
are a truly genial new birth of the most important ancient ur-Aryan
mysteries.
But as a young man Schroeder had thought differently (Myers 2009;
Marchand 2009: 299–300). What Schroeder yearns for before his move
to Vienna in 1899 and before his involvement with Chamberlain is not
what he yearns for after the Russo-Japanese War 1904–5.26 In his essay
“Indiens geistige Bedeutung für Europa” (India’s Spiritual Meaning for
Europe, 1899), he sees India’s tat tvam asi (the all-is-one teachings) as
an ally of Christianity and as the only lasting philosophical foundation of
morality (Schroeder 1913: 181, 182, 184). To him, the synthesis of the
classical Goethe-Schiller spirit with the best of Romanticism will overcome
modernity and deepen Europe’s poetic interest in India. And in line with
the tat tvam asi-Christianity alliance, Schroeder is also anti-Nietzsche.
Thus he writes:
And if the large battle between individual and society, egoism and
altruism is fought out in the coming century, then we will find the
Indian tat tvam asi a mighty ally on the side of Christianity in the battle
against the brutal egoistical master morality (Herrenmoral), the cult of
the blonde beast and criminal, which the totally un-Zarathustra-like
modern Zarathustra conjured up (Schroeder 1913: 184).
In short, if we look past the expectation of even Schlegel that a new
religion will come and be victorious (H. Schröder 1934: 299) and if we
understand L. von Schroeder’s rejection of the Christian canon of faith
including, as Suzanne L. Marchand (2009: 313) points out, the Old
Testament while yet expressing some Christian spiritual attitudes, then
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270 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
we understand the ambivalence of German Romanticism itself. Its early
Romantics discerned with “Christian” eyes an awakening German pagan-
ism and eagerly synthesized Christian elements with “old religion,” be it
Greek or Indian;27 late Romantics rejected Christianity outright, welcoming
the new Paganism birthed by their own methods of synthesis, myth studies,
and Lebensphilosophie (H. Schröder 1934: 300–303; Arvidsson 2006: 61).28
To be correct, however, and contrary to Schwab’s claim, it is not “nation-
alist yearning” that informs the German Indologists (F. Schlegel to early
L. Schroeder). Rather these German Indologists envisioned a future
informed by a universal Romantic worldview that is directly rooted in
the Middle Ages. They rejected modernity with its roots in the French
Revolution (1789–99) and the Enlightenment. Stimulated by the Herder-
Goethe idea of a world literature of distant and foreign peoples of bygone
times, the aim is to achieve this new universal Romantic worldview with
its most congenial affine India (Schroeder 1913: 178–84).29
Given his universal Romanticism, one may well ask how Schroeder
ended up in the pre-fascist Chamberlain circle. Myers suggests that it
is by way of an eventual “re-embrace of a more assertive Christianity
(2009: 620). But Schroeder’s “Jesus” is a luminous figure (Lichtgestalt)
that heralded from liberal theology and ended in the völkisch (pre-fascist)
milieu, not from any kind of moderate or assertive orthodox Christianity.
Like Massignon, although coming from the Protestant spectrum, Schroe-
der’s heterodox Christianity was a drifting spirituality focused on Adolf
von Harnack’s “love” and Arthur Schopenhauer’s “compassion” (Mitleid);
it was continually subject to fusion with the religions he studied (Schroeder
1911: 114, 120, 197). And the religions he studied were adapted reactively
to the ever-changing political turns and his yearnings of the moment.
In retrospect, L. von Schroeder seems to have been on a straight path
to völkisch thinking from early life. In his memoir edited by Felix von
Schroeder, Leopold wrote from a völkisch perspective about his Baltic
homeland, recognized with pain the failure of institutional Protestantism
to protect German ethnicity in the Baltic (L. Schroeder 1921: 106, 139–
41), and embraced the liberal Christianity of his personal friend Adolf
von Harnack (63, 66, 120–21, 216).30 As said, Leopold dedicated himself
to the task of popularizing and finding natural congruence between for
example Christianity and Buddhism (L. Schroeder 1913: 100–105) or of
synthesizing wherever possible his liberal Christian notions of “love”
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 271
and “compassion” (L. Schroeder 1921: 23, 86, 131–32) with the religious
texts he studied, especially, the ¸g Veda and Upani‚ads (see also L.
Schroeder 1913: viii–xiii, 1911: 197).31
A frustrated and indeed unsuccessful dramatist, but encouraged in his
Indian work by Chamberlain, he threw himself into the word-tone dramas
of Richard Wagner. Like others, Schroeder concluded that the mix of
myths and sagas of very different peoples from very different regions
and circumstances received a new form in Wagner’s dramatic art. And
that art, so Schroeder said in 1911 (page 100), now functions as the saga
of sagas.
Not only Schroeder’s imaginative writings, but also his social and
politico-religious affiliations, are an important part of the long process
toward becoming völkisch. Uprooted from the institutional church, he
rooted himself in various Bünde and intellectual circles,32 the most impor-
tant being the “Werdandi-Bund,” which was founded in 1907 in order to
renew German culture (Deutschtum) through an art-political program.
The aim was to increase the influence of those artists whose art rested on
a healthy German emotional foundation and who would therefore raise
German culture to a higher level and strengthen the people’s fortitude.
To that end it ran parallel to Bayreuth’s synthesis of the arts in Wagner,
the better to integrate religion, worldview (including its natural science
components), as well as music, poetry, painting, sculpture, and even
pedagogy into a culture specific to the German (Deutschen) people (Parr
1999: 317–20). The Werdandi membership included many well-known
völkisch painters, musicians, architects, writers, actors, and of course
university professors, among them Leopold von Schroeder and Adolf
von Harnack. Naturally Chamberlain and the völkisch literary historian
Adolf Bartels were among the most popular representatives of this form
of cultural anti-Semitism (Rösner 1999: 874).
What is fascinating about this idolization of Wagner’s work is that
Schroeder “re-embraced” a heterodox Christianity on his first viewing of
Wagner’s Tannhäuser in 1878. Schroeder was 27 years old. This perform-
ance, for him, “was an elevated, majestic revelation of Christianity; it
was the turning point in my religious development” (L. Schroeder 1921:
86). He experienced an “elevated vision of love” that is later echoed in
much of his Indian work (L. Schroeder 1921: 86).33 And this work became
part of the knowledge assets that interacted, one could say, with völkisch
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272 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
institutions, like the Werdandi-Bund, to enhance the discursive propaganda
genre that helped Nazism to flourish.
Ironically, a form of Adluri’s (2011) wish for radical reformulation of
Said’s Orientalism had already occurred decades earlier with the völkisch
discourse and Adolf Hitler. In Mein Kampf Hitler ignores sovereignly the
origin and development of the word or race “Aryan” (Zentner 2004: 144).
Nor is he interested in mental travels or travelers of the mind in Said’s
sense (1978: 113, 166–67). Instead he tells a story about creators, bearers,
and destroyers of culture, making the point that culture is created by the
self-sacrificing capacity of the individual for the whole—such a political
standpoint is Aryan (Zentner 2004: 147). But let us be clear, even this
story is secondary.
Battle is primary. Hitler (1940: 505) states emphatically that the first
task of battle (Kampf) is not the creation of a völkisch (Aryan) state, but
above all the removal of the existing Jewish one. In doing so he stands
Chamberlain on his head. As so often in history, Hitler argues (1940:
505), the main difficulty lies not in the forming of a new condition, but in
making space for it.34 And doing that requires having in place a clear
mental image of the enemy (all things “Jewish”). Indeed for Hitler and
his cohorts the forgery of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion provided
that negative picture (Ben-Itto 1998). What Nazi leaders had to do was
guide, persuade, and solicit—from intellectuals as well as popular writers,
manuscripts, and speeches affirming it. And here Hitler’s remark that
“The Jew forms the most powerful contrast to the Aryan” is significant
(1940: 329).
And for those of the population that did not comprehend the divide
between Aryan and Jew or the ambiguous use of “state” instead of the
usual word “Reich,”35 the Indologist Walther Wüst, director of the SS
Ancestral Heritage Foundation and rector of the University of Munich,
elaborated the contrast in his talk at that university in 1936. Here too
battle was primary, but it was aimed to combat what he saw as unenlight-
ened university education. The title of his talk was “Des Führers ‘Mein
Kampf’ als Spiegel indogermanischer Weltanschauung” (The Führer’s
‘Mein Kampf’ as Mirror of an Indo-Germanic Worldview) (Schreiber
2008: 151). In it he argued that “worldview” takes precedence over “facts
of reality.” According to Wüst, National Socialism requires Erziehung
meaning both character building and education—in terms of a spiritual
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 273
foundation reaching back to the Indo-Germanic worldview four centuries
before Christ. This Indo-Germanic worldview perceives the world as
having grown according to the laws of life (lebensgesetzlich gewachsen)
under a bright sun and is in sharp contrast to the Jewish-Christian world-
view that pictures the world as chaos in a vale of tears (Jammertal)
(Schreiber 2008: 151, 152, 153).
Wüst presents an image in which time is every-when for every-where,
science is fused with spirituality into a worldview, and the Buddha ends
up in the mind of Hitler. Only one contrast remains sharp, and it follows
his definition of worldview being total—encompassing feeling, reason,
and will—in order to focus on all of reality exclusive of Jewish-Chris-
tianity (Schreiber 2008: 152).36
From now on this Nazi discourse would determine SS institutions so
that the empirical research of Wüst and other Orientalists was transfigured
into a new source of power. As carriers of this totalitarian discourse and
creators of this totalitarian experiment, these Nazi intellectuals would
control, create, and steer the institutions and knowledge assets of what
could be called a “disciplinary society”37 bent on destruction until it was
itself destroyed in 1945. Nazi totalitarians experimented with a worldview
based on revisionist historical politico-religious paradigms (Vorbilder)
using myths and sagas that supposedly hearkened back to the pre-Christian
era to sanctify their ethnicity and aestheticize their culture, while turning
Jews into the enemy not only to be destroyed physically but to negate
their being human even after death (Faye 2009: 304–6).38
“Aryan” Law, Research Institutes, and Congeniality
By the time of Wüst’s 1936 lecture before a large Nazi intellectual audi-
ence, the word “Aryan” had outlived its immediate legal usefulness. It is
true that it was used in the politically racist “Law for the Restoration of
the Professional Civil Service” of April 7, 1933, which legitimized remov-
ing Jews from their professions and businesses.39 However, when scholars
pointed to the absurdity of reducing the polysemy of the word “Aryan” to
mean “non-Jewish” or “German-blooded,” the Reich and Prussian Ministry
of the Interior circulated a directive on November 25, 1935 enforcing the
use of the term “German-blooded” in lieu of “Aryan” for official purposes
(Schmitz-Berning 2000: 56–57; von See 1994: 222).40 Publishing and
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274 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
cultural organizations followed suit (Barbian 2013: 72–74).41 “German-
blooded” reflects, and selects as favored, the hardened Nordic paradigm
of the SS and its intellectuals (Ingrao 2013: 52–53).
Thus the SS Ancestral Heritage Foundation continued to include an
area of research entitled “Indo-Germanic-Aryan Language Studies and
Text History” (Lehr-und Forschungsstätte für indogermanisch-arische
Sprach-und Kulturwissenschaft). Here it is important to note, however,
that of eighteen research areas specified in 1935, and confirmed by its
director Walter Wüst in 1937, eleven departments were called “Germanic,”
six were concerned with local (German) research from symbolism to
museum, craft and house construction, and only one had “Indo-Germanic-
Aryan” in its title.42
By 1939 Ahnenerbe had vastly expanded to 521 staff positions of
which a mere seventeen, not all of them filled, included Indo-Germanic
in the title.43 That there were even this many Indo-Germanic positions
had to do with the beginning of the war effort and Heinrich Himmler’s
recognition that searching for “the whence and whereto of our existence
cannot stop with Germanic sources, but must reach backward in time to
the original connection of all peoples of Nordic blood within the broad
Indo-Germanic culture.”44 Nordic peoples were Indo-Germanic and
therefore natural allies. And so Ahnenerbe opened affiliated offices in
The Hague, Brussels, and Oslo. Other capitals would follow or send
sympathizers to Germany.
Whether “Indo-German” or “Aryan” connected German Indology to
genocide, as Adluri following Pollock claims, remains a moot question.45
What is certain is that “Aryan” or specifically “non-Aryan,” meaning
Jew, played a central role in the worldview and discourse constructed by,
and for, key figures starting with Chamberlain, Wagner, and Hitler. For
them numerous committed and activist intellectuals willingly accommo-
dated their research methods, topics, disciplines, and affiliations to realize
the new clarion call for “battle” against an enemy for which the Nazis
now had an indestructible image (Ben-Itto 1998: 392–99). Countless Bünde
and their interconnected Führer, or leaders, funneled the gooey fusion of
religion, science, art, architecture, music, sculpture, poetics, sagas, ethnol-
ogy, Indology, Orientalism, and just about every other humanistic disci-
pline into the steel container of the Nazi party—to speak metaphorically—
and the Party was organized to use it (Gentile 2006; Poewe 2006).
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 275
Vishwa Adluri as an Edward Said of Germanism
In the last three sections, we reviewed Adluri’s suggestion following
Pollock that the word “Aryan” links German Romanticism to the Nazi
worldview. Despite Grünendahl’s rejection of it, we see some value in
the Aryan link perspective as mobilizing propaganda. However, given
Hitler’s dismissal of the Aryan argument and his explicit demand for
battle to destroy the “Jewish state,” meaning the Weimar Republic, as
described earlier, we are surprised by Adluri’s suggestion that the con-
cept “Orientalism” be expanded to include Nazi genocide in Eastern
Europe. In our view, Said’s concept of “Orientalism” not only distracts
from the Holocaust, it also ignores the fact “that Chamberlain launched
a powerful attack against the spirit of objectivity” (Kolnai 1938: 33;
emphasis in original) while intellectuals enthusiastically cooperated in
the ongoing construction of the Nazi worldview (Gallin 1986: 109;
Poewe 2006, 2015; Rubin and Schwanitz 2014). To repeat, if anything,
Said’s Orientalism deflects from the Nazi genocide. So why does Adluri
want its expansion? We suggest the reason has to do with the latter’s
intent to expose German Orientalism’s “concern with European prestige”
(Adluri 2011: 266, 267).
To be sure, Adluri (2011: 261–65) is justly frustrated with Heinrich
von Stietencron’s46 (262–63) and his former student Angelika Malinar’s47
(261–62) unwillingness, as he sees it, “to face up to” the history of German
Indology (264). From Adluri’s perspective, these two Indologists ignore
their colleagues’ past “nationalistic” interests and the subsequent involve-
ment in National Socialism. For example, Adluri faults their selective use
of correspondence. Both Stietencron and Malinar carefully choose profes-
sional correspondence that they deem solely relevant to their own and
their previous colleagues’ work in Indology, but ignore the wider personal
correspondence that would reveal these scholars’ political and worldview
inclinations, group affiliations, and personal friendships. Consequently,
Adluri turns himself into a “kind of Said” although not to argue for a
German version of Orientalism but of Germanism. Adluri argues that if
“ ‘Orientalism’ is defined as the attempt to define the ‘other,’ Germanism
may be defined as the attempt to define the German self” (2011: 266),
meaning that German Indologists assert their superiority over European,
American, and Indian scholars.48
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Excluding scholarly rivalry, Adluri’s last claim—one that dismisses
German Indology as nothing other than “German academics” defining
themselves “in the eyes of the ‘other’ ” (2011: 266)—is off the mark.
The parallel between Said and Adluri is more accurate if seen from the
following perspective. Said criticizes the French and British scholars that
researched the Orient of Orientalism because they defined the “other”
negatively, helping the French and British assert their superiority and make
“colonial” claims. Likewise following the logic of Said’s Orientalism,
we argue that Adluri sets himself up as a kind of Said of Germanism
accusing German scholars that researched India of Germanism because
they defined the “other” as “themselves” in order to assert their superiority
and make colonial claims over Europe (Adluri 2011: 266–67, 253–54).
But far from looking for approval from Europe, as Adluri asserts, German-
ism, or rather Indo-Germanicism or Aryanism, defined the “other” idealis-
tically, thereby identifying with select Indian religious traditions in order
to free Europe of Judeo-Christianity.
The argument that Christianity is foreign and indeed a form of Jewish-
Christian imperialism is found in Chamberlain, in the later work of the
Indologist L. von Schroeder, and among other völkisch thinkers and
Indologists in the early twentieth century. Almost invariably German
scholars of Indian religious traditions came to see Christianity negatively.
During the Weimar Republic, German Indologists and public intellectuals
perceived themselves as fellow sufferers with Indians. The Treaty of
Versailles, some argued, gave “Germany a colonial status” (Figueira
1991: 14). Oswald Spengler (1924) called Germany “a European India,”
and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck (1919) argued that, “Germany needed
to fight the same battle against British imperialism as India” (Figueira
1991: 14). Likewise Jan Kuhlmann (2003: 37) points out that Hitler made
reference to Britain as an exploiter of both India and Germany. In Hitler’s
propaganda of the 1920s he played with the fear-inducing image of
Germany becoming a colony like Ireland, India, or Egypt. Indeed popular
literature about these countries, and especially Arabic ones, encouraged
such fear (Poewe 2011).49
The German Indologist Jakob Wilhelm Hauer (1881–1962) was particu-
larly radical. Not only did he oppose Indian consanguinity to Jewish-
Christian foreignness, he also characterized the latter as a form of imperi-
alism. In 1934 Hauer finished his book Eine indo-arische Metaphysik des
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 277
Kampfes und der Tat: Die Bhagavadgita in neuer Sicht (An Indo-Aryan
Metaphysics of Battle and Deed: The Bhagavad G from a New Perspec-
tive). By “new perspective” he meant to convey “the basic thoughts of
the Bhagavad G from the perspective of the German generation that is
fighting for the organization of all völkisch life out of the deepest founda-
tions” (Hauer 1934: vi), which were of course rooted in the Indo-Germanic
past. Two years earlier, he could have been writing about Germany when
he stated:
In India today we are experiencing the breakthrough of völkisch powers,
a being grasped by the reality of nation that arises out of the unity of
space, blood, and spirit and that constrains all into one community. It is
a heartfelt power that shapes anew in the young generation the idea of
Reich in spirit and will (Hauer 1932a: 36).
Hauer equated the struggle of the young generation of Germany with that
of India. He was in a position to comment. Hauer was politically engaged,
founded and belonged to various lkisch groups, attracted large audiences,
was closely affiliated with Germany’s youth, and had spent time in India
from 1907 to 1911 which inspired his intense antagonism toward Jewish-
Christianity (see Poewe 2006: 18–29; Poewe and Hexham 2009). In 1933,
he brought together various Bünde, Germanic and Nordic religions, and
other groups such as the free thinkers or free religious (Freireligiöse)
under one umbrella known as the ADGB50 or simply German Faith (DG)
after his flagship journal of that name.51 In an argument with Cardinal
Michael von Faulhaber who resisted the Nazification of Germany’s youth,
Hauer stated, “Consciousness of the power of blood that is the expression
of the godly primordial will (Urwillen) in us cannot be stopped by any
human agitation.”52 The young of his German Faith Movement went on
to join the Hitler Youth.
Through the German Faith Movement Hauer was also known to Indian
admirers of Hitler. Connections were usually made through German
converts to one of several Hindu traditions. For example, in 1934 Hauer
received two letters from Gottlob Ernst Schulze who was a follower of,
and the private secretary to, Tridandi Swami Bhakti Hridaya Bon in
London, England.53 The Swami, who according to Schulze represented
the largest religious orthodox Bråhma~a organization in India with forty-
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278 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
two centers, wanted Hauer’s help with the publication in Germany of his
English translation of the Bhagavad G from the theistic bhakti-religion
perspective. Apparently, the Swami had great sympathies for “the new
Germany of Adolf Hitler.” He had formed his positive impressions during
a visit to Berlin. Now he was eagerly learning German and kept empha-
sizing “that he thought the German people were the most suited of all
Western peoples for an understanding of the Indo-Aryan religions.54
Therefore, when the Swami asked Schulze for advice about whom to
approach in Germany, he wrote to Hauer: “I remembered your name
immediately, since you are working with such great enthusiasm for the
renewal of the German Faith.”55
On June 21, 1934 Schulze wrote to Hauer again. He knew from the
Völkischer Beobachter and the Der Reichswart, Nazi newspapers which
were sent regularly to him in London, that Hauer was very busy with the
German Faith Movement. But he wanted to know whether his dry rendering
of the Swami’s English translation into German was worthy of publica-
tion. In this letter Schulze also explained that he went to England only
because of his private studies and earnest searching for the theistic pri-
meval religion (Urreligion) that the Aryan Indian and Aryans of the West
have in common. He had spent a quarter of a year with the Swami in
London and could say “with full awareness that the religion that the
Swami was sent to bring the West is closer to the Aryan sensitivity than
Jewish theology and groundless asphalt-Atheism.”56
In 1936, the SS removed Hauer as leader of the German Faith Move-
ment. Nevertheless it was Himmler’s express wish that Hauer be given
adequate facilities at the University of Tübingen for an Aryan Institute,
which Hauer went on to head from 1940 to 1945. To keep his “academic
work free from any association with occultism,57 Hauer gave it the
subtitle “Germanic-German” (germanisch-deutsch) instead of “Aryan”
(Junginger 1999: 211–12, 2003: 177–207). But “Aryan” remained part of
the Institute title because it camouflaged the fact that the Gestapo and SS
commissioned Hauer and his assistants, including an Indian student,58 to
assess confiscated occult materials in the battle against the “enemy”
(Junginger 1999: 211–12; Kwiet 2004).
While Hauer’s attention was diverted from scholarship toward assessing
threats coming from practitioners of the occult, politically engaged Indians,
other than the Swami, directed their attention to the totalitarian experiment
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 279
that seemed to fuse the Left-Right political tensions of their own preoc-
cupation. Thus the Munich geography professor Karl Haushofer knew
the sociologist Benoy Kumar Sarkar who, in the early 1920s, traveled
through Europe as representative of and speaker for “Young Asia.” For
Sarkar the revolutionaries of “Young Asia” and the “new Germany” were
natural allies, Bündnispartner, against the common enemy, the colonial
powers. In The Futurism of Young Asia Sarkar wrote: “German statesmen,
intellectuals and manual workers have only to open their eyes and see
that their place in the sun is yet assured in and through the friendly
cooperation which is being extended to them by the peoples of Egypt,
Persia, Afghanistan, India and China” (1922: 36, cited in Kuhlmann
2003: 39).59
Sarkar (1887–1949) whose major work, The Beginning of Hindu Culture
as World-Power (A.D. 300–600), was published in 1916 also wrote a
piece in June of 1933 entitled “From Herder to Hitler.” In it he described
the reaction of German youths to their history from independence in
1871, to “vindicating national honor after the Great War,” to the “anti-
Jewish prejudices of Young Germany in social life are but the common
prejudices of Christian men and women in France, Russia, and America
also, indeed, in entire Christendom.”60
Recently several books have been written about the “radical leftist nation-
alist” Subhas Chandra Bose who arrived in Germany in 1941 under the
pseudonym Orlando Mazzotta. While not enough is known about how he
reconciled India’s rich religious traditions with European totalitarianism,
both Romain Hayes (2011: 125) and Jan Kuhlmann (2003: 46) point out
that for the sake of his goal of an independent India, Bose cultivated the
Nazi leadership, especially Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Apparently,
Himmler used their meetings to discuss subjects close to his heart, not
only Aryans, Hinduism, and the caste system, but also Hindu scripture,
including the Upani‚ads, Vedas, and the Bhagavad G. According to
Hayes (2011: 126), this made attaining Himmler’s support for Indian
independence easier.
Kuhlmann says much the same. Himmler confessed to belief in the
Hindu teachings about karma and reincarnation that he considered to be
part of the Indo-Germanic cultural heritage. In line with the SS-worldview,
he especially valued Indian epics and the Bhagavad G, which he
always carried with him and from which he cited verses to praise Hitler
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(Kuhlmann 2003: 46).
The fact that Hitler and Rosenberg dismissed the idea that the Aryan
myth and the Swastika created a link between National Socialist Germany
and modern India confirms Kris Manjapra’s observation that “misrepre-
sentations and power asymmetries” were endemic in these encounters
(2006: 363). The dismissal ignores some ordinary people and academics,
including members of the Indian émigré community in Berlin, who held
this belief and in that sense created “unexpected spaces of mutually-
affecting ideological encounter” (Manjapra 2006: 377).
Ekkehard Ellinger (2003), who looked at Oriental studies especially of
Muslim countries during Nazi times, mentions, for example, analogical
ideological concerns centered on youths fighting for independence (368),
a society free of Jews (366), separating Arabs from the Semitic concept
(376), opposition between Jews and Muslim Arabs (376, 405, 408), and
unity and independence for Arabs (407). Hayes (2011) suggests that
German foreign policy was affected by Bose’s thoughts and demands.61
Finally, by highlighting three milieus of the völkisch movement—the
neo-Romantic, Communist, and pan-Germanist—Manjapra (2006, 2014)
restores the diverse human political, social, and religious preferences and
interactions even on an asymmetric and chaotic playing field. Above all,
we escape Said’s postmodern and postcolonial discourse framework that
irritated Grünendahl and, in our view, misdirected some of Adluri’s other-
wise valid criticism of German Indology.
Despite the ambivalent interest of some Indian anticolonial nationalists
in Continental Europe’s totalitarianisms, nonintellectual Nazi leaders,
including Hitler, were both ignorant and uneasy about Hinduism for
several reasons. Nazi leaders understood from the Foreign Office that the
Indian elite tended to be democratic.62 Furthermore, Hitler favored a
British form of colonialism for India (Kuhlmann 2003: 40). Most impor-
tant, however, was the fact that while Nazis recognized the implicit
totalitarianisms of “Hinduism,” they also understood it to be prone to
“sectarianism” and “occultism.” “Hinduism” took pride in its monotheisms
but also in its pantheisms and polytheisms. It was monistic but also dual-
istic and pluralistic. It was characterized by “diversity” but lacked consoli-
dation: its “monolinearity” always melted away into pluralities (Dalmia
1997: 344–53, 429; Stietencron 2001). It was something akin to Said’s
experience in his later life when he wrote “I occasionally experience
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 281
myself as a cluster of flowing currents” (1999: 295).
Conclusion
The Adluri/Grünendahl discussions about the involvement of German
Indology with Nazism raised several questions in our minds that we
thought needed further consideration and the input of more data. The first
question had to do with the difficult task of making sense of the words
“Indo-Germanic” and “Aryan.” Having reviewed the thoughts, actions,
and importantly the group affiliations of several German Indologists, we
accept that Indo-Germanic/Aryan made explicit or encouraged the oppo-
sition to institutionalized Christianity, the Old Testament, and (Jewish)
Semitism. Nazi scholars who assumed that religions are race-specific
made palpable the Jewishness of Christianity thereby easing their oppo-
sition to the Judeo-Christian tradition.63 Perhaps surprisingly, a similar
but usually overlooked anti-Semitism or rather euphemistically expressed
anti-Jewish Geist is also shared by the expositor of Orientalism—Edward
Said.64 It is not found in the publications of Adluri or Grünendahl.
Secondly, German Indologists were not preoccupied with looking for a
narrow Romantic nationalism that would somehow establish German
scholarly superiority over the Orient and assert it against British, American,
and Indian scholars as Adluri (2011) claims. Rather they constructed a
worldview: initially a universal Romantic worldview that, importantly,
included the Orient or at least India’s Hindu traditions, its myths and
sagas, its play with time, as a congenial ally although even then pitched
against different facets of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Even Oswald
Spengler (1923: 198) observed that if some peoples that make use of
Indo-Germanic languages stand close to a certain race-ideal, then this
is because the metaphysical power of that ideal effects breeding (of
character and culture). Thus it is not surprising that early Indological
uses of the word “Aryan” conjured up an exemplary ideal of a glorious
world civilization that was against modernity and Friedrich Nietzsche’s
Herrenmoral, but also against the Old Testament and the Christian canon.
Once housed in Nazi institutions like the SS Ancestral Heritage Foundation,
however, the word “Aryan” became an instrument to mobilize people,
indeed peoples, against Jews and to camouflage their murder by the
Gestapo and SS.
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Thirdly, this paper shows that German Indology was never free of
politics, something that is explicitly recognized by Adluri. Indeed, the
political reaction of some German Indologists to Russian encroachment
on their ethnicity and, most importantly, the defeat of World War I and
the subsequent Treaty of Versailles that Hauer (1932b: xi) and others
understood as a radical transformation of Germany’s total political,
economic, and intellectual life had everything to do with their search for
a new direction. Hauer (1932b: ix–x) was explicit—as were countless
others in the 1920s and 1930s—that there was no way back to the insti-
tutions and traditions of the church and the Holy Book. For Hauer the
way forward was to return to something he called the “foundation of the
soul” where he expected to find the “powers” that would lead to a “new
order” (1932b: x). Thus the way forward and power for the future lay in
“Yoga” and the “texts” of ancient India.
Fourthly, Indian scholars and political activists took note of the totali-
tarian experiment that was, furthermore, fundamentally linked to familiar
religious-political patterns. We have mentioned only a few individuals
that sought contact with European totalitarianisms, and sometimes they
gave more than they received including direct criticism. To explore
the full meaning of the reciprocal relationship—despite asymmetries—
between the politics, religion, and violence of German and Indian scholars
during the chaotic years of the 1930s and 1940s requires further archival
research.
Finally, the methodology of such research needs to be as unbiased as
possible, and it should be conducted not as Said imagined Orientalists
were doing, but as they actually were doing. Said’s work, like that of
Chinua Achebe and Frantz Fanon before him, is a lamentation of real and
imagined wrongs committed by an obviously imperfect West on the rest.
Access to archives shows clearly how “lived encounters” have challenged
“the notion of a unilinear relationship of domination of the ‘West’ against
the rest” (Manjapra 2006: 364). Instead, in the meeting of Indian anti-
colonial nationalists and German leaders during the war years, power
became “multi-directional” (Manjapra 2006: 364). And as was shown in
this paper, a single archived document can begin to unravel political
frauds—implicit totalitarianisms for example—masquerading as ancient,
pure, eternal, and infinitely profound religiosity. Research of these phe-
nomena, whether in the form of observation, interviews, or archival
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 283
documents, also requires courage.
Acknowledgments: We thank the editor and the reviewers for their
thought-provoking and challenging questions.
Notes
1. Archived documents include original published books, memoirs, and
brochures, as well as original unpublished manuscripts, memos, notes,
news clippings, and letters to diverse individuals including family, friends,
colleagues, leaders of (völkisch) associations, and religious or political
formations, among others. Poewe, in her book New Religions and the
Nazis (2006), collated the personal correspondence with publications and
other documents of the Indologist Jakob Wilhelm Hauer. To do so is
important because it situates the person and his work within specific
communities, organizations, and their changing vocabularies. For this
paper and for Indologists like Leopold von Schroeder only original publi-
cations and memoirs were used. In other words, ours is not the final word.
2. Said uses Michel Foucault’s archaeological method for which archival
research and historical context are irrelevant. Thus Said does not uncover
the meaning of language events, monuments, or instruments from within
their specific contexts. Rather than understanding, he wants to destroy
handed-down “illusions” (see Wehler 1998: 57). The result is that Said’s
discourse of power and British-French colonialism is empirically utterly
unreliable.
3. See, for example, Said (1978: 6, 167, 315). These projections onto
the West by Said may in fact be nothing more than culture shock
described by young scholars upon their first visit to the Orient whose
reality contradicts their—as any students’—preconceptions.
4. As said earlier, Said constructed his book using the “archeological”
method of Foucault that ignores context and works with an assumed
“power” implicit in discourse itself. In turn this discourse steers and
creates new institutions and idea orders through the reciprocal interaction
between institutions (colonial or educational) drawing on knowledge
assets (of Orientalists), and vice versa (Wehler 1998). Marchand (2009:
xxi–xxii) criticizes Said’s Orientalism for its totalizing categories that
assume a unitary Europe opposed to a unitary Orient. Kater (2001: 49–
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50) reminds us that a unifying thought process, always based on a homog-
enous structure of a binary opposition no matter the multifariousness of
reality, was applied to scientific research by the National Socialists.
5. The self-designation of Indian-Iranian peoples, in Sanskrit årya (of
noble rank), was borrowed as an ethnographic term in the early eighteenth
century. According to Schmitz-Berning (2000: 54), thereafter Indo-
German/Aryan did not evolve from serious German Indology, but from
the popularization and misrepresentation of Friedrich Schlegel’s and
Friedrich Max Müller’s usages of “arische Sprache” and “Arier” or
arische Rasse” by popular writers starting with Joseph Arthur Comte de
Gobineau (see also Marchand 2009: 130). While Gobineau was the mentor
of the Nazi Nordicist raciologist Hans F. K. Günther, by 1930 the latter
had fused “racial determinism, Nordicism, and anti-Semitism” into an SS
biocultural worldview (Ingrao 2013: 53). Already before Günther, however,
völkisch “prophets” like Houston Stewart Chamberlain among others
organized “softer” intellectual followers into groups (Bünde, Vereine)
with the goal of creating views of a new Reich. Leaders of these groups,
furthermore, formed networks among themselves, were members of
several other völkisch organizations and publishing organs, and made
their religious-political engagement felt.
6. For a somewhat different perspective of Goethe’s view of Jews and
Judaism, see Berghahn (2001: 4, 5).
7. Adluri expands Pollock’s (1993) thesis about “Deep Orientalism”;
Grünendahl (2012) rejects it.
8. Chamberlain’s (1900) immensely popular and well-reviewed Die
Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, which saw thirty-eight editions
by 1938, was not acceptable to Pietists and evangelicals. The theologian
Bruno Baentsch, for example, saw Chamberlain’s “teutonic religiosity”
as a vague, pantheistic ersatz religion and criticized explicitly Chamberlain’s
remarks about Semitic religion (see Lächele 1999: 158; quotation marks
in original). Various Christian journals criticize his “Aryan” Christ. Impor-
tant is that völkisch Protestant groups in Germany and Austria like the
Gustav-Adolf Verein and the Evangelische Bund welcomed Chamberlain’s
racist and religious views. More generally liked were Chamberlain’s
attacks on Catholicism and Jesuits (Lächele 1999).
9. For a similar sentiment, see Said (1978); for an in-depth look at
“Aryan,” see Arvidsson (2006).
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10. A good example is the dissertation of the passionate National
Socialist Margarete Dierks (1939) who, furthermore, remained a National
Socialist after the Second World War. See also the summation of Cham-
berlain’s thoughts about worldview in relation to science and religion
that he first published between 1899 and 1902 in Georg Schott (1934: 31,
32, 71, 75, 81).
11. See also Marchand (2009: 311) who recognizes Chamberlain’s for-
mative influence on Schroeder. Schroeder worked towards Chamberlain,
a pattern that repeats itself with Hitler.
12. All German translations are ours.
13. However, Chamberlain not only questioned Paul’s descent from a
“pure Jewish race,” claiming his mother was Hellenic or half-Hellenic;
he also argued that Paul’s teachings on salvation were absolutely non-
Jewish being rather old Aryan transmitted through Hellenism. He does so
because he sees value in Paul for his worldview construction. Other
völkisch thinkers, like Paul de Lagarde, reject the New Testament Paul
for having brought Jewry into the church. Both oppose Jewish influence
differently (Chamberlain 1921: 178–79). The building block of their
totalitarian worldview (for example, opposing Jewish influence) remained
the same; the discourse that supported it varied with whatever became
newspeak.
14. Echo of Nietzsche.
15. Both Chamberlain and his personal friend the Indologist Leopold
von Schroeder (1923) make the disclaimer in their respective Forewords
that the words “Indo-Germanic” (Chamberlain) and “ancient Aryan”
(altarisch, Schroeder) are subject to misunderstandings and are, therefore,
dropped for the simple use of “Aryan.” The aim was of course to reach
popular audiences.
16. It is useful to let the philosopher and political theorist Aurel Kolnai
(1900–1973), who knew the National Socialist attitude first hand, remind
us “that Chamberlain launched a powerful attack against the spirit of
objectivity. There is, he maintained, no such thing as ‘science without
preconceptions’; the final aim is not science, but ‘culture’.…Even in reli-
gion, dogmas, i.e. material propositions claiming to be truth, are despicable
things of unmistakably Jewish and Syrian character…” (1938: 33; emphasis
in original).
17. Varisco writes not only that Said “reads…sexual slants” into the
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286 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
prose of “Orientalists,” but also notes Said’s obsessive recreation of “a
superior West versus an inferior ‘Arab’ ” serving as a “stand-in for the
East” (2012: 271, 272).
18. Merely “appropriating, defining, and editing” is taken as evidence
for the lack of creativity of Jews. It is a constant stereotype associated
with Chamberlain although he may not have been the original source.
19. Chamberlain (1938: 39) and also for that matter Hunke (1960) start
with a quotation from Goethe’s West-östlicher Divan (1814–19). In
Hunke’s case it is about the Persian poet Hafis and the poet, soldier,
sometime Catholic priest, and, therefore, sometime censored Calderon.
The message is ironic but basically about the triumph of a joyous, earthy
spirituality over a repressive Catholic one (Poewe 2011). See especially
Kontje (2004: 121–25) for an enlightening disclosure of Goethe’s Divan
and what Said missed (123), as well as for the differences in selection
and translation (122; Said 1978: 167).
20. Depending on context, metaphysical referring to the transcendent
means no more than Christian. Said following Foucault is antimetaphysical.
21. Said seems to play with words and word ambiguities: “Semitic” here
refers to Jews (not Arabs) as does “Oriental” so that the dehumanized
lenses are those of Aryan-Jewish-Europeans. The proximity to the eccentric
Massignon is therefore important. Massignon was part of the Anglo-French
committee that drafted the Sykes-Picot agreement (see Irwin 2007: 220–
29). Massignon was many things during the course of his life: he was a
nonliturgical, free-floating, synthesizing “Sufi-catholic” mystic and was
against the Catholic Church; he worked for colonial administrations and
was anticolonial; he was for Palestine, against Zionists, friends with
Jewish scholars, and anti-Jewish; he was empathetic toward Muslims
while patronizing them (Irwin 2007).
22. It is not clear whether Said distinguishes the “Jewish Geist” that
informs British and French culture from specific Jewish German Indologists.
Using Foucault’s “genealogy” individual actors and sources are irrelevant
to Said. Not so to Marchand (2009).
23. Leopold von Schroeder (1923: 9), discussed below, also saw Jews,
meaning Jewish Semites, as closely bound to Aryans or having fused
with them (verschmolzen, melted in). According to him, only Aryans and
Semites are creators of great world religions: Aryans first and long before
the birth of Christ. Aryan Indians spread Bråhma~ism to many different
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 287
peoples often of non-Aryan origins. Conquering, they took it to Java.
And Buddhism, according to Schroeder the first world religion in great
style, had its beginning following the spread of Aryan Indians. From
Jews came Christianity, which was taken up by Aryans and adapted to
their mentality. Islam, though bound together by Jewish and Christian
elements, adapted to the passions and sensitivities of “Arabic sons of the
desert” (Schroeder 1923: 9). Islam received recognition for its conquests
and strong moral power, but Arabic-Semites (by contrast with Jewish
ones) were lacking intellectually.
24. See also Schneider (2008: 724) who argues that there is a direct line
from Chamberlain’s claim that “Jesus was not a Jew” and his insistence
that Germanic Christianity is based on a “heroic Nordic ‘religious race
instinct’ ” to Hauer’s German Faith Movement, which is decidedly anti-
Christian as is Rosenberg’s Der Mythus des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts
(The Myth of the Twentieth Century, 1935).
25. Windisch, who looks at the reception of Schroeder’s works, points
out that various reviewers find his methods and interpretations unconvinc-
ing. Schroeder did comparative mythology and Volkskunde and interpreted
with a lot of fantasy inserting, for example, foreign ideas into the songs of
the ¸g Veda (Windisch 1920: 411). Some reviewers (Hermann Oldenberg,
for instane, and Arthur B. Keith) reject Schroeder’s perspective because
it has no basis in fact; it lacks evidence. At most, Schroeder’s approach
has meaning for the history of religions or Religious Studies (Windisch
1920: 412). He intends synthesis and popularization as is seen especially
in the works we cite.
26. See especially two 1905 essays entitled “Die Kriegerische Bedeutung
des Buddhismus in Japan” (The Meaning of War in the Buddhism of
Japan) [Die Zeit, August 2, 1905] (Schroeder 1913: 226–35) and “Orient
und Individualismus” (The Orient and Individualism) [Die Zeit, August
13, 1905] (Schroeder 1913: 236–44). See also Piper (2005: 206).
27. The word “Aryan” does not play a role in Hans Eggert Schroeder’s
thinking.
28. About Lebensphilosophie and Ludwig Klages who developed it in
relationship with National Socialism, see Lebovic (2005, 2013) and
Poewe (2006: 84–88). Main “metaconcepts” were Ganzheit (organic
whole), Leben (life), and Erleben (experience) and within this dynamic
life force acted freely without constraint of natural law or the moral
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288 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
precepts first laid out by an Israelitic-Jewry (Lebovic 2013: 17; Poewe
2006: 15). See also Herf (1984).
29. It recalls Herf’s Reactionary Modernism (1984)—as yet without
the technological emphasis. The moral failure of German Romanticism
becomes explicit later, in Hauer (1932b), for example, when he talks
about the “inexorable law of moral cosmic balance that is immanent in
the course of the world (Weltlauf)” (1932b: 11). There is no personal
moral responsibility; nor can the immanent order of the world-being be
grasped rationally. Hauer relies on Vasvani (1926) whom he cites (1932b:
6).
30. L. von Schroeder is quite explicit that he and Adolf Harnack, with
whom he was friends throughout his life were of one mind. The Nazis
saw Harnack’s What is Christianity? (1901) as the triumph of a freer and
livelier conception of theology; its enemies called it “liberal theology.
The book denied the Godhead of Christ, advocated abandoning the Old
Testament, and was hostile toward theology that according to Harnack,
“smother(ed) the true element in religion” (1901: 43, cited in Poewe
2006: 29). To Harnack the “power of the personality” and religious
“experience” were the motor behind religious-political breakthrough
(1901: 48, 148, cited in Poewe 2006: 29). This is precisely the ground,
namely liberal theology, from which the thought of German Christians
took off (Poewe 2006: 22; Johannes von Leers, “Gustav Frenssen wird
75 Jahre alt,” 1938, N 2168 9, Bundesarchiv Berlin [Federal Archive
Berlin]).
31. L. von Schroeder’s memoirs (1921) were in manuscript form follow-
ing his death in 1920 and was edited and published by Felix von Schroeder
with few changes and only where absolutely necessary. It is in this pub-
lication that Leopold describes the transitions of his life away from
institutional Protestantism to Adolf von Harnack’s Christianity of love
and compassion free of the Old Testament. After contact with Chamberlain
starting 1899 and with personal meetings starting 1900, Schroeder writes
in a more popular style and speaks before popular audiences. Where the
synthesis of aspects of Christianity with Indian poetic, saga, and religious
texts is relatively smooth, his popularization of Buddhism is more compli-
cated. Given limited space, readers are referred to his article “Buddhismus
und Christentum, was sie gemein haben und was sie unterscheidet”
(Buddhism and Christianity: Congruencies and Differences). This paper
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 289
was first published in 1893 with a second edition in 1898, that is, before
real contact with Chamberlain, and is reprinted in L. von Schroeder (1923:
85–127). He concludes the paper expressing the ugly side of Christianity
(gloominess, oppression, bloody persecution, Inquisition, and the Christian
vice of self-righteousness), praises as exemplary Buddhist tolerance, and
ends with a von Harnack’s Christianity of love (L. Schroeder 1923: 126–
27). He yearns for a universal Romantic worldview based on Greek and
Roman as well as Indian roots. The natural ally is the Indian world (L.
Schroeder 1923: 125).
32. From his student years onward, Schroeder was very conscious
of the importance of belonging to influential groups and networks (L.
Schroeder 1911, 1921).
33. The poem in which he describes his experience is about a tearful
love. The experience and poem follow his rejection by his first love. Her
family did not approve. It mixes Wolfram von Eschenbach, a medieval
writer of sagas, with angels and with a longing for mercy to clear his soul
of anger and achieve redemption through love. In other words, his Chris-
tianity was that of Wagner and Chamberlain.
34. One can see an analogy with Said’s two lineages here. By destroying
Orientalism, a construction of the European Semitic mind, space is made
for the “new” condition that however is already there—meaning the
foundation of civilization starting with ancient India or simply Asia.
35. Whether “state” refers to government, mental state, mental attitude,
or state of education is deliberately left ambiguous; what is clear is that
its meaning is negative, that is “Jewish.” Anything concrete is avoided or
seen as through a frosted glass.
36. This thinking is totally in line with Chamberlain as shown earlier
(Schott 1934).
37. See also Wehler (1998: 47–49).
38. See also Herf who observes that “Hitler’s practice coincided with
his ideology” (1984: 7). He also points to the importance for Nazism of
aesthetics, Lebensphilosophie, Wagner, and Nietzsche (Herf 1984: 29)
and to Nazi ambivalence toward natural sciences (188, 201–2; Rutkowski
1943).
39. There were various other laws including the Nuremburg ones.
40. von See (1994: 222) underlines the concept confusions of Nazi
politics so that even the notion of “race,” having just replaced “Aryan,”
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was unhelpful and was turned by the Nazi race expert Hans F. K. Günther
into the need for an “aristocracy” of superior mind, body, and deeds.
41. On March 27, 1933 Klemperer noted that “Aryan,” meaning “non-
Jewish,” entered the “language of Nazism” governing everything (2007:
8, 44). He observed its relationship to the boycott. But he also remarked
that one could create a lexicon of the new language (Klemperer 2007:
44). Describing the congress of physicians in Wiesbaden where they
thanked Hitler repeatedly for being the “Savior of Germany,” although
with occasional tepid doubt, Klemperer remarks: “The most deplorable
thing about all this is that I have to continuously busy myself with the
insane race differentiation between Aryans and Semites that I have to
look repeatedly at the whole horrid darkening and enslavement of Germany
from a perspective of Jewishness. It appears to me as if it were a personally
achieved victory of Hitlerism over me. I will not accede to it (2007: 45).
42. “Aufbau des Deutschen Ahnenerbe,” January 1936, Berlin, NS21
674, Bundesarchiv Berlin. This document includes Walter Wüst’s Letter
“Das Ahnenerbe,” 15.3.1937, Berlin.
43. “Aufbauplan der Forschungs-und Lehrgemeinschaft ‘Das Ahnenerbe’,”
NS21 798, pages 1–19. Bundesarchiv Berlin.
44. “Die Forschungs-und Lehrgemeinschaft ‘Das Ahnenerbe’: Aufgaben
und Aufbau,” NS21 798, page 1, Bundesarchiv Berlin.
45. For example, Figueira (1991) argues against a direct causal link
from Sanskrit to Hitler. She sees a break in the late nineteenth century
with popular interest in theosophy and later centered on Rosenberg. In
her view, early nineteenth-century writers saw India as the cradle of
civilization while late nineteenth-century writers saw it as the grave of
the Aryans (Figueira 1991: 6).
46. Stietencron (2003) and Zeller (2003) write about different aspects
of the professional life of the Indologist Rudolf Roth (1821–1895). While
Stietencron mentions parallels between the Indian freedom movement
and the discussions in Germany about liberal nationalism thus revealing
some of Roth’s political perceptions, no information about Roth’s actual
political engagement, group affiliation, or personal life is revealed. The
correspondence chosen by Zeller who also writes about Roth shows
something of his career, research, publications, and students. We only
surmise Roth’s political inclinations from a quotation of a student who
mentions Roth’s patriotism and the sense that Roth would have been
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 291
heartbroken about “the autumn of 1914” (Zeller 2003: 113).
47. Malinar (2003: 121–43) follows the teaching of her mentor Stieten-
cron when it comes to the assessment of German Indologists, here namely
Richard Garbe (1857–1927). Garbe was a Tylerian evolutionist (Malinar
2003: 128–29), a Prussian Protestant Christian (United Lutheran and
Reformed), a rationalist, an anti-Catholic, and an Anglophile (130, 132).
Reversing his predecessors’ historical assumptions that connected nobility
of spirit with antiquity followed by decadence as in the work of Rudolf
Roth and Paul Deussen (Malinar 2003: 129), Garbe followed Edward B.
Tyler instead and argued historical development so that all religions of
antiquity resembled the religious nature of present day “primitive” peoples
(cited in Malinar 2003: 133). In his research he looked for evidence of
documents that show “the struggle for the highest truth” (das Ringen um
die höchste Wahrheit) that he expected to find associated with warrior
casts (cited in Malinar 2003: 129 and 133). Garbe did not appreciate
the political course followed by his successor Jakob Wilhelm Hauer.
Unfortunately, no personal correspondence or the like are offered by
Malinar to show Garbe’s discomfort with the völkisch activities of the
1920s.
48. To prevent misunderstanding, here is what Adluri says: “I am less
interested in ‘Orientalisms’ of all kinds and more in the ‘Germanism’
characteristic of German Indology. If ‘Orientalism’ is defined as the
attempt to define the ‘other,’ Germanism may be defined as the attempt
to define the German self. Thus what is ultimately at stake in German
Indology is not the image of India in European eyes, but the image
Germans sought to project of themselves and which they hoped to see
reflected in the eyes of the ‘other.’ Since Christian Lassen and Adolf
Holtzmann, German Indological scholarship has been an attempt by
German academics to define themselves in the eyes of the other—initially,
in the eyes of European intellectuals, and later, in the eyes of their
American counterparts. In the process, German scholars barely took
notice of the Indians ‘other’ than as a foil for their own critical conscious-
ness and methodology. Indians, as a rule, only appear on the margins of
this discussion. If it was necessary to put them down, it was only in order
to establish one’s superiority in the eyes of the other European nations…”
(2011: 266–67). It is a diatribe in the style of Said (see also Varisco 2012:
269).
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292 / Karla Poewe and Irving Hexham
49. See also Manjapra (2006: 374) who mentions Wilhelm Wassmuss,
the German Lawrence of Arabia, a popular theme from the 1910s to 1930s
and the tragi-comic confusions regarding Hindus and Muslims (375).
50. The organization was first known as the ADGB (Arbeitsgemein-
schaft Deutscher Glaubensbewegung). A year later, in 1934, it became
simply the DGB (Deutsche Glaubensbewegung).
51. His journal is called Deutscher Glaube.
52. Jakob Wilhelm Hauer, “Aus der Front der Gegner und Kompro-
missler,” October 1, 1934, Berlin, Document 106, Bundesarchiv Koblenz
(Federal Archive Koblenz).
53. Ernst-Georg Schulze (1908–1977), also known as Swami Sudananda
Dasa, was converted to Gauiyå Vai‚~ava with the help of Bhakti Hridaya
Bon. According to Wikipedia, which omits references to Nazism, Schulze
in turn converted Walther Eidlitz (1892–1976), also called Vanana Dasa,
when both were interned in India from 1939–45.
54. Schulze to Hauer, 23.5.1934, N1131 61, Document 315, Bundesarchiv
Koblenz.
55. Schulze to Hauer, 21.6.1934, N1131 61, Document 316, Bundesarchiv
Koblenz. See also Zachariah (2014: 147) who puzzles over the fascina-
tion with fascism not only of some Indians, but also Muslims. In his sug-
gestion that rather than “Aryan,” some “sort of version of an organicist
unity of state and people” may be involved (Zachariah 2014: 147), he is
pointing in the right direction.
56. See note 55 above.
57. Mathilde Ludendorff, a neurologist and founder of a science-based
religion called Gotterkenntnis criticized Hauer’s Indological emphasis
because she argued that the “Jewish race-God” was basically Indian,
meaning that the “Indo” part of -Germanic reintroduced the very thing
they wanted to remove (Poewe 2006: 82).
58. Hauer-Günther correspondence, 1.4.1936, N2231 88, Bundesarchiv
Koblenz (see also Poewe 2006: 140; Junginger 2003: 176–207, 198, 204).
59. To strengthen Indian-German relations Sarkar founded the Bangiya
Jarman Vidya Samsad (Bengali Society of German Culture) in 1933
(Manjapra 2014: 369n73).
60. Benoy Sarkar, “From Herder to Hitler,” 14.6.1933, R43/II 142,
Bundesarchiv Berlin. The document is in bad condition and almost
illegible. He does write, however, “What Young Germany needed badly
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Aryan Mediations between German Indology and Nazism / 293
was the moral idealism of a Vivekananda multiplied by the iron…
[illegible].…And that has been furnished by Hitler.” Sarkar was active in
Swadeshi (self-rule) and the National Education movement. He visited
several European and Asian countries including Nazi Germany. See also
Zachariah (2014: 145–146) on Sarkar and A. C. N. Nambiar.
61. Regarding Bose, see the diverse perspectives of Gordon (1974),
Macdonogh (1992), Kuhlmann (2003), Hayes (2011), Bose (2011), and
Manjapra (2010, 2014: 105), among several others.
62. See the Document signed (Bernhard) von Bülow to the Foreign
Office in Berlin, sent from Calcutta, 25.4.1933, R43 II 1420, page 1,
Bundesarchiv Berlin. Bülow reports that Indian intellectuals were raised
in British institutions in the spirit of Western democracy and objected to
Jewish persecution in Hitler’s Germany.
63. This includes not only Chamberlain, but most later Deutsche Christen
who began their political activities in the völkisch milieu, usually became
Nazis, and interpreted “Christianity” from the Nazi perspective arguing
alternately, for example, that Jesus was Aryan or Jewish, that the Old
Testament must be abandoned, and so on (Poewe and Hexham 2009).
64. It is interesting that Said’s work, though mentioned in the Bibliog-
raphy, plays at best a miniscule role in the texts of Manjapra (2014: 372n38,
2010).
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KARLA POEWE is Professor Emerita in the Department of Anthro-
pology at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
kpoewe@ucalgary.ca
IRVING HEXHAM is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies
at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
hexham@ucalgary.ca
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Full-text available
Abstract Much current research is informed by Foucault’s discourse model based on speech forms and the assumption that power is in the discourse itself. The concreteness of human beings, their actions, the mentors and institutions that shape them, or the worldviews that hold them captive, are ignored. Another approach is necessary to get at the global entanglements and continuation of Nazism precisely because it is a political religion that most people want to forget. Metaphorically speaking, the approach is like peeling an onion. The paper is an assessment of a book, which does not ring true. Sigrid Hunke, claiming to be a scholar of religions, wrote a best-seller published in 1960 with the curious title, Allah’s Sun over the Occident: Our Arabic Heritage. According to Hunke, she wrote the book to defend Arabic Islam against Western prejudices. But initial archival research showed her to have been a committed SS-intellectual and defender of the Germanic exemplar in the 1940s. Why then this post-WWII transformation into a human rights advocate with an affinity for a politico-religious minority that, furthermore, is held up as a model worthy of emulation? Here the metaphor of peeling the onion is useful because I cut, as it were, into the flow of the paper with text boxes that contain commentaries about the methods and concepts that guided me in uncovering a deception. More importantly, and beyond this, the reader is taken to the core of the Nazi worldview and to Hunke’s mentors who devised their own methods and concepts to construct it – methods and concepts to which Hunke remained loyal in all her works.
Book
Critically examining the discourse of Indo-European scholarship over the past two hundred years, Aryan Idols demonstrates how the interconnected concepts of “Indo-European” and “Aryan” as ethnic categories have been shaped by, and used for, various ideologies. Stefan Arvidsson traces the evolution of the Aryan idea through the nineteenth century—from its roots in Bible-based classifications and William Jones’s discovery of commonalities among Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek to its use by scholars in fields such as archaeology, anthropology, folklore, comparative religion, and history. Along the way, Arvidsson maps out the changing ways in which Aryans were imagined and relates such shifts to social, historical, and political processes. Considering the developments of the twentieth century, Arvidsson focuses on the adoption of Indo-European scholarship (or pseudoscholarship) by the Nazis and by Fascist Catholics. A wide-ranging discussion of the intellectual history of the past two centuries, Aryan Idols links the pervasive idea of the Indo-European people to major scientific, philosophical, and political developments of the times, while raising important questions about the nature of scholarship as well.