International Academic Relationships of Germany between 1933 and 1945

A critical attitude toward ‚internationality‘ is one of the core aspects of the concept of the sciences and humanities that was endorsed in Germany between 1933 and 1945: From 1933 onward, the customary relations of international academic exchange and cooperation were being replaced by politically controlled, heavily restricted, and supervised foreign contacts and an ideal of autarky and hegemony. However, a quick glance at the contemporary academic news bulletins in Germany shows that even during the time of National Socialism a surprising number and variety of international contacts persisted. The aimed for transition to a concept of academia that ‚radically breaks with the tradition‘ seemed to have only a limited effect. This discrepancy between the renunciation of academic internationality on the one hand and the practiced and sometimes openly proclaimed internationality of academic work on the other hand has hardly been studied in general and in the History of Philosophy and Philology in particular, where a theoretical discussion as well as solid empirical surveys are largely lacking. The material basis of the project are essentially complete personal bibliographies of 120 philosophers and philologists who have been active during the time of National Socialism. They consist of a large archive of contributions to journals, including reviews and research literature, as well as a thematically focused collection of contemporary documents on the concept of the sciences and humanities, on the international academic exchange, and on the development of the academic disciplines. As part of the project these documents will be transferred to a database and evaluated quantitatively as well as qualitatively by a coordinated series of exemplary case studies on the practice of academic exchange between 1933 and 1945. These include studies on the ‚German line of thinking and feeling‘, on the 1937 aesthetics congress in Paris, and on the dealings with philosophical and literary classics, both national and foreign. As comparative study a subproject will examine the scientific self-understanding, practice, and international reception of Logical Empiricism. The project group consists of philologists and philosophers from Berlin and Stuttgart of various academic levels, including PhD students, and is complemented by cooperations with researchers from the Universities in Hamburg, Bonn, Graz, Heidelberg, and Bern.

In the fall of 2014 the project was launched with a conference in the Villa Vigoni on „The academic ‚axis Berlin – Rome‘? On the scientific and cultural exchange between Italy and Germany from the 1920ies to the 1940ies“. The proceedings are out!