Peter Rohrbacher

Socio-Cultural Anthropology under Hitler: An Introduction to Four Case Studies from Vienna

Note to readers: This introduction seeks to draw attention to the three-volume collection examining Socio-Cultural Anthropology in Vienna during the Nazi period (1938-1945), recently published in German and edited by Andre Gingrich and Peter Rohrbacher. The editors’ essay below is followed by brief essays in English based on a selection of chapters by Katja Geisenhainer, Lisa Gottschall, Gabriele Anderl, Ildikó Cazan-Simányi, Reinhold Mittersakschmöller, and Peter Rohrbacher. We thank the editors and authors for making their work available in this way, as a joint effort by our “Clio’s Fancy” and “Field Notes” sections, and invite readers to follow up with the complete work.– HAR editors.

Elaborating and interpreting anthropology’s history under Nazism is not only a continuing ethical, moral, and political obligation for the field today. It also represents a set of complex challenges in many of its empirical, methodological, and conceptual dimensions, open to debate and reflection by interested laypersons and experts in the relevant languages, regions, and periods but also from all other fields of anthropology and history as well. Through the present introduction to four case examples from Vienna, the authors seek to contribute to these debates by pointing out the relevance of well-researched archival evidence within sound methodological contexts. This is the indispensable prerequisite for advancing further debates and related research.

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A Priest in the Resistance: Father Wilhelm Schmidt and His Alliances in World War II

Editors’ note: This essay is part of the series Socio-Cultural Anthropology under Hitler: Four Case Studies from Vienna

In the archives of the Steyl Missionary Order in Rome I found a small blue notebook with the inscription Œuvre Caritative Pontificale. It belonged to Father Wilhelm Schmidt, the founder of the Vienna School of Ethnology. It proves that during his exile in Switzerland (1938–1954) the Austrian ethnologist was in close contact with military intelligence services and that, with the help of the Vatican, he supported Wehrmacht deserters interned in Swiss camps. Finally, he subversively used this Vatican money for intelligence operations against the Nazi state.[1]

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