19 February 2015, Thursday, 18:30-20:00, Wolfson Theatre, LSE
Professor Marc David Baer’s Inaugural Lecture: “Muslim Encounters with Nazism and the Holocaust: The Ahmadi of Berlin and German-Jewish Convert to Islam Hugo Marcus”
Professor Marc David Baer called into question simplistic renderings of the Nazi’s relationship to Muslims, complicated historiographical accounts of Islam in Europe by underscoring its diversity, and rendered more complex our understandings of Muslim-Jewish relations. Research on Muslims in the World War II era has overwhelmingly looked at Muslims in the Middle East or those who were temporarily located in Berlin, focusing on Arabs, and, for that matter, on a single Palestinian, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, whose notoriety has overshadowed the activities of all other Muslims in Germany, and indeed, elsewhere. Based on an examination of the publications and archival records of the first Muslim communities in Germany, and the personal documents and private correspondence of their leading members, Baer focused instead on an overlooked yet significant Muslim community, the Ahmadi, based in British India. They established a mission in Berlin in 1922 which attracted German avant-garde intellectuals, partly through its promotion of conversion as a kind of double-consciousness, preaching interreligious tolerance, and practicing inclusion of homosexuals. When German society was nazified beginning a decade later, the Ahmadi—unlike the other Muslims in Berlin—in one important instance thwarted the Nazi reign of violence. Despite accomodationist overtures to the regime, they saved the life of their formerly Jewish co-religionist, and homosexual, Hugo Marcus, thus calling into question the claim that Muslims share a deep-rooted anti-Semitism with the Nazis.
Marc Baer is Professor of International History at LSE. His books include
Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe (Oxford 2008), and
The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks (Stanford 2010). The recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, Baer is currently researching the interconnected history of Jews and Muslims in Germany.