The Nazis' Gifts to Turkish Higher Education and Inadvertently to Us All: Modernization of Turkish Higher Education (1933-1945) and its Impact on Present Science and Culture
40 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2004
Date Written: December 9, 2004
The system of higher education inherited by the Republic of Turkey in 1923, consisted of a few hundred Ottoman vintage (Islamic) madrasas and three military academies, one of which was expanded into an engineering school. With secularization enshrined in its constitution, the new government recognized the need for modernization/westernization throughout Turkish society and established a number of policies for bringing this about. At government invitation and mandate to modernize higher education, starting in 1933 and running through WWII, Turkey provided safe-haven for many intellectuals and professionals fleeing Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, and other Nazi dominated lands. This paper discusses the impact of these emigre professors, not just on Turkey's higher education in the sciences, professions, and humanities, but also on its public health, library, legal, engineering, and administrative practices. The multi-faceted legacy of this impact on present Turkish society with all its richness is documented if but in part and some of the socio-economic reasons for Turkey's not taking full advantage of the second and third generation progenies of its modern higher educational system, and the ensuing brain drain, are analyzed. Lastly, the paper briefly addresses the impact on American science of the Turkey-saved professors, some of whom subsequently re-emigrated to the US.
Keywords: Turkey, history, history of science and technology, development, technology transfer, educational policy, government policy, higher education, Nazi persecution, Nazism, holocaust, migration, diaspora, exile
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