Wolfgang Benz

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Wolfgang Benz (2013)

Wolfgang Benz (born June 9, 1941 in Ellwangen ) is a German historian of contemporary history and an internationally recognized representative of prejudice research , anti-Semitism research and Nazi research . From 1990 to 2011 he taught at the Technical University of Berlin and headed the associated center for research on anti-Semitism , whose yearbook he published until 2011.

Career and research areas

Benz studied history , political science and art history in Frankfurt am Main , Kiel and Munich. It was in 1968 when Karl Bosl at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich with the topic of southern Germany in the Weimar Republic (domestic policy 1918-1923) PhD . From 1969 to 1990 he was a research assistant at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich.

In 1985 Benz co-founded Dachauer Hefte and has published it ever since. In 1986 he was visiting professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney . In 1992 he received the Geschwister-Scholl-Prize and the Prize The Political Book of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung . Since 1992 he has published the Zeitschrift für Geschichtswwissenschaft and since 2001 the Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte . He often works with the Federal Agency for Civic Education . In 2007 he taught as a visiting professor at the Sir Peter Ustinov Institute for Research into and Combating Prejudice at the University of Vienna . He publishes the paperback series European History at S. Fischer Verlag . Benz is also the editor of the series Life Pictures - Jewish Memories and Testimonies , which has been published by Fischer-Verlag since 1991 as part of the Black Series .

Benz retired on October 21, 2010, but remained in office until March 2011. His successor was the historian Stefanie Schüler-Springorum . His academic students include: a. Alice Brauner , Wolf Gruner , Johannes Heil , Günther Jikeli , Miriam Rürup , Britta Schellenberg , Yasemin Shooman and Harry Waibel .

Important work

Some of Benz's publications are regarded as standard works of historical research during the time of National Socialism and the course of the Holocaust, including the Encyclopedia of National Socialism (1997, with Hermann Graml and Hermann Weiß ) and the multi-volume handbook of anti-Semitism . Benz's book What is Anti-Semitism? (2004) was designated as a standard work, as was the nine-volume series Der Ort des Terrors (2005), edited with Barbara Distel , which is considered the most comprehensive representation of the Nazi camp system and for the first time brought together the available research results in the narrower sense of the processing.

Benz is on the scientific advisory board of Farid Hafez 's yearbook for research on Islamophobia .

Comparison of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

In December 2008, Benz headed a one-day conference at the Berlin Center for Research on Antisemitism on the subject of “The image of the enemy Muslim - the image of the enemy Jew .” In contrast to criticism of the conference concept, he emphasized that as a prejudice researcher on anti-Semitism one had to learn “whether the same mechanism also applies to other minorities [... ] Disaster can be caused. ”The hatred of Judaism and Islam is particularly similar in conspiracy fantasies and assertions of religious commandments: Just as statements from the Talmud are presented to Jews, statements from the Koran are presented to Muslims . Both religions are accused of being vicious and inhumane and of requiring immoral behavior towards those of different faiths. The allegations that Jews consider themselves chosen and must be hostile to non-Jews also exist against Muslims.

Before the conference, it was feared that anti-Semitism would be equated with Islamophobia . The political scientist Matthias Küntzel criticized the fact that the comparison would trivialize the Holocaust , the threat to Israel from the Iranian nuclear program and the hatred of Jews by Islamists . Benz dismissed this criticism in the media as “completely ridiculous”. There was no discussion with Küntzel at the conference.

Outside Germany, the relationship between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia has been scientifically discussed since 1988, reinforced by the consequences of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 . In Germany, Juliane Wetzel , Salomon Korn , Sabine Schiffer , Constantin Wagner and Micha Brumlik, like Benz, see structural and concrete analogies between the hatred of Jews in the 20th century and hatred of Islam today. Historical and qualitative differences, on the other hand, are emphasized by Matti Bunzl , Monika Schwarz-Friesel , Evyatar Friesel and others. Above all, Julius H. Schoeps and Matthias Küntzel emphasize that there is no conspiracy theory of world Jewry analogous to anti-Semitism in hatred of Islam . Norbert Frei agreed with Benz regarding the socio-psychological comparability of today's Islamophobia with hostility towards Jews since around 1880.

Benz deepened the comparison in his work Die Feinde aus dem Morgenland , published in 2010 . How fear of Muslims endangers our democracy . Common to both anti-Semitic and Islamophobic prejudices is “the division into good and bad as well as the phenomenon of exclusion”. A fundamental difference is that “today it is no longer about the emancipation of the Jews, but about the integration of the Muslims”. Benz later emphasized that he had never equated Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, but rather "compared the methods of exclusion". Just as it was a method of “some 'experts'” to justify hostility towards Jews first with the contents of the Talmud and later, from a racist point of view, with “Jewish” genes that “led Jews to evil”, there are experts today who argued similarly : “What used to be Talmud baiting is now Koran baiting. A minority is stigmatized as dangerous because it is supposed to be ordered by religion. ”This is how Benz judged Thilo Sarrazin's statements on the genetic disposition of Jews and other groups as racist. Benz also sharply criticized the conspiracy theorist Udo Ulfkotte . Ulfkotte conjures a "Muslim world revolution" and a "secret plan to infiltrate non-Muslim states". This only springs from his imagination, but is sufficient for xenophobes as an assurance, just as the protocols of the Elders of Zion suffice for anti-Semites.


In May 2010, Benz judged a poster by the artist group Surrend (“The Jewish Lobby in Germany”) as not anti-Semitic. Political scientist Stephan Grigat criticized this as a blatant misjudgment.

In November 2010, Benz gave an interview to the Internet portal Muslim-Markt without criticizing its anti-Semitic tendencies. The German representation of the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and Stephan Grigat criticized this.

Benz repeatedly criticized the Pegida movement. This revived the concept of the " Occident ", which historically has always been a "battle or demarcation slogan" (against barbarians , Jews, Muslims or Christian deviants). Pegida tries to mobilize fears “with a mish-mash of arch-conservative, xenophobic and anti-Islamic elements”.


Benz is a member of the advisory boards


On the occasion of his retirement, Benz was awarded the Golden Badge of Honor of the TU Berlin. Charlotte Knobloch praised Benz for “his outstanding achievements in the field of anti-Semitism research”, they were “unique in Europe and have set global standards”. Mordechay Lewy attested him "an enlightening vocation [...] to effectively counter the deniers of the Shoah".

In 2012 he received the award Against Forgetting - For Democracy for his services “for the culture of remembrance in Germany and his social commitment against prejudice and against xenophobia”.

Fonts (selection)


  • Southern Germany in the Weimar Republic. A contribution to German domestic politics 1918–1923 (= contributions to a historical structural analysis of Bavaria in the industrial age , volume 4). Duncker and Humblot, Berlin 1970, DNB 456070109 (dissertation University of Munich 1968, 371 pages).
  • Potsdam 1945. Occupation and rebuilding in four-zone Germany. dtv, Munich 1986; 4th edition 2005, ISBN 3-423-34230-7 .
  • Rule and Society in the National Socialist State. Studies on the history of structure and mentality. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1990, ISBN 3-596-24435-8 .
  • Dimension of genocide. The number of Jewish victims of National Socialism (= sources and representations on contemporary history , Volume 33). Oldenbourg, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-486-54631-7 ; as paperback: dtv 4690 dtv Wissenschaft , Munich 1996, ISBN 3-423-04690-2 .
  • The holocaust. Beck, Munich 1995; 8th edition 2014, ISBN 978-3-406-39822-3 .
  • History of the Third Reich. Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-46765-2 .
  • Pictures of the Jew. Studies on everyday anti-Semitism. Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-47575-2 .
  • What is anti-Semitism? Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 2004, ISBN 3-89331-562-4 .
  • The 101 most important questions. The Third Empire. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54142-9 ; 3rd edition 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-64907-3 .
  • Exclusion, displacement, genocide. Genocide in the 20th century. dtv, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-423-34370-2 .
  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The legend of the Jewish world conspiracy. Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-53613-7 .
  • Mission democracy. The founding history of the Federal Republic and the emergence of the GDR 1945–1949. Metropol, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-940938-42-8 .
  • The enemies from the Orient. How fear of Muslims endangers our democracy. Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-63981-4 ; 2nd edition 2013, ISBN 978-3-406-66260-7 .
  • German Jews in the 20th Century: A History in Portraits. Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-406-62292-2 .
  • Anti-Semitism and “Islamic criticism”, balance sheet and perspective . Metropol, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86331-012-7 .
  • Rush to the West? On the perception of Islam in Western society (= Viennese lectures in the town hall. Volume 170). Picus, Vienna 2013, ISBN 978-3-85452-570-7 .
  • The German resistance against Hitler . CH Beck, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-406-66106-8 .
  • Sinti and Roma. The unwanted minority , Metropol, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86331-205-3 .
  • Anti-Semitism. Presence and tradition of resentment , Wochenschau-Verlag, Schwalbach im Taunus 2015, ISBN 978-3-7344-0104-6 .
  • Violence in November 1938. The “Reichskristallnacht” - initial to the Holocaust. Metropol-Verlag, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-86331-421-7 .
  • How Germany was divided. dtv, Munich 2018, ISBN 978-3-423-28158-4 .
  • In resistance. Size and failure of the opposition to Hitler. CH Beck, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73345-1 .
  • Protest and humanity. The resistance group " Uncle Emil " under National Socialism . Reclam, Ditzingen 2020, ISBN 978-3-15-011258-8 .



Associate Editor


  • Wolfgang Benz . In: Kürschner's German Scholars Calendar 2003. 19th edition. Volume I: A-J. Bio-bibliographical directory of contemporary German-speaking scientists . KG Saur, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-598-23607-7 , p. 199.
  • Mona Körte, Marion Neiss (ed.): Von Schöpfern und Schurken: to B. or not to be , Metropol, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-938690-40-6 (an anthology for Wolfgang Benz, Festschrift for his 65th birthday. Birthday with more than a hundred contributions).

Web links

Commons : Wolfgang Benz  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Sir Peter Ustinov Institute, Guest Professorship Wolfgang Benz ( Memento from December 26, 2015 in the Internet Archive ).
  2. See the publisher's program with available titles from the series from 2010 (PDF; 35 kB).
  3. See page of the Fischer publishing house about the series "Lebensbilder" .
  4. See the holdings of the series in the German National Library (under DNB 978790669 ).
  5. ^ Center for Research on Antisemitism, Farewell Lecture Professor Benz, Greetings .
  6. Torsten Harmsen: What will happen to anti-Semitism research? Hamburg native will head the center at the TU in the future. In: Berliner Zeitung , October 2, 2010.
  7. Martin Munke : Review of: Wolfgang Benz (Hrsg.): Handbuch des Antisemitismus . In: Portal for Political Science , February 27, 2014.
  8. Michel Dormal : Terror and Politics: A Political Analysis of Islamism from the Perspective of a Critical Theory of Anti-Semitism and Total Domination . (= Political Theory , Vol. 10), LIT Verlag, Münster 2009, p. 24.
  9. Carina Baganz: The Place of Terror . H-Net Reviews, October 2010.
  10. ^ Farid Hafez: Team. Retrieved February 14, 2017 (American English).
  11. Science as a nuisance Center for Research on Antisemitism, Newsletter No. 37 / January 2009 (conference report)
  12. Thorsten Gerald Schneiders (ed.): Islamophobia: When the boundaries of criticism blur. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-531-92385-7 , p. 9f.
  13. Benjamin Weinthal: Dangerous equation. Haaretz, December 26th, 2008 (fee required)
  14. ^ Philipp Gessler: Conference of the Berlin anti-Semitism researchers. Jew haters versus Islamophobes. In: taz.de , December 10, 2008.
  15. Thorsten Gerald Schneiders: Competition of those who suffer. Federal Agency for Civic Education, March 17, 2014.
  16. Anti-Semitism researcher Wolfgang Benz is retiring. Historian Norbert Frei: Benz saw himself as a “public enlightener”. Deutschlandfunk , October 21, 2010
  17. German Bundestag: “The enemy of the Jews has been replaced by Muslims”. Text archive documents , May 17, 2013
  18. What used to be Talmud baiting is now Koran baiting. Der Standard , October 2, 2014.
  19. Historian Benz on Sarrazin: "That is racism". Thuringian General , August 31, 2010.
  20. Wolfgang Benz: Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are similar to one another. Federal Agency for Civic Education , March 17, 2014.
  21. Stephan Grigat: Post-Nazism in times of the Jihad. In: Stephan Grigat (Ed.): Postnazismus revisited. The Afterlife of National Socialism in the 21st Century. ça ira, Freiburg 2012, ISBN 3862591069 (Introduction)
  22. Anti-Semitism researchers on the wrong track. , Wiener Zeitung , November 8, 2010; No tolerance of and no silence on anti-Semitism. Prof. Wolfgang Benz supports the Islamists of “Muslim Market”. SPME, November 7, 2010
  23. Historian Wolfgang Benz on "Pegida": "The West is a Myth". Der Tagesspiegel , January 5, 2015.
  24. ^ Alliance for Democracy and Tolerance .
  25. ^ Fritz Bauer Institute, Scientific Advisory Board .
  26. ^ Foundation Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, Board of Trustees and Advisory Board .
  27. Yearbook for Islamophobia Research, Editor and Scientific Advisory Board .
  28. Documentation Center Prora, Scientific Advisory Board ( Memento from June 15, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  29. Setting standards worldwide . Press office of the TU Berlin, November 26, 2010, excerpts from greetings on the farewell to Wolfgang Benz.
  30. ^ Prize “Against Forgetting - For Democracy” goes to contemporary historian Wolfgang Benz ( memento from January 5, 2013 in the web archive archive.today ), in: H-Soz-u-Kult , November 1, 2012.
  31. Review by Susanne Benöhr h-soz-kult .
  32. Review .
  33. (Reviews in H-Soz-Kult [1] and sehepunkte [2] ).
  34. Christiane Habermalz: Guide from a mined area , deutschlandfunkkultur.de, July 12, 2020, accessed on July 13, 2020.
  35. Table of Contents .