Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Nazi Out-of-India Theory?

While we were working on the argumentation against the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), an improper and utterly false argument against the presumed association of the rivaling Out-of-India Theory (OIT) with Nazi Germany was being prepared in high places. This becomes clear from a refutation of the latter in a paper published by the International Journal of Hindu Studies (no.16 = 2012, p.189-252), and written by the German scholar Reinhold Grünendahl (Göttingen): “History in the making: on Sheldon Pollock’s ‘NS Indology’ and Vishwa Adluri’s ‘Pride and prejudice’”.

The homeland debate
Ultimately, a question of ancient history, such as the location of the homeland of the Indo-European language family inside or outside of India, will not be decided by its real or putative association with political tendencies in the modern age. Thus, when Hindus are writing for the umpteenth time that the AIT stems from colonialism and racism, they may be wrong or they may be right, but at any rate they are wasting their breath. Historians know that even a theory generateHistory plays out in a time when other concerns were at stake than in the presentd by the wrong motives may prove to be right, and even a point of view stemming from noble political positions may be wrong. We all would like to domesticate history into political usefulness for today, but have to acknowledge that it doesn’t work that way.
All the same, the AIT school do occasionally try to blacken the Hindu nationalist movement’s newfound enthusiasm for the OIT with a wrong political association, viz. by fitting it into their well-established narrative that somehow this is a “fascist” movement. Thus, in a newspaper column, Robert Zydenbos (“An obscurantist argument”, Indian Express, 12-12-1993) tried to associate Navaratna Rajaram’s arguments for the OIT with Adolf Hitler’s National-Socialism. More crassly, Yoginder Sikand (“Exploding the Aryan myth”, Observer of Business and Politics, 30-10-1993) likewise tried to link the OIT with Nazi Germany, playing on their common concern for (but diametrically opposite interpretation of) the term Arya.
Of course, nobody who follows the debate, closely or even from afar, can be taken in by this. Very obviously, the Nazis themselves never believed in the OIT but were more ardent than most in espousing the AIT. Practically all Westerners at the time, and many Indians as well (including the Hindu nationalist leader of Congress, Balagangadhara Tilak, and the ideologue of the Hindutva movement, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar), took the AIT for granted. The Nazis had an extra reason for putting their faith in it, viz. that the AIT served as the perfect illustration to the Nazi worldview. The Aryan immigrants had demonstrated their superiority, they had sought to protect it by instituting a colour-based (to the Nazis: race-based) caste system, and they had lost part of their European quality by succumbing to race-mixing nonetheless. So, if anyone should be likened to Hitler, it is the AIT advocates themselves, including Zydenbos and Sikand. The OIT school rarely misses a chance to highlight this political identification of the AIT: with British imperialism as well as with European racism epitomized by the Nazis.
We may assume that Zydenbos was a newcomer to this debate, that he objected to the OIT in good faith and that he hadn’t informed himself of the Nazi view on the homeland question. But two decades down the line, the AIT belief has definitely lost its innocence. And already back then, a specialist like Columbia professor Sheldon Pollock published a paper titled: “Deep Orientalism? Notes on Sanskrit and power beyond the Raj” (in Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer, eds.: Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia, UPenn Press 1993, p.76-133), which includes a chapter titled “Ex Oriente Nox: Indology in the Total State” (p.86-96). He and his acolytes have since kept on elaborating this thesis, viz. that Germany invested much in Indology and used it in its project of self-definition as “Aryans” contrasting with the “Semites”. A recent example of this polemic is Vishwa Adluri’s paper in Pollock’s defence, “Pride and prejudice: Orientalism and German Indology” (International Journal of Hindu Studies, 15 (=2011), p.253-294).
While we, both in the OIT and AIT camp, were concentrating on the scientific evidence pertaining to the homeland and to the direction of the Indo-European expansion, someone somewhere was working on a large-scale and truly daring attempt to finally link the OIT to the National-Socialist regime. Nonetheless, a Hindu industrialist recently donated Pollock a fabulous sum of money for his work on Sanskrit literature, trusting him more with this heritage than other Indologists including the native scholars, both traditional and university-trained, who are far better at home in Sanskrit and financially far cheaper than an American academic. So, this highly reputed Sanskrit specialist sharpened his long-standing hatred of the Hindu nationalist movement into a paper alleging that Indology in general and the OIT in particular was much beloved of the Nazi establishment.

Edward Said
In this paper, Pollock at first seeks to supplement Edward Said’s unjustly famous thesis Orientalism (1978) with the German chapter which Said purposely left out. If truthful, such a chapter would have refuted Said’s whole theory, viz. that “Orientalism” was nothing but the intellectual chapter of the political-economic colonial entreprise. The mainstay of “Orientalist” scholarship was Central Europe, then thoroughly German-speaking at least at the intellectual level. Prussia only had colonies at a late date and far from the lands that interested the Orientalists, while the other countries involved, including the Austro-Hungarian empire, had no colonies at all. In the colonial countries too, many Orientalists were by no means part of the colonial entreprise (pace Said’s conspiracy theory), but in the German-speaking world, there was not even a colonial entreprise to integrate the Orientalist endeavour in; yet Orientalism flourished there like nowhere else. Moreover, Orientalism took wing when the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s Oriental neighbor, the Ottoman Empire, was by no means a colony but a threat and an equal trading-partner.
             Indeed, even in its better-developed “British” part, Said’s theory was deeply flawed from the beginning, and the numerous errors of detail as well as the general error of his theory  have ably been pointed out by Robert Irwin (For Lust of Knowing: the Orientalists and Their Enemies, Allan Lane, London 2006) and Ibn Warraq (Defending the West. A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism, Prometheus, Amherst NY, 2007). A comprehensive work on German-language Oriental scholarship has been produced by Suzanne Marchand (German Orientalism in the Age of Empire. Religion, Race and Scholarship, German Historical Institute, Washington DC, and Cambridge University Press, 2009). With the benefit of hindsight, we can now pass judgment on Said’s influential publication which has seriously damaged the fair name of the academic discipline called “Orientalism”.

Academics who still rely on Said’s thesis, actually rely on a profoundly mistaken and highly politicized piece of scholarship. His thesis is a thin attempt at justification for anti-Westernism. Much as this is in vogue among Hindus, they are only making fools of themselves by espousing Said’s conspiracy theory. For everyone, it is  academically weak and factually full of mistakes, but for Muslims at least, they would be supporting their own man. They would be cheering for a Dhimmi, someone upholding Islamic causes, in that as well as in other books. In supporting Said, Pollock is true to his own camp, i.e. the anti-Hindu coalition. But for Hindus, there is nothing in it, they are cheering for someone serving a declared enemy.

What Nazi rule really meant for Orientalism
                Grünendahl cites  many examples where Pollock and his defender Adluri manipulate quotations to make past authors witnesses for their accusations. I vaguely knew that Pollock was wrong in associating the OIT with National-Socialism, but not that he was so spectacularly wrong. His thesis is first of all that India was a central concern for the Nazis. This is put forward most emphatically (but only with bluff) by Pollock and, on his authority, generally taken for granted. Adluri elaborates that Germany was very worried about building its “identity” as contrasting with the Semitic heritage and the Semitic people in their midst, and used India for that purpose.
But Grünendahl shows from old and neutral sources that the Indology departments received no special attention, that they were small compared to Ancient Near-Eastern Studies, Sinology etc., and that the Nazi period showed no special interest in Orientalism in general or Indology in particular. If anything, they suffered in their orientation on India from the reigning emphasis on “Indo-Germanic studies”.
Marchand notes that the number of German Oriental scholars as a whole fell from 360 in 1931 to 180 in 1940. [2009:488] What connection she cites between Indology and the Nazis [2009:499] is wholly based on Pollock, who estimates that one-third of the (only!) ca. twenty-five Indology professors in the Third Reich were active in the National-Socialist party or in the SS. This is the only time she cites him in her 526-page book. (She also naïvely gives credence to other anti-Hindu scholars such as Reza Pirbhai, p.311.) According to her: “Worst of all among the Indologist collaborators was Walter Wüst, the Vedic specialist at the University of Munich who became the director of the SS Ahnenerbe.” [p.499] But Wüst is not known to have championed the OIT, on the contrary. The Nazi regime’s favourite historian H.K.F. Günther believed the homeland lay in Southeastern Europe. This was the reigning opinion in Europe, challenged only by some Nazis who insisted on Germany or Scandinavia as the homeland. All of them agreed that the Indo-European language family had only reached India through an Aryan invasion.
Let us add that Marchand agrees to include among the Nazi Indologists Paul Thieme, the revered teacher of Michael Witzel; and he was, like his more militant pupil, a believer in the AIT. According to Marchand, one of the Nazi concerns in Oriental scholarship was “the refutation of the Jewish origins of monotheism” (p.489) namely in Mazdeism. The picture of religion in National-Socialism was complex and diverse, but belief in the superiority of monotheism was unchallenged. Like racism, it was then part of the general consensus.  
She also notes that: “Among the Islamicists, there were also numerous collaborators (…)  things looked rather promising for this bunch  in the period 1936-39” when the Nazi leaders Joseph Goebbels and Baldur von Schirach toured the Middle East, and the Islamologists were used to liaise with Muslim leaders like the Jerusalem Mufti, so that they “successfully disseminated Nazi ideas throughout the Middle East”. [2009:490] Wouldn’t that be a good topic for Orientalist scholars: Islamic-Nazi similarities as the reason for Nazi-Muslim friendships?
                The Nazi concern for “Aryans” speaking “Indo-Germanic” (innocently so named after its two extremes: Indo-Aryan in Bengal and Germanic in Iceland) or Indo-European, now and originally conceived as a language family but then also conceived as a racial unit, couldn’t seriously be bothered with India.  Their main concern was with the North, so Grünendahl argues:

“The fundamental flaw of Pollock’s narrative is that it hinges entirely on the exact reverse of the ‘Nordic’ notion. This reversal, which provides the basis for the ‘founding myth’ of the entire discourse machinery he set in motion, is enshrined in the grotesque proposition that ‘the Germans… continued, however subliminally, to hold the nineteenth-century conviction that the origin of European civilization was to be found in India  (or at least that India constituted a genetically related sibling)’ (1993:77) Even to the Romantic period [end of 18th, early 19th century, when this notion was upheld by Johann Herder], this assertion only holds with considerable qualifications (…) To make it the basis for theorizing any aspect of the NS period is rendered absurd by the above-mentioned texts alone”. [p.199]


Hitler on the Hindus

Reference is to texts revealing Hitler’s position on the Hindus. In 1920 already, he laid his cards on the table, and would never waver from this position, not in Mein Kampf, which disparages Hindus as also German neo-Pagans, not in his speeches nor in his wartime table talks. There he had evolved to mocking religion in general and his native Catholicism specifically, though he appreciated its organization and mass psychology and its anti-caste way of recruiting its priests from the people rather than from a separate priestly caste (yes, Hitler was also a comrade-at-arms of Pollock in their common anti-Brahminism). He only knew of the Hindus through the lens of the AIT:

“While Hitler does refer to ‘the Hindus’, he does so not with the intent to employ them as distant relatives in the ‘creation of Indo-German as counteridentity’ (Pollock 1993:83), but merely as an illustration of ‘racial decline’ (Rassensenkung) due to the destruction of ‘national purity’ (nationale Reinheit.)” (p.218, with reference to Adolf Hitler 1980 (1920): “Warum sind wir Antisemiten?” in Eberhard Jäckel and Axel Kuhn, eds: Hitlers sämtliche Aufzeichnungen, 1905-1924, p.184-204: specifically p.195-196)

So, Hitler’s rare utterance on the Hindus was a racial interpretation of the AIT. These are his own words (1980/1920:195): “Wir wissen, dass die Hindu in Indien ein Volk sind, gemischt aus den hochstehenden arischen Einwanderern und der dunkelschwarzen Urbevölkerung, und dass dieses Volk heute die folgen trägt; denn es ist auch das Sklavenvolk einer Rasse, die uns in vielen Punkten nahezu als zweite Judenheit erscheinen darf.” (“We know  that the Hindus in India are a people mixed from the lofty Aryan immigrants and the dark-black aboriginal population, and that this people is bearing the consequences today; for it is also the slave people of a race that almost seems like a second Jewry.”)
For Grünendahl, this is merely an example of how the primary sources of German history contradict the free-for-all that amateur historians make of it, in this case the manipulated narrative by Sheldon Pollock. He sounds like defending Germany’s true history against American (and then, by imitation, Indian) distortions. Probably he doesn’t realize that this distortion, about the presumed Nazi love for the OIT, constitutes Pollock’s ultimate motive. We don’t want to pretend to read inside a man’s skull, so we will not speak out on his intimate motives. But the objective finality of his thesis is at any rate to blacken the OIT by associating it with National-Socialism. Reality, however, is just the opposite: more even than other Europeans, the Nazis espoused and upheld the AIT. Hitler-Pollock, same struggle!


windwheel said...

Is Pollock mentally impaired? Adluri, presumably, is just a careerist but Pollock's bizarre pronouncements suggest some actual nuerological impairment. Vide.

windwheel said...

Grunendahl's paper is available here-
As a Hindutva exponent, I would like to draw attention to this passage from it-
'Thanks to Adluri’s “own research” we now see what this agenda (i.e. German Indology as being complicit in Nazi ideology) is
about, namely, “that German Indology was always far more preoccupied with the rivalry with its European peers than with legitimizing colonization” (which colonization this might have been is not specified, and
probably awaits further research); in fact, “one can notice a preoccupation throughout its history with claiming a ‘European’ identity for itself,”
an outrageous claim indeed, it must be said, “albeit one that also takes
into consideration its unique place among other European nations” (2011:
266). One stands in awe at the profundity of these insights, and realizes
only too clearly that common sense is indeed an urgent desideratum here,
to say nothing of evidence-based research.'

Adluri is a black man like me, whereas Grunendahl is White. That is why he damns with faint praise Adluri's astonishing discovery that German ideology was about claiming an European identity for the German people.
What Grunendahl does not mention is that pre-Romantic German thinkers claimed a Jamaican identity as Rastafarians vide Lessing's 'Leibniz on Eternal Punishment' which considers whether one should pass the dutchey on the left or right hand side, Mon. Adluri's own research on the influence of Boney M on Tacitus's Germania is still awaiting funding but, clearly, this sort of empirical research is highly necessary and I'd like to do some too preferably with some scantily clad research assistants.
Grunendahl completely misunderstands Adluri's reference to German Indology's 'racial or genetic' closeness to India- by way of Germany's pre-Romantic status as a Rastafarian 'imagined community'- because he has been so completely brainwashed by NS Indology as to be unaware of his own Rastafarian roots. My grandmother was the same except in her case it was the 'Aryanist' propaganda put out by the Ramakrishna mission which caused her to look askance at my dreadlocks and penchant for Reggae music.
Grunendahl's failure to appreciate that America means Greater Jamaica causes him to write- 'In this endeavor, too, Adluri merely echoes Pollock, who “had set the stage for radically rethinking…[the] scholarly dogmas on India” (257) by declaring that “in a postcolonial and post-Holocaust world,…these traditional foundations and uses of Indology have disappeared,…crumbled” and led to a feeling of “impotence” and “loss of
purpose” (Pollock 1993: 111, 113); in short, Indologists “no longer know why they are doing what they do” (88). Consequently, we can only
expect an “Indology beyond the Raj and Auschwitz” (114) from “selfconsciously responsible scholarship in late twentieth-century America”
As Pollock’s post-Orientalist messianism would have us believe, only late twentieth-century (and now twenty-first-century) America is intellectually equipped to reject and finally overcome Eurocentrism” and “European epistemological hegemony,” that is, “a preemptive
European conceptual framework of analysis [that] has disabled us from
probing central features of South Asian life, from pre-western forms of ‘national’ (or feminist, or communalist, or ethnic) identity or consciousness, premodern forms of cultural ‘modernism,’ precolonial forms of colonialism”
I'm sorry Grunendahl- what you write is beside the point. Adluri's great discovery is 'don't pass the dutchey on the left or right hand side but just smoke it all yourself. Then write any nonsense you like- just be sure it sounds politically correct.

Capt. Ajit Vadakayil said...


SWASTIKA for nazis and the ARYAN theory was part of a rothschild plan, for which a jewess madame blavatsky was the instrument.

punch into google search-


capt ajit vadakayil

ysv_rao said...

Whats with all these commentators!!

@windwheel as in the other post- I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about? I know you consider yourself to be super smart and intellectually my superior so please do us a favor and explain your positions in plain language and not academese.
Also if you curb your sarcasm and irony as its hard to say when you are indulging and when you are sincere!!

@Captain Ajay Now Ive heard everything ,that the genesis of Nazism is the result of a Jewish conspiracy specifically the Rothschilds!
Im sure Alex Jones and would find you quite interesting!

Nazism despite its impressive intial military,scientific,sociological successes had laid the foundation of its defeat in its arrogance of its superiority and complasence in dealing with its enemies.
It didnt pay too much attention to the awesome military industrial complex of the United States as the latter was considered a mongrel half black nation dominated by Jews.Similarly it thought expanding lebensraum into Russia would be walk in the park due to the inferior nature of them Asiatic Russians!
This led to all sorts of bizarre alliances -with the dark white Italians and Spaniards(neutral-haha),non white Japanese,dark white (and often somewhat black)Arabs,"Asiatic" Slavs(despite Russians being impeccably blond and blue eyed) against fair skinned Jews,blond Dutch and English,white Poland as well as mostly white and white dominated U.S!

Confusion,faleshoods and ignorance were the very essence of Nazi philosophy which is why it failed.

There were quite a few idiot Indians who considered themselves Nazis and saw these as the Aryan race.To be sure the Nazis humored them during wartime as a thorn against the British but Hitler(like Karl Marx) firmly believed that India was best suited to be ruled by superior whites ie the British empire.
Hitlers favorite movie was pro imperialist film called The Tigers of Hastinapur directed by closet Nazi critic Fritz Lang(who also made the anti Nazi film 'M')

This pro Nazi obsession among some Indians(Hindus to be more exact) is just a feature of their slavishness.
They feel complimented when whites adopt some of their culture and terminology when in reality it is really an attempt of cultural grand larceny by the Nazis from the treasure trove of Vedic heritage.

I see this even in America where there are so many Indian fools who claim white status on the basis that Indians are considered Caucasian by some U.S anthropological data.
This type of delusion gives them a superiority complex and compells them to vote for the Republican party for all the wrong reasons.
A supporter of Republicans one should vote for them not to parade ones whiteness but love of country,respect for the Judeo Christian foundation,bourgeious morality,personal and economic liberty and national security.

In the neo Nazi .org which is interestingly a leftist Indian website!) and stormfront,we can see some fool Indian posters attempting to ingratiate and commiserate with the white supremacists only to be told to take a hike!

What is intriguing is that Hindu philosophy and religion does seem rather important to the Nazis, quite a few claim to be Hindu in the mould of Savitri Devi.

There is one author in the site who prefers the wholesome entertainment of Bollywood to what he percieves as the Jew dominated immoral and corrupted Hollywood.He notes with approval the Bollywood penchant for fair skinned and green eyed NW Indians.

All in all, there is still some mutual appeal between Nazis and Hindus(some of them who claim to be Israel supporters!!).Lord alone knows where this leads to!

ysv_rao said...

@ Captain Ajith

Furthermore Madame Blavatsky was most certainly not Jewish but descended from Russian Orthodox nobility whose lines had served various czars as generals,diplomats or courtiers.All avenues which were closed to Jews.

Also she believed that Jews and Arabs degenerate in spirituality but was willing to accomadate them in her Theosophical society which she wanted open to every race,religion ,creed and color(her words)

Furthermore "jewess" is considered an offensive term similar to "Negress" to describe a black woman.

With all due respect captain I appreciate your service but your heart is filled with hate and your head with nonsense and falsehoods.I would request you not to comment on subjects of which you have little knowledge.

Thank you

Victoria said...

"Hitler(like Karl Marx) firmly believed that India was best suited to be ruled by superior whites ie the British empire."

Karl Marx never said that. I ask you to prove it quoting the book and page nmber, if you can.

Karl Marx wrote extensively about the misrule of the British in the book, 'India's First War of Independence'.

Whether AIT or OFI was a Nazi or not is not the issue. The issue is that there is no archaeological support for the AIT but there are tremendous support exist for the OFI from the Soviet Archaeologists since 1930s but these are still unknown in India and unrecognized in the West.

windwheel said...

@Victoria- grateful if you could provide any links or info. re ' tremendous support exist for the OFI from the Soviet Archaeologists since 1930s but these are still unknown in India and unrecognized in the West.'
I recall hearing this. The Russian scholars of the 20's and 30's had a different way of engaging with India- they were looking for things useful to learn, rather than simply classify as part of a wider taxonomy of 'the primitive mind' (Witzel actually speaks of 'highly correlated systems' as the hall mark of 'primitive thinking'). In this context I've heard Vygotsky mentioned.
The tragedy is that those Indian nationalists who took a Left-ward course and interacted with Russian intellectuals were either killed by Stalin or threatened with death- Chatto and M.N.Roy are examples- or else their work was ignored as in the case of a Historian who wrote in Hindi rather than English. I myself have forgotten his name- most J.N.U leftists don't even know he existed.
The weakness in Marx- as you point out, no fan of the 'White' English- was that he somehow thought that Brahmins and Rajputs were 'superior' and therefore more anti-English than 'the low caste men in the Company's Madras and Bombay regiments.'
I think so-called 'High Castes' or other elites have a comprador mentality and only adopt a nativist guise for rent seeking purposes. The 'Brahmin' Pandeys of U.P were not saying they were superior to anybody. This is not the message of Tulsi Das. Yet, 'official' J.N.U history- which is what you have to regurgitate to pass the U.P.S.C exams (to gain entry to the 'elite' all-India Civil Service)- denies any such possibility.
Part of the mischief, to my mind, was worked by Julien Bromley at the Moscow Institute of Ethnography in the Sixties. Under Soviet Communism, all the genuine scholars- whether of India or China or whatever- were relegated in favour of hate-mongers and dim-wits. Post Perestroika, the situation is not that much improved. The true Russian (or Ukrainian or Kazakh or whatever) contribution to Indology- more than Indology, just to ordinary human beings really- is severely missing from the historical record.
If you yourself are a Russian speaker or have knowledge of these hidden gems, it would be a great public service to post some links or yourself write a little about this.

paras said...

It's interesting how the western countries now pretend that hatred of Jews and extreme white supremacy theory were something unique to Nazis, while the fact is that it was an established view of almost all colonial countries. The hatred of Jews wasn't even limited to colonial countries but common to all Christian countries. Hindus need to realize that buying into 'good war' narrative of WW2, as preached by Hollywood, is a mistake. It makes the countries opposing Germany look like good guys. It makes Britain into 'benevolent empire'.The real perspectives is a fight between old colonial powers and their extension i.e. anglosphere, France and new wannabe colonial powers i.e. Germany, Japan.

Karthikrajan said...

It is also baffling to see the current iranian president calling the holocaust a bluff - a creation of zionist conspiracy to gain international sympathy. But ironically the same man openly calls for the extermination of the jewish state. Looks like this guy wants to snatch the entire credit from hitler. Strangely it is bjp and modi who get the label of 'nazi' from the congress and communist muddleheads whereas none of them protest against iran if not condemn it.