Nazi psychology in Austria
"It is a sad fact”, says psychologist Gerhard Benetka from the Sigmund Freud University Vienna "that applied psychology flourished during the National Socialist era – and the history of Austrian psychology after the "Anschluss" in 1938 has not yet been systematically documented." Benetka identifies the main reason for this as the fact that psychology is still trying to present itself as a victim of National Socialist science policy. This is justified in part: for example, almost the entire Psychological Institute of Vienna established by Karl and Charlotte Bühler was forced to emigrate. What tends to be forgotten, however, is that psychology was used for a variety of applications outside the university during the National Socialist period. As part of a recently launched project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, Benetka is carrying out a comprehensive examination of this patchily researched period in the history of Austrian psychology.
The focus of the project is on the links between National Socialist policies and developments within the discipline of psychology. Preliminary research has shown that psychologists willingly put their expertise at the service of the regime's racial and war policies, e.g. in the selection of German army officers, in the testing of the suitability of prisoners of war for working in the munitions industry and, in the context of welfare and health policy, in the classification of children and young people as "aufwandunwürdig" ("unworthy of expenditure"). "The full extent of this practical application of psychological knowledge is still unknown”, says Benetka. "In the German army alone, around 450 psychologist positions were created in 1942. Because there were too few psychologists available, some of the positions had to be filled by teachers, for example."
Crimes against humanity
The project is dedicated above all to the role of psychology in the context of National Socialism's crimes against humanity. The use of psychological testing in the area of "child euthanasia" is of particularly importance here.
Thanks to the availability of new archive material, it is now possible to examine the prevalence of psychological testing in general: for example, the Bühler-Hetzer test – a diagnostic procedure for testing the children's development from infancy to pre-school age – was created at the Department of Psychology at the University of Vienna during the war and operated from there. The organisations that purchased the test can be identified from the institute's accounts. The main customer was the National Socialist People's Welfare service (NSV): "The NSV began to establish a kind of elite welfare system: services and payments should only benefit those who had been classified as worthy of support on the basis of their racial and genetic origins and their psychological development”, explains Benetka.
Psychologists of the period
The research study also focuses on the career strategies of the historical actors. As was the case in other disciplines, a variety of political stances and attitudes existed among the university-based representatives of psychology: from convinced Nazis and opportunists, who adapted their levels political activism to different situations, to professors who were known as open opponents of the regime. The case of Hubert Rohracher, for example, is interesting: "It appears that the army expected his EEG tests to yield results that would make an important contribution to the war effort”, says Benetka. "His appointment as professor at the University of Vienna shows that in a context of 'total war', the prospect of research results that could be used for military purposes outweighed the reservations about the professor's ideological reliability." In late autumn 1940 Rohracher was due to be handed over to a concentration camp on account of his anti-Nazi views. He evaded the Gestapo, however, by volunteering for service at the front. Just two years later he was appointed professor of one of the most important institutes of psychology in the German-speaking world and his research was subsidised by the state.
New archive sources
Documents of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG), the National Socialist People's Welfare service (Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt NSV) and material from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, USA, are being consulted for the first time for this project. Background information will also be provided by interviews with contemporary witnesses. The results of the FWF project will be made available to both specialist and general audiences for the first time through publication in book form.
FWF Austrian Science Fund
The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is Austria's central funding organization for basic research.
The purpose of the FWF is to support the ongoing development of Austrian science and basic research at a high international level. In this way, the FWF makes a significant contribution to cultural development, to the advancement of our knowledge-based society, and thus to the creation of value and wealth in Austria.
Prof. Gerhard Benetka
Sigmund Freud University Vienna
Faculty of Psychology
Campus Prater, Freudplatz 1
1020 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / 1 / 798 40 98 - 517
Austrian Science Fund FWF:
Haus der Forschung
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / 1 / 505 67 40 - 8111
Copy Editing & Distribution:
PR&D – Public Relations for Research & Education
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / 1 / 505 70 44
This release was published on openPR.
Permanent link to this press release:
Please set a link in the press area of your homepage to this press release on openPR. openPR disclaims liability for any content contained in this release.
You can edit or delete your press release Nazi psychology in Austria here
News-ID: 375681 • Views: 615
More Releases from FWF - Austrian Science Fund
While fear and aggression tend to curb our appetite, sadness and frustration seem to stimulate it. A project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF looks into the connections between mood and overeating in healthy and bulimic individuals. We know how it feels to look forward to our favourite dish; we are familiar with the notions of comfort food and feeling butterflies in the stomach instead of hunger. In eating
Neurosciences: a stress test for men and women
Whilst it is true that women and men respond differently to stress, current neuroscientific research only partially confirms traditional gender stereotypes. Other factors heavily contribute to the stress response such as self-esteem, hormones and stress regulation, as has been demonstrated by a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. How people react to stress is subjective. Gender also plays a fundamental role. Scientific studies have shown that the stress
Researching the grammar of sign language
Like spoken language, sign language has a complex and differentiated structure. One just has to be able to discern and interpret it. With the support of the Austrian Science Fund FWF, a research team from Klagenfurt is working on the elements of a grammar of sign language. It is language that distinguishes Homo sapiens from animals. A complex system in which smaller units combine into larger units, into sentences, into statements.
Using mathematics to hunt for computer errors
Improving the security of computer software and hardware requires mathematical analytic methods. Thanks to research by a team of computer scientists led by Krishnendu Chatterjee in a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, these methods will work significantly faster in the future. Security gap in application discovered, update urgently recommended. Alerts like that can confront us every week. Often, a comprehensive update that addresses teething troubles is already
More Releases for Austria
Agrochemicals Market in Austria
ReportsWorldwide has announced the addition of a new report title Austria: Agrochemicals: Market Intelligence (2016-2021) to its growing collection of premium market research reports. The report “Austria: Agrochemicals: Market Intelligence (2016-2021)” provides market intelligence on the different market segments, based on type, active ingredient, formulation, crop, and pest. Market size and forecast (2016-2021) has been provided in terms of both, value (000 USD) and volume (000 KG) in the report. A
Creative Austria meets creative Russia
Euroforum: communicatin ready for the next lap Vienna. On 22nd of October 2009 the advertising association Vienna invites again to the annual Euroforum: communication event, platform for European communication, guaranteeing an interesting mix of “connecting businesses and communications”. The Event takes place in Studio 44, Vienna. Focus point Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sotschi) The main goal of the Euroforum is to promote and establish business relations and synergies between
New partner in Germany and Austria
Newly-appointed Noliac Group partner Mr. Stamm will react to increasing mid-European demand by being close to customers and ensure proficient piezo support at hand. Mr. Ralf Stamm is former Key Account Manager of Physik Instrumente (PI) and has the expertise to provide Noliac Group's customers with a first class support within the field of piezoceramics. 17 years of piezo experience As of August 4th 2009, Mr. Ralf Stamm became Noliac Group’s
Winning Business in Germany, Austria & Switzerland Workshop
Wednesday, 29th April 2009 8.30am –12.30pm Enterprise Ireland, The Plaza, East Point Business Park, Dublin 3 A round table session on the unique business cultures, opportunities and strategies associated with and required in Europe’s German-speaking markets. This workshop, facilitated by Enterprise Ireland with support from the Ariston Group, a German based consultancy company, and Trinity College, Department of Germanic Studies, has been designed to bring Irish companies quickly up to speed with the
Archaeological Sensation in Austria
Scientists from the University of Vienna unearth the earliest evidence of Jewish inhabitants in Austria Archaeologists from the Institute of Prehistory and Early History of the University of Vienna have found an amulet inscribed with a Jewish prayer in a Roman child's grave dating back to the 3rd century CE at a burial ground in the Austrian town of Halbturn. The 2.2-centimeter-long gold scroll represents the earliest sign of
MapChart.com goes Austria
A leading private direct marketing service provider in Austria is now working with the geomarketing and GIS solutions of MapChart.com. An extensive agreement could be reached in October 2005. As the first Austrian service company in the field of letterbox distribution services for private households, trade and industry REDMAIL is investing in the latest technology of web based geomarketing for entire Austria. At once the redmail™ LOGISTIK & ZUSTELLSERVICE GMBH is