Historical Social Research

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Konrad H. Jarausch, The Perils of Professionalism: Lawyers, Teachers, and Engineers in Nazi Germany [1986] [Abstract]

The contradiction between the professions’ progressive self-representation and their self-seeking opportunism was especially disastrous in their collaboration with National Socialism. As a result of the overcrowding and unemployment in the late Weimar Republic, many well educated Germans lent a willing ear to the radical propaganda of NS-affiliates which clamored for the exclusion of Jews, Leftists and women. While young, male, Aryan university graduates profited from the Nazi seizure of power, their hopes for a reprofessionalization were quickly dashed by the loss of autonomy and ideological indoctrination in favor of race, war and empire. Many professionals therefore experienced the Third Reich as a severe deprofessionalization by decreasing their number, weakening their training, abolishing their organizational freedom and involving them in atrocities. On the basis of the German example, the article therefore tries to warn against the consequences of ignoring the ethical foundations of liberal professionalism.