Born in 1891 in Aachen, Walter Gottschalk
studied orientalism, philosophy, history, and the history of art in both
Wurzburg and Berlin, receiving a Ph.D. in 1914. Two years later, he was drafted
to serve Germany in World War I and, whether by happenstance or plan, posted to
Turkey, Syria, and Palestine. At the war’s end, he joined the staff of the
Prussian State Library in Berlin as senior librarian for language and history of
the Middle East where he made significant contributions by establishing the
library’s Oriental Department, a fact that is well documented.
 In addition to organizing the
department’s reference library and creating a precise catalogue, he was a member
of the Ibn-Saad Commission and co-editor of
Ibn-Saad’s complete works. Although his work was
acknowledged with a substantial promotion in 1923, Gottschalk was dismissed from
his job because of his Jewish origins and forced into retirement in 1935. For a
while he managed to find somework in the field of science, and gave lectures on
various topics, such as introduction to Arabic.
At that time, desperate for any help, many Jewish intellectuals in Germany
turned to Albert Einstein for assistance in leaving their homeland and securing
positions elsewhere, for it was well known that Einstein was expending a great
deal of his time and energy trying to help his brethren whose lives were at risk
and who were trying to find a way to safety.
From notes of a speech Einstein
delivered on October 29, 1930
In a letter to Albert Einstein postmarked 1938, Wanda (Mrs.)
Most esteemed Herr Professor:
The difficult times have given me the courage to approach you with a question.
In 1935 my husband, the archivist and librarian Dr. Walther Gottschalk, born
January 29, 1891, in Aachen, had to relinquish his position at the State Library
in Berlin, because we are Jews. As people who deeply experience their Judaism
and affirm it, who are Jews not because they have to be but because they want to
be, we have until now found the strength to bear our lot uprightly and with firm
trust in God. But what makes my heart bleed and brings me to write to you today,
is the thought that here such a capable Jew as my husband, like one paralyzed
and forced into idleness, should let his young life pass by, whereas with a
university or library appointment he could once again productively employ all
his powers in the fields of science or librarianship.
My husband became well known as a scholar through his book, "The Older Arab
Concept of the Vow," and demonstrated his capabilities as a librarian in his
“Hand Catalog of the Oriental Department of the State Librarian in Berlin.”
Because of my husband’s almost unreal modesty, he would never on his own
approach an academic institution with a request. Unbeknownst to him, therefore, I entreat you, esteemed Herr
Professor, to be so kind as to bring
it about that my husband might be invited by some university or library in Eretz
[Palestine] or there [the U.S.], so
that he might once again find a position suited to his immense knowledge.
If this should not be at all be possible for you, most honored Professor, could
you then advise me as to where I could turn with the same request?
With inexpressible thanks and the greeting of Zion,
Frau Wanda Gottschalk
Because of the circumstances in Germany I am requesting you to
most kindly send your much appreciated response to: Frau Helene Horn, Sittard,
As a response to the above plea for help, Albert Einstein’s letter of November
12, 1938, to Frau Wanda Gottschalk in Holland stated:
I have turned to the former President of the [Hebrew] University of Jerusalem,
Dr. Hugo Bergmann, who is a friend of mine, as I myself have no connection to
help your husband. As soon as I hear from him, you will hear from me.
Letter from Albert Einstein to Wanda
November 12, 1938.
Raising another issue, Einstein continued: “I am committed to regularly
supporting my sister-in-law and her husband (Mr. and Mrs. Ludwig Gumbertz in Berlin). I have been supporting
these people via a similar arrangement I have with you. This arrangement runs
through June. Under present circumstances, I consider it too dangerous to hand
over money to these people ahead of time. If you could hold your money back
until then, I would like very much to make the payments the way you have
suggested starting July 1. The payments will be $20 monthly.” Gottschalk became a conduit
for Einstein’s sending money to relatives in Nazi Germany.
Such arrangements were possible until Belgium surrendered to the Nazis on May
28. 1940. In the months leading up to the invasion, Belgium was considered a
neutral country and money could flow through it to Germany.
In a letter dated January 18 1940, Einstein thanked Gottschalk for his December
27 letter acknowledging that $20 was forwarded to his cousin, Frau Suzanne Koch.
Einstein then requested that an equivalent amount be delivered to Miss Lina
Einstein whose address is given only as “Ulm a Donau, Herbruckerstr.”
By February 1939, remaining in Germany was no longer a viable option for the
Gottschalks, so they first went to Holland, then to Belgium to stay with
relatives. While in Belgium he
found himself in the situation where he had received a job offer but could not
get a visa. For Jewish academics in his situation, even these great minds,
America was out of reach because of restrictive immigration laws, State
Department practices, and widespread antisemitic hiring bias at its
universities. Writing on December 17, 1939 from his refuge in Belgium,
Gottschalk thanked Einstein for all that he had done and stated: “From the
certain sanctuary that my Belgian relations have provided me with
such indescribable hospitality, I have been able on my own to pursue my
[professional] advancement to the point that I have been offered a professorship
in Arabic language and culture at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and a
librarian's post at the University of Istanbul. Since the American Consul in
Antwerp has, for reasons of formalities, made difficulties with our visas, I'll
probably have to decide on Turkey.”
Germany received strategic materials, such as chromium, from Turkey, a neutral
country, and was intent upon keeping that relationship.
According to Horst Muller, Gottschalk “was sent through the occupied
zones [of Europe] to Turkey in a closed train car on the express orders of
Joachim [Joseph] Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda,” in 1941. At Istanbul
University he worked on library matters and was considered to be an “expert.”
This vague title made it possible for him to work on many projects, including
the supervision of all the libraries of the various university institutes as
well as the development of the Turkish library system.
During the post World War II years, Turkey was experiencing a very problematic
economy and a rampant nationalism. In an August 28, 1948 note to biochemist and
former Istanbul University colleague Felix Haurowitz, recently resettled at the
University of Indiana in Bloomington, Walter Gottschalk discussed the trials and
tribulations of budgetary cuts and layoffs in Istanbul.
note of August 28, 1948 from Walter
Gottschalk in Istanbul to Felix Haurowitz in Bloomington, Indiana
From 1949 until his retirement in 1954, Gottschalk held the chair of Library
Science at Istanbul University. Like some of the other émigrés, he returned to
Germany, settling in Frankfurt where he edited the reference book,
Jewry, Fate, Nature and Presence, for which he was honored
with the Federal Service Cross. In 1966, on his seventy-ﬁfth birthday,
Gottschalk was designated an honorary member of Frankfurt University, in
recognition of his ‘‘contributions to scientiﬁc books.’’ Gottschalk’s life-time
contributions can be found in a “Retrospective” provided by S. Elverfeldt.
After Gottschalk’s departure from Turkey, the chair in Library Science at
Istanbul University was awarded to his assistant, Dr. Rudolf Juchhoff, who held it until 1968, and
was then succeeded by Meral Alpay, a Turkish national who had been Dr.
Walter Gottschalk and the other senior librarians who immigrated to Turkey were
joined by junior colleagues, bookbinders, and restorers who created
corresponding bookbinding and restoration departments at the various institutes
and at universities. Their efforts helped to conserve many of the cultural
riches that had accumulated throughout the Ottoman period and preceding it, making such documents and
artifacts accessible for future generations and it is to their credit
that many Turkish scholars and pupils were trained in their fields of expertise.
As founder and head of the first Library Science program in Turkey and as a
consultant to the Turkish Ministry of Education for over a decade, Gottschalk
can rightfully be credited with playing a significant part in the development of
Turkey’s modern network of libraries and archival systems. From personal experience at several
universities in Turkey, this author can attest to the fact that the librarians
and information specialists are as well trained and dedicated to duty as any of
their counterparts in the USA.
Albert Einstein, 1921
Walter Gottschalk, 1921
(Foto: Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz Berlin,
Sign.: Portr. Slg./Bibl. Kl./Walter Gottschalk)
Arnold Reisman received his PhD
in engineering from UCLA and is a retired professor of operations research from
Case Western Reserve University. As
an independent scholar he authored
Turkey's Modernization: Refugees from Nazism and
(Washington, DC: New
Academia Publishers, 2006). Two companion
Reisman, Classical European Music and Opera: The Case of Post-Ottoman Turkey,
and Rejection and Acceptance: The Impact of European Culture on
Turkey: 1933-1950, are both due out
in 2009 (Charleston, SC: BookSurge
Preussische Staatsbibliothek. Katalog der Handbibliothek der orientalischen
Preussische Staatsbibliothek. (Leipzig: Harassowitz, 1929).
H. Müller, “German Librarians in Exile in Turkey,
1933-1945,” Libraries & Culture, Vol. 33, No. 3 (1998), pp. 294-305.
 See Arnold Reisman, “Jewish Refugees from Nazism,
Albert Einstein, and the Modernization of Higher Education in Turkey
(1933-1945),” Aleph: Historical Studies in
Science & Judaism, No. 7 (Jerusalem and Bloomington, IN: The Hebrew
University of Jerusalem and University
of Indiana Press, 2007), pp. 253-81 and Arnold
Reisman, “On Albert Einstein’s Non-Participation in Harvard University’s Tercentenary 1936 Celebrations,”
forthcoming in Education History Researcher.
 Courtesy of Albert Einstein Archives, Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, Document No. 29 034 -1.
 Albert Einstein Archives, Princeton University,
Document No. 53-184. 1 and 2.
 Albert Einstein Archives, Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, Document 53 185.
 Albert Einstein Archives,
Princeton University, Document 55 205.
 Albert Einstein Archives,
Princeton University, Document 55 204-1.
 S. Elverfeldt, Zusammenstellung der Lebensdaten
und Werke von Walter
Gottschalk (Aachen 1979). Reference to this information was given by the Archiv.
Bibliographia Judaica in Frankfurt.
There are other documented instances of the Nazis obliging the Turkish
government’s request for individuals whose skills were desperately needed for
its modernization effort. One of these was Alfred Kantorowicz, a pioneer in
public health and pediatric dentistry who had been incarcerated in Nazi
concentration camps for nine months prior to release and a Turkish safe haven.
See Arnold Reisman, “Public Health Dentistry Pioneer: Alfred Kantorowicz in
Exile from Nazi Rule,” Journal of the
History of Dentistry, Vol. 55, No. 1 (Spring 2007), pp. 6-16.
 Felix Haurowitz Archives, Lilly Library, Indiana
University, Bloomington, IN.
 Franz Bohn, Walter Dirks & Walter Gottschalk,
Judentum, Schicksal,Wesen und Gegenwart,
(Wiesbasden: F. Steiner, 1965).
 As can be seen from Worldcat, several of them went
through multiple editions.
 See Elverfeldt. This is based on handwritten
notes, never previously published, from the Staatsbiblioteck Preubischer
 Dr. Rudolf Juchhoff started work at Bonn
University's library after receiving his PhD in 1921. He held many management
positions and became a faculty member in Germany in 1949. He joined the
Department of Library Science at Istanbul University in 1964. In addition to
teaching courses, he also took part in the opening of Istanbul University
Faculty of Letters' general library. He died in 1968. He appears to have been in Berlin
during the both World Wars; thus he was not one of the exiled professors.
 See Arnold
Reisman, Classical European Music and Opera: The Case of Post-Ottoman Turkey (Charleston,
SC: BookSurge Publishing, 2009) and Arnold
Reisman, Rejection and Acceptance:
The Impact of European Culture on
Turkey: 1933-1950 (Charleston, SC:
BookSurge Publishing, 2009).
 Müller, “German Librarians in Exile in