Book Project Täterbuch Tübingen

Tübinger Täterbuch

Tübingen was a Nazi stronghold. In comparison with other small towns in the region, Tübingen boasted an unusually high number of Nazi perpetrators with biographical ties to this Swabian university town on the Neckar. Many of them studied in Tübingen, were politicized in its nationalist and völkisch academic environment, and later became perpetrators borne out of National Socialist Weltanschauung. During the time of National Socialist rule, a great number of bureaucratic and propagandist perpetrators as well as profiteers were actively involved at the university and in the city itself.

In May 2012, the working group “Tübinger Täterbuch” came into being. Its goal is to research biographies of Nazi perpetrators from Tübingen and eventually publish them in a book. The project group consists of members from the Geschichtswerkstatt Tübingen e.V. and from the Lern- und Dokumentationszentrum zum Nationalsozialismus e.V. Tübingen (LDNS, Registered Society for a Study and Documentation on National Socialism in Tübingen) as well as further interested participants. The project was inspired by other regional Täterbücher.

The essay collection will be published under the aegis of the Geschichtswerkstatt Tübingen e.V. and  the LDNS. The chapters will be structured around the different fields in which perpetrators' were active, such as the university, the Nazi party, or the police and judiciary system. Introductions to each field will give readers an overview of the national and local institutional contexts of Nazi crimes as well as perpetrators' personal networks. The core of these field chapters will be constituted of essays on (mostly) unexamined Nazi perpetartors' biographies. In some cases, biographies will be dealt with collectively in one essay. At the end of each field's chapter, there will be short biographies on persons that have been dealt with extensively in earlier publications, for example members of Einsatzgruppen (SS killing groups) from Tübingen.

The university majorly contributed to Tübingen being a regional National Socialist stronghold in Württemberg. Academics from various faculties tried to legitimize Nazi racist theories and eugenics as well as aggressive German policies of expansion; in addition, they participated in Nazi biopolitics through eugenic and racial reports. In the university's clinics, “hereditary diseased” and Sinti were forcefully sterilized.

Many students were politicized in the university town's majorly nationalist, völkisch, and anti-semitic academic environment. They later made careers in National Socialist Germany's administrative, Nazi party, and police structures, participating in crimes up to commanding Einsatzgruppen (SS killing groups), firing squads of the SS Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) and Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service of the Nazi Party). Tübingen itself was the seat of many administrative and police institutions—among them branches of the Gestapo (Secret State Police), the Kriminalpolizei (Criminal Police), and the Sicherheitsdienst—which housed perpetrators ordering and carrying out crimes on persecuted groups. In addition, NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party) representatives like Kreisleiter (County Leaders) Helmut Baumert and Hans Rauschnabel on the one hand staged parades in the spirit of the “Volksgemeinschaft” and at the same time pushed the persecution of all those who were deemed political, “racial,” or social enemies of National Socialist Germany.

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Sophie Erhardt (1902-1990) in a 1951 class at the Anthropological Institute. Before she became part of Tübingen University's faculty in 1942, she cooperated in the systematic recording of Germany's Sinti and Roma. (Scanned by the Tübingen City Archives from an original provided by the Anthropological Institute, Tübingen University.)

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Martin Sandberger (1911-2010), law student and Nazi activist in Tübingen from 1931 to 1934. From 1941 on he was commander of the Einsatzkommando 1a and of the SS Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) and Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service of the Nazi Party) in Estonia. There, he organized the mass murder of Jews. Photo taken in 1948 in U.S. captivity. (National Archives Washington, D.C., public domain.)