Götz Aly

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Aly in 2012

Götz Haydar Aly (German: [ˈɡœts ˈʔaːliː]; born 3 May 1947) is a German journalist, historian and political scientist.[1][2]

Life and career[edit]

Aly was born in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg. He is a patrilineal descendant of a Turkish convert to Christianity named Friedrich Christian (Haydar) Aly [de] who was a chamberlain at the Prussian court in the late 1600s. By family tradition, the oldest son gets the middle name 'Haydar'.[3]

After attending the Deutsche Journalistenschule, Aly studied history and political science in Berlin. As a journalist, he worked for the taz, the Berliner Zeitung and the FAZ. Active in the leftist German student movement in the late 60s and early 70s, he has published a polemic retrospective book Unser Kampf 1968: Ein irritierter Blick zurück (Fischer TB, Frankfurt/Main 2009) in which he argues the radical students of the time had more in common with the "1933 generation" than they realize.

He obtained his Habilitation in political science at the Free University of Berlin in 1994 with a dissertation on the Nazi euthanasia of disabled children. His interest in the subject was initially sparked when his infant daughter incurred severe permanent brain damage from a meningitis infection. From 2004 to 2005, he was a visiting professor for interdisciplinary Holocaust research at the Fritz Bauer Institut in Frankfurt am Main, and 2012–13 at the Institute for Contemporary History at the University of Vienna. He has also been a visiting researcher at Yad Vashem.


Aly researches the history of the Holocaust and the participation of social elites in Nazi destruction policies. In 2005 he gained public attention in Germany for the popular success of his book Hitlers Volksstaat (Hitler's People's State). In it, Aly characterises Nazi Germany as a "convenience dictatorship" that until late in World War II retained broad public support, in particular by making possible an unprecedented social mobility for the lower classes, by introducing redistributive fiscal policies and by greatly extending the German welfare state. Aly also recounts how all this was paid for in large part by confiscation of Jewish property in Germany and later the plunder of the conquered countries, and especially their Jewish populations. He maintains that the reason for the massive support the Nazi regime enjoyed among the German population was not so much a consequence of their violent anti-Semitism as their enjoying the fruits of the loot acquired by the Nazis in the occupied territories. He also shows how the Wehrmacht was directly involved in this mass plunder of the conquered populations and how in many cases it was the initiator of policies which led to confiscation and eventual extermination. His other point is that the conservative, non-Nazi financial state bureaucracy and the leading banks were crucial in formulating this policy of mass plunder and murder.

Also, in his book 'Final Solution': Nazi Population Policy and the Murder of the European Jews, Aly argues that those of lower rank influenced the leadership to the Final Solution. This approach is what is known as the bottom-up approach of the Holocaust.

Aly's views have not remained without criticism from the mainstream of historical research.[citation needed] Adam Tooze, in particular, rejected Aly's argumentation in detailed analysis published in the German press.[citation needed] Aly's work was awarded the Heinrich-Mann-Preis in 2002 and the Marion-Samuel-Preis one year later.

In a mixed review in The New York Times, historian Steven Zipperstein described Aly's book Europe Against the Jews as "densely documented" but lacking accuracy on events outside of Germany.[4]

Economic historian Marc Buggeln compared Germany to other countries in order to check Aly's argument in Hitler's Beneficiaries that Nazi tax policy could be summarized as "tax breaks for the masses" and "tax rigor for the bourgeoisie". Buggeln found that during the war Germany had a less progressive tax policy than other countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, contradicting Aly's argument.[5]


For an extensive list of Aly's publications and related web links in German, please refer to the German version of this article.

In English:

  • co-written with Peter Chroust & Christian Pross: Cleansing the Fatherland: Nazi Medicine and Racial Hygiene, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
  • 'Final Solution': Nazi Population Policy and the Murder of the European Jews, London: Arnold; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • co-written with Susanne Heim: Architects of Annihilation: Auschwitz and the Logic of Destruction, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002
  • co-written with Karl Heinz Roth [de]: The Nazi Census: Identification and Control in the Third Reich, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004.
  • translated by Jefferson Chase from the German Hitlers Volksstaat (see above): Hitler's Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2005.
  • Hitler's Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, Metropolitan Books. January 2007 ISBN 0-8050-7926-2, ISBN 978-0-8050-7926-5
  • Why the Germans? Why the Jews? Envy, Race Hatred, and the Prehistory of the Holocaust, Metropolitan Books, April 2014, ISBN 978-0-8050-9700-9.
  • Europe Against the Jews, 1880–1945, Metropolitan Books, April 2020, ISBN 978-1-250-17017-0[6][7][8]



  1. ^ "Der Tag mit Götz Aly - Schwieriger Neuanfang für die SPD". Deutschlandfunk Kultur (in German). Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Fellow Dr. Götz Aly — United States Holocaust Memorial Museum". www.ushmm.org. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  3. ^ Der Historiker Götz Aly ist Nachfahre des Urtürken, Der Tagesspiegel, 2014, retrieved 26 March 2021, Einer jener Nachfahren des Urtürken ist Götz Aly, ein deutscher Historiker mit Forschungsschwerpunkt Antisemitismus, Nationalsozialismus und Holocaust. In seinem Büro in der Mohrenstraße erzählt der 67-Jährige ein paar Wochen später von dem ungewöhnlichen Familientreffen. Geht man von einer Generationsspanne von durchschnittlich 35 Jahren aus, dann stammen Götz Aly und die anderen in sechster, siebter und achter Generation vom Urtürken ab... Dann erzählt er, dass er, der älteste Sohn, auch den türkisch-arabischen Zweitnamen Haydar trägt. So soll der Urtürke im osmanischen Reich geheißen haben. Der Zweitname ist eine Familientradition der Alys, die aus den Zeiten der Romantik stammt, wo alles Orientalische schick war.
  4. ^ Zipperstein, Steven J. (7 April 2020). "What Were the Origins of the Holocaust?". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  5. ^ Buggeln, Marc (25 August 2023). "Was Nazi Germany an "Accommodating Dictatorship"? A Comparative Perspective on Taxation of the Rich in World War II". Central European History: 1–21. doi:10.1017/S000893892200139X. ISSN 0008-9389.
  6. ^ Dahlmanns, Karsten (2018). "Götz Aly und Hans-Ulrich Wehler über Kapitalismus, Antisemitismus und Sozialpolitik". Wortfolge. Szyk Słów (in German) (2): 31–54. ISSN 2544-2929.
  7. ^ Krüger, Christine G. (5 December 2018). "Götz Aly, Europa gegen die Juden 1880–1945. Frankfurt am Main, S. Fischer 2017". Historische Zeitschrift. 307 (3): 867–868. doi:10.1515/hzhz-2018-1576. S2CID 165990962.
  8. ^ Pulzer, Peter (October 2018). "Götz Aly. Europa gegen die Juden, 1880–1945". The American Historical Review. 123 (4): 1280–1281. doi:10.1093/ahr/rhy188.
  9. ^ "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  10. ^ Bitto, Brigitte (20 November 2018). "Historiker Götz Aly erhält Geschwister-Scholl-Preis 2018". Sonntagsblatt (in German). Retrieved 19 December 2020.

External links[edit]