History of anthropology of Caucasus and "Turkestan" research in Vienna during the Nazi period

The starting point for this project is a collection in the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Science (OEAW) concerning Caucasus and Turkestan research at the end of the Second World War. From December 1943 to August 1944, recording sessions took place in Vienna – at Liebiggasse 5 – under the direction of the two young researchers Stefan Wurm (born in 1922) and Johann Knobloch (born in 1919). In total, there are about 170 voice recordings of 40 people in around twenty different languages, most of them in Uzbek. The recorded individuals were mainly soldiers assigned to the troops of the German Wehrmacht, but also to the SS. This leads to the conclusion that they were not prisoners of war, but defectors of the Soviet army to German combat units.

The aim of the project is to clarify the background of these recordings in Vienna and their roles during the war. A first hypothesis puts the phonographs into the context of the Nazi intelligence service, which cooperated closely with Viennese Oriental Studies at the time. Methodologically, public and private archives from Austria and Germany are used for the reconstruction of the historical framework. An important complement to the written sources is oral tradition, which is accessed through expert interviews. This is scheduled as an ISA cooperation with the Institute of Iranian Studies and the Phonogrammarchiv of the OeAW.