Wolfgang Benz

Wolfgang Benz (born 9 June 1941) is a German historian from Ellwangen. He has been the director of the Center for Research on Antisemitism of the Technische Universität Berlin since 1990.

Antisemitismus und „“Islamkritik” (2011)

Personal life

Benz studied history, political science and arts history in Frankfurt am Main, Kiel and Munich. In 1968 he completed his doctoral thesis on under the supervision of Karl Bosl at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. From 1969 till 1990, Benz worked at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich.

In 1985 he was co-founder and editor of Dachauer Hefte and since 1992 he also edits the Jahrbuch für Antisemitismusforschung (Yearbook for Research on Antisemitism). He is also editor of the Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft. (Both published by Metropol Verlag.)

In 1986 he lectured at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

In 1992 Benz was awarded the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis and the Das politische Buch prize of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a social democratic political foundation.

Benz received the emeritus status on 21 October 2010.

Research and opinions

Holocaust casualty numbers

Benz is known for his research at the Technical University of Berlin, estimating that between 5.29–6.2 million Jews were killed by the German Nazi regime during the Holocaust.[1] Benz has been carrying out work on data received after the opening of government archives in Eastern Europe in the 1990s resulting in the adjustment of the death tolls that had been published in the pioneering works by Raul Hilberg, Lucy Dawidowicz and Martin Gilbert. He concluded in 1999:

The goal of annihilating all of the Jews of Europe, as it was proclaimed at the conference in the villa Am Grossen Wannsee in January 1942, was not reached. Yet the six million murder victims make the holocaust a unique crime in the history of mankind. The number of victims—and with certainty the following represent the minimum number in each case—cannot express that adequately. Numbers are just too abstract. However they must be stated in order to make clear the dimension of the genocide: 165,000 Jews from Germany, 65,000 from Austria, 32,000 from France and Belgium, more than 100,000 from the Netherlands, 60,000 from Greece, the same number from Yugoslavia, more than 140,000 from Czechoslovakia, half a million from Hungary, 2.2 million from the Soviet Union, and 2.7 million from Poland. To these numbers must be added all those killed in the pogroms and massacres in Romania and Transitrien [sic!] (over 200,000) and the deported and murdered Jews from Albania and Norway, Denmark and Italy, from Luxembourg and Bulgaria.
Benz, Wolfgang The Holocaust: A German Historian Examines the Genocide[2]

Nazi use of gas chambers and gas vans

Benz also had established the use of gas chambers for killing people at the death camps,[3] and in particular Jews, and that gas vans had been used for mass murder, in particular of Jews as early as December 1941 in the Chelmno camp.[3]

Comparing Islamophobia and Antisemitism

Benz claimed in early 2010 in connection with the Minaret controversy in Switzerland that "anti-Semites of the 19th Century and some detractors of the Islam of the 21st Century work with similar methods on their concept of the enemy“ and warned against the global discrimination of Muslims, which he saw as a "declaration of war against tolerance and democracy".[4][5] He was criticized by historian Julius H. Schoeps who claimed Benz's suggestions are "dubious - if not dangerous“[6] and by journalist Henryk M. Broder,[7] pointing out that 'Islamophobia' - unlike Antisemitism - has a real basis, e.g. terrorist acts, the way dissidents are treated in Islamic countries etc. The educationist Micha Brumlik, however, has argued that as far as social-psychological aspect is concerned, Benz was right when comparing today's Islamophobia and anti-Semitism of the late 19th and early 20th century.[8] Much like Brumlik argued also the historian Norbert Frei.[9]


  1. Benz, Wolfgang (1996). Dimension des Völkermords. Die Zahl der jüdischen Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Dtv. ISBN 3-423-04690-2.
  2. Benz, Wolfgang (1999). The Holocaust: A German Historian Examines the Genocide. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 152–153. ISBN 0-231-11214-9.
  3. 1 2 Benz, Wolfgang (2007). (German) The 101 Main Questions on the Third Reich (Die 101 wichtigsten Fragen - das dritte Reich) C.H. Beck. p. 98
  4. Hetzer mit Parallelen, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 4. Januar 2010
  5. http://zfa.kgw.tu-berlin.de/feindbild_muslim_feindbild_islam.pdf
  6. Abwegige Parallelen
  7. Sind Muslime die Juden von heute? (“Are Muslims the Jews of Today?”)
  8. Neue Feindschaft - Alte Muster. Micha Brumlik im Gespräch mit Britta Bürger In: Deutschlandradio Kultur, 28. January 2010.
  9. http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/kulturheute/1301488/


As editor
As co-editor


External links

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