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Document Details :
Title: Fritz Rudolf Kraus in Istanbul (1937-1949) and the Development of Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Turkey
Author(s): SCHMIDT, Jan
Journal: Bibliotheca Orientalis
Volume: 67 Issue: 1-2 Date: 2010
Fritz Rudolf Kraus (1910-1991), professor of Assyriology at Leiden University from 1953 until his retirement in 1980, was born in Spremberg in eastern Germany. He was the son of a Jewish textile manufacturer who had married the daughter of family of Protestant farmers. Kraus studied Oriental languages, obtained his doctorate in 1935 but two years later he felt forced to leave his native country where, as a ‘half-Jew’ under the Nazi regime, he was barred from an academic career. He moved to Istanbul where his ‘Doktorvater’ and mentor Benno Landsberger had arranged a job for him at the Archeological Museum as cataloguer of its huge collection of cuneiform texts. Later he also taught classes at Istanbul University. During the twelve years he was to stay in Turkey, he remained in contact with Landsberger, who had been appointed professor in Ankara, with other colleagues, and, in the first place, with his family in Spremberg. Every fortnight he sent a detailed message home, describing his daily life, the curious aspects of Turkish culture, his homesickness, and his frustrations as a foreigner in an environment alien to the strict values of his native Prussia. Shortly before his death Kraus donated a large collection of his letters to the library of Leiden University. This article explores the content of the letters written by Kraus during his Istanbul period. Particular attention is paid to his work and his contribution to the establishment of Assyriology as an academic discipline in Turkey. Kraus wrote well and had a good eye for bizarre details as will be clear from a few letters quoted in extenso.