Short Portrait: Julius Lips

Julius Lips
Julius Lips

Julius E. Lips, born in St. Johann/Saarbrücken on Sept 8th, 1895, entered the University of Leipzig in 1914. Only six month later the young student was called to active duty as a soldier during World War I. After having being wounded and traumatized by the atrocities on the battle-field, Lips returned to Leipzig in 1916. He took up his studies again concentrating on law, economics and politics. Besides, Lips developed a growing interest in psychology and anthropology. When he received his first PhD in psychology in 1919, the German Empire had collapsed and Germany had been transformed to what was to be called the Weimar Republic.

Lips joined the Pazifistischer Studentenbund (pacifist student association), became a member of the German Social Democratic Party, SPD, was elected chairman of the Sozialdemokratischer Studentenbund (social democratic student association) and appointed editor of a magazine on students interest in foreign countries called „Student und Ausland“. He managed to establish in Leipzig a press office on foreign affairs for universities and students (Deutsches Korrespondenzbüro für ausländische Universitäts- und Studentenangelegenheiten), which merely one year later was taken over by the national conservative Deutsche Studentenschaft (German student association) in Göttingen.

Out-manoeuvred, Lips devoted himself to his legal studies again working as an assistant fellow at the Leipzig University Department of Law. In 1922, he sucessfully passed his first-degree state examination and started working on a thesis on Thomas Hobbes for his second PhD. After having married Eva Wiegandt (1906 – 1988), daughter of a well-known Leipzig publisher in 1924, he received his second PhD from the Leipzig University Law Department in 1925. Thereafter, the young couple moved to Köln/Cologne, where Julius Lips started his career at the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum of Anthropology. When in 1926 Fritz Graebner, the museum´s director, became seriously ill, Julius Lips took over the management of the Museum as his deputy and in 1928 was chosen to succeed him.

In the meantime, he had received his venia legendi in anthropology and social science (having qualified as a university lecturer with Fritz Graebner in 1927) and had started teaching at Cologne University. In 1930, Lips was promoted to associate professor at Cologne University. That very same year – the Nazi party had grown in influence – Lips was falsely accused of misappropriation and plagiarism. This mobbing campaign designed to harm his career was still going on in 1933, when the Nazis took over power. By November 1933, Julius Lips had already been stripped of all his positions by the authorities of the Third Reich. The following year, Lips emigrated to the USA and started lecturing in law at New York´s Columbia University. There he met Karl Llewellyn with whom he stayed in contact until 1948. In 1935, Julius and Eva Lips travelled to Canada, where they started field research on the Montagnais-Naskapi Indians. In Paris one year later, Julius Lips signed the Aufruf der deutschen Volksfront für Frieden, Freiheit und Brot (appeal for peace, freedom and bread by the German Popular Front). One year later in 1937, Julius Lips and Franz Boas were acting jointly as honorary chairmen of the German-American League for Culture.

Lips – to finance his passage to New York – had signed a contract in London in 1934 for a book which was published in 1937 in Britain and the United States under the title The Savage Hits Back. This book actually planned as early as 1930 as an academic publication about colonial art seen from a new perspective became an international success as an instrument of anti-Nazi propaganda, not least due to the concurrent success of Savage Symphony published by Eva Lips in 1938, a personal description of the Nazi regime´s take-over of power in Cologne.

Meanwhile, Julius Lips had been appointed visiting professor at Howard University in Washington to establish and manage the Department of Cultural Anthropology. After returning to New York in 1939, Julius and Eva Lips continued to work for the anti-Hitler coalition, adopting U.S. citizenship in 1942.

By 1947, the couple was again involved in field research, this time on the Chippewa Indians in North Minnesota and the Sioux in South Dakota. One year later, Julius and Eva Lips returned to Leipzig in the Soviet-occupied zone of post-war Germany, which came to constitute the German Democratic Republic in 1949. Julius Lips – by the intervention of Heinrich Mann – was appointed head of the university´s department of anthropology and elected president of the university in 1949. In 1950 Julius Lips suddenly died.

Julius Lips´ selected Bibliography

Lips, Julius. „Die gleichzeitige Vergleichung zweier Strecken mit einer dritten nach dem Augenmaß (Zum Drei-Reize-Problem in der
Psychophysik).“ Diss. Phil. Leipzig. Archiv für die gesamte Psychologie, Vol. XL, 3/4 (1920), pp.193-267.

Lips, Julius. Die Internationale Studentenbewegung nach dem Krieg (La
Confédération Internationale des Etudiants). Leipzig 1921.

Lips, Julius. Ferdinand Lasalle. Eine Tragödie des Willens. Leipzig 1924.

Lips, Julius. Fallensysteme der Naturvölker. Leipzig 1926.

Lips, Julius. Die Stellung des Thomas Hobbes zu den politischen Parteien der großen englischen Revolution. Mit erstmaliger Übersetzung des
„Behemoth oder das Lange Parlament“. Leipzig 1927.

Lips, Julius. „Fallensysteme der Naturvölker.“ Ethnologica III (1927), pp. 123-302.

Lips, Julius. „Rezension zu Cunow, H., Allgemeine Wirtschaftsgeschichte. Eine Übersicht über die Wirtschaftsentwicklung von der primitiven Sammelwirtschaft zum Hochkapitalismus. Bd. I., Die Wirtschaft der natur- und Halbkulturvölker, Berlin 1926.“ Kölner Vierteljahrshefte für Soziologie 6 (1927), pp. 415-418.

Lips, Julius. Einleitung in die vergleichende Völkerkunde. Leipzig 1928.

Lips, Julius. „Die Anfänge des Rechts an Grund und Boden bei den Naturvölkern und der Begriff der Erntevölker.“ In: Wilhelm Koppers (Ed.), Festschrift für P.W. Schmidt. Wien 1928, pp. 485-494.

Lips, Julius. „Die Anfänge des Rechts an Grund und Boden bei den Naturvölkern und der Begriff der Erntevölker.“ Tagungsberichte der Deutschen Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Köln vom 11. bis 17. September 1927, Leipzig 1928, pp. 16–20.

Lips, Julius. „Kamerun.“ In: E. Schulz-Ewerth und L. Adam (Eds.). „Das Eingeborenenrecht II.“, Stuttgart 1930, pp. 127-209.

Karani, Palan (Lips, Julius). Heiden vor Afrika. Ein Negerspiel. Leipzig 1930.

Lips, Julius. „Fritz Graebner: March 4, 1877 to July 13, 1934.“ American
Anthropologist 37 (1935), pp. 320-327.

Lips, Julius. „Trap systems among the Montagnais-Naskapi Indians of Labrador Peninsula.“ Statens Etnografiska Museum, Smärre Meddelanden 13, Stockholm 1936, pp. 1-38.

Lips, Julius. „Public Opinion and Mutual Assistance among the Montagnais-Naskapi.“American Anthropologist, new series, vol. 39, no.2, Menasha (1937), pp. 222-228.

Lips, Julius. The Savage Hits Back or The White Man Through Native Eyes. With an Introduction by Bronislaw Malinowski. Translated from the German by Vincent Benson. London 1937 (New Haven 1937).

Lips, Julius. „Regierungs- und Verwaltungsformen bei den Naturvölkern. Ein Beitrag zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Rechts.“ Zeitschrift für freie deutsche Wissenschaft (Libres recherches allemandes) 1, part 1, no. 1 Paris, July 1938, pp. 53-81; 1, part II, no. 2, Paris, Novembre 1938, pp. 46-67.

Lips, Julius. „Öffentliche Meinung und gegenseitige Hilfe bei den Indianern in Labrador.“ Freie Wissenschaft. Ein Sammelbuch aus der deutschen Emigration. Emil Julius Gumbel (Ed.), Strasbourg (Sebastian Brant) 1938: 125-140.

Lips, Julius. „Government.“ In: Franz Boas (ed.), General Anthropology, Boston 1938, pp. 487-534.

Lips, Julius. „Weißer Mann, wohin?“ Mass und Wert, ed. by Thomas Mann und Konrad Falke, 3, Vol. 6 (1938), pp. 885-914.

Lips, Julius. „God´s Chillun. Negersekten in Washington.“ Mass und Wert, ed. by Thomas Mann and Konrad Falke, 3, Vol. 1 (1939), pp. 89-116.

Barth, Karl and Lips, Julius (eds.). The Church and the political Problem of our day. London, Hodder and Stoughton 1939.

Lips, Julius. „Naskapi trade. A study in legal acculturation.“ Journal de la Société des Américanistes, Nouvelle Série, T. XXXI, Paris 1939, pp. 129-195.

Lips, Julius. Tents in the Wilderness. The Story of a Labrador Indian Boy. Philadelphia and New York, Frederick A. Stokes 1942.

Lips, Julius. „Professor Ernest E. Just (Obituary).“ Opportunity, Journal of Negro Life. September 1942, New York.

Lips, Julius. The Origin of Things. London and New York 1947.

Lips, Julius. „Notes on the Montagnais-Naskapi Economy (Lake St. John and Lake Mistassini Brands.“ Ethnos, Vol. 12 , no. 1-2, Stockholm 1947, pp. 1-78.

Lips, Julius. „Naskapi Law (Lake St. John and Lake Mistassini Bands).“ Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 37, Philadelphia 1947.

Lips, Julius. Forschungsreise in die Dämmerung. Aus den Aufzeichnungen
und Dokumenten des Professors Smith über sein Leben an einer Negeruniversität. Weimar 1950.

Lips, Julius. „Die Erntevölker, eine wichtige Phase in der Entwicklung der menschlichen Wirtschaft.“ Rektoratsrede gehalten am 31. Oktober 1949 in der Kongreßhalle zu Leipzig. Berichte über die Verhandlungen der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig. Phil.-Hist. Klasse, Vol. 101, 1, Berlin 1953.

Lips, Julius. Der Weisse im Spiegel der Farbigen, ed. by Eva Lips, Leipzig 1983. (Lizenzausgabe für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland München und Wien 1983. Hanser Anthropologie, ed. by Wolf Lepenies).)

Julius Lips in German Anthropologists´ discussion

Bruckmann, Jürgen. Eine Monographie aus der Wissenschaftsgeschichte der Ethnologie in Deutschland. Leben und Werk von Julius E. Lips. Unveröffentlichte Magisterarbeit, Philosophische Fakultät der Universität zu Köln, Köln 1988.

Golczewski, Frank. Kölner Universitätslehrer und der Nationalsozialismus. Personengeschichtliche Ansätze. Köln und Wien 1988 (Studien zur Geschichte der Universität zu Köln, Bd. 8), pp. 213 – 222.

Golczewski, Frank. „Über Müller-Hill und Lips. Wie die Selbstdarstellung der Eheleute Lips ihren Zweck erfüllen.“ Kölner Universitätsjournal 1 (1990), pp. 24-27.

Harms, Volker. „`What Hitler did to them!´ Kritische Anmerkungen zur bisherigen Bearbeitung des Themas Ethnologie und Nationalsozialismus am Beispiel des `Falles´ Julius Lips.“ Soziologus. Zeitschrift für empirische Ethnosoziologie und Ethnopsychologie, N.F., Jg. 47 (1997)1.

Kramer, Fritz. Verkehrte Welten. Zur imaginären Ethnographie des 19. Jahrhunderts. Frankfurt a.M. 1981.

Kramer, Fritz. Der rote Fes. Über Kunst und Besessenheit in Afrika. Frankfurt a.M. 1987.

Kreide-Damani, Ingrid (Ed.). Ethnologie im Nationalsozialismus. Julius Lips und die Geschichte der Völkerkunde. With Contributions by Andre Gingrich, Volker Harms, Lydia Icke-Schwalbe, Ingrid Kreide-Damani, Wolfgang Liedtke, Gudrun Meier, Udo Mischek and Dietrich Treide. Wiesbaden 2010.

Krings, Matthias. „Stimmen aus der Wildnis. Julius E. Lips: The savage hits back ort he white man through native eyes. London 1937.“ Paideuma 47 (2001),pp. 223-235.

Meier, Gudrun. „Rezension. Pützstück, Lothar: „Symphonie in Moll“, Julius Lips und die Kölner Völkerkunde, in: Kulturen im Wandel, hrsg. von Adam Jones, Ulrich Knefelkamp und Stefan Seitz. Band. 4. Centaurus-Verlagsgesellschaft. Pfaffenweiler 1995, 403 Seiten.“ Abhandlungen und Berichte des Staatlichen Museums für Völkerkunde Dresden, Forschungsstelle, Vol. 49 (1997), pp. 359-361.

Müller-Hill, Benno. „`Gegen den Blick der Niedertracht.´ Julius Lips zum Gedenken.“ Kölner Universitätsjournal 1 (1990),pp. 22-24.

Müller-Hill, Benno. „Lothar Pützstück, `Symphonie in Moll´. Julius Lips und die Kölner Völkerkunde, Pfaffenweiler 1995. Rezension.“ Zeitschrift für Sozialgeschichte des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts, 1 (1996), p. 131.

Pützstück, Lothar. „`Sympohonie in Moll´. Julius Lips und die Kölner Völkerkunde.“ Pfaffenweiler 1995 (Kulturen im Wandel, Bd. 8).

Treide, Dietrich. „Dr. Julius Lips (1895-1950). Wirtschafts- und Rechtsethnologe; Rektor der Universität Leipzig.“ In: Thomas Henne (ed.), Die Aberkennung von Doktorgraden an der Juristenfakultät Leipzig 1933-1945. Leipzig, Leipziger Universitätsverlag 2007, pp. 105-107.

(text by courtesy of Ingrid Kreide-Damani; photo source:

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