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Gunnar Heinsohn is a Germanmarker sociologist and economist. He was born in Gdyniamarker, Polandmarker, under German occupation used as Kriegsmarine-Arsenal and named Gotenhafen, on November 21, 1943 to Roswitha Heinsohn, née Maurer and the late Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Heinsohn, last serving on U-438. Since 1984, he has been a tenured professor at the University of Bremenmarker, where he heads the Raphael-Lemkin Institut for Comparative Genocide Research named for Raphael Lemkin. His list of publications includes almost 700 scholarly articles, conference presentations, and books. His research has been focused on developing new theories regarding the history and theory of civilization.


Ancient history

Heinsohn proposed a revision of ancient chronology based upon stratigraphy. Taking Immanuel Velikovsky´s revised chronology as a starting point, Heinsohn went on to criticize Velikovsky's chronology as Biblical fundamentalism, proposing an even more drastic revision that is being disputed in circles of chronological revisionists, but is generally being rejected by mainstream historians. What seems to be unique with Heinsohn's approach is that his relative chronology is exclusively based on stratigraphy.

His work on ancient chronology, based on an examination of the stratigraphic record, has reached some dramatic conclusions. He finds, for example, that 19th century archaeologists constructed their picture of the region around the chronology provided in the Old Testament, with the result that they created a "phantom" history which began two thousand years before any real history began. In other words, Heinsohn's interpretation of the stratigraphic evidence suggests that Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations arose around 1,100 BCE, not 3,200 BCE, as the textbooks say. He emphasizes, for example, the fact that the chronology now found in the textbooks does not differ to any great degree from the chronology established by Eusebius in the fourth century, who sought to "tie in" the histories of Egypt and Mesopotamia with that of the Old Testament, for the purpose of validating the latter. It was such Bible synchronisms which originally placed Menes, the first Pharaoh, in the fourth millennium BCE (he was equated with Adam, the first man) and placed Ramesses II in the fourteenth century (he was believed to have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus, owing to the Book of Exodus giving the name of "Ramesses" to one of the cities built by the Hebrew slaves). That this chronology was well entrenched long before the scientific investigation of the past is illustrated by the fact that Napoleon famously placed the Great Pyramid "forty centuries" before his time. The French commander therefore dated the structure to circa 2200 BCE - not far removed from the date still found in the textbooks. Yet Napoleon made his famous speech over twenty years before Champollion had even begun to crack the hieroglyphic code.

Heinsohn's ideas on ancient chronology were introduced to the English-speaking world in the Velikovskian journal Kronos in 1985. They have found support with a small number of writers and academics, most of whom are favorably disposed towards Velikovsky; amongst whom are Professor of Philosophy Lynn E. Rose, Professor of Classics at Bard Collegemarker William Mullen, Professor of Art History Lewis M. Greenberg, speech writer and long-time observer of the Velikovsky scene Clark Whelton, German independent scholar Dr Heribert Illig, and British writer Emmet Sweeney. However, his views have been severely criticized by several students of Velikovsky-inspired ancient chronology revision: Aeon editor Dwardu Cardona, New Zealand researcher Lester Mitcham, University of New Orleans Professor of History William H. Stiebing, Jr., British researcher Anthony Rees and Aeon publisher Ev Cochrane.Cochrane, Ev (1999). Heinsohn's Ancient "History". Aeon, 5 (4), 57-74./>. Stiebing's critique argued four points: (1) The great antiquity of civilization is based on more evidence than just the Old Testament, (2) epigraphy and philology disprove Heinsohn's revision, (3) scientific dating is more reliable than Heinsohn admits, and (4) archaeological stratigraphy is more complicated than Heinsohn's simplistic perspective would have it. Mitcham concludes ". . . [I]t is quite clear that none of Heinsohn's claimed alter-ego identifications can be regarded as valid. Claimed alter-egos have totally different reign lengths, while within a dynasty it is often necessary for Heinsohn to omit mention of kings who have no corresponding alter-egos. The ancient records themselves prove Akkad as Babylonia, that rulers who Heinsohn claims did not exist are well documented, as are many others who receive no attention at all - probably because they cannot be placed within Heinsohn's revision." Cochrane concluded his critique of Heinsohn's equating Hammurabi with Darius as follows: ". . . Heinsohn's reconstruction cannot be taken seriously for the simple reason that it is entirely at odds with the historical record it seeks to reform. . . . [I]t seems clear that his theory raises more problems than it solves and requires ad hoc suppositions galore. That Heinsohn is forever misrepresenting his sources does not inspire confidence in his methodology. . . . Heinsohn's reconstruction cannot be made to square with the historical record." These critiques have been ignored by Heinsohn. Because of the problems with his methodology almost all professional ancient historians, Egyptologists, Assyriologists, archaeologists, and specialists in scientific dating methods reject Heinsohn's claims.


On the origin of sacrifice and priest kingship in Mesopotamia, Heinsohn suggested an explanatory model based upon a catastrophist view of ancient history and a psychoanalytic interpretation of sacrificial rituals.


Heinsohn holds that the Jewish people were the first in occidental history to abolish sacrifice in the name of a general prohibition of killing, thereby providing an example to other religions still practicing sacrifice that this is unnecessary. As the Jewish prophet Hosea stated: "For kindness I desired, and not sacrifice, And a knowledge of God above burnt-offerings.". According to this view that is in some respects similar to a psychoanalytic view, antisemitic hatred has its origins in the feelings of guilt towards the sacrificed human or animal; turning those feelings of self-hatred towards those who do not take part in the ritual of sacrifice allows for continuing with the sacrificial practice. Heinsohn contrasts Jewish abstinence from sacrifice with the Christian belief in Jesus as someone who died for the Christians' sins, which he interprets as a regression to sacrificial practices of prehistory and as a core source of Christian-Jewish controversy.

Heinsohn suggested that Hitler wished to erase—physically, intellectually and spiritually—the meaning and heritage of Judaism and Jewish ethics from Germany and its European allies by literally destroying the Jews as a people. This is how Heinsohn explained the Holocaust: as an attempt by Hitler and his Nazi cohorts to wipe out the memory and the idea of Jewish ethics. This was in order that the Germans as a people could have the "stomach" to wipe out and conquer other people and lands they wished to conquer, to make others slaves or to murder them without any pangs of what Hitler called the "Jewish invention": the conscience or ethical norms brought into Western civilization on the part of the Jews - and inherited by Christianity. According to Heinsohn, Hitler felt that it was the "Jewish conscience" he was fighting against and trying to eliminate for the Germans, so they would be able to do what Hitler thought they should do, to act with utter conscienceless brutality to get what he felt was entitled to them. According to Heinsohn, Hitler also saw in the Christian churches signs of this "Jewish conscience," so the Christian ethics he wanted to wipe out was a "Judaized" ethics and the church, insofar as they followed this "Jewish ethics," was equally endangered. For Heinsohn, it is this aspect of Hitler's thinking and his intentions and the power this form of anti-Semitism possesses that are vital as an explanation for the Holocaust.

Property and money

Heinsohn proposed the theory of property, interest and money and the role of free wage labour for the technical progress and continual process of innovation of modern European civilization that is seen as a central feature of capitalist modernization (whereas socialist modernization has been mainly imitative and not innovative). In collaboration with his colleague, economist Otto Steiger, Heinsohn criticized the "barter paradigm", the idea that money was historically invented as a medium of exchange to facilitate barter. He replaced it with a property based credit theory of money that stresses the indispensable role of secure property titles, contract law and especially contract enforcement, liability and collateral to create secure, transferable debt titles that central banks will accept as collateral for issuing bank notes. This paradigm provides institutional microfoundations for monetary theories of production developed in the Keynesian tradition. Credit theories of money have existed since mercantilism but have not become the dominating paradigm in monetary theory. Besides promoting their paradigm it as an alternative foundation for triggering economic development (much in line with the insights of Hernando de Soto, Tom Bethell and Richard Pipes), Steiger has applied it to an analysis of the eurosystem.

While this approach has similarities with institutional economics, its major differences are (1) a non-universalist, cross-cultural approach that is in line with results from economic anthropology (Marshall Sahlins, Karl Polanyi, Marcel Mauss and others) and strongly doubts "homo oeconomicus", providing instead a specific explanation for how strategies of economic efficiency become functional only in monetary economies based on property and enforceable contracts; (2) a systematic reconstruction of the connection between property, enforceable contracts, interest, credit/money and the banking system as a basis of a monetary theory of production, and (3) a systematic explanation for technical progress and innovation based on this reconstruction and the phenomenon of free wage labour, which explains the differences in innovativity and progress between the monetary economics of antiquity and modern times. Heinsohn and Steiger's model has been discussed in some post-Keynesian circles, and it has been criticized by Nikolaus K.A. Läufer.


Heinsohn has discussed the origin of modern European demographic patterns (starting with an intense increase in population growth in early modern times, leading to sub-replacement fertility at the dawn of the 21st century), including an interpretation of the European witch-hunts of early modern times as pro-natalist re-population policy of the then dominant Catholic Church after the population losses the black death had caused This interpretation has received mixed responses. It has been criticized and rejected by German historians Walter Rummel, Günther Jerouschek , Robert Jütte and Gerd Schwerhoff - replies to those criticisms can be found in . Prominent historian of birth control John M. Riddle has expressed agreement.

Youth bulge

He is known most widely for his theory of the Youth Bulge. He argues that an excess in especially young adult male population predictably leads to social unrest, war and terrorism, as the "third and fourth sons" that find no prestigious positions in their existing societies rationalize their impetus to compete by religion or political ideology. Heinsohn claims that most historical periods of social unrest lacking external triggers (such as rapid climatic changes or other catastrophic changes of the environment) and most genocides can be readily explained as a result of a built up youth bulge, including European colonialism, 20th century Fascism, and ongoing conflicts such as that in Darfur, The Palestinian uprisings in 1987-1993 and 2000 to present, and terrorism.


Heinsohn's contributions to genocide research include an encyclopedia of genocides , a generalized version of youth bulge theory and a new theory of Hitler´s motivation for the Holocaust.


  1. Raphael-Lemkin Institut, Bremen
  2. for a detailed bibliography sorted by date, refer to this Bibliography 1969-2007
  3. see in English: G. Heinsohn: The Restoration of Ancient History; for details refer to G. Heinsohn (1988): Die Sumerer gab es nicht. Frankfurt/M.: Eichborn; G. Heinsohn (1990): Wann lebten die Pharaonen? Frankfurt: Eichborn and G. Heinsohn: Wie alt ist das Menschengeschlecht? Gräfelfing: Mantis 2000, all published in German only as of June 2007
  4. see
  5. Heinsohn, Gunnar (1985). Catastrophism, Revisionism, and Velikovsky (Letter). Kronos, XI (1), 110-111; no. 167 on Heinsohn's list of publications which concludes: "As long as Velikovskians run away from the strong points in Velikovsky's works to build their edifices on the weakest points of mainstream scholarship, they will end up as bastards who, for good reasons, nobody will listen to."
  6. Cardona, Dwardu (1988). The Two Sargons and Their Successors, Part 1. Aeon, 1 (5), 5-37; Idem. Part 2. Aeon, 1 (6), 72-97.
  7. Mitcham, Lester J. (1988). Support for Heinsohn's Chronology Is Misplaced. Chronology & Catastrophism Workshop, 1988 (1), 7-12.
  8. Stiebing, William H. Jr. (1991). Heinsohn's Revised Chronology. Aeon, 2 (5), 45-54.
  9. Rees, A. H. (1992). A Chronology for Mesopotamia (contra Heinsohn). Chronology and Catastrophism Workshop, 1992 (2), 10-15.
  10. G. Heinsohn (1997): Die Erfindung der Götter. Das Opfer als Ursprung der Religion. Reinbek: Rowohlt; G. Heinsohn: The Rise of Blood Sacrifice and Priest Kingship in Mesopotamia: A Cosmic Decree? Religion Vol. 22, 1992, pp. 309-334 online here
  11. Hosea 6:6
  12. G. Heinsohn (1988): Was ist Antisemitismus? Der Ursprung von Monotheismus und Judenhaß. Frankfurt/M.: Eichborn
  13. G. Heinsohn (1997): Die Erfindung der Götter. Das Opfer als Ursprung der Religion. Reinbek: Rowohlt
  14. G. Heinsohn (2000): What makes the Holocaust a uniquely unique genocide? Journal of Genocide Research, Volume 2, Number 3, 1 November 2000 , pp. 411-430
  15. See Gunnar Heinsohn (1995): Warum Auschwitz? Hitlers Plan und die Ratlosigkeit der Nachwelt. Reinbek: Rowohlt. Compare also G. Heinsohn (1988): Was ist Antisemitismus? Der Ursprung von Monotheismus und Judenhaß. Frankfurt/M.: Eichborn
  16. G. Heinsohn, Otto Steiger (1981): Geld, Produktivität und Unsicherheit in Kapitalismus und Sozialismus oder von den Lollarden Wat Tylers zur Solidarität Lech Walesas. Leviathan 1981, Bd. 9, Nr. 2, pp. 164-194; English version: G. Heinsohn, Otto Steiger: Money, Productivity and Uncertainty in Capitalism and Socialism, in: Metroeconomica, Vol. 33, Nr. 1-3, 1981, pp. 41-77[1]
  17. G. Heinsohn (1984): Privateigentum, Patriarchat, Geldwirtschaft. Eine sozialtheoretische Rekonstruktion zur Antike. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp; G. Heinsohn, Otto Steiger (1996): Eigentum, Zins und Geld. Ungelöste Rätsel der Wirtschaftswissenschaft. Reinbek: Rowohlt (English: "Property, Interest and Money", London: Routledge, forthcoming); also see G. Heinsohn/Otto Steiger: Private Property, Debts and Interest or: The Origin of Money and the Rise and Fall of Monetary Economies, in: studi economici, Napoli, Nr. 21, 1983, pp. 3-56 and G. Heinsohn, O. Steiger: The Property Theory of Interest and Money. In: J. Smithin (Ed.): What is Money? London: Routledge 2000, pp. 67-100
  18. for an overview, see the dissertation by Charlotte Bruun: Logical Structures and Algorithmic Behavior in a Credit Economy[2], Chapter 1: "The Nature of Money" and Chapter 3: "The Development of the Theory of Credit" and Randall Wray (Ed.): Credit and State Theories of Money: The Contribution of Mitchell Innes. London: Routledge 2004
  19. Hernando DeSoto: The Mystery of Capital. Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails everywhere else. New York: Basic Books 2000
  20. Tom Bethell: The Noblest Triumph. Property and Prosperity Through the Ages. New York: St. Martin's Press 1998
  21. Richard Pipes: Property and Freedom. New York: Vintage Books 1999
  22. Otto Steiger: The Eurosystem and the Art of Central Banking, Bremen 2002 [3]; Gunnar Heinsohn and Otto Steiger: The European Central Bank and the Eurosystem: An Analysis of the Missing Central Monetary Institution in European Monetary Union. Center for European Integration Studies, Working Paper B 09, 2003[4]; Otto Steiger: Which Lender of Last Resort for the Eurosystem? Bremen 2004 [5] Dieter Spethmann, Otto Steiger: The four Achilles Heels of the Eurosystem: Missing Central Monetary Institution, Different Real Rates of Interest, Non-Marketable Securities, and Missing Lender of Last Resort, Bremen 2005 [6]
  23. Gunnar Heinsohn, Otto Steiger: Money, Markets and Property. In: Giacomin, Alberto and Marcuzzo, Maria (Eds.): Money and Markets. A doctrinal approach. New York: Routledge 2007, pp. 59-79; G. Heinsohn, O. Steiger: Interest and Money: the Property Explanation. In: Door Philip Arestis, Malcolm C. Sawyer: A Handbook of alternative monetary Economics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing 2006, p. 490-507[7]
  24. see Otto Steiger: Property Rights and Economic Development: Two Views. Marburg: Metropolis 2007 ( forthcoming); Otto Steiger: Property Economics. Property Rights, Creditor's Money and the Foundations of the Economy. Marburg: Metropolis 2008 ([8]). This volume is a collection of papers that were presented at an International Symposium on the Economic Role of Property Rights at University of Bremen, Nov.28-30 2003.
  25. Karl Betz, Tobias Roy: Privateigentum und Geld. Kontroversen um den Ansatz von Heinsohn und Steiger. Marburg: Metropolis 1999 and John Smithin (Ed.): What is Money? London: Routledge 2000
  26. Nikolaus K.A. Läufer: The Heinsohn-Steiger confusion on interest, money and property. online here (accessed June 28, 2007)
  27. G. Heinsohn, Otto Steiger, Rolf Knieper (1979): Menschenproduktion. Allgemeine Bevölkerungstheorie der Neuzeit. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp; Gunnar Heinsohn, Otto Steiger: Die Vernichtung der weisen Frauen. Hexenverfolgung, Kinderwelten, Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Menschenproduktion. München: Heyne 1989; Gunnar Heinsohn/Otto Steiger: "Witchcraft, Population Catastrophe and Economic Crisis in Renaissance Europe: An Alternative Macroeconomic Explanation.", University of Bremen 2004 [9]
  28. Walter Rummel: 'Weise' Frauen und 'weise' Männer im Kampf gegen Hexerei. Die Widerlegung einer modernen Fabel. In: Christof Dipper, Lutz Klinkhammer und Alexander Nützenadel: Europäische Sozialgeschichte. Festschrift für Wolfgang Schieder (= Historische Forschungen 68), Berlin 2000, S. 353-375, [10] and Rummel, Walter: Weise Frauen als Opfer?. Aus: Lexikon zur Geschichte der Hexenverfolgung, hrsg. v. Gudrun Gersmann, Katrin Moeller u. Jürgen-Michael Schmidt, in:, URL:
  29. Günther Jerouschek, Des Rätsels Lösung? Zur Deutung der Hexenprozesses als staatsterroristische Bevölkerungspolitik, in: Kritische Justiz 19, 1986, S. 443-459.
  30. Robert Jütte, Die Persistenz des Verhütungswissens in der Volkskultur. Sozial- und medizinhistorische Anmerkungen zur These von der 'Vernichtung der weisen Frauen', in: Medizinhistorisches Journal 24, 1989,8.214-231
  31. Gerd Schwerhoff, Hexerei, Geschlecht und Regionalgeschichte, in: Gisela Wilbertz / Gerd Schwerhoff/Jürgen Scheffler (Hrsg.), Hexenverfolgung und Regionalgeschichte. Die Grafschaft Lippe im Vergleich, Bielefeld 1994, S. 325-353
  32. Gunnar Heinsohn, Otto Steiger: Die Vernichtung der weisen Frauen. Hexenverfolgung, Kinderwelten, Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Menschenproduktion. München: Heyne 1989, p. 369-415
  33. see John M. Riddle: "The Great Witch-Hunt and the Suppression of Birth Control: Heinsohn and Steiger's Theory from the Perspective of an Historian", Appendix to: Gunnar Heinsohn/Otto Steiger: "Witchcraft, Population Catastrophe and Economic Crisis in Renaissance Europe: An Alternative Macroeconomic Explanation.", University of Bremen 2004 (download); also see John M. Riddle: "Eve's Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West", Princeton: Harvard University Press 1999, ISBN 0674270266, esp. Chapters 5-7
  34. G. Heinsohn (1999): Lexikon der Völkermorde. Reinbek: Rowohlt
  35. G. Heinsohn (2003): Söhne und Weltmacht. Terror im Aufstieg und Fall der Nationen. Bern: Orell Füssli, available as a free downloadable e-book here; Gunnar Heinsohn: Demography and War (brief outline of Heinsohn's Youth Bulge Theory of social unrest); Gunnar Heinsohn: Population, Conquest and Terror in the 21st Century (applies Youth Bulge Theory of social unrest to European imperialism as well as today's islamist terror);
  36. G. Heinsohn (1994): Warum Auschwitz? Hitler's Motiv und die Ratlosigkeit der Nachwelt. Reinbek: Rowohlt
  37. G. Heinsohn: What Makes the Holocaust a Uniquely Unique Genocide?, in: Journal of Genocide Research, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 411-430

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