The place of Jews was highly ambiguous in the newly founded Turkish Republic: In 1928 an assimilationist campaign was launched against Turkish Jews, while only a few years later, in 1933, German scholars—many of them Jewish—were taken in so as to help Europeanize the nation. Turkish authorities regarded the emigrants as representatives of European civilization and appointed scholars like Erich Auerbach to prestigious academic positions that were vital for redefining the humanities in Turkey. This article explores the country's twofold assimilationist policies. On the one hand, Turkey required of its citizens—regardless of ethnic or religious origins—that they conform to a unified Turkish culture; on the other hand, an equally assimilationist modernization project was designed to achieve cultural recognition from the heart of Europe. By linking historical and contemporary discourses, this article shows how tropes of Jewishness have played—and continue to play—a critical role in the conception of Turkish nationhood. The status of Erich Auerbach, Chair of the Faculty for Western Languages and Literatures at İstanbul University from 1936 to 1947, is central to this investigation into the place of Turkish and German Jews in modern Turkey.