David Hamann, born 1981 in Hemer, is a PhD student at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 2011 he finished his Magister’s degree at the Humboldt-Univrsity about the NS-scientist Gunther Ipsen and the “Deutsche Soziologie”. For several yeras he worked as a student assistant at the Center for the Research on anti-Semitism in Berlin. Since 2010 he works as a freelance historian. In 2013 he became a Leo Baeck Fellow.
“Help has to come from the outside” Paul Nathan (1857 – 1927) – civil societal commitment as work of a lifetime
Since the end of the 1990s, there is an increasing interest in civil societal reactions of the European Jewry towards the emerging anti-Semitism of the last three decades of the 19th century. In this regard, research about Jewish migration history comes to the fore again.With my dissertation about Paul Nathan, an important gap within the research of the historiography of the Early Modern German-speaking Jewry shall be closed. Furthermore, I will unfold the life, the outstanding work, and the so far less reviewed impact history of a nationally as well as internationally successful German philanthropist. Since 1881, Nathan was working as a journalist, publicist, and liberal politician, and was a dedicated objector of the rampant anti-Semitism in the German Empire. He was part of a ramified network of liberal intellectuals, which reached up into the Reichstag; and he was also a key figure within aid organizations that were specialized on Eastern European Jewry migration. In 1901, he and the influential Berlin patron James Simon were significantly involved in the foundation of the Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden (aid organization of German Jews); an organization which up to 1914 had enabled approximately 200.000 Russian Jews to emigrate to the U.S. or Palestine, and until the end of the First World War could provide almost 43 million Marks (ca. 220 million Euros) for emigration and disaster management in Eastern Europe.
For unfolding the open-minded, liberal networks I am planning to use a biographical approach; this methodology offers conclusive insights into milieu conditioned mindsets and allows a contextual analysis of Nathan’s environment. It serves the study of his role as a key figure within the historiography of the Jewish migration history in the beginning of the 20th century. Besides, the analysis of his significant activities within Jewish associational and organizational structures likewise on national and international levels can be realized that way. The so far only little probed Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden as well as new insights into the organized resistance against anti-Semitism of 1890s Berlin will be of central interest.