Snapshotsof German-Jewish History and Culture
Welcome to the Leo Baeck Institute’s web-series Snapshots of German-Jewish History and Culture. These regular online posts aim to give you an insight into interesting items from our London institute’s collection of rare books and historical pamphlets that illustrate many facets of the history and culture of Europe’s German speaking Jewry. With this new web-based project, we hope to be able to divert, inform and provide some interesting food for thought.
Please click on the titles below to view the respective post:
This Snapshot offers a glimpse into the world of German-Jewish children’s literature in 1920s and 30s Germany by looking at the directional, innovative and visually beautiful Jüdischer Jugendkalender (Almanac for Jewish Youth). Compiled and much contributed to by the energetic scholar, author, playwright and rabbi Emil Bernhard Cohn, the series was published from 1928-36 and reflected the changing fate of German Jews during this time.
This item presents Felix A. Theilhaber’s unique publication on German-Jewish aviators in WWI.
His book Jüdische Flieger im Weltkrieg – Jewish Aviators in the Great War (1924) is a fascinating visual and textual source which passionately challenges anti-Semitic allegations spread in the early Weimar Republic against German-Jews who had served in the military during the Great War.
This feature turns the spotlight on two remarkable German-Jewish literary figures whose paths crossed in
exile in early 1940s Jerusalem: the charismatic Expressionist poet and artist Else Lasker-Schüler (1869-1945)
and the author and journalist Manfred Vogel (1923-1983). Both escaped Nazi persecution in Germany and
became part of the small circle of German-Jewish intellectuals in Mandate-Palestine.
This item showcases the famous booklet Das jüdische Dorf, an illustrated early socialist Zionst pamphlet
advertising life in Mandate-Palestine to Jewish communities in Europe. This, at the time widely circulated,
publication was the result of a collaboration of the author and agriculturalist Shlomo Zemach and the
photographer Shmuel Yosef Schweig. It promoted a left-wing version of romantic Zionist ideals related
to early 20th century agrarianism and labour and was based on a desire to build a better, modern socialist
society in the ‘Promised Land’.
This item presents one of the most popular German-Jewish writers of the early 20th century, Jakob
Wassermann (1873-1934). Born the son of a shopkeeper in the German provincial town of Fürth,
he became a highly successful author and part of a vibrant scene of leading literary and intellectual
figures in the cultural centres of Munich and Vienna. However, the arrival of the Nazi regime in Germany
saw an abrupt end to his career with his books banned and burned and the vast body of work largely
Our third ‘Snapshot’ of German-Jewish History and Culture offers glimpses of the elegant home of the affluent
German-Jewish Herzberg family in Hanover in the early 1930s. The images, taken from an extraordinary and
much treasured photo album belonging to the family, are in stark contrast to the reality of their itinerant lives
after they were forced to flee Germany to escape the Nazi Regime.
Our second ‘Snapshot’ of German-Jewish History and Culture offers a brief introduction to the life and work of
Moritz Oppenheim, painter of Jewish domestic scenes in 19th century Germany and Louis Lamm, the Berlin based
publisher of Judaica and Hebraica, who published a beautiful gift edition of some of Oppenheim’s work.
In our first ‘Snapshot’ of German-Jewish History and Culture, we would like to introduce you to two prominent
Jewish personalities who embody some of the key features defining the experiences of the German-speaking
Jewry in the late 19th and early 20th century: The actress Elisabeth Bergner (1897-1986) and her biographer, the
literary scholar and journalist Arthur Eloesser (1870-1938).
The collection is made available to view by Queen Mary University of London Archives and Special Collections and details of how to arrange a visit are available through their website https://www.library.qmul.ac.uk/archives/. A full list of the pamphlets is available on request from firstname.lastname@example.org.