German-Jewish History in Modern Times
A comprehensive historical survey of the Jewish presence in Central Europe from the seventeenth century to the Holocaust, German-Jewish History in Modern Times is a four-volume collective project by a team of leading scholars, offering a vivid portrait of Jewish history. The series is sponsored by the Leo Baeck Institute, established in 1955 in Jerusalem, London, and New York for the purpose of advancing scholarship on the Jews in German-speaking lands. Renewal and Destruction, 1918-1945 comprises the final volume and focuses on a period of intense change for European Jewry, culminating with the Holocaust. The first portion of Volume 4 explores the ambivalence experienced by Jews in the Weimar Republic, where political, economic, and cultural equality induced a profound sense of being German at the same time that a resurgent anti-Semitism, which associated Jews with the despised postwar order, helped to maintain Jewish consciousness. German Jews, though divided by differing political preferences, religious orientations, and social status, upheld a sense of their own identity even as they participated to an unprecedented degree in the intellectual and cultural life of the Republic, in its belles letters, film, music, and theatre. This volume also traces the extraordinary flowering of German-Jewish communal, religious, and cultural life in Germany during a period of upheaval and experimentation. This "renaissance of Judaism" persisted and became more tenacious in the face of National Socialist moves to reverse emancipation and "ghettoize" Jewish culture. The institutions and ideas of the 1920s helped Jews to resist Nazi isolation and tyranny through a remarkable commitment to their own communal organizations as well as to the values of both German and Jewish culture. Yet, finally, the process of economic impoverishment, forced emigration, and physical violence during the Nazi era put an end to the rich historical experience of German Jewry. Carefully researched and accessible to general readers, this fourth volume of German-Jewish History in Modern Times is an indispensable resource for understanding the complex and immensely fruitful role that German Jews played in the history of Central Europe.