Academic journal article Shofar

Juden, Bürger, Deutsche: Zur Geschichte Von Vielfalt Und Differenz, 1800-1933

Academic journal article Shofar

Juden, Bürger, Deutsche: Zur Geschichte Von Vielfalt Und Differenz, 1800-1933

Article excerpt

edited by Andreas Gotzmann, Rainer Liedtke, and Till van Rahden. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001. 444 pp. DM 148.

This volume brings together a remarkable collection of essays on the German Jewish middle classes written by a younger generation of German scholars. Many of those essays grew out of the annual meetings of doctoral students on German-Jewish history organized by the study association of the Leo Baeck Institute in Germany. It is only appropriate that the volume is dedicated to the mentor of those seminars, Reinhard Rümp. Meanwhile, those dissertations are mostly published and present a new direction within German-Jewish historiography, a direction still largely unnoticed outside Germany. The scholars assembled here combine the approach of modern German "Bürgertumsforschung" with the new findings in Jewish history over the last decade. The result is a broad spectrum of essays in social history.

In his systematic introductory essay, Till van Rahden discusses both the role Jews played in German middle class society and the historiography of urban German-Jewish life. His essay, rich in bibliographical references and theoretical observations, serves as an excellent starting point into the subject. Referring to Reinhard Rürup he summarizes 19th-century German history as a history of success, emphasizing, however, the fragile nature of this success and its many internal contradictions. One is tempted to quote Fritz Stem's observation of "the burden of success." There is just one minor shortcoming in van Rahden's most valuable analysis: I would be careful of taking the case of Breslau, as he does, as an example for the development in the German Reich as a whole. The many peculiarities of Breslau as a relatively large and eastern community should be emphasized to the same extent as its commonalities with other communities.

The other fifteen contributions cover a broad range of topics, reaching from Olaf Blaschke's contextualization of bourgeois German-Jewish society within debates of general religious trends and Ulrich Sieg's study on Jewish professors in the humanities to Erik Lindner's analysis of Jews celebrating Schiller and Fichte, Simone Lässig's essay on Jewish school projects during the late period of Emancipation, Rainer Liedtke's view on Jewish welfare systems in Hamburg, and Andreas Reinke's research on the history of the German B'nai Brith lodge. …

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