This is the story of the reemergence of the Jewish community in Germany after its near total destruction during the Holocaust. In western Germany, the community needed to overcome deep cultural, religious, and political differences before uniting. In eastern Germany, the small Jewish community struggled against communist opposition. After coalescing, both Jewish communities, largely isolated by the international Jewish community, looked to German political leaders and the two German governments for support. Through relationships with key German leaders, they achieved stability by 1953, when West Germany agreed to pay reparations to Israel and to individual Holocaust survivors and East Germany experienced a wave of antisemitic purges. Using archival materials from the Jewish communities of East and West Germany as well as governmental and political party records, Geller elucidates the reestablishment of organized Jewish life in Germany and the Jews' critical ties to political leaders.
The evocative and riveting stories of four brothers--Gershom the Zionist, Werner the Communist, Reinhold the nationalist, and Erich the liberal--weave together in The Scholems, a biography of an eminent middle-class Jewish Berlin family and a social history of the Jews in Germany in the decades leading up to World War II. Across four generations, Jay Howard Geller illuminates the transformation of traditional Jews into modern German citizens, the challenges they faced, and the ways that they shaped the German-Jewish century, beginning with Prussia's emancipation of the Jews in 1812 and ending with exclusion and disenfranchisement under the Nazis. Focusing on the renowned philosopher and Kabbalah scholar Gershom Scholem and his family, their story beautifully draws out the rise and fall of bourgeois life in the unique subculture that was Jewish Berlin. Geller portrays the family within a much larger context of economic advancement, the adoption of German culture and debates on Jewish identity, struggles for integration into society, and varying political choices during the German Empire, World War I, the Weimar Republic, and the Nazi era. What Geller discovers, and unveils for the reader, is a fascinating portal through which to view the experience of the Jewish middle class in Germany.
As German Jews emigrated in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and as exiles from Nazi Germany, they carried the traditions, culture, and particular prejudices of their home with them. At the same time, Germany--and Berlin in particular--attracted both secular and religious Jewish scholars from eastern Europe. They engaged in vital intellectual exchange with German Jewry, although their cultural and religious practices differed greatly, and they absorbed many cultural practices that they brought back to Warsaw or took with them to New York and Tel Aviv. After the Holocaust, German Jews and non-German Jews educated in Germany were forced to reevaluate their essential relationship with Germany and Germanness as well as their notions of Jewish life outside of Germany. Among the first volumes to focus on German-Jewish transnationalism, this interdisciplinary collection spans the fields of history, literature, film, theater, architecture, philosophy, and theology as it examines the lives of significant emigrants. The individuals whose stories are reevaluated include German Jews Ernst Lubitsch, David Einhorn, and Gershom Scholem, the architect Fritz Nathan and filmmaker Helmar Lerski; and eastern European Jews David Bergelson, Der Nister, Jacob Katz, Joseph Soloveitchik, and Abraham Joshua Heschel--figures not normally associated with Germany. Three-Way Street addresses the gap in the scholarly literature as it opens up critical ways of approaching Jewish culture not only in Germany, but also in other locations, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.