Collections

German-Speaking Jews and Zionism: 1862-1941

Undated (likely pre-WWI) postcard from the Jewish National Fund AR 2536. This postcard depicts the certificate awarded for a donation to support the planting of five or more olive trees in Palestine at a cost of 6 marks per tree.

This fall, LBI will present an exhibition entitled German-Speaking Jews and Zionism, 1862 – 1941 at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, a historic reform congregation in the nation’s capital. This exhibition will highlight material from LBI collections on the pre-Zionist era and the early years of the Zionist movement in the 20TH century until 1941.

Moritz Steinschneider (1816 – 1907)

Moritz Steinschneider (1816 – 1907)

Steinschneider’s magnum opus about Jewish translations of the Middle Ages shows how Arabic and Hebrew writers were instrumental in the transfer of classical Greek knowledge to Europe and Western culture.

Esriel Hildesheimer (1820 – 1899)

Esriel Hildesheimer (1820 – 1899)

Hildesheimer believed strongly in the principle of Torah im derekh erez (Torah and worldly knowledge): that halakhic observance was not only compatible with the study of science and other secular subjects, but that both were necessary to recognize and become close to God.

Zacharias Frankel (1801 – 1875)

Zacharias Frankel (1801 – 1875)

Zacharias Frankel was one of the leading advocates for Conservative Judaism in Germany. As a proponent of “positive historical Judaism” he held that Reform Judaism ignored the national component of Judaism and focused mainly on its intellectual aspects.

Abraham Geiger (1810 – 1874)

Abraham Geiger (1810 – 18

One of the leading figures of the Reform Judaism movement, Abraham Geiger believed that Judaism was not a given quantity or a national law but a process still in flux; tradition itself was the result of this continuous process of growth.

Leopold Zunz (1794 – 1886)

In December 1817, Leopold Zunz, an instructor at a Jewish school in Wolfenbüttel, wrote an essay entitled Etwas über die Rabbinische Litteratur (“On Rabinnical Literature”). This little book marks an epoch in the history of modern Jewish scholarship.

WWI Art—Hermann Struck’s portraits of Muslim POWs

Raupratta Chan, Punjabi, 1916, Etching by Hermann Struck.

As empires clung to their supremacy and nationalist movements advanced an opposing vision of the link between ethnicity and state, troop movements and migrations brought people from across the globe into contact with one another. Artists like Hermann Struck, a Zionist and orthodox Jew from Berlin, turned an ethnographic lens on various groups of “exotic”…

WWI Photographs—Bernhard Bardach, an Austrian military surgeon

A German cavalry regiment (Uhlanen))

Bernhard Bardach was a 48-year-old career medical officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army when war broke out. He served on the Eastern and Western fronts, but he was able to spend much of his time during the war painting, writing extensive diaries, and taking over 900 remarkable photographs which have been digitized by LBI. Bernhard Bardach…

WWI Memoirs—Helmut Freund, a physician from Berlin

A page from Helmut Freund's Memoir

About 300 memoirs in LBI collections describe the experiences of Jewish soldiers in the German and Austro-Hungarian armies, from ordinary infantrymen to celebrated pilots to physicians and Jewish field chaplains. Helmut Freund was born around 1896 in Berlin and served as an auxiliary physician in the German Army. Like many highly assimilated, middle-class German Jews…

WWI Correspondence—Karl Henschel, a Volunteer from Berlin

Karl Henschel Collection, AR 6433

During the first year of the war, German soldiers sent six million letters every day, and received another 8.5 million. Soldiers’ letters were almost immediately instrumentalized to shape public perceptions about the war, and the publication of letters quickly became an important way of memorializing the fallen, who came in unprecedented numbers. Among the first…