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Digibaeck includes thousands of unpublished memoirs that chronicle Jewish life in Germany and in emigration. These documents offer first-hand accounts of experiences as diverse as the revolutions of 1848, emigration to Shanghai, the Kindertransport, and the participation of German Jews in the American civil rights movement of the 1960’s.
Collections representing four generations of the Mendelssohn family, the quintessential German-Jewish dynasty. These range from personal effects and correspondence of the patriarch, enlightenment philosopher Moses Mendelssohn to letters written by his grandson, the composer Felix-Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.
Among the many art books in DigiBack are limited edition volumes containing most of the major works of the illustrators E.M. Lilien, Hugo Steiner-Prag, and Hermann Struck.
Among the artworks in DigiBaeck are many works that attest to the experience of German-speaking Jews under the Nazi regime. These include works secretly created in Theresienstadt by architect Norbert Troller, depictions of refugee and internment camps by Samson Schames, and David L. Bloch’s extensive body of work documenting the Shanghai Ghetto.
Children’s literature digitized by LBI reflects efforts by German-Jewish communities to educate children about Judaism, and even Zionism, an increasingly relevant topic following the Nazi seizure of power in 1933. Some, like the illustrated “Childrens’ Haggadah” remain enduring favorites today.
This early defense of religious tolerance was written by the Christian Hebraist Johannes Reuchlin in rebuttal of a widely discussed proposal to ban all Jewish books.
Jüdisches Ceremoniel (1726), a beautifully illustrated description of Jewish religious ceremonies, rites of passage and feast days intended as a primer on Judaism for 18th century German audience. Its author, Paul Christian Kirchner, was a convert from Judaism who sought to persuade other Jews to follow his example and believed that an informed German public would be more effective at winning converts.
What is extraordinary about this veterinary work designed for equestrians, “Der Vollkommene Pferdekenner”, is the “Anhang” or Appendix, which consists of 36 pages of Hebrew words and phrases which were used by Jewish horse-traders, transliterated into Gothic letters and provided with German definitions. It was intended to give German horse buyers an extra edge in negotiations in an era when many horse dealers were Jewish.
DigiBaeck includes a number of rare recordings of Jewish liturgical music from the 1920s. These shellac 78 rpm records are documents of Jewish religious life as well as the history of the recorded sound industry.
Hundreds of Oral History Interviews are available through DigiBaeck that record the experience of German-Jewish refugees who settled in the United States. They include interviews conducted by the Research Foundation for Jewish Immigration, New York, 1971-1981 as well as interviews conducted by conscientious objectors from Austria who spend a year conducting interviews with former refugees from Austria in lieu of military service.
Amateur films from the 1930’s in a handful of LBI collections offer a unique glimpse of various aspects of daily life in Germany. They include footage of vacationers at a Jewish resort outside Berlin, the 1932 German Championship Soccer match, and family vacations to the Alps and even Palestine.
Leo Baeck Institute receives major support from the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.
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