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Biographical/Historical Information

Zvi Asaria was born as Hermann Helfgott in the village of Beodra in Banat (Novo Miloševo, Serbia) in 1913. He studied theology in Sarajevo, and then continued his rabbinical education in Vienna while studying philosophy at the university. After graduating in Budapest and being ordained, he was elected rabbi of Veliki Beckerek in Yugoslavia (Zrenjanin, Serbia) in 1940. Serving in the Yugoslavian army in 1941, he was captured and detained in German POW camps for four years. After the liberation, Rabbi Asaria went to the Bergen-Belsen DP camp to help survivors. He was appointed Chief Rabbi of the British occupied zone in Germany and acted as representative of the survivors vis-à-vis British institutions. Rabbi Asaria emigrated to Israel in 1948 and worked for the Israeli Defense Forces for five years. 1953-1970, he was Chief Rabbi of Cologne and then in Lower Saxony, before returning to Israel and publishing books on Judaism, the Holocaust and philosophy. Rabbi Zvi Asaria died in 2002.

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Leo Baeck and Zvi Asaria : Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland, Düsseldorf, Leo Baeck Institute, F 19417.