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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Jewish Social History in the Nineteenth And Early Twentieth Centuries


In the last fifteen years to twenty years there has been an extraordinary upsurge of interest in Jewish history in Germany. For a long time attention was focused almost entirely on questions of persecution, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; but since the 1980s there has been more wide-ranging and also more intensive preoccupation with Jewish history. However, this applies only to a very limited extent to the Jewish communities in Germany, which have now grown again. At least half the present members are Russian immigrants who have arrived in the past twenty years; only a few members are still connected through their family background to German-Jewish history of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The new interest in Jewish history stems very largely from educated non-Jews - in Germany they are the main audience for the public events and publications on this theme, and most of the scholars, writers, journalists and cultural managers working in this field are also recruited from this group. Not only in the USA but also in Germany, though on a much smaller scale, the number of professorships and institutes for Jewish history and culture has risen considerably, and students’ interest in these subjects continues to grow. The workshops for doctoral candidates in German-Jewish history spanning several days which I conducted on behalf of the Leo Baeck Institute from 1991 to 1999 were attended by a total of 133 doctoral candidates from 45 German and 12 foreign universities. These included - with neighbouring disciplines taken into account - almost 110 dissertation projects in the field of modern German-Jewish history. This work is now being continued, no less successfully, by Michael Brenner, Professor of Jewish History and Culture at Munich University.

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