Some weeks ago I was in a book store trying to find a gift for a friend - while researching through the shelves I found a 'Bildband' (hmm what's that in english - it's one of those oversize books with a lot of pictures or images in it - in most cases used for art or foto books) - the title was "Jews in Germany" - Undertitle: 'From Roman Times to the Weimar Republic' by Nachum T. Gidal. - it was in english - that's very seldom to see English books in German book stories, but only in special sections & then they are so over-expensive - I usually buy my english books in amazon - there they are much more cheaper (please amazon give me my provision for my commercials!) - This book was signed with a price of € 15,99 - but was lowered in price to 5,99. - I once had read in my youth a book with the story of the jews in Europe - there was persecution & progroms in almost any country of Europe - I forgot the title of that book - I want to have it again, because it's always good to have good arguments with proofed history background against stupid people like racists & anti-semites.
After I'd bought that book I wasn't dissapointed afterwards. It was not just another holocaust book, because it isn't a holocaust book at all!. Actually it stopped just before the Hitler-Reich has started. The "Weimarer Republic" was after the I.st world war the first try in Germany of democracy - there where the communists & the socialist & the deep brown rights & maybe some other few of democratical parties - I think there were a lot of good forces here in Germany, socialists, reformist, believers of equal rights influenced by the french revolution etc. - but the bad, right winged, military law & order, nationalistic forces were stronger & supported by the stupid masses of 'Volk' (the people) ruled then & we know what then happened.
Nachum T. Gidal wrote in the foreword: "I have sometimes been asked why I did not continue the history of the Jews until 1945. From 1933 it was no longer a history of the Jews in Germany, but a history common to all European Jews, on of humiliation, persecution and muerder by an indescribably brutal dictarship."
So in this book he writes in a 20 pages long Introduction all the facts about Jewish History in Germany, the spiritual influences, the first curlture centers, of course also about persecution times an restrictions, but mainly about the personalities of Jews in all the different times, from Rabbis, to writers, to businessmen, to politicians, to Jews in Music, Theater, Photojournalism, Producers, Actors etc., Painters, Sculptors, and Graphic Artists, - political & zionistic, pro-deutsch movements etc. & especially the important role Jews once had in German culture, if not stupid religious or politic, antisemitic restrictions suppressed them. There were some few highlights of jewish-german enrichment of culture & appreciation- Heinrich Heine, born 1797, the german-jewish writer who converted to Christianity "as not to stay a pariah in his beloved Germany" - But when later he applied as a Doctor of Jurisprudence he was rejected a being a Jew. 2 years later he emigrated to Paris. - But he has been before already a famous poet in Germany close connected from students time on in Germany to a society of other young German writers -
He wrote about this, desperate in his inner strife:
"Das deutsche Herz in meiner Brust
Ist plötzlich krank geworden,
Der einzige Arzt, der es heilen kann,
Der wohnt daheim im Norden".
"The German heart in my breast
has suddenly become sick
the only doctor who can heal it
lives at home in the north"
"This remained the inner leitmotif of his personal tragedy as a Jew and as a German."
there were times when Germany was one of the first culture centers of Jewish life, but again & again through the centuries followes by waves of persecution, startin in about 1000 a.d by the catholic popes decrets, the following Templars etc. & from then on & on grounded by religious prejudice, that even later on the against catholic tyranny revolting Martin Luther followed, - when he found out, that the Jews couldn't be convinced to Christianity & then wrote his theses against the Jews with his highest recommandments to persecute them -
the first real emancipation of Jews Germany started in the end of the 19ths century & ended definetly at the end of the Weimarer Republic - this could have been a wonderful start, but then the Barbarians took over.
We all know the holocaust & have seen all these terrible history & pictures about it. - so - this book doesn't tell about what we already know - It appreciates & tells about all significant, important Jewish personalities in Germany's last 2 thousand years, but tells also the processes of permanent mainly religious antisemitism that lead finally to the final act of genozide in Hitler's Reich -
& what Heinrich Heine already foresaw: "Do not smile at the fantasists...and when one day you hear one cracking such as never was heard before in the history of the world, then you will know: the German thunder has finally reached it's target...Germany will stage a performance next to which the French Revolution will seem a harmless idyll."
Since this book tells so much about jewish life in 2 milleniums, some personalities are not really described, but just mentioned, like Kafka, & some other Jewish writers like Zweig, - & of course he couldn't give much information about Einstein & Freud. - But these are all so well known, that it's easy to get more information about them.. he couldn't get in too much detail in this big frame.
Since Professor Nachum Gidal was a photojournalist - there is a lot of photo's & old documents included in this book - it's a real treasure book!
I really can recommand this book Since I bought it some weeks ago,- I have meanwhile bought 4 other exemplars - just to spread it - they are already given away & if available I try to get 2 more exemplars this week, cos I know 1 person who probably would like to read & may find another interested on..
- I think everybody here around should know these historical facts. It's in english & in spite of that most people here learn for about at least 3 years or 5 or 6 - Why do the mass of them refuse to read english books? - If I wouldn't read english, I'd feel very provincial & retarded - the information performance center is nowaday in english - who even rejects such a simple language is excluded of most percent of information that flow nowadays around in the world, especially in internet. - Hmm some people just resist english & if they refuse english, than of course they hate to be confronted with any other language..
"Jews in Germany" by Nachum T. Gidal is available in a lot of bookstores & you can get it probably by amazon etc. - So if you're interested - just buy it.