Jewish Daily Life in Germany, 1618-1945 / Edition 1

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From the seventeenth century until the Holocaust, Germany's Jews lurched between progress and setback, between fortune and terrible misfortune. German society shunned Jews in the eighteenth century and opened unevenly to them in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, only to turn murderous in the Nazi era. By examining the everyday lives of ordinary Jews, this book portrays the drama of German-Jewish history — the gradual ascent of Jews from impoverished outcasts to comfortable bourgeois citizens and then their dramatic descent into genocidal torment during the Nazi years. Building on social, economic, religious, and political history, it focuses on the qualitative aspects of ordinary life — emotions, subjective impressions, and quotidian perceptions. How did ordinary Jews and their families make sense of their world? How did they construe changes brought about by industrialization? How did they make decisions to enter new professions or stick with the old, juggle traditional mores with contemporary ways? The Jewish adoption of secular, modern European culture and the struggle for legal equality exacted profound costs, both material and psychological. Even in the heady years of progress, a basic insecurity informed German-Jewish life. Jewish successes existed alongside an antisemitism that persisted as a frightful leitmotif throughout German-Jewish history. And yet the history that emerges from these pages belies simplistic interpretations that German antisemitism followed a straight path from Luther to Hitler. Neither Germans nor Jews can be typecast in their roles vis à vis one another. Non-Jews were not uniformly antisemitic but exhibited a wide range of attitudes towards Jews. Jewish daily life thus provides another vantage point from which to study the social life of Germany. Focusing on both internal Jewish life — family, religion, culture and Jewish community — and the external world of German culture and society provides a uniquely well-rounded portrait of a world defined by the shifting sands of inclusion and exclusion.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This volume and its focus on daily lives succeeds admirably in making visible the complexities and varied practices of individuals that are too often muffled by sociopolitical and intellectual histories and their focus on structural processes."—Nils Roemer, Journal of Modern History

"By following the changing experience of the environment of Jewish existence as well as the social relations with non-Jews over a long time-span, the text affords readers a unique historical perspective and access to a great body of information culled from unusual sources."—CHOICE

"This is an innovative book, drawing on a wealth of sources to create a compelling portrait of how Jews lived in Germany from the 17th to the 20th century. It is especially strong in its depiction of the variety of Jewish-Christian relations."—Paula E. Hyman, Yale University

"This book represents a major contribution to the social history of German Jewry. It offers a wealth of detail on the lives of ordinary Jews who have largely escaped historiographical scrutiny and have thus implicitly been robbed of historical agency in favor of members of the Jewish elites of wealth and learning. The book depicts not only the social, economic, and cultural transformation of German Jewry across three centuries but also—and more importantly—the tremendous variety of Jewish life across the jigsaw puzzle of the German lands."—Derek Penslar, University of Toronto

"Those who have read books about Jews in Germany and decide to plunge into this book with the impression they are already well informed about the lost Jewish life in our country, will certainly discover something else. With many anecdotes and personal remembrances incorporated with scholarly research perspectives...this book deals first of all with the fate of ordinary Jews and their individual experiences, expectations, fears, perceptions and mentalities."—Das Parlament

"There are numerous studies about Antisemitism but remarkably few about the daily lives of the Jewish citizens of Germany. Here the editor Marion Kaplan and her co-authors enter into new territory... The authors manage to create a pioneering study, which corrects many stereotypes. By focusing on individual experiences they show the many different ways in which Jews in Germany reacted to the ever changing circumstances of ostracism and acceptance."—Die Zeit

"A rich history that points to important new avenues of research. This marvelous book enriches our understanding of Jewish and German history considerably. Essential reading." —Journal of Interdisciplinary History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195171648
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/3/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Marion A. Kaplan is Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History at New York University. Robert Liberles is Professor of Modern Jewish History at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, Israel. Steven Lowenstein is the Isadore Levine Professor of Jewish History at the University of Judaism. Trude Maurer is Professor of East European and Modern History, University of Goettingen.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I On the threshold of modernity : 1618-1780
Pt. II The beginning of integration, 1780-1870
Pt. III As Germans and as Jews in imperial Germany
Pt. IV From everyday life to a state of emergency : Jews in Weimar and Nazi Germany
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