Jews and Other Germans: Civil Society, Religious Diversity, and Urban Politics in Breslau, 1860–1925 (George L. Mosse Series in the History of European Culture, Sexuality, and Ideas) (Paperback)
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Jews and Other Germans is the first social and cultural history to probe the parameters of Jewish integration in the half century between the founding of the German Empire in 1871 and the early Weimar Republic. Questioning received wisdom about German-Jewish assimilation and the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism in Imperial Germany, van Rahden’s prize-winning book restores some of the complexity and openness of relations between Protestants, Catholics, and Jews before World War I. Closely analyzing the political, social, and cultural life in a major German city, van Rahden shows that Jews were a part of a broad urban community that encompassed diversity within unity, at once offering them a large measure of equality while permitting them to remain meaningfully Jewish. Jews and Other Germans also substantially revises the chronology of anti-Semitism in Germany, showing that Jews only began to experience exclusion from Breslau’s social world during World War I. Yet van Rahden not only illuminates Breslau’s multicultural fabric; he also tells the story of this remarkable city as one of cultural and religious conflict and coexistence. Recounting the experiences of Jews, Protestants, and Catholics within a single narrative, he offers a critical intervention into scholarship on liberalism and civil society in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe.
About the Author
Till van Rahden holds the Canada Research Chair in German and European Studies and is associate professor in the department of literature and modern languages at the Université de Montréal. Marcus Brainard earned his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Osnabrück, Germany, and is the editor and translator of numerous works of philosophy and history.
“Grounded in the concept of ‘situational ethnicity,’ Till van Rahden’s prize-winning study meticulously maps the contours of Jewish societal integration in pre-1914 Breslau, a late nineteenth-century ‘metropolis on the Oder.’ Tracking the coalescence of this self-confident bourgeois society through the city’s histories of associational life, family, and schooling, he adds just as impressively to our understanding of German liberalism as he does to the social relations binding together other Germans and Jews. This is a very major contribution.”—Geoff Eley, Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History, University of Michigan
“Breslau, the Silesian city now the Polish metropolis of Wroclaw, was one of the great centers for Jewish culture in Imperial and Weimar Germany. Till van Rahden’s magisterial study of the Jews of Breslau is the definitive examination of their history, culture, and the ambivalences inherent in their world. Well documented, well translated, and coherently presented, this is truly a tale of Jews suspended between East and West, between Germans and Poles, Reform Judaism and Modern Orthodoxy, between Catholics and Protestants, between modern “scientific” education and traditional learning. A basic study of Central European Jewry for all readers.”—Sander L. Gilman, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, Emory University
“In his scrupulously researched study of Breslau, van Rahden does what few historians of Germany have managed: write a German history in which Jews are not marginal, but central to the question of modern German history. Nor does he depict them as merely victims of anti-Semitism. In Breslau’s lively ethnically and religiously diverse polity and society, van Rahden deftly traces the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion. But he also shows how Jews sustained their own communities even as they participated in the political and social lives of their city. The first successful integration of German and Jewish history, his book should become a standard for future scholarship in both fields.”—Marion Kaplan, Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History, New York University
“A pathbreaking book in German-Jewish history.”—David Sorkin, author of The Transformation of German Jewry, 1780–1840