Simon Dubnow Institute
for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

Courses at the Simon Dubnow Institute, Winter Semester 2017/2018

Module 03-HIS-0410 »European History of the Jews« (you have to choose two seminars of all  three, a total of four semester hours)

The two courses comprise the module »European History of the Jews« (03-HIS-0410) in the MA program »Medieval and Modern History« in the Department of History. The courses are open to students registered in the MA program »European Studies« and the previous MA and Teacher Training degree programs of the Department of History, the Institute for Cultural Studies and the Institute for Political Science at Leipzig University. The courses are also open to students in the Master program »History and Politics of the Twentieth Century« at Friedrich Schiller University, Jena.


The Emergence of the Modern Refugee Law. Jewish Migration and Flight in the First Half of the Twentieth Century

Instructors:  Dr. Elisabeth Gallas/Martin Jost, M. A.


Time: Monday, 15.15–16.45 pm (2 SWS)

Place: Simon Dubnow Institute, Goldschmidtstr. 28

First Session: Monday, 9 October 2017


Description: The 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention established for the first time a set of generally binding norms for the treatment of refugees. It was the result of a process that began to a marked degree with World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy, the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, following which the international community of states was confronted with hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants. The particular laws established internationally in the aftermath of these events proved to be insufficient in the 1930s in the context of the Nazi assumption of power and the resulting expulsions and flights. In the period from 1917 to 1951, Jews were as »refugees par excellence« (Salomon Adler-Rudel) especially subject to specific forms of forced emigration and an existence in transit or transfer. Focusing on this group, this seminar will expound central historical aspects of general refugee politics such as the definition of the refugee, his/her legal standing, and forms of institutionalizing aid as they manifested themselves in the tension between national sovereignty and statelessness. Parallel to this, the causes of, circumstances of, and hindrances to migration and flight will be analyzed, individual and collective experiences in various parts of Europe will be taken into account, and the early theorization appertaining to Jewish legal scholars and political theoreticians such as Hannah Arendt and Jacob Robinson will be considered in their contemporary contexts.


Literature: Michael R. Marrus, Die Unerwünschten – The Unwanted. Europäische Flüchtlinge im 20. Jahrhundert, Berlin et al. 1999.


Number of participants: limited to 25. As a prerequisite for credit, participants are required to prepare a paper for oral presentation to the seminar.


Available to students in the special pensioners' study program: no


The Century of the Intellectuals – German/French Border Crossing

Instructors: PD Dr. Jan Gerber


Time: Thursday, 11.15 am – 12.45 .15 pm (2 SWS) 

Place: Simon Dubnow Institute, Goldschmidtstr. 28

First Session: Thursday, 19 October 2017


Description: The concept of the intellectual was a fixed component of French political culture during the twentieth century. Initially used as an insult against the Jewish artillery officer Alfred Dreyfus by right-wing conservatives, many scholars, writers, and other artists soon began using the term as an honorific. By contrast, the term did not become commonplace in Germany until much later. Where it was used, it was with the same contemptuous undertone that had accompanied its first appearance. The term was applied less to those, as Thomas Jung and Stefan Müller-Dohm put it in their »Soziologie des Intellektuellen,« who »express criticism as individuals on behalf of everyone,« to ostensible quarrelers, agitators, and outsiders. The word »Jewish« was often attached to the concept of the intellectual. This seminar will focus not only on the emergence of the modern intellectual, but also on the conceptual transformation of the meaning of this term in German/French cross-border discourse. Through a focus on French and German debates, the impact of particular intellectuals including Albert Camus, Raymond Aron, Hannah Arendt, Jean Améry, and Theodor W. Adorno will be examined alongside the historical and political contexts of their actions.

As the seminar is conceived as a reading course, and the primary sources therefore serve as the basis for both the seminar discussions and the written examinations, the introductory literature is a prerequisite for taking the course.


Literature: The key texts for the course will be made available at the beginning of the semester in the library of the DI.




Number of participants: limited to 25. As a prerequisite for credit, participants are required to prepare a paper for oral presentation to the seminar.





Available to students in the special pensioners' study program: no






Exhibiting Hannah Arendt




Instructors: Prof. Dr. Raphael Gross/Dr. Monika Boll



Time (block seminar): Friday, 20 October 2017, 10 am – 1 pm and 2–5.30 pm; Thursday, 25 January 2018, 9 am – 1 pm and 2–6 pm; Friday, 26 January 2018, 9 am – 1 pm and 2 am – 6 pm

Place: Simon Dubnow Institute, Goldschmidtstr. 28


Description: Hannah Arendt is regarded as one of the most eminent analyst, political theorist, and philosopher of the twentieth century. She is the only internationally recognized German political scientist who has been studied from Russia to China and from the USA to Finland. This seminar aims to develop an exhibition conveying Hannah Arendt as an almost iconic figure, as an eminent personality of Jewish and German Jewish history as well as of the history of political thought. The seminar will combine theory and practice insofar as the Deutsche Historische Museum (German Historical Museum) is planning an exhibition on Arendt in collaboration with the seminar organizers. Participants are encouraged not only to study the central elements of Hannah Arendt's work as well as the key aspects of her biography, but also to engage with material approaches and questions of musealization.


Various sub-themes will be presented in an introductory meeting at the beginning of the semester.


Literature: Hannah Arendt, Zu Besuch in Deutschland. Trans. from the American by Eike Geisel, Berlin 1993 (American: The Aftermath of Nazi Rule, New York 1950); Wolfgang Heuer, Hannah Arendt. Mit Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten, 7., updated ed., Reinbek 2004; Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt. Leben, Werk und Zeit. Trans. from the American by Hans Günter Holl, Frankfurt a. M. 2004 (American: New Haven, Conn./London 1982); Arendt-Handbuch. Leben – Werk – Wirkung, ed. by Wolfgang Heuer and Stefanie Rosenmüller, Stuttgart/Weimar 2011; Hannah Arendt, Ich will verstehen. Selbstauskünfte zu Leben und Werk. Mit einer vollständigen Bibliographie, ed. by Ursula Ludz, Munich/Zurich 2005 (new ed.; first publ.: Munich/Zurich 1996).


Literature: The number of participants is limited to 20. Participation is conditional on delivering a presentation during the block seminar at the end of the Semester.


Available to students in the special pensioners' study program: yes


Registration: Registration online begins on 25 September at noon and extends until 29 September 2017 (at noon): To clarify questions that may arise, please contact:


Assessment: term paper also required.



Bachelor of Arts History/Master of Arts Medieval and Modern History, Advanced module of study 03-HIS-0312/03-HIS-0511




Basic Problems of Jewish and General History in the Modern Era




Transnational Entanglements – Jewish Institutions in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries



Instructors: Dr. Arndt Engelhardt/Annette Wolf, M. A.


Time: Wednesday, 5:15–6:45 p.m. (every other week)

Place: Simon Dubnow Institute, Goldschmidtstr. 28


Description: Institutions create spheres of activity and induce continuity. However, their function – to paraphrase Adorno – is subject to negotiation, following not only the idea guiding their activity but also their interest in self-perpetuation. A range of Jewish institutions will be examined here from an institutional history perspective, examining structures as well as processes of negotiation. Following the cessation of the corporative structure of Jewish communities, the long nineteenth century witnessed a phase of institutionalization resulting in a swathe of political, cultural, and religious associations and interest groups. Due to their diasporic and deterritorialized context, these took on a special significance for the spheres and possibilities of activity of Jewish agents. This condition changed with the founding of the State of Israel, yet retained some meaning through the twentieth century. This research colloquium in the winter semester of 2017/18 will examine the tension between national traditions and transnational structures with regard to Jewish institutions.


Available to students in the special pensioners' study program: yes


For further information about presenters and time schedule.


Registration: Please register individually by email to Marion Hammer (secretariat).