Material Traces of Jewish German Lifeworlds in Eastern Europe

The project »Material Traces of Jewish German Lifeworlds in Eastern Europe. Book Collections and Libraries after World War Two« was dedicated to Jewish material cultures in the twentieth century, especially their history of destruction, dispersal, and restitution in Central and Eastern Europe. It reconstructed agents and organizations as well as the processes of salvation and transfer of objects that they initiated, focusing on the question of how the stocks of tradition they managed to preserve endured, changed, and were reinterpreted in new places, new contexts, and new conditions.

One study in the framework of this project explores the so-called »Silesians' Library« of the German-Jewish textile manufacturer Max Pinkus (1857–1934) from Neustadt in Upper Silesia. During the Nazi period, this library was forcibly sold to public libraries in Germany and then subjected to further dispersal and destruction during World War Two and the turmoil of the postwar period.

The Jewish history of East-Central Europe in the twentieth century from the perspective of material and object history also formed the focus of the international research colloquium »Jewish Material Cultures in East Central Europe in the 20th Century,« which took place in the summer semester of 2019. Of particular interest here were central locations and institutions such as Jewish theological seminaries, museums, libraries, and collections in the period before, during, and after World War Two. In the framework of this project, we were also able to host fellows from Israel and Poland at the Dubnow Institute.


The research project was funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM).