Fotoeins Fotografie

the visible wor(l)d, between Canada & Germany

Posts from the ‘Jewish-German History’ category

Past and present histories of Jewish communities and culture in Germany

The Joys of Yiddish, Mel Bochner, Haus der Kunst, Muenchen, Munich, Bayern, Bavaria, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: The Joys of Yiddish (Munich)

Around the facade of the building for Munich’s Haus der Kunst (House of Art) is a long-term public sculpture by American artist Mel Bochner. His piece is called “The Joys of Yiddish.” Here’s how the Haus der Kunst describes the work:

A word chain in bright yellow letters on a black background contains Yiddish slang words that have found their way into contemporary American English. The colors are reminiscent of the armbands and patches the National Socialists used to stigmatize the Jewish population. An inherent tension exists between their visual impact and the words Jewish ghetto residents used to express unity and defiance during the Third Reich. This connection between the perpetrators’ color and the victims’ language is typical of the subtle provocation that runs through Bochner’s work.

KIBBITZER, a wise guy
KVETCHER, a chronic complainer
NUDNICK, a pain
NEBBISH, a sad sack
NUDZH, a pesterer
MESHUGENER, a crackpot
ALTER KOCKER, a crotchety old man
PISHER, an immature brat
PLOSHER, a blowhard
PLATKE-MACHER, a troublemaker

The Joys of Yiddish, Mel Bochner, Haus der Kunst, Muenchen, Munich, Bayern, Bavaria, Germany, fotoeins.com


I made these two photos on 23 February 2017. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-9vI.

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day:

•   United Nations
•   Yad Vashem
•   US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Outside the Old Jewish Cemetery near Hackesche Höfe in Berlin’s Spandauer Vorstadt is Will Lammert’s sculpture “Jüdische Opfer des Faschismus” (Jewish victims of fascism). The sculpture shows men, women, and children with horror and despair on their faces, directly confronting visitors with an equally direct question: “why?”

More from me in Berlin

•   City’s oldest Jewish cemetery
•   Grunewald train station, track 17
•   Memorial to murdered Jews in Europe
•   Memorial to murdered Sinti and Roma

I made this photograph on 21 November 2012 with the Canon EOS450D, 18-55 kit-lens, and the following settings: 1/25s, f/5, ISO800, and 28mm focal length (45mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-8WN.

Worms’ Holy Sand: The Rabbi and the Patron

From Worms to Rothenburg, and back to Worms

Located near the entrance to Worms’ old Jewish cemetery are gravestones of two important figures in medieval Jewish-German history. The cemetery is also called “Holy Sand”1, and is one of many places of interest in the medieval ShUM league of Jewish cities. The gravestones for Rabbi Meir ben Baruch (centre) and Alexander ben Salomo (right) are shown in the picture below.

Jewish gravestones, Rabbi Meir ben Baruch, Alexander ben Salomon Wimpfen, Juedischer Friedhof, Heiliger Sand, Jewish Cemetery Holy Sand, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, fotoeins.com

Rabbi Meir ben Baruch (centre), Alexander ben Salomo (right)

Rabbi Meir ben Baruch2 was one of the most eminent rabbinic and legal experts of his time in Ashkenaz (medieval Jewish Germany) and throughout western Europe. He was born in Worms around 1215 AD/CE to a family of Talmud scholars. After studies in Mainz, Würzburg, and Paris, he moved to Rothenburg ob der Tauber where over a period of 35 years, he became a leading Talmud scholar and authority, wrote commentary and poetry, and taught and mentored students.

Meir’s strong attachment to the Holy Land eventually influenced his decision to emigrate with his family. Fearing the loss of tax revenue with mass emigration of Jews, King Rudolf the First captured and imprisoned him, and demanded a large sum for his release. Meir forbid the Jewish community to accede to the king’s demands. Meir died in 1293 as prisoner in the fortress near Ensisheim (Alsace).

In 1307 fourteen years after Meir’s death, merchant Alexander ben Salomo (Schlomo)3 paid a large ransom to liberate Meir’s remains and had the latter moved and buried in Worms’ Jewish cemetery. Salomo’s only stipulation was that he’d be buried next to Meir. Salomo died shortly thereafter and his wish was granted. Both Meir’s and Salomo’s gravestones are dated to the same (Gregorian) year of 1307. Gravestone inscriptions in Hebrew and German for Rabbi Meir ben Baruch and Alexander ben Salomo are provided by the Steinheim Institute.

Juedischer Friedhof, Heiliger Sand, Jewish Cemetery Holy Sand, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, fotoeins.com

Notes

1 In the southern section of the cemetery, two gravestones identified and dated to the mid 11th-century make “Holy Sand” (Heiliger Sand) the oldest preserved Jewish cemetery in Europe; more about the “Holy Sand” in a future post.

2 Rabbi Meir ben Baruch was also called “MaHaRaM”, an honorary title derived from “MHRM”, the first letters of the Hebrew moniker “Moreinu Harav Rabbi Meir” (Our teacher, the rabbi, Rabbi Meir).

3 Alexander ben Salomo (Schlomo) was also named Süsskind Wimpfen.

More

•   Rothenburg ob der Tauber: centuries of Jewish history
•   The medieval league of ShUM cities: Shpira, Warmaisa, Magenza

Thanks to Worms Tourismus and Romantic Germany for their advice and support. I made the above photos in Worms on 21 November 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-7VR.

ShUM, SchUM, medieval Jewish cities, Speyer, Shpira, Worms, Warmaisa, Mainz, Magenza, Germany, Ashkenaz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, fotoeins.com

Jewish ShUM on the Rhine: Speyer, Worms, Mainz

When threats of destruction to property and life follow and linger over a group of people through no fault of their own over centuries, there’s something to be said about an eternal need to keep a watchful eye. Words like Verfolgung, Vernichtung, and Vertreibung1 have been etched into memory. I have all this in mind as I explore Jewish history in Germany as part of my need to answer the following question:

How did a nation of people which fostered composers Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Strauss; and writers Goethe, the Brothers Grimm, Heine, Hesse, Heinrich and Thomas Mann, and Schiller sink to the worst depths of human atrocity and depravity in the first half of the 20th-century?

It’s easy to forget Jewish people have lived in what is now Italy and southern Europe since the middle of the 2nd-century BCE and inhabited southern Germany from the late 10th-century AD/CE2. During the High Middle Ages, three important bishopric (and cathedral) cities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz along the Rhine river formed an important league or federation of Jewish communities (Kehillot) from the end of the 10-century to about the mid-to-late 14th-century. The word שו”ם or ShUM (SchUM in German)4 is an acronym consisting of the first letters of the Hebrew names for the three cities:

•   Shin (ש), Sh for Shpira (שפירא) → present-day Speyer;
•   Waw or Vav (ו), U for Warmaisa (וורמש) → present-day Worms;
•   and Mem (ם), M for Magenza (מגנצא) → present-day Mainz.

The ShUM cities became centres for learning, training, religion, culture, and trade within medieval Germany (Ashkenaz3) and throughout Europe. Today, the three ShUM cities establish key destinations for historical travel, provide rich examples for continuing research on medieval Jewish life, and add up to a comprehensive project in recognizing an important chapter of the history of Jews in Germany.

Germany has presently over 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but none of them relate to the long-standing Jewish history in the country. The German federal state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate) submitted the ShUM cities for national consideration in the summer of 2012. Having passed the rigours of internal ranking among other worthy candidates within the national committee, the application entered the UNESCO’s tentative lists for World Heritage Sites in 2015. In 2020, the German Foreign Ministry will submit to UNESCO all documentation relating to the nomination, says Susanne Urban, Managing Director of the ShUM-Cities Association. Urban adds that a final decision by UNESCO regarding the ShUM cities as a new World Heritage Site is not expected until 2021.


( Click here for more )

Römerberg, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Heine’s warning about book burning (Frankfurt)

Most visitors to Frankfurt am Main will stop at the historic Römerberg square for pictures of the surrounding buildings with bank towers in the background. But a glance down onto the cobblestones near the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice) reveals a writer’s stern warning. In the tragedy “Almansor“, the German-Jewish writer Heinrich Heine warned readers about the dangers of burning books:

Das war ein Vorspiel nur. Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.
– Heinrich Heine, “Almansor” (1820-1821)

Heine wrote how burning books is a dangerous omen: “where books are burned, people aren’t far behind.” A little over 100 years later, this prescient line played out as the Nazis took over and targeted in particular Jews. On 10 May 1933 in Frankfurt and in other cities across the country in plans orchestrated by the Propaganda Ministry, tens of thousands including university students loyal to the Nazis gathered to burn books by writers who were Jewish or who were deemed ‘unpatriotic’ or ‘un-German’ to the Nazi ideal. Books by Bertolt Brecht, Sigmund Freud, Heinrich Heine, Erich Kästner, and Heinrich Mann among others were thrown into the fire. The “Gedenkplatte Bücherverbrennung” is a memorial and modern reminder for constant vigilance against the dangerous reasons for book burning and the consequences beyond.

Gedenkplatte Bücherverbrennung, Römerberg, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, fotoeins.com

Gedenkplatte Bücherverbrennung: memorial plaque to 1933 book burning

I made the photos above on 9 May 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-79O.

%d bloggers like this: