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Jüdische Geschichte und Kultur



Trials and Transmissions: Mapping the Legacy of the German Refugee Rabbinate

Trials and Transmissions:
Mapping the Legacy of the German Refugee Rabbinate

(DFG-Schwerpunktprogramm "Jewish Cultural Heritage")

Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wilhelm and Dr. Christian Riepl, ITG LMU München

The project focusses on the creation of a digital prosopographic research portal exploring the cultural heritage and legacies of the German refugee rabbinate (over 250 refugee rabbis) in the United States. We aim to present an analytic and communicative digital research tool including a digital edition of articles on these individuals discussing the agency this group gained in the definition of their heritage and legacy after 1945.
Besides persecution, flight, exile and post-exile the database will allow to visualize this refugee group as a whole, as individuals, or as collective, according to specific criteria, such as region of birth, religious affiliation, political activity, etc. As a research tool, it will be able to analyze the mobility of the group, the destruction of their intellectual centers, and their re-establishment after emigration.
Their late returns to Germany gave them unexpected agency in the face of history and an opportunity to act as special moderators of the painful Jewish reality. The former refugees turned into advocates for the existence of Jewish life in the country of the perpetrators, - precisely because of their history. Therefore, the portal will also examine the returns of this refugee group to Germany after 1945 according to purpose and motivation and will collect, display and make accessible the refugees’ discourses on their intellectual heritage, their history and the legacy they were to build as the last of the German rabbinate.

The portal will provide a meta-structure to stimulate further research on this group, and will serve as a platform for interdisciplinary research and communication for a global audience.
The research tool will be developed in an interdisciplinary cooperation with the IT-Gruppe Geisteswissenschaften (ITG) of LMU and will find a permanent home and continuous maintenance there.

Click here for a short video on the project by Breuer's 2 gether!

 Click here for a short video on the project by B'nai B'rith International!


The project is partially based on data from a precursor project see http://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/160974826
and the digital database MIRA, that emerged from that project: http://mira.geschichte.lmu.de/

See also: Cornelia Wilhelm, The Last Generation of the German Rabbinate: German Refugee Rabbis in the United States, 1933-2010, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, forthcoming.