Jews and Germans Promise, Tragedy, and the Search for Normalcy

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  • Guenter Lewy (author)
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About the Book

Jews and Germans is the only book in English to delve fully into the history and challenges of the German-Jewish relationship, from before the Holocaust to the present day.

The Weimar Republic era—the fifteen years between Germany’s defeat in WWI (1918) and Hitler’s accession (1933)— has been characterized as a time of unparalleled German-Jewish concord and collaboration. Even though Jews constituted less than one percent of the German population, they occupied a significant place in German literature, music, the theatre, journalism, science, and many other fields.  Was that German -Jewish relationship truly reciprocal? How has it evolved since the Holocaust, and what can it become?

Beginning with the German Jews’ struggle for emancipation, Lewy delves into Jewish life during the heyday of the Weimar Republic (Jewish writers, left-wing intellectuals, combat veterans, adult and youth organizations); and the disparate responses when the Nazis assumed power. He then examines Jewish life in post-war West Germany, in East Germany (where Jewish Communists searched for a second German-Jewish symbiosis based on Marxist principles), and finally in the united Germany—enlightening us about the complexities of fraught relationships over time.

“It is a remarkable and most enviable achievement when a distinguished scholar well on into his tenth decade completes yet another work of scholarship that at least equals and at points surpasses his earlier important work.  Everything Lewy explores, he illuminates, bringing serious scholarship, clarity, intellectual balance, careful consideration of even the most controversial of issues, and insights galore, to the most complex of relationship between Germans and Jews.”– Michael Berenbaum, Professor, Jewish Studies, American Jewish University

“An impressive work—comprehensive and magisterial in its overview and detail. Moreover, having lived these tragic events, Lewy generously shares his personal experience, making this a unique and valuable source book that every informed reader and library must have.”  –Peter Loewenberg, Professor of History, UCLA

Guenter Lewy

Guenter Lewy (PhD, Columbia University, 1957) is professor emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and the author of seventeen books, most recently Perpetrators: The World of the Holocaust Killers (Oxford University Press, 2017). Born in 1923 in Breslau (then Germany, now Wroclaw, Poland), he emigrated to the British mandate in Palestine in early 1939, working in a kibbutz until late 1942. With Rommel at the gates of Alexandria, Lewy volunteered for the British Army, and served in the Jewish Brigade which fought in Italy as part of Montgomery’s Eighth Army. After his discharge in 1946 he came to the United States.

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