Constructing a German-Jewish Heimat: Berthold Rosenthal’s Heimat History of the Jews of Baden
Title: Constructing a German-Jewish Heimat: Berthold Rosenthal’s Heimat History of the Jews of Baden
Author: DERMAN, Joshua
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2010/13
This paper examines how the historian Berthold Rosenthal (1875–1957) mobilized the idea of Heimat to address the challenges of being both German and Jewish during the Weimar Republic. By conceiving of the Jewish communites of Baden as a Heimat, Rosenthal put a novel twist on the traditional definition of Heimat as a purely geographic entity. The literal construction of a German-Jewsh Heimat identity, out of diverse regional communities, allowed Rosenthal not only to emphasize the Germanness of Baden’s Jews, but also to call attention to the ways that Jews constituted a unique and coherent community within the German nation. This appropriation of Heimat discourse served to show how German Jews could be proud Germans and Jews at one and the same time. That Rosenthal could use the language of the Heimat movement to articulate his anxieties about Jewish identity indicates that the problem of “provincialism”—whether conceived in regional, religious or class terms—was widespread in early twentieth-century Germany. Rosenthal’s notion of a German-Jewish Heimat suggests that the struggle to forge multicultural identities is not a phenomenon unique to our post-modern age, but rather the twentieth century’s Eigenart.
Subject: German History; German Jews; Nationalism; Multiculturalism; Historiography
Type of Access: openAccess