For ten years now, the Federal Foreign Office has been supporting the Leo Baeck Institute New York|Berlin (LBI) as it preserves and processes the legacy of Jews who emigrated.
During talks with David Detjen, LBI Vice President, and William Weitzer, Executive Director, State Secretary Michaelis was able to gain new insights into the work of the LBI to document the history of German-speaking Jews.
The talks focused on the following questions: What has the LBI preserved that Germany had lost in terms of remembrance and culture? How can access to German-Jewish history be made easier by working more with archive material and online presentations? What lessons can we draw for today’s debate on migration and integration based on the experience of German-speaking Jews in the United States and elsewhere?
“1938 Projekt”: individual stories in a historical context
In 2018, the “1938 Projekt” is a focus of the Institute’s work attracting considerable attention. On the website www.1938projekt.org and on social media, events of the year 1938 are highlighted using personal documents. Letters, diaries and photographs from the LBI archive which had been kept by German-speaking Jews and their families give insights into the stories of individuals in 1938.
The material shows the broad spectrum of reactions and emotions experienced by individuals and families while they tried to flee Germany and Austria in order to survive. The diary entries are supplemented by key global events that provide the historical context behind each individual story.
The Leo Baeck Institute is an academic institution which focuses on documenting and tapping the history of German-speaking Jews. It was set up in 1955 by German-Jewish emigrants including, for example, Martin Buber and Hannah Arendt.
Their aim was to uphold the cultural legacy of German-speaking Jewry which had been almost extinguished by the Holocaust. The Institute was named after the Rabbi Leo Baeck, a leading figure of German-speaking Jewry during the National Socialist period.
Leo Baeck was the first President of the Institute whose centres were set up simultaneously in New York, London and Jerusalem. The vast majority of its material was given to the Institute for safekeeping by the Jewish refugees themselves or their descendants.