Yiddish-speaking travelogues and eyewitness accounts on Jewish life in Nazi Germany

Commented source edition project


Anne-Christin Klotz

Between 1933 and 1939, several dozen Jewish journalists writing for the Jewish press in Poland traveled to or through Nazi Germany to cover political developments and Jewish life in the Third Reich from an investigative, ethnographic and uniquely Eastern European-Jewish point of view, and for a Polish-Jewish readership. Through their personal and professional experience, they were able to document and interpret National Socialism from a dual perspective. As traveling Jewish journalists from Eastern Europe they were “outsiders” from German society and from the German-Jewish experience, as anti-Jewish policies did affect them in a different way. However, as Jews travelling through Nazi Germany (and sometimes staying for weeks or months), they were also “insiders” with access to German-Jewish and Eastern-European-Jewish migrant Lebenswelten (living milieus), who also had to fear antisemitic violence and terror.

Focusing on various topics like the behavior of ordinary Germans, to the difference between antisemitic violence in province towns and bigger cities, these travelogues transport informal Jewish self-help practices and secret knowledge, which circulated among Jews in Nazi Germany. This accumulated and interpreted knowledge shaped the images millions of Polish Jews had during the 1930s when thinking about Nazi Germany and German-Jewish life. Thus, not only can the sources shed new light on Jewish daily life in Nazi Germany as well as the behavior of non-Jewish Germans during the 1930s, but these reports also offer insight into the perception Eastern European Jews had of German Jews, and therefore undermine the more established perspective of Western Jews looking on Jews in the East. The proposed articles will represent a nuanced selection of travelogues and reportages from various topics and aspects of Jewish life and/or Nazi-ideology, anti-Semitic violence and Jewish/non-Jewish relationships and will also reflect on the various political backgrounds of the journalists.