chapter  Chapter 1
24 Pages

“I am a Jew and hold Prussian citizenship”

The cultural and political reorientation of a generation
WithAngelica Löwe

Chapter 1 introduces the socio-historical conditions, the spiritual climate and the religious environment of Jewish life in early 20th century Germany, especially in Berlin. The intellectual career of Erich Neumann, born in 1905 to a bourgeois family, clearly bears the traces left by World War I, as major historical rupture, in Jewish self-consciousness: anti-Semitism, already on the rise during the war years, made the new generation question the previously valid concept of Jewish assimilation. Neumann’s entry into the Zionist Federation exemplifies the deep generational rupture between assimilated Jewish parents and their children, who were enthused by Martin Buber’s “Jewish Renaissance” and searching for the roots of their Judaism. Various entries in his diary from this period reflect Neumann’s emotional and spiritual turmoil and his self-questioning.