Page 22 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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14
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
of the History of Jews in Germany), were put out by the Philo-
Verlag. Under the conditions of the National Socialist state, it
had become senseless and impossible to publish
Abwehrliteratur. Thus, after 1933, the publishing house in­
creasingly printed commentary and pedagogical writings, com­
mensurate with the changed task of the Centralverein. The out­
standing publication in this field was the
Philo-Lexicon, Handbuch
desJiidischen Wissens
(Philo Lexicon, Handbook of Jewish Knowl­
edge), which enjoyed a critical success in its time, and is still
useful today. From 1934 to 1937, four editions with 30,000
copies were sold.17 In response to the Jewish need for escapism,
the publishing house also produced entertaining literature with
a cultural bent. Hermann Sinsheimer’s novel about the Mar-
ranos,
Maria Nunnez
(1934), may be cited as an example of this
type.18
GERMAN-JEWISH CULTURE
At this point I would like to cross over to questions of in­
terpretation and evaluation, and in so doing begin by referring
to the difficulties German Jews had with the concept of “Jewish
culture” and its practical attainment. I feel that this is primarily
a problem of the Jewish theater, which resulted from the cir­
cumstance that there were hardly any Jewish plays and no Jew­
ish operas on which the planners of the Kulturbund could have
relied. The Jewish publishers in this instance were in an incom­
parably better position. They could not only draw on a great
treasure of literature that had grown over the course of many
centuries, which was hardly known to assimilated German Jew­
ry, but they also had available to them the newer Yiddish and
Hebrew literature, which stood in the Jewish tradition and was
written from intimate knowledge of the authentic Jewish mi­
lieus, for instance the works of Sholem Aleichem, Sholem Asch,
Hayyim Nahman Bialik and S. J. Agnon, to name just a few.
Thus the editorial staffs of the Jewish publishing houses were
preoccupied only marginally with the question of “Jewishness.”
17 Cf. ‘Lieblingskind oder Bestseller?’, in
C.V.-Zeitung,
XVI, no.75 (November
11, 1937), pp.6 and 9, here p. 9.
18 On the Philo-Verlag cf.
Philo-Lexikon,
‘Buchhandel’;
Lexikon des Judentums,
‘Central-Verein deutscher Staatsburger jiidischen Glaubens’; also the pub­
lishing notices o f the ‘Philo-Verlag und Buchhandiung’ in
C.V.-Zeitung.