Page 26 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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lexicon naturally had a much greater appeal to buyers than
for instance the literary and monographic books of Schocken
Verlag, the purchase of which presupposed a deeper interest
on the part of the reader. Six thousand to 10,000 of the most
successful volumes of the Schocken Library were sold. As a rule,
however, a printing of 3,000 to 5,000 copies was sufficient to
satisfy the demand. Accordingly, Ernst G. Lowenthal’s article
in the
pointed to the “three-thousand limit”; only
Hebrew prayer books, dictionaries, and reference works exceed­
ed this limit.26 Even if we keep in mind that many books reached
a larger audience via the libraries of schools and congregations,
and through exchange between friends, these numbers — meas­
ured in relation to about 100,000 Jewish households — are not
very impressive, especially since we have to deduct an export
quota, which in the case of Schocken Verlag amounted to about
25 to 30 percent.27 I would therefore like to caution against
overestimating the significance and effect of Jewish books d u r ­
ing the National Socialist period. Although for a few years there
was a marked revival in the Jewish book market compared to
the situation before 1933, this development hardly proves as
“intellectual history of German Judaism,” or that there was a
“kind of Jewish renaissance . . . to an extent never considered
possible” during the Third Reich, an “interest in Jewish religion,
history, and culture” that penetrated “all circles of German J u ­
At the same time, it would be misguided to measure success
only with statistics. Book production differed from theater per­
formances, which seem to have had no impact. I would argue
that Jewish book production in those years represents a cultural
value in itself, even if this value lies less in the creative achieve­
ment of the authors than in the accomplishments of the editors.
We must also keep in mind that the function and effect of lit­
erature cannot be measured only with quantitative categories.
26 Ernst G. Lowenthal, ‘Das jiidische Buch in Zahlen. Ein Versuch,’ in
XVI, no. 45 (November 11, 1937), pp. 9f.
27 For more extensive coverage o f the question o f the spread and reception
o f Jewish books in the National Socialist period, see Dahm.
Das jiidische
Buch, op. cit.,
Part 2, cols. 818-23.
28 Heinz Moshe Graupe,
Die Entstehung des modemen Judentums, Geistesgeschichte
der deutschen Juden. 1650-1942
(Hamburg, 1969), p. 370.