Page 26 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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18
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
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
C.V.-Zeitung
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 ­
daism.”28
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
C.V.-
Zeitung,
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.