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The German-Jewish Dialogue Reconsidered

A Symposium in Honor of George L. Mosse


Edited By Klaus L. Berghahn

Was there a German-Jewish dialogue? This seemingly innocent question was silenced by the Holocaust. Since then, it is out of the question to take comfortable refuge to a distant past when Mendelssohn and Lessing started this dialogue. Adorno/Horkheimer, Arendt, and above all Scholem have repeatedly pointed out, how the noble promises of the Enlightenment were perverted, which led to a complete failure of Jewish emancipation in Germany. It is against this backdrop of warning posts that we dare to return to an important chapter of Jewish culture in Germany. This project should not be seen, however, as an attempt to idealize the past or to harmonize the present, but as a plea for a new dialogue between Germans and Jews about their common past.


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German-Jewish Culture at the Beginning of the 20th Century 109


On the Correspondence between Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Stephane Moses The Hebrew University THE CORRESPONDENCE between Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock doubtless represents one of the most deeply moving episodes in the Jewish- Christian dialogue of the 20th century. This exchange of letters took place between May and December of 1916 while each of them served in the ranks of the German army, Rosenzweig in the Balkans and Rosenstock at the front at the Somme. What characterizes this dialogue is its complete sincerity, an undeviating freedom in the exchange of ideas, and its relentless rigour in the search for truth. It leads us far beyond the simplistic professions of good will or the expression of common convictions to which Jewish-Christian exchanges so often amount. In order to understand all that is involved in this correspondence, we must recall first of all the circumstances that induced it. Rosenzweig met Rosenstock at a congress of young German historians held in Baden-Baden in 1912. They joined up again in 1913 in Leipzig, where Rosenstock was teaching constitutional history. Originally Jewish, but converted to Protestantism, he had become a fervent and militant Christian. While Rosenzweig at that time still shared the historical relativism of his teacher Friedrich Meinecke, Rosenstock had made belief in the absoluteness of the Revelation the center of his life. In the course of a long night-time conversation, Eugen Rosenstock succeeded in shaking Rosenzweig's relativism, less by the force of his arguments than by the living testimony of his faith....

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