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The German-Jewish Dialogue Reconsidered

A Symposium in Honor of George L. Mosse

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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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Notes 247

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Notes Klaus L. Berghahn On Friendship The Beginnings of a Christian-Jewish Dialogue in the 18th Century 1. "You noble ones, alas, mournful moss is already growing on your monuments! How happy I was. when in your company I saw the day redden and night shimmer." F. G. Klopstock, "Die friihen Graber." Translation from Leonard Forster, ed., The Penguin Book of German Verse (Baltimore, 1966), 170. 2. It is the title vignette of Marcus Herz's book Uber die friihe Beerdigung der Juden (Berlin, 1788). 3. See George L. Mosse, "Friendship and Nationhood: About the Promise and Failure of German Nationalism," in Journal of Contemporary History 17 (1982): 351-367. 4. Mosse, "Friendship and Nationhood," 364. 5. See Wolfdietrich Rasch, Freundschaftskult und Freundschaftsdichtung im deutschen Schrifttum des 18. Jahrhunderts (Halle, 1936). The title of this habilitation (Halle 1933) is somewhat misleading since Rasch covers only two thirds of the 18th century (up to Klopstock). He intentionally avoids Lessing's circle of friends which would have included Moses Mendelssohn-he dared not do that after 1933. Ever so slightly tainted by Nazi ideology, the book is still the best source for the friendship cult of the 18th century. 6. See Klaus Scherpe, Werther und Wertherwirkung, (Bad Homburg, 1970). 7. See Nikolaus Wegmann, Diskurse der Empjindsamkeit. Zur Geschichte des Gefiihls im 18. Jahrhundert (Stuttgart, 1988). 8. As quoted by Rasch, 37. 9. G. E. Lessing, Hamburgische Dramaturgie, chapter 14, in G. E. Lessing, Gesammelte Werke, ed. Paul Rilla (Berlin, 1968), 6:76. Hereafter GW. 10. F. Schiller,...

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