Biblical and Hebraic Influences
Before the Aufklaerung (Age of Enlightenment), Jewish influences in German literature were essentially biblical and Hebraic. The medieval miracle or mystery plays, in Germany as in England and France, dramatized Old Testament themes and treated the Hebrew patriarchs with reverence, but the "passion plays" based on the New Testament made the post-biblical Jew a demonic ally of the Devil. For special historical reasons, this latter portrayal came to have serious popular repercussions. The impact of the Bible itself has been traced to the earliest contact of the Germanic tribes with missionary Christianity. In the fourth century the Gothic bishop Ulfilas (or Wulfila) wrote a Teutonic version of the Bible, from which only a few verses are extant, and, early in the 11th century, Job and the Psalms were translated into Old High German by Notker Labeo of St. Gallen (c. 950–1022), whose Psalter alone is extant. A late 11th-century prose version of the Song of Songs (c. 1065) by Williram familiarized the Germans with its traditional author, King Solomon, whose legendary wisdom, fortified by tales brought back to Europe by the crusaders, soon became a stock literary theme.
The first printed version of the Bible in High German (1466) has been traced to an anonymous 14th-century translator. Based on the Latin (Vulgate) text and printed in Strasbourg, this was the model for 13 subsequent pre-Lutheran editions. The first printed version of the Bible in Low German appeared in 1477. Both German versions, of course, conformed with Roman Catholic doctrine. By contrast, the German reformer Martin *Luther produced a complete translation of the Bible (6 vols., 1534, revised 11 times up to 1545) which was based on the original tongues, notably the Hebrew of the Old Testament. Luther's text injected the thought patterns of the Hebrew Bible into the German language, where the Hebrew simile and metaphor were speedily absorbed. His magnificent version was written in the Saxon dialect, which thus became the principal vehicle of High German language and literature. This was a somewhat curious achievement, since High German was the language of predominantly Catholic south Germany, whereas Low German was spoken in the Protestant north; but the fact that German Catholics found Luther's Bible readily accessible ensured its widespread success. The German Protestant Bible had a greater influence on the language of its readers than any other comparable work except the English Authorized Version. It became the most widely read book in the German tongue, constituted Germany's greatest literary achievement in the 16th century, and was of immeasurable significance in stabilizing the language. Although other German translations were attempted by Luther's contemporaries and successors, it was not until the 20th century that, under Jewish auspices, a comparable version of the Hebrew Bible appeared, published by Martin *Buber and Franz *Rosenzweig.
See also *Bible, Translations.
A post-biblical Hebraic influence on German literature much in evidence during the 16th century was the Kabbalah, the Christian interpretation of which found a pioneer exponent in Johann *Reuchlin. His De verbo mirifico (1494) and De arte cabalistica (1517), though written in Latin, created a vogue for Hebrew studies in German scholarly circles, and Reuchlin's followers included Wolfgang Fabricius *Capito, Conrad *Pellicanus, Sebastian *Muenster, and Paulus *Fagius. The movement gained its widest support among the Lutherans. Another Protestant, Jacob Boehme (1575–1624), developed a mystical system largely inspired by the Christian Kabbalah.
Martin Luther and his fellow-reformers fostered the writing of biblical plays in both Latin and German. Sixtus Birck dramatized not only episodes from the Bible –Zorobabel (1538), Ezechias (1538), and Joseph (1539) – but also the apocryphal tales of Susanna and Judith (both 1532). The Judith story was also dramatized in 1551 by the Nuremberg poet and Meistersinger, Hans Sachs. Sachs' biblical plays included among others Der Wueterich Herodes (1552) and Tragedia Koenig Sauls (1557), and others on themes such as Esther (1530), Job (1547), Adam and Eve (1548), Cain and Abel (1553), and David (1556). A century later, Christian Weise took all the themes of his religious plays from the Old Testament, believing that the figure of Jesus ought not to appear on the stage. His dramas included Der verfolgte David (1683), Nebukadnezar (1683), Athalia (1687), and Kain und Abel (1704). Weise was followed by the Swiss poet and playwright Johann Jacob Bodmer, who published a German translation of *Milton's Paradise Lost in 1732 and later wrote dramatic poems about Joseph (Jakob und Joseph, 1751;Joseph und Zulika, 1753), the Flood (Die Synd-Flut, 1751), Noah (17522), Adam (1763), Solomon (1764), and Abraham (1778). Bodmer's fellow-Swiss, Solomon Gessner, roused interest in the Cain theme with his sentimental prose epic, Der Tod Abels (1758). Its English translation (1761) enjoyed enormous success and is said to have inspired works on the same subject by Coleridge and *Byron. Germany's first major modern poet, Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, who was influenced by Milton and Bodmer, is best remembered for his epic Der Messias (1749–73). He also wrote the plays Der Tod Adams (1757), Salomo (1764), and David (1772). Another 18th-century Swiss author, Johann Kaspar Lavater, wrote Abraham und Isaak (1776). The biblical element in German literature received a valuable stimulus in the late 18th century with the publication by Johann Gottfried *Herder of his two-volume work Vom Geist der Ebraeischen Poesie (1782–83). In his Adrastea (1802) Herder published a German version of the *Lekhah Dodi hymn by Solomon *Alkabeẓ. Friedrich *Schiller wrote essays on biblical themes and echoed the Bible in tragedies such as Die Jungfrau von Orleans (1802). Johann Wolfgang von *Goethe drew inspiration from the Bible for his great tragedy, Faust (1808), whose "Prologue in Heaven" is modeled on the early chapters of Job. Other 19th-century playwrights who wrote on biblical themes were Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow (Koenig Saul, 1839), Friedrich Rueckert (Saul und David, 1843;Herodes der Grosse, 1844), and Austria's leading playwright, Franz Grillparzer (Esther, 1877), while a theme from the Apocrypha was dramatized by Otto Ludwig (Die Makkabaeer, 1854). Gutzkow's very popular Uriel Acosta (1847) entered the Yiddish as well as the German repertoire. Friedrich Hebbel wrote Judith (1841), about the heroine of the Apocrypha, but his outstanding "Hebraic" drama was Herodes und Mariamne (1850), based on Josephus.
Only a few Jewish writers in 19th-century Germany and Austria dealt with biblical or later historical themes of Jewish interest. Ludwig *Robert wrote the drama Die Tochter Jephthas (1820) and Karl *Beck the tragedy Saul (1841). Poems on biblical and post-biblical Jewish subjects were written by Heinrich *Heine and Seligmann *Heller, whose works include Die letzten Hasmonaeer (1865) and Ahasver (1868).
the bible in 20th-century german literature
From 1900 onward there was a considerable increase in German works of biblical inspiration. Das Buch Joram (1907) by Rudolf Borchardt, who was of partly Jewish descent, was a pastiche of the Book of Job set in the time of Jesus. Die juedische Witwe (1911) by Georg Kaiser, based on the heroic apocryphal tale of Judith and Holofernes, was, unlike so many of these works, a comedy. Jewish writers played an increasingly important role, with Siegfried *Lipiner dramatizing the story of Adam (1911), a theme that similarly inspired Arno *Nadel (1917). The same subject was dealt with in some post-World War i poems by the Viennese lyricist Josef Weinheber and in the epic Erschaffung der Eva (1941) by the Austrian Franz Karl Ginzkey. The story of Cain prompted a tragedy by another Viennese writer, Anton Wildgans (1920), and that of Noah, Ernst Barlach's drama, Die Suendflut (1924). Richard *Beer-Hofmann wrote a mystical drama, Jaakobs Traum (1918).
Thomas *Mann's trilogy, Joseph und Seine Brueder (1933–42;Joseph and His Brothers, 1934–45), was the climax of a vast array of German works based on the story of Joseph, headed by some 26 dramas in the 16th century and by the 17th-century novels of Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (1667) and Philipp von Zesen (Assenat, 1670). Hugo von *Hofmannsthal's only biblical work was Die Josephlegende (1914), written for a ballet. The Samson theme was dramatized by Herbert Eulenberg (1910), Frank Wedekind (1914), Hermann Burte (1917), and Karl Roettger (1921). The tragic figure of King Saul attracted Karl *Wolfskehl (1905), Paul *Heyse (1909), and Beer-Hofmann (Der junge David, 1933). The romance of David and Bathsheba was dramatized by Lion *Feuchtwanger in Das Weib des Urias (1905), and another episode in the life of the Psalmist inspired Arnold *Zweig's Abigail und Nabal (1913). Feuchtwanger also wrote a novel on the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter (1957), a theme previously dramatized by Ernst *Lissauer (1928). The best-known work of Sammy *Gronemann is his comedy Der Weise und der Narr: Koenig Salomo und der Schuster (1942).
Other 20th-century writers were drawn to stories from the Prophets and Hagiographa. Jeremiah inspired an anti-war drama by Stefan *Zweig (1917) for which Arno Nadel wrote the music, and Job was the subject of a popular novel by Joseph *Roth (1930). Esther provided the theme of a drama by Felix *Braun (1926), another by Max *Brod (1918), and a Purim play by Sammy Gronemann (Hamans Flucht, 1926). Later Jewish historical figures who inspired 20th-century German fiction were Josephus, the hero of a trilogy by Feuchtwanger (1932–42); Rabbi Akiva, in a play by Moritz *Heimann (1922); the hero of Max *Brod's novel, Rëubeni, Fuerst der Juden (1925); and the *Jewess of Toledo, who figures in a late novel by Feuchtwanger (Spanische Ballade, 1955). The legend of the *golem formed the theme of a novel by Gustav Meyrink (1915) and Jew Suess was the hero of Feuchtwanger's most famous novel (1925).
Hebrew and Yiddish Influences on the German Language
As with English and French, so in the case of German, certain biblical terms entered the language at a fairly early stage, mainly through the writings of churchmen. Luther's Bible brought a vastly increased number of words and phrases into general usage. Some have become German idioms, including Kainszeichen (the mark of Cain, Gen. 4:15);Suendenbock (scapegoat, Lev. 16);Salomonisches Urteil (the judgment of Solomon, i Kings 3:16ff.);Gott mit uns (Immanuel, Isa. 7:14);Menschensohn (son of man, Ezek. 2:1ff.). Hebrew loanwords also entered German at various periods. These include Abt (abbot < Aramaic abba), Ebenholz (ebony <even), Fratze (face, mug <parẓuf), and Natro (soda <neter). More than any other European language, not excluding English, German is peculiarly rich in other terms and expressions, mainly slang or colloquialisms, which entered everyday speech through *Yiddish and the Juden-Deutsch (West Yiddish) dialect spoken by German Jews. Most of these were, of course, restricted to Jewish circles, including Schabbes, Jonteff, Mischpoche or Muschpoke, Goi, Schickse, Schadchen, meschugge, benschen, daffke, and nebbich (<nicht bei Euch). In the 15th and 16th centuries, however, others entered general use, probably by way of thieves' slang; acheln, to eat (<akhal), ganfen, to steal (<ganav), Schaute, fool (<shoteh). The 18th century added words like Mackes, blows (<makkot), schmusen, to chat, Schmuser, chatterbox (<shemu'ot), and Stuss, nonsense (<shetut). In the 19th century a host of other such expressions became familiar, notably Golem, Kaffer, boor (<kefar), koscher, Rischess, antisemitism (<rishut), schaechten, to defraud, overreach (<shaḥat), Schlemihl, schlemiel (<Shelumiel?), and ẓores, trouble (<ẓarot). Despite periodic "purifications" of the German language, a vast number of these Hebraisms and Yiddishisms still occur in German dictionaries and other works of reference. Heine, in his poem "Prinzessin Sabbat" (Roman zerozero, 1851), humorously alluding to Schiller's "Ode to Joy," described tcholent as "koscheres Ambrosia"; while Adelbert von Chamisso entitled his world-famous story about the man who lost his shadow Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte (1814). Conversely, Heine's pathetic "Jewish" refrain in the poem "Gedaechtnisfeier" (in the collection Romanzero), "Nicht gedacht soll seiner werden," is taken directly from Luther's translation of Ezek. 21:37.
The Image of the Jew in German Literature
German attitudes toward the Jews, shaped by religious, economic, and social factors, were clearly mirrored in German literature. The earliest recorded Old High German literature, largely written by Christian clerics, depicted Jews as simultaneously God's chosen people and as the "people accursed." On the one hand, Jews were kinsmen of the Christian savior and descendants of revered patriarchs and prophets; on the other, they were supposedly guilty of deicide, had fallen from grace, and had been condemned to eternal scorn and wandering (see also the *Wandering Jew).
the medieval stereotype
Medieval German drama, from the primitive mystery plays dealing with the life and death of Jesus to the spectacular passion plays staged at Easter, presented a cruel and abhorrent image of the Jew. In these plays Jews were shown to be far more the people of Judas than of Jesus. The most famous of the passion plays – that of Oberammergau, Bavaria – has been performed roughly once every ten years since 1634. It was banned for a time in the 18th century and, strangely enough, during the Hitler era, the Nazis evidently allowing anti-religious policy to outweigh their hatred of the Jews. In 1969 a few textual modifications were made on the recommendation of the Catholic Church in order to remove offensive anti-Jewish passages. Folktales and folksongs also spread the legend that Jews habitually engaged in the crucifixion of Christian boys to provide blood for the Passover ritual. The stories of "Good Werner" (1286) and Simon of Trent (1475) popularized the *blood libel in Germany and provided a counterpart to the English martyrologies of *Hugh of Lincoln and William of Norwich.
Upon the earliest literary image, which had its source in religion, was superimposed another, which had its source in economics: the Jew as usurer. Usury was defined by the Church as the lending of money at interest. Since Christians were forbidden to engage in such moneylending, Jews had a virtual monopoly until the Lombards arrived on the German scene. In the sermons of Berthold von Regensburg (c. 1210–1272), the most popular Franciscan preacher of the mid-13th century, Jew and usurer were synonymous. Easter plays included a comic interlude: the three Marys buying oil to anoint the body of the crucified Jesus from a merchant depicted as a wily, haggling Jew. As an object of ridicule, the Jew also made his entry into the Fastnachtsspiele (Shrovetide plays). Hans Folz (c. 1450–c. 1515), a Meistersinger of Worms and Nuremberg, was a notable exponent of this genre. In one of his plays rabbinic Judaism is unfavorably contrasted with Christianity and the *Adon Olam hymn is sung in a German rhymed adaptation. In another farce, a student seduces a Jewess and then mocks her parents and her religion. The Middle High German stereotype of the grasping Jew passed into early New High German literature. In the first published version of the Faust legend – the anonymous Faustbuch of 1587 – Faust borrows money from a Jew, who accepts one of his legs as security. Faust saws off the leg, but when he comes to redeem his pledge the Jew cannot return it and has to pay compensation. Der Jude von Venetien, a German adaptation by Christoph Bluemel of *Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice performed in the 1660s, stressed the greed and hardheartedness of the Jew who insists on his pound of flesh and finally loses his entire investment.
The dominant literary image of the Jew throughout the 16th and 17th centuries was characterized by hostility and ridicule. Though a spirited defense of Hebrew literature was undertaken by Johann Reuchlin and other German humanists in their struggle against the slanders of the apostate Johannes *Pfefferkorn, Martin Luther's embittered diatribe, Von den Jueden und jren Luegen (1543), subsequently reinforced the hostile image of the Jew.
Not until the 18th century was a major breach made in this portrayal. Gotthold Ephraim *Lessing gave the first favorable presentation of Jews in his comedy, Die Juden (1749), and later in his internationally famous Nathan der Weise (1779). The hero of this philosophical drama, a wise and benevolent Jew, was the mouthpiece for the writer's doctrines of religious tolerance and universal brotherhood. Lessing's model for Nathan was Moses *Mendelssohn, whose mind and character deeply impressed contemporary German intellectuals. "Nathan the Wise" thus became the symbol of the enlightened Jew.
From the late 18th century German Jews and Christians mingled in Berlin salons and influenced each other's religious, philosophical, and literary expression. Jewish salon hostesses inspired German poets and were mirrored in German novels, creating the image of the educated, dignified, and freethinking Jewess. The Romantic movement, which succeeded the Enlightenment, was also ambivalent in its portrayal of Jews. Some Romantic writers, such as Adelbert von Chamisso, Bettina von Arnim, and Karl August Varnhagen von Ense, treated Jewish themes, characters, and legends in a sympathetic manner. On the other hand, some writers – especially those in the Berlin circle of Bettina's husband, Achim von Arnim – regarded Jews with enmity and disdain. Arnim himself perpetuated the idea of the Jew's dual nature as eternal witness and repulsive merchant in his drama, Halle und Jerusalem (1811).
the 19th-century portrait
The intensification of German nationalism during the struggle against Napoleon led writers to depict Jews as outsiders and eternal wanderers. It encouraged virulent antisemitism at a time when Jewish intellectuals were straining toward complete integration in German society, baptism being accepted by many as a corollary of assimilation and as (in Heine's sardonic phrase) "a ticket of admission to German culture." Ludwig *Boerne and Heine both had a profound impact upon the post-Napoleonic generation. As the leaders of Jung deutschland ("Young Germany"), a liberal literary movement, they paved the way for the Revolution of 1848 and both were outspoken champions of Jewish emancipation. Heine's onetime ally, Wolfgang Menzel, derided "Young Germany" as in reality "Young Palestine." While Berthold *Auerbach, in his polemic pamphlet, Das Judenthum und die neueste Literatur (1836), defended the Jews against the charge of revolutionary radicalism hurled at them by the apostles of Teutonism, the prominence of Jews among the pioneers of Socialism – men such as Moses *Hess, Karl *Marx, and Ferdinand *Lassalle – reinforced the image of the Jew as a subversive element undermining the established political and social systems. The gifted orator and pamphleteer Gabriel *Riesser denied the existence of a distinct Jewish nationality, but Moses Hess, parting company with the Socialist doctrinaires, strongly affirmed Jewish nationalism in his Rom und Jerusalem (1862;Rome and Jerusalem, 1918), which called for the reestablishment of a Jewish state in Zion.
During the 19th century Jewish themes increasingly infiltrated German drama and fiction. In her novella Die Judenbuche (1842), Annette von Droste-Huelshoff told a grim tale of the avenging of the murder of a Jew, even inserting a cryptic Hebrew phrase into her story. Franz Grillparzer, Friedrich Hebbel, and Otto Ludwig extolled the Jewish past and presented biblical and Jewish historical characters quite different from the old stereotypes. Grillparzer's Die Juedin von Toledo (1873), based on the tragic romance of Alfonso vii of Castile and the Jewess of Toledo, was the forerunner of many other treatments of this theme. On the other hand, novelists who dealt with the Jewish present continued to portray the Jew as a villain. Gustav Freytag wrote a best-selling novel, Soll und Haben (1854), which reinforced the image of the Jewish usurer, contrasting the noble, loyal, and hardworking Christian apprentice Anton with his rascally Jewish fellow-worker, Veitel Itzig, who comes to a sorry end. In Der Hungerpastor (1864), the best-known novel of Wilhelm Raabe, another Jew follows the wicked example of Veitel Itzig; while Felix Dahn's novel, Ein Kampf um Rom (1876), extols German racial purity and presents the Jew, Jochem, as cowardly and treacherous.
A somewhat glamorized picture of Jewish life was presented by Leopold *Kompert (Boehmische Juden, 1851; Neue Geschichten aus dem Ghetto, 1860) and Karl Emil *Franzos (Die Juden von Barnow, 1877). The setting of Kompert's tales was Bohemia and that of Franzos', Galicia. Austrian Galicia was also the setting of many novels and stories by the non-Jewish writer, Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch. Sacher-Masoch, whose later erotic works gave rise to the term "masochism," was the son of an Austrian police chief in Letoberg (Lvov), and his early impressions of Jewish life there inspired his Judengeschichten (1878), Polnische Ghetto-geschichten (1886), and Juedisches Leben in Wort und Bild (1890). His obvious sympathy for the East European Jew's tenacious adherence to his religion and culture subjected him to considerable abuse. The works of Kompert, Franzos, and Sacher-Masoch enjoyed quite a vogue as exotic literature, but it was not until Georg *Hermann wrote the novel Jettchen Gebert (1906) and its sequel, Henriette Jacoby (1909), that cultured German Jewry received adequate treatment in German fiction.
When Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in 1886 in Jenseits von Gut und Boese that he had never yet met a German who was favorably inclined to Jews, he was undoubtedly exaggerating, but he correctly recognized that in Germany the age-old image of the Jew was an unflattering one. Although his close association with Richard *Wagner had brought him into contact with an outspoken antisemite, Nietzsche himself abhorred antisemitism as the revolt of the rabble against culture, and condemned it in the most violent terms. While Nietzsche foresaw a glorious future for Jews on the world scene, another influential German philosopher, Oswald Spengler, held that Judaism had already completed its historic function and was on the verge of disappearing. In Der Untergang des Abendlandes (1922) he was at pains to stress the intense mutual hatred between Germans and Jews, and the "inevitable conflict" between a vigorous young culture rooted in the soil and a senile, overripe civilization of landless cosmopolitans. Spengler's vaunted objectivity was soon to supply Nazi ideologists and literary racists with ammunition for their perverted theories.
The late 19th century saw a reaction to German literary antisemitism on the part of a few isolated Jewish writers, notably Max *Nordau and Theodor *Herzl, both of them fathers of the Zionist movement. Nordau's tragedy, Doktor Kohn (1898), concluded that assimilation was impossible and that a solution to Jewish misery had to be found elsewhere; while Herzl, in his utopian novel Altneuland (1902), projected his answer into an idealized Jewish state. Arthur *Schnitzler, neither a Zionist nor an assimilationist, presented an admirable Jewish physician in his drama Professor Bernhardi (1912), which attacked antisemitism. With few exceptions, the major non-Jewish writers sided with the Jews in their battle for self-preservation. Although Artur Dinter anticipated the Nazis with his hate-filled Die Suende wider das Blut (1917), modern authors of the stature of Gerhart Hauptmann and Thomas Mann remained aloof from the rising tide of nationalism. In his tragicomedy, Der rote Hahn (1901), and in his drama, Die Finsternisse (1947), which had to be smuggled out of Nazi Germany, Hauptmann paid tribute to the fruitful liberalism of German Jewry. There were sympathetic Jewish characters in Mann's works, too, especially in Koenigliche Hoheit (1909) and Der Zauberberg (1924). A certain objectivity characterizes the Jewish portrayals of Ernst Glaeser (Jahrgang 1902, 1928) and Gertrud von Le Fort (Der Papst aus dem Ghetto, 1930).
prelude to catastrophe
During the first third of the 20th century, the Jewish influence on German literature reached its climax. The image which Jewish writers incorporated in their works ranged from the self-hatred of Maximilian *Harden, Karl *Kraus, Kurt *Tucholsky, and Otto *Weininger to the strong affirmation of national resurgence by Martin Buber, Richard Beer-Hofmann, Max Brod, and Arnold Zweig. Joseph Roth dramatized the conflict between the authentic and the assimilated Jew; Walter *Mehring identified the Jews with the capitalists responsible for the inflation; and Hans José *Rehfisch and Wilhelm Herzog dramatized European antisemitism in Die Affaire Dreyfus (1929). Stefan Zweig saw the Jew as the precursor of the good European and Ernst *Toller fought German racial conceit by espousing cosmopolitanism and utopian Socialism.
Aryan mythmakers from Houston Stewart *Chamberlain to Alfred *Rosenberg propagated the fiction of blood as the determining psychic factor. Nazi writers fed the Germans an image of the Jew as an hereditary criminal, and branded as a fairy tale the possibility that baptism could emancipate the Jew from his criminal tendencies. With the triumph of Nazi ideology in 1933, all favorable images of the Jew were suppressed by literary, stage, and radio censors. Only in exile could Thomas and Heinrich Mann and other writers of non-Jewish origin present a more balanced image of the Jew. Most German émigré writers on Jewish themes were, however, either Jews or of Jewish descent. They included Arthur *Koestler, Lion Feuchtwanger, Karl *Wolfskehl, Arnold Zweig, Hermann *Kesten, Alfred *Doeblin, and Else *Lasker-Schueler. The few courageous voices that were heard from the "Aryan" side included those of the baptized half-Jew Carl *Zuckmayer, who had shown Jewish faults and virtues to be common to all men in such works as his drama Der Hauptmann von Koepenick (1930); Wolfgang Langhoff, whose Die Moorsoldaten (1935) was the first literary account of Nazi brutality in the concentration camps; and Bertolt Brecht, who developed a similar theme in Furcht und Elend des Dritten Reiches (1941). Like their Jewish fellow-writers, however, Zuckmayer, Langhoff, and Brecht were finally compelled to take refuge abroad, and it was not until after World War ii that a more dispassionate assessment of the Jewish image in German literature could be attempted.
The Jewish Contribution to German Literature
Jews first settled along the Rhine in Roman times and they have thus been an integral element in German culture from its earliest beginnings. In the Middle Ages, the Middle High German which they spoke became interspersed with Hebrewwords and, following waves of persecution, was carried eastward to become the Yiddish language (i.e., Juedisch-Deutsch). Those Jews who remained in Germany developed a kindred dialect, Judendeutsch, and it was in this more distinctly Germanic tongue that Glueckel of *Hameln wrote her famous memoirs at the end of the 17th century. German Jewry can, however, lay claim to one authentic Jewish contributor to medieval German literature – the Minnesaenger (minstrel) Suesskind von *Trimberg, who flourished in the first half of the 13th century. The handful of lyrics still extant, notable for their Jewish feeling and inspiration, are of perennial interest to German literary historians. A century later, in 1336, Samson Pine was one of three German writers who collaborated in the translation of a French version of the Parsifal romance. The prefatory acknowledgements of his Strasbourg colleagues clearly indicate that Pine was a Jew and that he was responsible for most of the work. In 1519 Johannes *Pauli, a Jew turned Franciscan preacher, published his Schimpf un Ernst, an important and influential collection of humorous and didactic anecdotes.
the age of enlightenment
It was not until 250 years later, during the late 18th century, that Jewish writers first appeared in significant numbers on the German cultural scene, utilizing the German language as their literary medium. The doctrines of tolerance and human equality propounded by the philosophers of the Enlightenment made a profound impression on Jewish intellectuals. The Jewish elite wished to contribute to the stream of German culture, and at first the German elite welcomed them. The finest expression of this rapprochement between the two ethnic groups was the friendship of Moses Mendelssohn, the Jew from Dessau, and Gotthold Lessing, Germany's most influential literary critic, who both stressed the common ethical heritage of Judaism and Christianity. A towering figure of both the German Enlightenment and the Jewish Emancipation, Moses Mendelssohn was also the first modern Jewish writer to master the German idiom in all its subtleties. His philosophical and aesthetic works – notably the Briefe ueber die Empfindungen (1755), Phaedon, oder Ueber die Unsterblichkeit der Seele (1767), and Morgenstunden (1785) – had an enormous impact in Germany itself and abroad. The reputation he came to enjoy in the outside world enhanced his standing within German Jewry, which thereafter involved itself increasingly in German cultural and literary affairs. Mendelssohn also founded German Jewry's first newspaper, Kohelet Musar (Berlin, 1750), and in 1778 began publishing an original German translation of the Bible with a Hebrew commentary. German enlightenment found its finest philosophical formulation in the critical reasoning of Immanuel *Kant, and it is no accident that the first enthusiastic adherents of Kantian philosophy were Jews. From Marcus Herz, the friend and physician of Lessing and Mendelssohn, Lazarus *Bendavid, Solomon *Maimon, and David *Friedlaender to the outstanding neo-Kantians of the 20th century – Hermann *Cohen and Ernst *Cassirer – Jews played a leading role in the exposition of Kant's philosophy.
Hartwig *Wessely, who died in 1805, was the last of the Hebrew lyrical poets in Germany, and German steadily replaced Hebrew among the Jewish writers of Central Europe. Moses Ephraim *Kuh attacked antisemitism in witty German epigrams, and the Polish physician Issachar Falkensohn *Behr wrote Gedichte von einem pohlnischen Juden (1772), which were reviewed by Goethe. Michael *Sachs, through his translation, introduced the religious poetry of medieval Spanish Jewry to the Jews of Germany.
the age of romanticism
During the ensuing Romantic era the German theologian Friedrich *Schleiermacher, who wished to see a revival of religion along with the pursuit of poetry and the fine arts, strenuously opposed all attempts to convert Jews to Christianity, since he doubted the sincerity of the converts. Romanticism delayed the process of Jewish emancipation by developing a nationalist philosophy that led to a new form of antisemitism, based not on religious differences, but rather on differences in national origin. This "Teutonism" condoned hatred of the Jews.
From the 1780s, German Jews and non-Jews had mingled in Berlin salons, where Jewish hostesses of charm, learning, and wit furthered the cultural exchange between statesmen, philosophers, and Romantic artists. The most distinguished salon in Berlin was that of the brilliant Henriette *Herz, wife of the philosopher Marcus Herz and an admirer of Goethe and the Romantics, who fostered the doctrines of the new generation. Other Berlin hostesses were Rahel Varnhagen von Ense (whom Goethe claimed as the first person to understand and recognize him); Moses Mendelssohn's daughter, Dorothea von *Schlegel, who introduced Victor Hugo and Mme. de Staël to the German reader; and Fanny *Lewald, a writer and feminist. Their Viennese counterparts were Fanny, Baroness von *Arnstein; and the von Wertheimsteins, Josephine, her sister Sophie, Baroness Todesco, and her daughter Franziska.
the age of liberalism
Romanticism promoted the revival of historical studies and taught that history does not merely interpret the past but affords an understanding of the present and guidance to the future. Preeminent among Jewish historians during the first half of the 19th century was Leopold *Zunz, the originator of the *Wissenschaft des Judentums ("Science of Judaism"). Together with Abraham *Geiger, Moses Moser (1796–1838), and Eduard *Gans, he founded in 1819 the *Verein fuer Kultur und Wissenschaft des Judentums. Heine, who joined this organization, gave a detailed record of its achievements in a eulogy of his friend Ludwig Marcus (1798–1843). The impact of Zunz and of the Verein was felt throughout the 19th century. Geiger wrote his three-volume study, Das Judentum und seine Geschichte (1864–71), from the standpoint of Reform Judaism, but the concept of Jewish history was broadened when the positive historical (Conservative) school emerged with the Monatsschrift fuer Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, under the editorship of Zacharias *Frankel. The first universal history of the Jewish people in German, Geschichte der Israeliten (1820–47) written by Isaac Markus *Jost, paved the way for Heinrich *Graetz, whose Geschichte der Juden von den aeltesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart (11 vols., 1853–75) is generally considered one of the outstanding works of historical scholarship in the German language.
Prussian and Austrian reactionaries were the most rabid antisemites, and Jews saw in political liberalism a powerful ally in their battle for emancipation. The aim of German liberalism was to develop the capacities of the individual irrespective of race, sex, class, or economic status; it therefore enabled Jews to develop their talents to the fullest extent. Berthold Auerbach, who was for many years the literary spokesman of German-Jewish liberalism, became the outstanding Jewish master of the sentimental novel and short story. However, although Jews finally succeeded in obtaining full legal rights as citizens of the German states, their inner conflict did not abate. Ferdinand Lassalle, the leading German socialist, summoned his "martyr people" to join the revolutionary working classes in the fight against the common oppressor. Jews in general joined the opposition parties, and some became influential contributors to the liberal and socialist press.
Heinrich Heine, the greatest Jewish poetin the German language, tried to disguise the conflicts arising from his opportunist conversion to Christianity by satirical irony, but at heart he always remained a Jew. Some of his most Jewish poems (e.g., the "Hebraeische Melodien" of his Romanzero) were written years after his baptism. Heine and Ludwig Boerne were the originators of the German feuilleton, a literary genre of great artistic charm in which Jews – from Moritz Gottlieb *Saphir and Daniel Spitzer (1835–1893) to Herzl, Nordau, Peter *Altenberg, Felix *Salten, and Alfred *Polgar – particularly excelled. Some German revolutionary poets such as Karl *Beck and Moritz *Hartmann were Jewish merely by the accident of birth and both converted. It was only when revolutionary ardor gave way to disappointment verging on despair that these writers turned to authentic Jewish subjects. Karl Emil Franzos discovered Halbasien ("Semi-Asia," i.e., Galician Jewry) and described the tension between Eastern and Western Jews.
With few exceptions, 19th-century German dramatists suppressed any Jewish feelings they may have had. Ludwig *Robert, the converted brother of Rahel Varnhagen, was always sensitive to the ambiguities of his position; while Michael *Beer, brother of the composer Giacomo *Meyerbeer, wrote a play, Der Paria (1826), which betrays the depressing effect of his Jewish origin. A third playwright, Solomon Hermann von *Mosenthal, in his Deborah (1850), dramatized the story of a Jewess living among Christian peasants.
During the first half century of Jewish emancipation, the dichotomy was resolved for many German Jews by assimilation or conversion. Of the direct descendants of Michael *Creizenach, a scholarly advocate of religious reform, his son Theodor (1818–1877), a poet and authority on Goethe, abandoned Judaism, as did Theodor's son Wilhelm (1851–1919), an eminent literary scholar. Friedrich Wolters (1876–1930), who belonged to the circle of Stefan George, was the non-Jewish grandson of the Odessa-born poet and translator Wilhelm Wolfsohn (1820–1865). Heinrich Stieglitz (1801–1849), a melancholic lyricist, was the son of a baptized banker; and Betty Paoli (Barbara Elisabeth Glueck, 1815–1894) was a Viennese society poet born of a Hungarian nobleman and a Belgian Jewess.
the struggle between the two souls
The novelist Jacob *Wassermann, reviewing his own life in Mein Weg als Deutscher und Jude (1921), wrote: "I am a German and a Jew, each as completely as the other; neither can be separated from the other." This held true for most German-Jewish writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, although the proportion between the German and the Jewish ingredients of this amalgam varied. Some wished for total assimilation; others were willing to identify themselves within the German-Jewish group but denied all kinship with East-European Jews, whom they considered foreign and inferior. Jewish history was for this class of writer far more remote than the history of the Germans whom they idealized.
Three writers who appear to have been untouched by the problem were the half-Jewish poet Paul Heyse, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1910; and two humorists, Julius Stettenheim (1831–1916) and C. Karlweis (Karl Weiss, 1850–1901), an Austrian railroad inspector who wrote popular comedies and short stories. On the other hand, Arthur Schnitzler, the sensitive, delicate analyst of a dying Viennese society, was a vigorous opponent of antisemitism. Stefan Zweig despaired of the survival of European culture, and the European tragedy finally drove him to suicide. He nevertheless felt that Jewry would endure, but he himself was not primarily of it, despite his awareness of Jewish nobility and martyrdom. Some writers were impelled to stress the positive aspects of the Jewish heritage and identity. They include Jacob Loewenberg (1856–1929), whose verse was collected in Lieder eines Semiten (1892) and Aus juedischer Seele (1901); and the proselyte Nahida Ruth *Lazarus, noted for her expository works conceived in the spirit of Liberal Judaism. Ludwig *Jacobowski, in his novels Werther der Jude (1892) and Loki (1899), portrayed the struggle between the Jew and his antisemitic surroundings. The pioneer Zionist Samuel *Lublinski emphasized the Jewish thirst for knowledge and truth; another Jewish nationalist, Fritz Mordechai *Kaufmann, became an expert on Yiddish folklore; while Georg Hermann wrote about Berlin's Jewish society with benevolent satire. Two other writers who took a positive Jewish stand were Moritz *Heimann and Alfred *Kerr.
By contrast, several leading literary figures of the era revealed themselves to be either unsympathetic to the fate of their own people or even outspokenly hostile. Carl *Sternheim anticipated the Fascists with his attacks on the Jewish middle classes, but Rudolf Borchardt, who tried to disguise his origin by the adoption of reactionary nationalism, only narrowly escaped deportation to Auschwitz concentration camp. The philosophical father of "Jewish self-hatred" was Otto Weininger; his leading disciple was Arthur *Trebitsch, whose pathological detestation of the Jews and Judaism led him to offer his services as an antisemitic propagandist to the Austrian Nazis. Two other writers influenced by Weininger were Karl *Kraus and Kurt *Tucholsky. Somewhat less violent was the ostentatious Catholic convert Ernst *Lothar. Ernst Lissauer, composer of World War i's notorious "Hymn of Hate" against England, also supported the postwar reactionary nationalists. A double irony attaches to Ferdinand Bronner (1867–1948), a naturalistic dramatist who wrote under the pen name Franz Adamus: he was born in the Polish town of Oswiécim (Auschwitz), and in his comedy, Schmelz, der Nibelunge (1905), a son denies his Jewish parentage. His own son, Arnolt Bronnen (1895–1959), swung from support of the extreme left to the far right, and held important radio and television posts under the Nazis. After World War ii the erstwhile Nazi became a respectable public figure in Austria and at the end of his life was a drama critic in East Berlin.
the jewish renaissance
Under the impact of their military disaster in World War i the Germans experienced a temporary spiritual revulsion against war, brutality, lust for power, and materialism. The literary movement of Expressionism thereafter engaged in a fervent struggle for peace, world brotherhood, and the dignity of man. It included a high proportion of Jewish writers, notably Ernst Toller, Alfred Doeblin, Franz *Werfel, Alfred *Mombert, Albert *Ehrenstein, Alfred *Wolfenstein, Jacob von Hoddis (1887–1942), Ludwig *Rubiner, and the Franco-German poet Yvan *Goll.
Together with this rebellious movement in the arts, there arose a second movement aiming at the intellectual, moral, and political rebirth of the Jewish people. Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig were the outstanding philosophical leaders of this Jewish renaissance. Richard Beer-Hofmann was the major poet of this German-Jewish revival and gave expression to Jewish suffering and glory in a biblical cycle about King David. His Schlaflied fuer Miriam (1897) is regarded as the finest philosophical lullaby in the German language. Karl Wolfskehl, who began his career as a member of the Stefan George circle, also found his way to Jewish poetry. Max Brod, whose Zionism led him to settle in Ereẓ Israel in 1939, considered Judaism a rampart against the black void toward which events were pointing, and felt that his "best service to humanity was to work in all humility for the perfection of my own people." Franz *Kafka and Hermann *Broch broke new ground in German fiction with works on the ultimate goal of human existence. Although their novels never directly touch on Jewish themes, they reflect the Jewish character of their authors. Kafka himself studied Hebrew and even planned to settle in Ereẓ Israel.
Vivid pictures of Jewish life in Germany were painted by the novelists Lion Feuchtwanger (Jud Suess, 1925) and Arnold Zweig. Feuchtwanger also wrote a celebrated trilogy based on the story of Josephus. Zweig, long an ardent Zionist, lived in Haifa for many years before settling in East Germany after 1948. In Der Gezeichnete (1936), Jacob *Picard portrayed with affection the Orthodox folklore and traditions of Jews long settled in southwest Germany. Else Lasker-Schueler, regarded by many as the greatest German poetess after Annette von Droste-Huelshoff, dreamed of an imagined Oriental world, celebrated the "Land of the Hebrews," and ended her days in Jerusalem. Gertrud *Kolmar, whose poems, some of them in Hebrew, expressed tragic loneliness, remained in Germany and perished in a death camp. A third important woman poet, Nelly *Sachs, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1966, expressed both the anxiety and the restlessness of her age and her loyalty to the Jewish people and its destiny.
Jewish writers of the 1930s echoed the torment and despair of their era. On the one hand there was a messianic belief in the future of mankind and, on the other, a nihilistic mistrust of any system of values. The Jews who fled Germany from 1933 and Austria from 1938 included some of the most prominent Jewish writers, although there were many who either chose to remain or could not escape. With the onslaught of the Hitler regime on German-speaking Jewry, the cherished dream of a German-Jewish symbiosis abruptly collapsed and the history of German-Jewish literature was, so far as Europe was concerned, at an end.
The Jews of Germany and Austria also made an important contribution to literary history and research, many of them writing scholarly works that continue to be regarded as classics. Some outstanding literary historians were the convert Emil Kuh (1828–1876), who "discovered" the dramatist Friedrich Hebbel, editing his works (1866–68) and writing his biography (1877); Julius Leopold *Klein, the Hungarian-born author of a 13-volume Geschichte des Dramas (1865–76); Richard Moritz *Meyer, who wrote his Deutsche Literatur des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (1900); Friedrich *Gundolf, an authority on Shakespeare, Goethe, and Kleist; Alfred Kerr, author of Die Welt im Drama (1917) and Die Welt im Licht (1920); Egon *Friedell, the Austrian playwright, who was also a cultural historian and author of a Kulturgeschichte der Neuzeit (3 vols., 1927–31); Hugo *Bieber, who wrote Der Kampf um die Tradition (1928) and was an authority on Heine; and Arthur *Eloesser, author of Die deutsche Literatur vom Barock bis zur Gegenwart (1930–31).
Other scholars in this field include Julius *Bab, Albert Bielschowsky (1847–1902), Ernst *Heilborn, Rudolf *Kayser, Alfred Klaar (1848–1927), Victor Klemperer (1881–1960), Samuel *Lublinski, Kurt Pinthus (1886–?), Otto Pniower (1859–1932), and Julius Wahle (1861–1940). Two outstanding authorities on Goethe were Michael Bernays (1834–1897), the baptized son of Ẓakham Isaac *Bernays of Hamburg, who was a professor at Munich; and Ludwig *Geiger, a son of the German reformer Abraham Geiger, who was a professor in Berlin and wrote Die deutsche Literatur und die Juden (1910). Three other academic scholars were Robert F. Arnold (Robert Frank Levisohn, 1872–1938), who was professor of German literature at Vienna; Jonas *Fraenkel, an expert on Swiss-German literature, who held a chair at Berne; and Fritz *Strich, who was professor successively at Munich and Berne universities. Georg Witkowski (1863–1941), the baptized brother of Maximilian *Harden, wrote Das deutsche Drama des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (1923–25) and ended his career as a professor in Leipzig. Eduard Engel (1851–1938) published a Geschichte der deutschen Literatur that reached its 38th edition in 1929; and the Czech anthologist Camill *Hoffmann wrote Die deutsche Lyrik aus Oesterreich seit Grillparzer (1912). The literary and dramatic critic Monty Jacobs (1875–1945), who was a coeditor of the Goldene Klassikerbibliothek, had an English father and took refuge in London after the Nazis came to power; while Werner Kraft (1896–1991), a German poet, editor, and critic, eventually settled in Israel. An outstanding scholar, Daniel Sanders, published several authoritative German dictionaries, including a Handwoerterbuch der deutschen Sprache (3 vols., 1859–65).
From the age of Heine onward, German Jews also distinguished themselves as cultural mediators, especially with the English and French. Heine's contemporary, the royal physician David Ferdinand *Koreff, was also a writer and did much to promote the interchange of ideas between leading authors through his circle in Paris. Later contributions were made by German-Jewish translators from various languages, notably Julius Elias (Ibsen), Alexander Eliasberg (Dostoyevski, Tolstoy), F. Gundolf (Shakespeare), Siegfried *Trebitsch (Shaw), and Stefan Zweig (Verhaeren).
works on palestine and israel
Discounting biblical poems, and plays and novels set in ancient Palestine, most of the literature on the Holy Land written in German was produced by a few German-Jewish authors. One of the very few 19th-century works was Nach Jerusalem (1858–60;The Jews in the East, 1859), travel sketches by the poet and Viennese communal leader, Ludwig August *Frankl. The Gesaenge aus der Verbannung (1829) by Solomon Ludwig *Steinheim anticipated the return to Zion, as did Theodor Herzl's novel, Altneuland (1902), three-quarters of a century later. Moshe Ya'akov *Ben-Gavriel (Eugen Hoeflich), who had been an Austrian liaison officer with the Turkish army during World War i, wrote a series of Zionist works based on personal experience, beginning with books such as Der Weg ins Land (1918) and Feuer im Osten (1920). Rudolf *Lothar included an account of a visit to Palestine in Zwischen drei Welten (1926), and other German and Austrian Jews – not always Zionists – brought back glowing reports of Jewish pioneering achievements in Ereẓ Israel. They include Alfred Kerr, who has a chapter entitled "Jeruschalajim" in his Die Welt im Licht (1920); Arthur Holitscher, who wrote Reise durch das juedische Palaestina (1922); Richard Arnold *Bermann, who collaborated with another non-Zionist, Arthur Rundt, in the publication of Palaestina (1923); and Felix Salten (Neue Menschen auf alter Erde, 1925). Else Lasker-Schueler's poetic impressions of the land in which she spent her last years, illustrated with her own quaint drawings, were conveyed in Das Hebraeerland (1937). Another refugee, the historical biographer Josef *Kastein, wrote many works in Palestine after 1933, including Jerusalem; Die Geschichte eines Landes (1937) and Eine palaestinensische Novelle (1942).
After World War ii, Hans José Rehfisch wrote Quelle der Verheissung (1946), a play about German Jews who settled in Ereẓ Israel. Max Brod's novel, Unambo (1949), dealt with Israel's War of Independence, while Aryeh Ludwig *Strauss, a refugee poet and literary historian who settled in Palestine and later wrote in Hebrew as well as German, reflected both the Israel scene and his own intimate experience in the lyrical Heimliche Gegenwart (1952). M.Y. Ben-Gavriel found a new and valuable outlet for his talents in the many books of anecdotes and travel which became best sellers in post-Hitler Germany, such as Kumsitz (1956). His descriptions of life in the State of Israel did much to win sympathy and support for the infant Jewish state in Federal Germany.
The Holocaust and Its Aftermath
The liquidation of German writers of Jewish origin was set in motion almost as soon as the Nazis came to power in 1933. Two early victims were the philosopher Theodor *Lessing (murdered at Marienbad in 1933) and the poet and dramatist Erich *Muehsam (tortured to death at the Oranienburg concentration camp in 1934). The massacre increased after the outbreak of World War ii. Ernst Heilborn died at the hands of the Gestapo in Berlin in 1941, Paul *Kornfeld in the Lodz ghetto in 1942, and Gertrud Kolmar somewhere in Eastern Europe in the following year. Writers who perished at *Auschwitz include Georg Hermann (1943), Arno Nadel (1943), and Camill Hoffmann (1944). By a grim irony, Herwarth *Walden, who fled to the U.S.S.R. in 1933, is thought to have been executed during a Soviet purge in 1942. A number of Jewish writers, unable to accept the shattering of their illusions, committed suicide. They include the cultural philosopher and historian Walter *Benjamin (Paris, 1940), Egon Friedell (Vienna, 1938), Ludwig *Fulda (Berlin, 1939), Ernst Toller (New York, 1939), Kurt Tucholsky (Sweden, 1935), Ernst *Weiss (Paris, 1940), Alfred Wolfenstein (Paris, 1945), and Stefan Zweig (Brazil, 1942). In fear of the Nazi invaders, the half-Jewish expressionist poet Walter *Hasenclever took his own life at a detention camp in southern France in 1940.
Many other German and Austrian writers of Jewish birth, more fortunate, found refuge abroad. Among those who settled in England were Felix Braun, Kurt *Hiller, Alfred Kerr, Arthur Koestler, Theodor *Kramer, Robert *Neumann, Hans José Rehfisch, and Carl *Roessler. Karl Wolfskehl died an exile in New Zealand, Nelly Sachs and Peter *Weiss settled in Sweden, while Paul *Adler survived the Holocaust in hiding in Czechoslovakia. Switzerland provided a haven for Efraim *Frisch, Margarete *Susman, Siegfried Trebitsch, and the converted half-Jew, Carl Zuckmayer, who spent the war years in the U.S. By far the largest number fled to the United States or Palestine. Those who immigrated to Ereẓ Israel include Max Brod, Martin Buber, M.Y. Ben-Gavriel, Sammy Gronemann, Josef Kastein, Leo *Perutz, Else Lasker-Schueler, Aryeh Ludwig Strauss, and Arnold Zweig. The U.S. welcomed scores of refugee writers, among them literary figures such as Julius Bab, Richard Beer-Hofmann, Hugo Bieber, Ferdinand *Bruckner, Alfred Doeblin, Lion Feuchtwanger, Manfred *George, Hermann *Kesten, Ernst Lothar, Ludwig *Marcuse, Walter *Mehring, Alfred *Neumann, Alfred *Polgar, Roda Roda (Sandor Rosenfeld, 1872–1945), Felix Salten, Friedrich *Torberg, Berthold *Viertel, Ernst *Waldinger, and Franz Werfel. Refugee writers who returned to Europe after World War ii include Braun, Bruckner, Doeblin, Lothar, Marcuse, Rehfisch, Salten, Torberg, and Viertel. Several leftist writers abandoned the West for Iron Curtain countries: from Mexico, Egon Erwin *Kisch, the "rushing reporter," returned to Prague and Anna *Seghers to East Germany; Friedrich *Wolf moved from the U.S.S.R. to East Berlin and was for a time East Germany's envoy in Warsaw; while Arnold Zweig, who left Israel in 1948, also settled in East Berlin. Hans *Habe, who had fought first with the French and later with the U.S. army, finally made his home in Austria. A postwar playwright, Wolfgang Hildesheimer (1916– ), was in Ereẓ Israel during the 1930s and World War ii, but eventually settled in Munich.
the literature of remorse
After the collapse of Nazi Germany, non-Jewish writers of a new, repentant generation experienced a feeling of revulsion against the mass murder of the Jews. They tended to idealize the figure of the Jew, endowing him with biblical grandeur, immense wisdom, and great moral stature. As the prime victim of the European Holocaust, the Jew continued to trouble and preoccupy the conscience of postwar Germany. The poet and novelist Johannes Bobrowski, who had served on the Russian front during World War ii, wrote affectionately of the heterogeneous population and folk world of pre-Nazi East Prussia, and spoke of Germany's treatment of the Jews as "a long story of misfortune and guilt, for which my people has been to blame ever since the days of the Teutonic Knights." Similar feelings pervaded the works of postwar novelists such as Heinrich Boell (Wo warst du, Adam?, 1951), Albrecht Goes (Das Brandopfer, 1954), Guenter Grass (Die Blechtrommel, 1959;Hundejahre, 1963), Walter Jens (Der Blinde, 1951), Wolfgang Koeppen, and Felix Lutzendorf. The anti-Nazi refugee novelist Erich Maria Remarque dealt with the fate of German Jews immediately before and during the Holocaust: Arc de triomphe (1946;Arch of Triumph, 1946); Der Funke Leben (1952;Spark of Life, 1952); and Die Nacht von Lissabon (1962); and other novels on the theme of anti-Jewish persecution were written by Stefan Andres (Die Sintflut, 1949–59), Friedrich Duerrenmatt (Der Verdacht, 1953), Hermann Kasack (Die Stadt hinter dem Strom, 1947), and Rudolf Lorenzen (Alles andere als ein Held, 1959).
The fate of the Jews was also presented on the stage in plays by Stefan Andres (Sperrzonen, 1959), Max Frisch (Andorra, 1962), Fritz Hochwaelder (Der Fluechtling, 1948;Der oeffentliche Anklaeger, 1954), Erwin Sylvanus (Korczak und die Kinder, 1959), and Martin Walser (Eiche und Angora, 1962). The most influential – and controversial – postwar German drama about the Jews in the Nazi era was Rolf *Hochhuth's Der Stellvertreter (1963), which condemned Pope Pius xii as an accessory to Hitler's "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem."Der Stellvertreter was translated into many languages and was staged in the U.S. as The Deputy and in England as The Representative. In postwar German literature the Jew thus became a symbol of man's inhumanity to man and an instrument of national self-flagellation. This process was encouraged by the appearance of works in German by Jewish victims of the Hitler era – the moving diary of Anne *Frank; Das unausloeschliche Siegel (1946), a novel by the baptized half-Jewess, Elisabeth Langgaesser (1899–1950);Eine Seele aus Holz (1962;A Soul of Wood, 1964), a grim volume of tales about Hitler's "death doctors" and their victims by Jakov Lind (1927– ); the visionary poems of Paul *Celan (1920–1970), a Romanian-born writer and translator, whose works include Der Sand aus den Urnen (1948) and Mohn und Gedaechtnis (1952); and the poems of Nelly *Sachs. Two half-Jews who saw the problem from both sides of the fence were Carl Zuckmayer, in his plays Des Teufels General (1947) and Das kalte Licht (1955), and Peter Weiss with Die Ermittlung, an oratorio based on the Auschwitz trial held in Frankfurt in 1965 (Eng., The Investigation, 1966).
In contemporary Germany, Polish-born Marcel *Reich-Ranicki has established himself as the country's leading literary critic. Other German-language writers of note are Elfriede *Jelinek (Nobel Prize, 2004), Wolfgang *Hildesheimer, and Barbara *Honigmann.
general: L. Geiger, Die deutsche Literatur und die Juden (1910), 1–24. biblical and hebraic influences: G. Karpeles, Geschichte der juedischen Literatur, 2 (19213), 346–54; E. Tannenbaum, Philo Zitaten-Lexikon: Worte von Juden, Worte fuer Juden (1936), 17–61 (includes bibliography); F. Lehner, in: L. Finkelstein (ed.), The Jews … 2 (19603), 1472–86 (includes bibliography). image of the jew: O.B. Frankl, Der Jude in den deutschen Dichtungen der 15., 16. und 17. Jahrhunderten (1905); L. Geiger, Die deutsche Literatur und die Juden (1910), 25–45. the jewish contribution: A. Soergel and C. Hohoff, Dichtung und Dichter der Zeit, 2 vols. (1961–63), index, s.v. names of authors; G. Karpeles, Geschichte der juedischen Literatur, 2 (19213), 320–43 and index (includes bibliography); G. Krojanker (ed.), Juden in der deutschen Literatur (1926); A. Zweig, Juden auf der deutschen Buehne (1928); A. Myerson and I. Goldberg, The German Jew (1933), 119–42; A. Lewkowitz, Das Judentum und die geistigen Stroemungen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (1935); E. Tannenbaum, Philo Zitaten-Lexikon: Worte von Juden, Worte fuer Juden (1936), 124–44, 149–53 (includes bibliography); F.R. Bienenfeld, The Germans and the Jews (1939), 126ff.; R. Kayser, in: D.D. Runes (ed.), The Hebrew Impact on Western Civilization (1951), 556–64; C. Roth, The Jewish Contribution to Civilization (19563), 79–80, 93, 94–98, and index (includes bibliography); S. Liptzin, Germany's Stepchildren (1944, repr. 1961); A. Zweig, Bilanz der deutschen Judenheit (1961), 239–49; S. Kaznelson (ed.), Juden im deutschen Kulturbereich (19623), 1–67; H. Zohn, Wiener Juden in der deutschen Literatur (1964); H. Friedmann and O. Mann, Deutsche Literatur im 20. Jahrhundert, 2 vols. (19675), index, s.v. authors' names; H. Zohn, in: The Jews of Czechoslovakia, 1 (1968), 468–522 (includes bibliography); W. Jakob, in: Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, 6 (1962–63), 75–92 (an extensive bibliography on the subject). the holocaust and its aftermath: L. Kahn, in: jba, 24 (1966), 14–22; I. Elbogen, A Century of Jewish Life (1944), 636–74 (includes bibliography); Exil Literatur 1933–45. Eine Ausstellung aus Bestaenden der deutschen Bibliothek, Frankfurt am Main (19673), index, s.v. names of authors. add. bibliography: Lexikon deutsch-juedischer Autoren. Archiv Bibliographia Judaica. Redaktionelle Leitung (1992ff.); A.B. Kilcher (ed.), Metzler Lexikon der deutsch-juedischen Literatur (2003).
German literature, works in the German language by German, Austrian, Austro-Hungarian, and Swiss authors, as well as by writers of German in other countries.
Old and Middle High German: From Early to Medieval Literature
Heroic legends, among them the Lay of Hildebrand, date from the turn of the 8th cent. to the 9th cent. and are the earliest known works in Old High German (see German language). The Waltherius (10th cent.) is written in Latin. Low German and Saxon dialects are also used in these epics. Writings of the 9th to the 11th cent., largely inspired by the church, include the works of the monks Rabanus Maurus Magnentius, Otfried, and Notker Labeo.
The succeeding period of Middle High German (12th–14th cent.) is characterized by chivalric poetry, such as the songs and lyrics of the minnesingers on courtly love and other subjects. Courtly epics, such as Gottfried von Strassburg's Tristan and Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival (see Parsifal), were often based on French troubadour and trouvère sources (see troubadours; trouvères), while epics like the Nibelungenlied (see under Nibelungen) and Gudrun use Germanic traditions. A gradual decline of chivalric poetry is evident in the works of Ulrich von Lichtenstein, and the rise of the urban literary traditions is seen in such epics as Wernher der Gartenaere's Meier Helmbrecht (c.1250).
The Protestant Reformation, High German, and Literary Academies: The Fifteenth to Seventeenth Centuries
After 1400 more popular literary forms became dominant: folk songs, fables, folktales, and short plays. The aristocratic heritage of the minnesingers was replaced by meistersingers, notably Hans Sachs. The Reformation profoundly influenced the course of German literature, and Martin Luther's translation (1522–34) of the Bible propagated a unified High German language. Religious and scholarly writings were also affected by humanism; German humanists included Ulrich von Hutten and Conradus Celtes.
The Thirty Years War (1618–48) brought religious schism, widespread devastation, and, concomitantly, a consolidation of national consciousness resulting in a flowering of German literature with strong courtly and absolutist tendencies. Literary academies, arising in Hamburg, Nuremberg, and other cities, worked for the purification and development of the German language. Most influential was the Silesian school, which included Martin Opitz, noted for his metrical reforms, and the poets Hofmann von Hofmannswaldau (1618–79), Paul Fleming (1609–40), Andreas Gryphius, and Daniel Casper von Lohenstein. Leading writers of hymns were the Protestant Paul Gerhardt and the Catholic Angelus Silesius. Hans Jakob von Grimmelshausen's Simplicissimus (1669), a picaresque account of the Thirty Years War, may be considered the first German novel.
The Eighteenth Century
Sturm und Drang and Classicism
The great age of German literature began in the 18th cent. The classicist theories of Johann Christoph Gottsched aroused violent critical reactions, indirectly paving the way for Friedrich Klopstock and especially for Gotthold Lessing, the greatest preclassical critic and dramatist. The period known as Sturm und Drang embraced the works of Johann Hamann, Johann Gottfried von Herder, and Jakob Lenz.
The period also encompassed the early works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller. Goethe and Schiller were widely considered the greatest figures in the subsequent classical period, when artistic forms in general were characterized by restraint, lucidity, and balance (see classicism). Their cultural ideals, expressed in the novel of self-formation or Bildungsroman, were also spread by C. M. Wieland and Friedrich Hölderlin, the age's greatest German poet.
At the end of the 18th cent. literary romanticism, initiated in Germany by the brothers Friedrich and H. W. von Schlegel and by Novalis, brought greater emphasis on subjective emotion. A new literary form appeared in the novelle, a prose tale often dealing with supernatural elements. Typical early romantic poets were Ludwig Tieck, Clemens Brentano, and Joachim von Arnim, who were also collectors and editors of folktales and folk songs, sometimes set to music by Robert Schumann and other composers.
Freiherr von Eichendorff, Adelbert von Chamisso, and Ludwig Uhland were other notable German romantics. The movement's historical tendencies were supplemented by the philological and folkloristic researches of the brothers Grimm. The writer E. T. A. Hoffmann was romanticism's greatest psychologist of the unconscious. Hovering between classicism and romanticism, Heinrich von Kleist's stories and plays were masterpieces of dramatic economy, other important playwrights were Franz Grillparzer and C. F. Hebbel.
The Nineteenth Century: Realism and Naturalism
The revolutionary literary movement known as Young Germany, which strove to arouse German political opinion, turned from romanticism to the more sober realism; its great leaders were Karl Börne and Heinrich Heine. Realism was consolidated in the influential social novels of Theodor Fontane, whereas Eduard Mörike and Adalbert Stifter adhered to a form of classicism. The theory of realism was further developed by the school of naturalism, represented by the young Gerhart Hauptmann.
The Twentieth Century
Symbolism, Impressionism, and Expressionism
Antinaturalistic movements grew stronger in the German imperialistic period. They became evident as symbolism and impressionism in poetry (Stefan George, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hugo von Hofmannsthal) and in the novel (Thomas Mann, Alfred Döblin, Hermann Hesse, Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, Hermann Broch) and as expressionism in verse (Georg Trakl, Georg Heym, Gottfried Benn) and drama (Frank Wedekind, Georg Kaiser, Bertolt Brecht). The literature of the Weimar Republic carried forward prewar traditions and excelled in formal experimentation and innovation. This activity was stifled by the rise of National Socialism, which forced leading writers like Thomas Mann and Arnold Zweig into emigration.
The postwar decades saw a gradual literary resurgence, with the social and critical novels of authors like Heinrich Böll, Günter Grass, and Max Frisch gaining prominance. Two important centers of literary activity were Group 47, organized by Hans Werner Richter in Germany, and the Vienna Circle, which attracted a number of experimental writers, such as H. C. Artmann and Ernst Jandl in Austria. East Germany's writers generally upheld the tenets of socialist realism, while those in the west were more varied.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, both groups were preoccupied with the Nazi period. Among the significant German writers were Ingeborg Bachmann, Horst Bienek, Johannes Bobrowski, Uwe Johnson, Arno Schmidt, Martin Walser, Peter Weiss, and Christa Wolf. Some of the German-language writers who have received the greatest recent international attention are the Austrian novelist Thomas Bernhard and the Romanian-Jewish poet Paul Celan.
See general histories of German literature by E. A. Rose (1960), A. Closs, ed. (4 vol., 1967–70), J. M. Ritchie, ed. (3 vol., 1967–70), J. G. Robertson (6th ed. 1971), H. B. Garland (2d ed. 1986), and H. Bschenstein (1990); W. T. H. Jackson, The Literature of the Middle Ages (1960); W. H. Bruford, Germany in the 18th Century (2d ed. 1965); H. T. Moore, Twentieth-Century German Literature (1967); P. Demetz, Postwar German Literature (1970); A. K. Domandi, ed., Modern German Literature (2 vol., 1972); A. Menhennet, The Romantic Movement (1981); V. Lange, The Classical Age of German Literature (1982).
literature: For the literature of England, see English literature; for that of Germany, see German literature, and so forth. For the forms of literary art, see biography, essay, novel, theater, letters, and so forth; for its methods and purposes, see criticism, style, satire, versification, figure of speech. See also journalism.