Altmann, Adolf

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ALTMANN, ADOLF (1879–1944), rabbi, historian, philosopher. Born in Hunsdorf, Hungary, Altmann studied at the yeshivot of Hunsdorf and Pressburg, and graduated as doctor of philosophy from Berne University. An early follower of Herzl, he worked for the acceptance of religious Zionism in the face of hostility on the part of the Hungarian Orthodox rabbinate. He was a delegate to the First Mizrachi Congress in Pressburg, correspondent for Die Welt (1905), and editor of the Ungarische Wochenschrift (1904).

He served as rabbi in Salzburg (1907–1915) where he wrote the two-volume Geschichte der Juden in Stadt and LandSalzburg (1913, 1930), which is still the authoritative work on the subject, and in Merano. In World War i he served as senior chaplain in the Austro-Hungarian Army, receiving the Golden Cross of Merit; in witness to Jewish service in the war he collected testimonials from military commanders on the conduct of their Jewish soldiers. From 1920 to 1938 he served as chief rabbi – the last one – of Trier, one of the oldest Jewish communities in Germany. The results of his historical research into the community's origins were published in Das Früheste Vorkommen der Juden in Deutschland; Juden in romischen Trier (1931), which threw new light on the subject, dating the settlement of Jews in Trier to the end of the 3rd and early 4th century c.e. He contributed the entry on the history of German Jews to the Jüdisches Lexikon (1927). He was a leading delegate to the Association of Jewish Communities (Preussischer Landesverband Jued. Gemeinden) and as prolific author and orator participated widely in Jewish cultural life in Germany. In 1938 he immigrated to Holland and met his death in Auschwitz in 1944 with his wife Malwine, née Weisz, their daughter Hilda van Mentz and family, and their son Dr. Wilhelm Altmann. He was survived by three sons: Professor Alexander *Altmann, Dr. Erwin Altmann, and Dr. Manfred Altmann. A street was named after him in Trier in 1956 and in 1979 in commemoration of the centenary of his birth a special ceremony was held in the Town Hall of Trier. An illustrated brochure, Dr. Adolf Altmann zum Gedenken was published by the City of Trier on the event.


A complete list of Adolf Altmann's works, 166 items, is in: Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden, 8 (1971), 149–57; on altmann: A. Altmann, in: Leo Baeck Yearbook, 26 (1981), 145–76: H. Gold, Geschichte der Juden in Oesterreich (1971), 149–57: M. Karin–Karger, Salzburg's wiedergeabaute Synagoge (1968): ajr Information, Sept. and Nov. 1979: S. Dasberg, in: Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad (Sept. 1, 1939): H. Istor, in: Allgemeine Juedische Wochenzeitung (Aug. 31, 1979).