Deutsch-Israelitischer Gemeindebund

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DEUTSCH-ISRAELITISCHER GEMEINDEBUND (DIGB ), union of German Jewish communities; the first all-German Jewish association. Founded in 1869 at the Leipzig *synod, the digb began its activities only with the establishment of the German Empire (1871). Initially its headquarters were in Leipzig, but in 1882 they were moved to Berlin. The union gradually embraced most of the German communities, but internal dissensions and legal obstacles prevented it from becoming the representative body of German Jewry. Many of the Orthodox communities withheld their cooperation even though the digb's constitution precluded it from dealing with religious and political issues. After World War i, when the Weimar Republic permitted the unification of religious associations, a fresh attempt at effecting a joint representation of all communities had no practical results. Instead, separate communal associations were established in the different states, the largest of which was the Preussischer Landesverband der juedischen Gemeinden. A fully representative body, the *Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden, was established only in 1933, as a result of the pressures of the Nazi regime.

The digb's activities were widespread. In particular it adopted small and financially weak communities, supporting the appointment of religious teachers, providing grants for communal buildings, planning curricula, and organizing Jewish teachers' conferences. One outcome of these efforts was the creation of the Jewish Teachers' Association of the German Empire. Funds were set up to provide for communal officials and charitable institutions, including homes for neglected and mentally retarded children, and a Jewish Workers' Colony for the rehabilitation of impoverished immigrants. In 1885 the digb founded the Historical Commission for Investigating the History of the Jews in Germany to gather and sift sources and records for scientific research into the Jewish past. The Commission included non-Jews, such as the legal historian Otto *Stobbe, one of its first chairmen. Only three volumes of the Commission's Quellen zur Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland (1888–98) were published. Another important publication was the Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland, edited by Ludwig *Geiger and published for six years (1887–92). To cover German Jewry's more recent past the Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden (subsequently transferred to Israel; see Jewish *Archives) was set up, and a statistical yearbook was published. The digb attempted to combat antisemitism by disseminating explanatory literature, an activity later expanded by the *Centralverein deutscher Staatsbuerger juedischen Glaubens. Presidents of the digb included the renowned gynecologist S. *Kristeller and the historian Martin *Phillipson.


A. Kober, in: jsos, 9 (1947), 195–238; K. Wilhelm, in: ylbi, 2 (1957), 61–63; A. Sandler, ibid., 76–84.

[Reuven Michael]

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Deutsch-Israelitischer Gemeindebund

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