Gronemann, Samuel

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GRONEMANN, SAMUEL (Sammy ; 1875–1952), German author and Zionist leader. Gronemann, who was born in Strasburg, West Prussia, was the son of Selig Gronemann (1845–1918), a rabbi and scholar who refused to endorse the anti-Zionist stand of the German "Protestrabbiner" in 1898. After studying at the Klaus in Halberstadt, the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary, and the University of Berlin, Gronemann qualified as a lawyer and then embarked on a career as a journalist, playwright, and novelist. While serving on the eastern front in World War i, Gronemann came in touch with Jewish communities in the occupied territories, and after the war ended he personally helped many Jewish refugees. He also helped bring the Yiddish Theater from Vilna to Berlin. Gronemann served as legal adviser to the Union of German Actors and Playwrights. His novels include Tohuwabohu (1920); Hawdoloh und Zapfenstreich (1924), in which the East European milieu is prominently featured; and Schalet (1927). He also wrote a Purim play entitled Haman's Flucht (1926). A noted wit, Gronemann's most successful works were his comedies which were adapted for the Hebrew stage after he settled in Tel Aviv in 1936. These include Jakob und Christian (1936), which mocked Nazi race theories; Der Prozess um des Esels Schatten (1945), a political satire; Heinrich Heine und sein Onkel (1947), dealing with a debate about baptism in a Jewish family; and Die Koenigin von Saba (1951). He is perhaps best remembered, however, for Der Weise und der Narr: Koenig Salomo und der Schuster ("The King and the Cobbler," 1942), a comedy in a legendary biblical setting. The Hebrew version by Nathan *Alterman, Shelomo ha-Melekh ve-Shalmai ha-Sandelar (1942), was performed by the *Ohel Theater in Tel Aviv. In 1965 it was set to music by Alexander Argov and performed by the *Cameri theater. It became the first successful Hebrew musical comedy and was performed in various countries. A pioneer German Zionist, Gronemann was a delegate to the Zionist congresses from 1901 onward and was for many years a member of the Zionist Actions Committee. His reputation for political impartiality brought him the presidency of the Zionist Congress court. Gronemann's memoirs, Erinnerungen eines Jecken (published in Hebrew translation in 1947 and only in 2002/2004 in the original German), are an important contribution to the history of the Zionist Movement in Germany. A traditionally observant Jew, he was an outspoken critic of Diaspora assimilationism and also attacked certain aspects of ultra-Orthodoxy.


Tidhar, 3 (1958), 1383–4; D. Stern, Werke juedischer Autoren deutscher Sprache (1969), 153. add. bibliography: S. Gronemann, Erinnerungen. Aus dem Nachlass, ed. J. Schlör (2002); S. Gronemann, Erinnerungen an meine Jahre in Berlin. Aus dem Nachlass, ed. J. Schlör (2004); R. Heuer, Archiv Bibliographia JudaicaLexikon deutsch-juedischer Autoren, vol. 9 (2001), 315–23; H. Mittelmann, Sammy Gronemann (18751952). Zionist, Schriftsteller und Satiriker in Deutschland und Palaestina (2004).

[Manfred Moshe Geis /

Joachim Schlör (2nd ed.)]