Mittwoch, Eugen

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MITTWOCH, EUGEN (1876–1942), German Orientalist. Born in Schrimm, Prussian province of Posen (now Poland), Mittwoch originally intended to be a rabbi and studied at the Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin. He made his first journey to the East with Moritz Sobernheim and thus became familiar with Palestine and the culture of the Near East. He returned to the Orient with Paul *Nathan in 1907 and helped him set up the *Hilfsverein's school system in Palestine. Mittwoch himself was one of the first German Jews to speak modern Hebrew. He taught at the University of Berlin (1915–16) and at the University of Greifswald (1917) and returned to Berlin in 1919 to serve as a professor at the Seminary for Oriental Languages, of which he became director in 1920. During World War i he was head of the Nachrichtenstelle fuer den Orient, which propagated pro-German feelings in the countries of the Near East. In 1933, having been dismissed from his position by the Nazis, Mittwoch first directed the office of the Joint Distribution Committee in Berlin and in 1939 moved to England, where he assisted the Ministry of Information on Arabian and Persian problems. Between 1910 and 1930 Mittwoch was active in educating young Falashas (Beta *Israel), and was a prominent member of the Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden. He also cooperated in the Jewish World Relief Conference and was a representative at hicem (a relief organization) from its inception. He was the last president of the council of the Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der Wissenschaft des Judentums and transferred the scholarly material from its office to England in 1938. He served on the executive of the Zentralverein deutscher Staatsbuerger juedischen Glaubens, immigrated to London and died there in 1942.

Mittwoch's special scholarly interest was in the study of classical and modern Arabic as well as Ethiopian dialects and literature, such as Die traditionelle Aussprache des Aethiopischen (1926). In his Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des islamischen Gebets und Kultus (1913) he illustrated the influence of Jewish prayer and liturgy on Islam. He also contributed to Hebrew epigraphy as well as to that of South Arabian, Himyaritic, and Sabean inscriptions. Among his other works is Die arabischen Lehrbuecher der Augenheilkunde (with J. Hirschberg and J. Lippert, 1905). Mittwoch also wrote about Islamic art and modern Islamic politics. He was a coeditor of the jubilee edition of the works of Moses Mendelssohn (seven vols., 1929–38). In 1937 the Gesellschaft presented him with a Festschrift (see bibliography).


I. Elbogen, Eugen Mittwoch, zum 60. Geburtstag (1937), 186–93, incl. bibl. ( = mgwj, 81 (1937), 243–50. add. bibliography: W. Gottschalk, Die Schriften Eugen Mittwochs (1937).

[Bjoern Siegel (2nd ed.)]