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Steinherz, Samuel


STEINHERZ, SAMUEL (1859–1944), Prague medievalist. Born in Grassing (Burgenland), Steinherz taught history at the Prague German University from 1901, and specialized in papal diplomacy, on which he published four volumes (between 1898 and 1914). When Steinherz was elected rector in 1922 he did not follow the custom of Jewish professors of declining the honor but declared that he felt and acted as a German. Antisemitic students' organizations asked for his resignation, organized a strike, occupied the buildings, and prevented Jewish students from entering them demanding the imposition of the *numerus clausus. The riots spread to German universities all over Europe, mainly in Austria. In February 1923, becoming aware of obstruction by his colleagues, Steinherz submitted his resignation, which the Czechoslovak minister of education, Rudolf *Bechyne, a Czech Social Democrat, refused to accept. Finally Steinherz went on leave. The "Steinherz affair" caused a crisis in Jewish circles in Czechoslovakia advocating assimilation into German culture, and influenced Steinherz himself. He turned to research in Jewish history, mainly the epoch of the Crusades. He edited Die Juden in Prag (1927) and was among the founders of the Society for History of the Jews in the Czechoslovak Republic in 1928. That year he retired from the university and became head of the society and editor of its yearbook (jggjČ) throughout its existence, from 1929 until 1938. In 1942, nearly blind, Steinherz was deported to *Theresienstadt. In the camp he lectured on the history of the Jews in Bohemia. He died in Theresienstadt on his 85th birthday.


H. Gold, in: Zeitschrift fuer Geschichte der Juden in der Tschechoslowakei, 5 (1938), 51–56; V. Stein, ibid., 57–58; Selbstwehr, 16 no. 47 (1922), 1–3; no. 48 (1922), 1; no. 50 (1922), 3; 17 no. 8 (1923), 1; Židovské zprávy, 4 no. 32 (1922), 3; no. 33 (1922); no. 34 (1922), 5; 5 no. 7 (1923), 8; R. Kestenberg-Gladstein, in: Zion, 5 (1940), 281–93; Věstník židovské obce náboženské v Praze, 17 (1955), 569; B'nai B'rith, Mitteilungencsr (1937), 297–302.

[Meir Lamed]

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