Stern-Taeubler, Selma

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STERN-TAEUBLER, SELMA (1890–1981), German historian. Selma Stern-Taeubler, born in Kippenheim (Baden), was the first girl to attend the Gymnasium in Baden-Baden. She then studied history and languages at the universities of Heidelberg and Munich, graduating in 1913. She specialized at first in general German history, but became interested in the history of German Jewry. In 1919 she was appointed a research fellow at the Akademie fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin at the invitation of its founder and director, the historian Eugen *Taeubler, whom she married in 1927. Her special field was compiling source material on the relationship between the Prussian state and its Jews from 1648 to 1812. Her scholarly publications were based on the premise that Judaism had to be studied in the context of the political and cultural environment.

The first two volumes of her chief work, Der preussische Staat und die Juden, were published in 1925, and a third volume followed in 1938, but almost the entire edition was destroyed by the Nazis. Jud Suess. Ein Beitrag zur deutschen und zur juedischen Geschichte was published in 1929 (repr. 1973), and many scholarly articles appeared in magazines. In 1934 the Akademie was closed by the Nazis, and in 1941 Selma Stern-Taeubler and her husband immigrated to the United States, settling in Cincinnati. In 1947 she became the first archivist of the American Jewish Archives (at the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati), a post she held until her retirement in 1957. In 1960 Selma Stern-Taeubler moved to Basle, Switzerland, where, between 1970 and 1975, she completed the following four volumes of Der preussische Staat und die Juden.

During and after her stay in the United States she continued to write important scholarly works, including The Court Jew; A Contribution to the History of the Period of Absolutism in Central Europe (1950; repr. 1985) and Josel von Rosheim, Befehlshaber der Judenschaft im Heiligen Roemischen Reich Deutscher Nation (1959; Eng. 1965). Her historical novel, The Spirit Returneth… (1946; Ger. 1972: Ihr seid meine Zeugen), deals with the persecution of the Jews during the time of the Black Death and helped the author to understand the persecutions of her own time.

add. bibliography:

Fritz Bamberger, in: Aufbau, vol. 26 (July 29, 1960); M. Sassenberg (ed.), Apropos Selma Stern (1998); idem, Selma Stern… (2004; with bibl.); idem, Selma Stern, erste Frau in der Wissenschaft des Judentums (2005).

[Frederick R. Lachman /

Archiv Bibliographia Judaica (2nd ed.)]

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