Wischnitzer, Mark

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WISCHNITZER, MARK (1882–1955), historian, sociologist, and communal worker. In his youth Wischnitzer lived in Galicia, Vienna, and Berlin. On returning to his native Russia, he devoted himself to the study of Jewish history. From 1908 to 1913 he edited the section on the history of the Jews in Europe in the Russian-Jewish Yevreyskaya Entsiklopediya (from the third volume on). From 1909 to 1912 he lectured at the institute of Baron David Guenzburg in Petrograd on Oriental affairs and Jewish scholarship. From 1914 to 1916 he was the initiator and editor of Istoriya Yevreyskogo Naroda ("History of the Jewish People") in Moscow. He was also a member of the society for Jewish history and ethnography in Petrograd and participated in its quarterly Yevreyskaya Starina ("The Jewish Past"). From 1919 to 1921 he stayed in London, where he engaged in journalism and continued his research. From 1921 to 1937 he was secretary of the *Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden, in which he engaged in welfare enterprises for the Jews of eastern Europe, visited the regions of Jewish settlement in Russia, and finally (1933–37) concentrated on organizing the emigration of Jews from Nazi Germany to the countries of the West and overseas. During the period he lived in Berlin, Wischnitzer served with his wife, Rachel Wischnitzer, as director of the Jewish publication Rimon in Berlin and London (1922–24) and from 1925 was editor of the history section in the Encyclopaedia Judaica in Berlin. He occupied himself with the history of the Jewish guilds in Poland and Lithuania during the 17th and 18th centuries and devoted a study to them in Yiddish (1922). His History of Jewish Crafts and Guilds, which includes a list of his previous works on the subject, was published posthumously in 1965. He also published Die Juden in der Welt (1935).

After leaving Nazi Germany, Wischnitzer entered the service of the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Paris (1938); however, World War ii compelled him to go to the Dominican Republic (1940) and then to the United States (1941). He continued his communal service in the U.S. with the Council of Jewish Organizations and Welfare Funds and worked on editing the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia. He devoted his work To Dwell in Safety, The Story of Jewish Migration Since 1800 (1948) to general Jewish migration. He published the memoirs of Dov Ber *Birkenthal, in the description of whose life and times both literary and social views are intertwined; this appeared as Zikhronot R. Dov mi-Boliḥov (1922, repr. 1969; The Memoirs of Ber of Bolechow (1922)).

His wife rachel wischnitzer (née Bernstein; 1885–1989) was a scholar of Jewish art. Born in Minsk, she studied architecture in Paris. She edited the first periodicals for Jewish art, Rimon (in Heb.) and Milgroym (in Yid.; 1922–24), while she was in Berlin. These were printed by the Rimon publishing house which her husband had established. During this period she was director of the Jewish museum in Berlin (1934–38) and published Gestalten und Symbole der juedischen Kunst (1935), as well as contributing to the German Encyclopaedia Judaica and many other periodicals. In 1940 she went to the U.S., where she served as contributing editor for Jewish art of the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (1948) and also wrote on the synagogue of *Dura-Europos. She wrote Synagogue Architecture in the United States (1955) and The Architecture of the European Synagogue (1964). Rachel Wischnitzer strove to clarify the development of Jewish iconography, especially the literary background to the development of subjects and symbols in Jewish art, e.g., her book on Dura-Europos is replete with biblical and talmudic passages which enlighten the artistic intent. She was also a firm advocate of using the values of traditional Jewish art in the works of modern Jewish art.


Winninger, Biog, s.v.; Wilson Library Bulletin, 30 (1955/56), 298.

[Abraham N. Poliak]

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Wischnitzer, Mark

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