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Confronting Hitler’s Professors: Yiddish Scholarship and the Nazis

Hosted By: The National Library of Israel (NLI)

In 1946, Max Weinreich, the head of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, published his famous book, “Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes against the Jewish People”.

That same year, Franz Beranek implored Weinreich and linguist Solomon Birnbaum for help, after his library and extensive Yiddish research were irretrievably confiscated during his expulsion as an ethnic German from Czechoslovakia.

What he failed to mention were his extensive Nazi affiliations, as did Heinz Kloss, the author of the book “Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada”, a copy of which was found in Adolf Hitler’s personal library.

For surviving Jewish scholars of Yiddish, the encounter with colleagues who had served the Third Reich raised a number of moral quandaries, that each sought to resolve in his own way…

1pm ET/ 8pm Israel

The talk will explore how Beranek and Kloss presented themselves to Jewish colleagues and how Jewish colleagues sought to respond to them as persons and to their scholarship in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

The relationships between these scholars, stretching from the 1920s to the 1960s, tell a fascinating story about the history of Yiddish research and the changing meaning of Yiddish for Jewish and German researchers against the backdrop of two world wars and the Holocaust.

The event listed here is hosted by a third party. My Jewish Learning/70 Faces Media is not responsible for its content or for errors in the listing.


Kalman Weiser

Kalman Weiser is the Silber Family Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at York University and the author of several studies about Jewish nationalism and Yiddish linguistics and culture, especially in Eastern Europe. His book "Jewish People, Yiddish Nation: Noah Prylucki and the Folkists In Poland" won the 2012 Canadian Jewish Book Award for scholarship. His most recent volume is "Key Concepts in the Study of Antisemitism" (2021) and he is presently completing a book about the relationship between Jewish scholars of Yiddish and colleagues who served the Third Reich.
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The National Library of Israel (NLI)

The National Library of Israel serves as the dynamic institution of collective memory for the Jewish people worldwide and Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths – past, present and future. Through its world-class collections and a range of innovative digital, educational and cultural initiatives, the National Library works to share the stories of the Jewish people, the State of Israel, the Land of Israel and its region.
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