August 27, 2021 | Foreign Podicy

Jewish Germans and German Jews

August 27, 2021 Foreign Podicy

Jewish Germans and German Jews


Jews have lived in the lands we now call Germany for a rather long time. They first arrived in the 4th century under the Roman Emperor Constantine.

By the end of the 19th century, there were about 500,000 German Jews – or Jewish Germans. Though less than one percent of the population, a significant number had become prominent in literature, music, the theater, journalism, science and other fields that were open to them – not all fields were, of course. Twelve German Jews won Nobel Prizes.

Guenter Lewy was born in Germany in 1923. He lived for six years under Nazi rule. He fled to Palestine in early 1939, where he worked on a kibbutz for three years.

In 1942, as General Rommel’s divisions were closing in Palestine, posing a lethal threat to Palestinian Jews, he volunteered for the British Army. He fought in Egypt and Italy. After the war, he served as an interpreter for the British military in occupied Germany.

In 1946, he came to the U.S. where he has taught, studied, and written 17 books.

His most recent: “Jews and Germans: Promise, Tragedy, and the Search for Normalcy” – the only book in English to fully explore the long, eventful, and troubled history of what he calls the “German-Jewish relationship.”

He joins Foreign Podicy host Cliff May for a discussion of his excellent book and his extraordinary life.