Library > News > Newsletter > 2015 > Germany, the Jews and Israel: An Evolving Digital Exhibition

Germany, the Jews and Israel: An Evolving Digital Exhibition

​In January 1952, stones thrown by an angry mob shattered the windows of the Israeli parliament while it was in session debating the most explosive topic of the day – reparations from Germany. The young Jewish state was on the verge of civil war as tempers flared on all sides just a few short years after the Holocaust. This is just one of the many captivating episodes addressed in the National Library's new virtual exhibition examining the complex and fascinating relations between Germany, the Jewish people and Israel throughout the 20th century. The evolving digital exhibition is both dynamic and groundbreaking, as a new item from the National Library's collections will be added to it each week throughout 2015, the year in which Germany and Israel mark 50 years of diplomatic relations. Many of the items have not previously been seen by more than a handful of select scholars.

​As the significant anniversary in German-Israeli relations approached, National Library archival expert Dr. Stefan Litt, the exhibition's curator, saw an opportunity to bring some of the Library's lost treasures to light in the context of the multifaceted and often weighty relationship between Germany and the Jewish people. Commemorating this significant milestone, each item revealed as part of the exhibition addresses German history between World War I and the end of the Cold War from a Jewish or Israeli perspective. A 1919 Weimar Republic election placard from the personal collection of Jewish German physician Dr. Arthur Czellitzer declares election day to be "the great day of the German people" and emphasizing that "every vote counts" reveals some of the excitement surrounding the first German elections in which women had the right to vote. The fact that Dr. Czellitzer donated his collection to the National Library just a few years before being murdered at the hands of the Nazis makes the item's historical context and significance as part of the exhibition that much more poignant.


Another notable item in the exhibition sheds light on a very different aspect of German-Jewish-Israeli relations. According to Dr. Litt, a 1966 letter written to Martin Buber's daughter by Rolf Pauls, West Germany's first ambassador to Israel, is one example of how the controversial Pauls, who had been a high-ranking officer in the Nazi army, "tried to advance economic and cultural ties between the two countries, proving his skills as a diplomat in the complex and charged role with which he was vested." This is just one example highlighted in the exhibition of an on-going dialogue between leading German and Israeli figures workings towards a future of reconciliation and productive collaboration. A new item will be added each week throughout the year along with an explanation regarding its origins and historical context. The exhibition is presented in Hebrew, English and German on the National Library website: