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A Jewish Communist in Weimar Germany

The Life of Werner Scholem (1895 – 1940)

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Ralf Hoffrogge

Walter Benjamin derided Werner Scholem as a ‘rogue’ in 1924. Josef Stalin referred him as a ‘splendid man’, but soon backtracked and labeled him an ‘imbecile’, while Ernst Thälmann, chairman of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), warned his followers against the dangers of ‘Scholemism’. For the philosopher and historian Gershom Scholem, however, Werner was first and foremost his older brother. The life of German-Jewish Communist Werner Scholem (1895–1940) had many facets. Werner and Gerhard, later Gershom, rebelled together against their authoritarian father and the atmosphere of national chauvinism engulfing Germany during World War I. After inspiring his younger brother to take up the Zionist cause, Werner himself underwent a long personal journey before deciding to join the Communist struggle. Scholem climbed the party ladder and orchestrated the KPD's ‘Bolshevisation’ campaign, only to be expelled as one of Stalin's opponents in 1926. He was arrested in 1933, and ultimately murdered in the Buchenwald concentration camp seven years later. This first biography of Werner Scholem tells his life story by drawing on a wide range of original sources and archive material long hidden beyond the Iron Curtain of the Cold War era.

First published in German by UVK Verlagsgesellschaft as Werner Scholem - eine politische Biographie (1895-1940), Konstanz, 2014.
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Martin Wein

In History of the Jews in the Bohemian Lands, Martin Wein traces the interaction of Czechs and Jews, but also of Christian German-speakers, Slovaks, and other groups in the Bohemian lands and in Czechoslovakia throughout the first half of the twentieth century. This period saw accelerated nation-building and nation-cleansing in the context of hegemony exercised by a changing cast of great powers, namely Austria-Hungary, France, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union. The author examines Christian-Jewish and inner-Jewish relations in various periods and provinces, including in Subcarpathian Ruthenia, emphasizing interreligious alliances of Jews with Protestants, such as T. G. Masaryk, and political parties, for example a number of Social Democratic ones. The writings of Prague’s Czech-German-Jewish founders of theories of nationalism, Hans Kohn, Karl W. Deutsch, and Ernest Gellner, help to interpret this history.