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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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The Ethics and Religious Philosophy of Etty Hillesum

Proceedings of the Etty Hillesum Conference at Ghent University, January 2014

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The Ethics and Religious Philosophy of Etty Hillesum contains the proceedings of the second international Etty Hillesum Congress at Ghent University in January 2014 and is a joint effort by fifteen Hillesum experts to shed new light on the life, works and vision of the Dutch Jewish writer Etty Hillesum (1914-1943), one of the victims of the Nazi-regime. Hillesum’s diaries and letters illustrate her heroic struggle to come to terms with her personal life in the context of the Holocaust. This volume revives Hillesum research with a comprehensive rereading of her texts. With the current rise of interest in peace studies, Judaism, the Holocaust, inter-religious dialogue, gender studies and mysticism, it is evident that this book will be invaluable to students and scholars in various disciplines.
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Ralf Hoffrogge