Traces and Treasures of German-Jewish History in Israel


Personal archives and collections were rescued from Nazi Germany by emigrants, refugees, and Jewish institutions with considerable difficulty during the years 1933-1945 and in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust. Many of these collections were brought to Mandate Palestine and are now preserved in public archives or private collections in Israel. Despite the efforts of Israeli archives, a significant part of the rescued materials has not yet been made available to international research. Few Israeli archives can provide personnel with sufficient language skills to make these mostly German-language holdings accessible.

Traces and Treasures

The project Traces of German-Jewish History promotes the arrangement and description of archives of scholars, writers, and artists and encourages archive-based research in the fields of Cultural Transfer, the History of Science, the Migration of Knowledge, and the History of Ideas. In order to preserve significant collections and to open them up to international research, the project draws on the DLA’s development of flexible cataloging and conservation measures, while the Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center offers its scholarly expertise and a forum for discussions between established scholars, junior researchers, and archivists.

Personal archives, literary estates, and historical collections do not only represent a threatened "cultural heritage", but they also provide an essential foundation for new cultural and scholarly discussions. Traces of German-Jewish Historyoffers junior scholars and students the opportunity to participate in projects combining academic research and archival practice. In addition to this, the project aims at locating relevant German-Jewish collections, which are neither archived nor accessible to the public, in order to facilitate their transfer to a suitable public archive in Israel.

The project’s advisory committee includes Dr. Stefan Litt (The National Library of Israel), Dr. Yaacov Lozowick (Israel State Archives), Prof. Guy Miron (Schechter Institute Jerusalem), and Dr. Anja Siegemund (Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem). It is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

See the left menu for the description of the ongoing projects as well as the ones already concluded.


In Cooperation With

Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach

Bonn University



Project Coordinator: Dr. Lina Barouch

Coordinator, 2012-2015: Caroline Jessen



Amit Levy, "A Man of Contention: Martin Plessner and his Encounters with the Orient", Naharaim 10 (2016), 79-100

Yonatan Mendel, "German Orientalism, Arabic Grammar, and the Jewish Education System. The origin and effects of Martin Plessner's Theory of Arabic Grammar", Naharaim 10 (2016), 57-77

Judith Siepmann, "Ein Mikrokosmos der deutschsprachigen Emigration. Heinrich Loewe und die Sammlung des Beit Ariela", Naharaim 7/1-2 (2013), 217-238

Shelly Zer-Zion und Jahn Künhe, "The German Archive of the Hebrew Habima: Bureaucracy and Identity", Naharaim 7/1-2 (2013), 239-260



בארכיון ובשדה: מבט היסטורי על תכנון ירושלים וישראל, ערב עיון לכבוד חשיפת ארכיוני רייכמן-כהנא, יד יצחק בן-צבי, 5 במרץ 2017.

Traces and Treasures: Preserving and Exploring German-Jewish Collections in Israeli Archives, international conference at the Hebrew University, 23-24 June 2013. 



Das Erbe der Einwanderer, a reportage by Lars-Broder Keil at Die Welt, 12 March 2016

German or in German? On the Preservation of Literary and Scholarly Collections in Israel, an article by Prof. Yfaat Weiss published at the Institute for Human Sciences, 2nd March 2015

Review of the project by Avner Shapira in Haaretz, 23th June 2013 [in Hebrew]