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

The Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture - Simon Dubnow



PI: Prof. Yfaat Weiss and Prof. Benjamin Pollock

Project Coordinator: Amit Levy

Coordinator, 2015-2018: Dr. Lina Barouch

Coordinator, 2012-2015: Dr. Caroline Jessen



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

בארכיון ובשדה: מבט היסטורי על תכנון ירושלים וישראל, ערב עיון לכבוד חשיפת ארכיוני רייכמן-כהנא, יד יצחק בן-צבי, 5 במרץ 2017 (לחצו כאן לצפייה באירוע המוסרט).

Archives Of German-Jewish Scholarship, 1918-2018. Knowledge Transfer and Nation Building in Mandatory Palestine and Israel, 29 November 2018, Berlin State Library, Potsdamer Strasse


Press and Online Articles

Review of the project by Avner Shapira in Haaretz (2013) [in Hebrew]

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, (2015)

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

"Heimat auf dem Balkon: Zur Erschließung deutsch-jüdischer Nachlässe in Israel" by Joachim Schlör, in Jüdische Kultur & Geschichte. Magazin des Simon-Dubnow Instituts (2018)

A Murder in Mandatory Tel Aviv: The Orientalist as an Advocate, by Hanan Harif, in The Israel National Library Blog (2019)

Crossing the Divide: Walter Grab and the East-German Historical Establishment, by Yonatan Shiloh-Dayan, in The Israel National Library Blog (2020)

“Stranger Things” in Jerusalem: Goethe and Goebbels in the Ticho Family Garden, by Dr. Lina Barouch, in The Israel National Library Blog (2020)  

Book Diplomacy: Curt Wormann and the International Librarians, by Dr. Silja Behre in The Israel National Library Blog (2020)  

An article about Leo Aryeh Mayer That the arrangement of his estate was made as part of the Traces and Treasures project.  in Haaretz (2021) [in Hebrew]




- Silja Behre, Der Bücherdiplomat: Curt Wormanns Nachlass als Quelle für eine globale Bibliotheksgeschichte, Jahrbuch des Dubnow-Instituts / Dubnow Institute Year Boook Volume XVII/2018 (2020)

- Judith Siepmann, Büchergeschichten, Ordnungskonzepte und die Vielschichtigkeit der Erinnerung: Heinrich Loewe und die Sha’ar-Zion-Bibliothek in Tel Aviv, Jahrbuch des Dubnow-Instituts / Dubnow Institute Year Boook Volume XVII/2018 (2020)

- Amit Levy, The Archive as Storyteller: Refractions of German-Jewish Oriental Studies Migration in Personal Archives, Jahrbuch des Dubnow-Instituts / Dubnow Institute Year Boook Volume XVII/2018 (2020)

- Elena Müller, Zoology in Translation: Archiving Heinz Steinitz’ Life in Science, Jahrbuch des Dubnow-Instituts / Dubnow Institute Year Boook Volume XVII/2018 (2020)

- Meirav Reuveny, "The Heinz Steinitz Marine Biology Laboratory in Eilat: Science and Politics between Father and Son", Jahrbuch des Dubnow-Instituts / Dubnow Institute Year Boook Volume XVII/2018 (2020)

- Shelly Zer-Zion, "The Archive of the Habima Secretariat: Margot Klausner and the Making of a National Stage", Jahrbuch des Dubnow-Instituts / Dubnow Institute Year Boook Volume XVII/2018 (2020)

- Shira Wilkof,"City, Utopia, and Migrant Displacement: The Archive of Urban Planner Ariel Kahane", Jahrbuch des Dubnow-Instituts / Dubnow Institute Year Boook Volume XVII/2018 (2020)

- Netta Cohen, "Memories of a Zoologist: Reflections on the Role of the Archive in the Production of Knowledge and Memory", Jahrbuch des Dubnow-Instituts / Dubnow Institute Year Boook Volume XVII/2018 (2020)

- Lina Barouch, "Introduction to -Schwerpunkt the Return to the Archive: Dispersal, Transmission, and Anticipation in Personal Archives Between Germany and Israel", Jahrbuch des Dubnow-Instituts / Dubnow Institute Year Boook Volume XVII/2018 (2020)

- Elisabeth Gallas, Anna Holzer-Kawalko, Caroline Jessen, Yfaat Weiss (EDS.), "Contested Heritage- Jewish Cultural Property after 1945", Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture –Simon Dubnow (2020)

- Shira Wilkof, "An ‘ordinary modernist’? Empire and nation in Ariel Kahane’s large-scale planning", Planning Perspectives (2019)

- Hanan Harif, "Between a Bridge and a Fortress: Shlomo Dov Goitein and the Role of 'Jewish Arabists' in American Academy", Jewish Social Studies (forthcoming)

- Hanan Harif, "Islam in Zion? Yosef Yo'el Rivlin's Translation of the Qur'an and Its Place Within the New Hebrew Culture", Naharaim 10:1 (2016), 39-55

- Hanan Harif, "Between Arab revival and Zionism: Josef Horovitz, Shlomo D. Goitein and the politics of Jewish Oriental studies", in: Ottfried Fraisse and Christian Wiese (eds.), Beyond the Myth of Golden Spain, De Gruyter (2016)

- Caroline Jessen, "Der Kanon im Archiv. Chancen und Herausforderungen für die Bewahrung und Erforschung von Nachlässen deutsch-jüdischer Autoren und Gelehrter in Israel", in: Philine Erni und Caroline Jessen (Hrsg.), Alt-Neue Schriften. Typographische und buchgestalterische Arbeiten von Moshe Spitzer, Franzisca Baruch und Henri Friedlaender, Marbach (2015)

- Caroline Jessen, "Spuren deutsch-jüdischer Geschichte. Erschließung und Erforschung von Nachlässen und Sammlungen in Israel", Archivar. Zeitschrift für Archivwesen 66 (2013), 328-333

- Jan Kühne and Shelly Zer-Zion, "The German Archive of the Hebrew Habima: Bureaucracy and Identity", Naharaim 7:1-2 (2013), 239-260.

- Amit Levy, "A Man of Contention: Martin Plessner and his Encounters with the Orient", Naharaim 10:1 (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 10:1 (2016), 57-77

- Judith Poppe, "Ich dichte in die wüste Zeit. Die deutschsprachige Lyrik Israels als Kleine Zwischenliteratur"
(under review)

- Sebastian Schirrmeister, "Der erste Mamlock. Eine Spurensuche. Das hebräische Bühnenmanuskript von Professor Mamlock im Kontext der verschiedenen Fassungen des Dramas", in: Hermann Haarmann und Christoph Hesse (Hrsg.), Einspruch. Schriftenreihe der Friedrich-Wolf-Gesellschaft, Marburg (2014)

- 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, Habima. Eine hebräische Bühne in der Weimarer Republik, Paderborn (2016).

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