A Critical Edition of Collected Writings by Sammy Gronemann

Sammy Gronemann (1875-1952) was a German-Jewish lawyer and writer. As chief judge of the Zionist Congress Court and founder of its Court of Honour (1921-1946), Gronemann made a decisive contribution to the development of the Zionist judicial tradition. A satirical writer and dramatist, his books and plays became bestsellers in Germany prior to his flight from the National-Socialist regime in 1933, as well as in Palestine/Israel, following his immigration to Tel Aviv in 1936. He is credited not only with having embodied the institutionalized conscience of the Zionist movement, but also with pioneering the genre of Zionist satire and comedy drama. Nevertheless, Gronemann was eventually consigned to oblivion by German as well as Israeli historiography and was rediscovered only in the 1990s. Ever since, his re-published works have earned renewed success, while several academic discourses are evolving around the work and life of this crucial but neglected figure in German-Jewish and Hebrew-Israeli culture and literature.

The critical edition of collected writings by Sammy Gronemann comprises, for the first time, a compilation of all of Gronemann’s extant writings in seven volumes, complemented by critical introductions, annotations and commentaries. It is the product of an international research project, issuing from the cooperation of Gronemann scholars and experts in related fields. Each volume presents hitherto inedited archival material, offering innovative and critical approaches to already published works, partly by presenting previous and alternative extant versions. Surveys which unfold the contemporary and academic reception of each work conclude every volume, supplemented by relevant archival and secondary material, extensive bibliographies and indexes. This addenda serves to illustrate the broad network within which Gronemann had operated as a lawyer, judge, writer and dramatist. In a self-reflexive interdisciplinary fashion and resorting to a variety of methods borrowed from literary criticism, theater studies, cultural history and social theory, each volume contextualizes the presented material, connecting it to current discourses.


Volume One presents, for the first time, the entire opus of Gronemann’s extant dramatic writings, among them one of the most successful plays ever performed on the Israeli stage: Der Weise und der Narr (The Wise and the Fool / שלמה המלך ושלמי הסנדלר, [Transl. Nathan Alterman] 1942). The volume includes plays deemed lost and retranslations of plays which were preserved only in Hebrew translation, along with commentaries about their genesis and reception. The introduction provides an overview on Gronemann’s lost dramas and contextualizes his dramatic works within the German, Jewish and Hebrew-Israeli history of dramatic literature and theater. The foreword by Prof. Jakob Hessing highlights Gronemann’s unique place in German-Jewish literature.


The second volume is dedicated to Gronemann’s literary debut and bestseller—the satirical novel Tohuwabohu (Utter Chaos, 1920). The introduction, co-authored by Prof. Joachim Schloer, presents a survey over the genesis of the novel, as well as releasing an unpublished letter by Gronemann’s wife Sonja (born Gottesmann), upon which Gronemann had modelled the pogrom descriptions in his book. Along with a survey of the contemporary and academic reception, the appendix presents an essay addressing the impact of the book upon the history of the Hebrew term ”tohu wabohu“ in German literature.


Volume Three presents Gronemann’s Hawdoloh und ZapfenstreichErinnerungen an die ostjüdische Etappe 1916-1918 (Havdalah and the Grand Tattoo: Recollections of the Eastern Jewish Front, 1916–1918, 1924), recording anecdotal memoirs from his days as German soldier in the eastern front during the First World War, whereby he was posted—alongside writers and artists such as Arnold Zweig, Richard Dehmel, Herbert Eulenberg, Karl Schmitt-Rottluff and Hermann Struck—at the Press Department Ober Ost. The appendix presents inedited extracts from the satirical magazine of the press department—the Almanach der Bösen Buben der Presseabteilung Ober Ost, featuring unpublished texts by Zweig, Gronemann, and others—along with a survey of the contemporary and academic reception of the book, a commentary about its illustrator, Magnus Zeller, as well as further visual archival material, such as photographs and illustrations. The introduction by Dr. Hanni Mittelmann elaborates on the historical context of the book.


Volumes Four to Seven are still under preparation: The fourth volume will present Gronemann’s collection of anecdotes—Schalet: Beiträge zur Philosophie des Wenn Schon“ (Schalet—Contributions to the Philosophy of So What”, 1926)—fraught with new archival material that illustrates, among others, the impact of the book upon Gronemann’s Zionist politics and congress work. Volume Five republishes Gronemann’s memoirs in one volume under its original title—Erinnerungen eines Optimisten—along with new archival material from the context of its genesis in Tel Aviv around 1945, where the first volume had been published at first under the Hebrew title Memoirs of a Yekke (זכרונות של יקה, [Transl. Dov Sadan] 1946). Volume Six anthologizes all of Gronemann‘s extant short prose writings, parodies and poems. Opening with his earliest preserved works, along with a collection of inedited works—including short stories, cabaret songs, satirical portraits of Zionist leaders—the volume winds up with Gronemann’s last work—the epic poem Targum Onkel S., which unfolds, in the style of a biblical parody, the history of the Zionist movement until the foundation of the State of Israel. Volume Seven will be based upon an extensive research into Gronemann’s epistolary network—from Theodor Herzl to Theodor Heuss—and is under the aegis of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.


For further details, please see the website of the publisher: https://www.degruyter.com/serial/GKG-B/html

Published Volumes

Published Volumes

•    Sammy Gronemann, Hawdoloh Und Zapfenstreich – Erinnerungen an die Ostjüdische Etappe 1916-1918. Edited and commented by Jan Kühne and Hanni Mittelmann. Gronemann Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Conditio Judaica 92/3. Berlin/Boston: DeGruyter 2020.

•    Sammy Gronemann, Tohuwabohu. Edited with a commentary by Jan Kühne and Joachim Schlör. Gronemann Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 2, Conditio Judaica 92/2. Berlin/Boston: DeGruyter 2019.

•    Sammy Gronemann, Gesammelte Dramen. Edited with a commentary by Jan Kühne. Gronemann Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 1, Conditio Judaica 92/1. Berlin/Boston: DeGruyter 2018.

See also

See also:

•    Jan Kühne, Die zionistische Komödie im Drama Sammy Gronemanns. Über Ursprünge und Eigenarten einer latenten Gattung. Berlin/Boston 2020.

•    Meron-Martin Piotrkowski: ’Ich kam, sah und explodierte’: Eine Episode aus dem Leben Sammy Gronemanns. In: Naharaim 13.1-2 (2019), pp. 189-202.

•    Stefanie Willeke: „So kommt doch alles noch zum Happy End“. Sammy Gronemanns zionistische Komödie Der Prozess um des Esels Schatten. In: Zwischen den Sprachen – Mit der Sprache? Deutschsprachige Literatur in Palästina und Israel. Ed. by Stefanie Willeke and Norbert Eke. Paderborn 2018, pp. 251-70.

•    Jan Kühne, “’Of the Two the Jew Is ... (Curtain Falls.)’ — Sammy Gronemann’s Dramaturgy of the German-Jewish Encounter in Mandate-Palestine/Israel (1936-1952).” In: Jewish Culture and History 17.1 (2016), pp. 254–74.

•    Jan Kühne, “Tohuwabohu.” [entry on Gronemann] In: Enzyklopädie jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur, Vol. 6, ed. by Dan Diner. Stuttgart/Weimar 2015, pp. 127–31.

•    Jan Kühne: Deutschsprachige jüdische Literatur in Palästina/Israel. In: Handbuch der deutsch-jüdischen Literatur. Ed. by Hans Otto Horch. Berlin/Boston 2015, pp. 201-20.

•    Hanni Mittelmann, Sammy Gronemann (1875-1952): Zionist, Schriftsteller und Satiriker in Deutschland und Palästina. Frankfurt a.M. 2004.

•    Joachim Schlör: Nachwort. In: Sammy Gronemann – Erinnerungen an meine Jahre in Berlin. Ed. by Joachim Schlör. Berlin 2004, pp. 317-49.

•    Joachim Schlör: Nachwort. In: Sammy Gronemann – Erinnerungen. Ed. by Joachim Schlör. Berlin 2002, pp. 318-26.

•    César Augusto Merchán-Hamann: Life and Works of Sammy Gronemann. Ph.D.-Dissertation. University College London: Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies 2002.