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Contesting Jewish Loyalties: The First World War and Beyond - Berlin 12/17

15.12.2016-17.12.2016, Berlin, Jewish Museum Berlin, W. Michael Blumenthal Academy, Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin (opposite the Museum)

Just decades after intense persecution and the struggle for recognition that marked the second half of the 19th century, Jews found themselves at an unprecedented social and political crossroads. The frenzied military, social and cultural mobilisation of European societies from 1914 onwards, along with the outbreak of revolution in Russia and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East had a profound impact on Jewish communities worldwide. From the outset, the First World War was seen as a watershed in Jewish history.   

One of the most fascinating findings to emerge from seeing the Great War as a turning point in Jewish history is the question of Jewish loyalties. The nature of Jewish allegiance was not only questioned from the outside, but was an omnipresent problem for Jewish individuals, families and communities that struggled to reconcile what appeared to be divided loyalties. At the end of the war these dilemmas continued to trouble Jews in Europe and elsewhere. Self-determination was now perceived to be a guiding principle for redrawing European and world maps - providing new hope for a more 'just' world order and an enduring peace. This intensified the struggle over Jewish self-definition in a rapidly changing world. The interbellum saw the emergence of right-wing nationalist movements and new violence born out of political reshuffling and economic turmoil. The emergence of the Jewish polity in Mandatory Palestine and the complete reconfiguration of the map of Eastern Europe radically transformed Jewish lives. As fighting raged for many years in the successor states, Jews often found themselves caught between the lines with their allegiances challenged and redefined in terms of religion, ethnicity, nationality and modern citizenship.  

This conference will explore the multifaceted question of Jewish loyalties. Papers consider the degree to which individual Jews and Jewish communities in Europe and elsewhere engaged with the question of loyalty before, during and after the First World War, in a broad interdisciplinary and transnational context. In bringing together scholars from a range of different disciplines, the conference aims to provide the setting for in-depth discussion on the place and multifaceted meanings of a crucial question for modern societies that will significantly improve our understanding of the Jewish experience in modern times.  

The conference is open to the public. Registration is free but needs to be made in advance via email: archive@jmberlin.de quoting "Registration Loyalties Conference".  

Centre for German-Jewish Studies, University of Sussex; Jewish Museum Berlin; The Institute for the History of the German Jews, Hamburg; The Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London; Wissenschaftliche Arbeitsgemeinschaft des Leo Baeck Instituts in Deutschland

 

Ort: Jewish Musuem Berlin W. Michael Blumenthal Academy, Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin

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