Full Circle

German-Jewish Literary Culture Returns from Exile

Helen Whittle

The Goethe Institute in Israel has started a unique book project. 

Goethe-Institut

The Goethe Institute in Israel has started a unique book project.

German Jews who fled Nazi persecution to what is now Israel took as many books as they could carry. But their descendants, many of whom don’t speak German, are left with cratefuls of heirlooms they can’t read. Now the Goethe Institute has started a project that sends the well-traveled books back to Germany as teaching materials for students.

When Berlin-born Jewish journalist Cheskel Zwi Kloetzel fled Nazi Germany in 1933, he was only able to take a small number of his most cherished books. Even after resettling in what was then British-administered Palestine, he remained deeply attached to the German literary culture in which he had immersed himself as a child.

His daughter Cary Kloetzel, who today lives in Israel amongst the vast collection of classics Cheskel Zwi Kloetzel amassed until his death in 1951, has donated a selection of his books as part of a new project making German-Jewish history and the history of Israel more tangible for German schoolchildren learning about the Holocaust. "This project represents for me the extension of a living chain of history for future generations," she told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

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