Weimar Berlin was one of the largest centers of migration in Europe. For Jews from Eastern Europe, the German capital had been a place of refuge since the pogroms of 1881/82 in the Russian Empire that followed the murder of Tsar Alexander II. The First World War and the Russian Revolution only intensified this migration.
The migrants came mainly from the Russian Empire, but also from Rumania and the eastern provinces of Prussia and the Habsburg Empire (Posen and Silesia; Galicia, Bukovina, Hungary, and Bohemia). They were part of German-Jewish as well as historic Russian Berlin, yet maintained their particular cultures, languages and mentalities.
Their living conditions and experiences of suffering and foreignness separated the refugees from Germany society. Nevertheless, Western and Eastern European influences did intersect and interact, above all in labor movement circles and among the artistic, theatrical, and literary avant-garde. Jewish artists and intellectuals from Eastern Europe were a constitutive segment of the cultural life of the Weimar Republic.
The project aims to reconstruct the immigrants’ migration experiences and lifeworlds. It will examine the history and culture of Eastern European Jews in Weimar between the conflicting poles of segregation and integration.