Publication Date

December 1, 1994

Perspectives Section


LBI Marks 40th Year with Reception at AHA Annual Meeting

The New York Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) is launching its 40th anniversary year with a reception at the AHA’s 1995 annual meeting that will feature a talk by George L. Mosse entitled “Back to Normalcy? 50 Years after Hitler’s Death.” The reception will be held on Saturday, January 7, from 5 to 7 p.m., in Parlor A of the Palmer House Hilton Hotel. Mosse is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Hebrew University, in Jerusalem. He is currently Shapiro Senior Scholar in Residence at the United States Holocaust Museum, in Washington, D.C. Michael Meyer, international president of the Leo Baeck Institute, will serve as host at the gathering.

The 1995 AHA annual meeting will be the first for Carol Kahn Strauss, who assumed the duties of executive director of the New York Leo Baeck Institute in October. Before joining the LBI, Strauss was senior editorial consultant at the Twentieth Century Fund, a public policy organization based in New York, and a consultant at the Ford Foundation and the Council on Foreign Relations. During the 1980s, she served as senior editor and director of public affairs at the Hudson Institute, where she wrote two books with the institute’s founder, Herman Kahn. Strauss received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University and a master’s degree in international relations from Hunter College, in New York City, where she resides.

Major History Project Nears Completion

LBI’s international president, Michael Meyer, who is also professor of history at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, is the overall project editor for a major LBI publishing effort—a comprehensive, multilanguage history of German-speaking Jewry that is expected to begin appearing in 1995. While the Leo Baeck Institute, with centers in New York, London, and Jerusalem, has published over 125 books since its founding in 1955, the new history project is the most far-reaching project that the LBI has ever embarked on. Four years ago, the institute assembled a team of 10 historians to begin writing a four-volume, wholly original collaborative history of the Jews in German-speaking lands from the 17th century until the Nazi genocide. Each volume will be published in three languages—English, German, and Hebrew. The English edition will be published by Columbia University Press, the German edition by Munich publisher C. H. Beck, and the Hebrew edition by the Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, in Jerusalem.

“Our project is an unprecedented venture to harmonize the differently tuned and rehearsed voices of historians in Israel, Germany, England, and the United States into a single probing narrative,” said Meyer. “Our goal is to give full expression to a history lived out between the poles of Jewishness and Germanness, between tradition and modernity.”

The project is organized chronologically: volume one covers the mid-17th century to 1780 and includes a lengthy introduction looking back to the medieval period. Volume two takes the narrative from 1780 to 1871. Volume three covers 1871 to 1918, and volume four examines the period from 1918 to 1945. An epilogue concentrates on the survivors in various countries.

Contributors, in addition to Meyer, include Avraham Barkai (Israel), Michael Brenner (Brandeis Univ.), Mordechai Breuer (Bar Ilan Univ.), Michael Graetz (Hebrew Univ.), Steffi Jersch-Wenzel (Historische Kommission zu Berlin), Steven Lowenstein (Univ. of Judaism), Paul Mendes-Flohr (Hebrew Univ.), Peter G. J. Pulzer (All Souls Coll., Oxford), and Monika Richarz (Institut fuer die Geschichte der deutschen Juden).

The project culminates 40 years of the institute’s efforts to preserve and bring to life the history of German-speaking Jewry. Over that period, the New York LBI has grown from a few cartons of manuscripts to a library of more than 60,000 volumes and 750 periodicals, a fine art collection, and a unique archives of 1,200 collections with letters, documents, manuscripts, and photographs that are a trove for historical and genealogical study.

Thousands of library volumes, written before and after World War II, tell the story of almost every Jewish community in Germany. Some of the 1,200 memoirs at the institute date back to the 1800s, while others were written by Holocaust survivors. Most recently, the institute has compiled a computer database of surnames extracted from 1,350 family histories preserved in its archive. Census rolls, registers of vital statistics and tax lists, family trees, diaries and autobiographies, refugee case files and various deportation lists from the 1940s are some of the many records from an all but extinguished part of Western civilization that have been preserved.

These holdings have been described by the New York Times as the “outstanding repository of materials dealing with the distinguished long history of Europe’s German-speaking Jews.” In recent years, the entire library and archive catalogs, including periodicals and memoirs, have been computerized and are on line at the institute. Earlier this year, the library and archive computer catalog was placed at the central Deutsche Buechere, in Leipzig, where readers will be able to access additional support from the LBI in New York.

For details about the LBI’s reception at the AHA’s annual meeting in Chicago, see page 28 of the annual meeting Program. For general information about the LBI, write Leo Baeck Institute, 129 E. 73rd St., New York, NY 10021.

Group for the Use of Psychology in History to Announce Langer Award

The Group for the Use of Psychology in History will announce the recipient of the Langer Award when it meets this January in Chicago in conjunction with the 1995 AHA annual meeting. The Langer Award, named for William Langer, a past president of the AHA, is a cash prize given for the article best exemplifying the responsible use of psychology in historical research. Articles that have appeared in the Psychohistory Review during the past three years, with the exception of those by members of the group’s editorial board, are eligible to receive the prize.

The 1995 meeting of the Group for the Use of Psychology in History will be held in Parlor C of the Palmer House Hotel on Friday, January 6, from 5 to 6 p.m. Fred Weinstein of the State University of New York at Stony Brook will give a presentation entitled “Contemporary Perspectives on Psychohistory” at 5 p.m. The Langer Award will be announced after discussion of Weinstein’s presentation, and a reception sponsored by the Psychohistory Review will follow at 6 p.m. in Parlor D.

The Group for the Use of Psychology in History seeks to encourage the responsible use of psychology in historical research through scholarly discussion, the publication of thePsychohistory Review, and the Langer Award. All those interested in this goal are welcome to join. For details about the group’s session in Chicago, see page 33 of the AHA’s annual meeting Program. For more information about the Group for the Use of Psychology in History and the Langer Award, contact Larry Shiner, Editor, Psychohistory Review, Sangamon State University, Springfield, IL 62794. (217) 786-7194/7435.

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