Research Project “The Posen Heimat in German-Jewish Journalism and Literature from 1919 to 1938”

Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media upon a Decision of the German Bundestag

The majority of Jews living in the Prussian Province of Posen thought of themselves as “German citizens of Jewish belief” at the beginning of the 20th century.

After the end of World War I in 1918 many of them left the new and independent Polish state. Just like the majority of non-Jewish Germans who chose Germany as their future country of residence they lost their Posen Heimat. They did, however, not lose their Posen identity. They founded numerous Heimatvereine, clubs to support and help maintain their Heimat from afar, and in 1925 founded an association which from October 1926 to November 1938 published the “Posener Heimatblätter” (from 1935 onwards as “Blätter des Verbandes Jüdischer Heimatvereine”).

Our research project aims at tracing and contextualizing these little-known attempts at Heimatpflege and at analysing the specific, transnational notion of Heimat among Jews from Posen.

Following a set of key research questions we are going to analyse how tradition, solidarity, self-perception and interest in the Posen Heimat developed until 1938. Reactions to the new political situation in Greater Poland will be taken into account here, too: Did, as in the 19th century, Jews from Posen attempt to have a moderating effect on the German-Polish conflict, to work as a “link between here and there” and to keep cultural and economic relations with their Heimat alive? And how, in this context, did they interact with the non-Jewish Heimatvereine, Landsmannschaften and the Deutscher Ostbund?

How was their German-Posen identity affected after their forced emigration in 1933? As late as 1936 the “Heimatblätter” were being sent to international recipients, among others in the U.S., Brazil, Great Britain, Palestine, Switzerland and, naturally, the “alte Heimat”.

The joint research project with the University of Poznań will address the questions of how many German Jews actually stayed in Poland, how they contributed to the preservation of customs unique to Posen and how they influenced the integration of Jews moving to Greater Poland from the eastern regions.

As the voice of its publishing association the “Posener Heimatblätter” will serve as a main source for answering our research questions, along with complementary sources from both Polish and German archives.


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