Cover Osteuropa 8-10/2008

In Special Issue

Reflection, Projection, Distortion
The “Eastern Jew” in German-Jewish Culture

Steven Aschheim

Full text file (PDF, 203 kB)


Since the Enlightenment, the image of the “Ostjuden”, “Eastern Jews”, has played a crucial role in German Jews’ self-definition. Jews from Eastern Europe were considered backward. This backwardness seemed to endanger the German Jews’ integration into modern society. Therefore, they repudiated the “Ostjuden”. At the same time, there emerged a sense of collective responsibility for their “weaker brothers”. At the start of the 20th century, a positive countermyth was established. The unspoiled nature of the “Ostjuden” was turned into a cult. These clichés revealed more about the selfunderstanding of the German Jews than the reality of the “Ostjuden”.

(Special Issue, pp. 61–74)

Full text file (PDF, 203 kB)