Germany, the Jews and Israel: An Evolving Exhibition.
A number of significant milestones relating to German history are currently being commemorated around the world including 100 years since the outbreak of World War I; 75 years since the outbreak of World War II and 70 years since its conclusion; 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall; and 50 years since the beginning of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany.
The period between 1914 and 1989 saw Germany in its vicissitudes. World War I ended in massive defeat and hyperinflation, though it also precipitated the rise of the first true democracy in German history and the "Golden Age" of the 1920s, shortly followed by the Nazis' rise to power, the Nuremberg Laws, Kristallnacht, and the Holocaust. The defeat of the Nazis, in turn, led to the partition of Germany and its ultimate reunification at the end of the Cold War. The reparations agreements between Israel and Germany and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries are both significant historical events in and of themselves.
Twentieth-century German and Jewish histories are closely intertwined in a complex relationship. Jews historically played an active role as part of the German nation. They were active in politics and economics, played a seminal role in culture, and were victims of the darkest chapters in German history. It is not at all surprising that in existing historiography, there is a strong interest in the "German-Jewish symbiosis" and its failure. Today, years later, the general population in Israel has taken a renewed interest in German history and culture. Israeli tourism to Germany, and mainly to Berlin, is a well-known phenomenon, but it is also only one expression of this renewed interest, and of a re-examination of this complex history at the dawn of the 21st century.
Tuviah Friedman never forgot nor did he forgive. He dedicated his life to finding and capturing fugitive Nazis, as part of the effort to bring them to trial for their crimes. He was the first to obtain credible information that placed Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. Looking through his archive files preserved at the National Library of Israel offers a glimpse into the day-to-day work of a Nazi hunter…
The beloved children’s book about the brave little bee who saves her beehive became one of the most popular books among German soldiers during the First World War. What led them to carry this book about the adventures of a small bee with them onto the battlefield? Does it contain hints of the devious ideology that would cause global devastation only a few decades later?
Even a mass murderer can have a personal library. Some of the books from Heinrich Himmler’s private collection, containing his signature, can be found today at the National Library of Israel. How did they get here?