Jews and other Minorities in German Folk Narratives in the Nineteenth Century, Abstract by Tuvia Singer

19th century Germany knew an unprecedented blossoming of folk-narrative publications. In this period the folk-narrative emerges as a meaningful element in the perception of the past and in the identity of the group narrating it and preserving it within its tradition. Minorities and foreigners, such as Jews and Sinti and Roma, appear in hundreds of these folk-narratives. In 1845, Ludwig Bechstein, a librarian in the court of the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, published a folk-tale collection named “Deutsches Märchenbuch”. The anthology became an immediate commercial success. The figure of the Jew, in this collection and in another major collection by Bechstein, is presented positively as an innocent victim. The “Zigeunerin” as she is named in the tale, is portrayed, on the other hand, in a negative manner. I wish to argue that this presentation of Jews and Sinti and Rom is consistent with the bourgeois ideology that influenced Bechstein in collecting and editing his anthology – a world-view that corresponded with the outlook of his readers. Hence, the differences of approach towards minorities between two ideologies that are closely related to one another – the national ideology and the bourgeois ideology – are made apparent.

 

Tuvia Singer is a PhD. Student in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The title of his dissertation is: “Nationalism, Regionalism and Cosmology: Minorities and Foreigners in German Folk-Narratives in the Nineteenth Century”. An article dealing with the ideological discourse on the Wandering Jew in 19th Centaury Germany will be published next year by Ashgate Publishing in a volume of articles emphasizing on change and continuity in Jew Hatred from the Middle Ages to the present day.

 

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