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In 1909, the Berlin-based Jüdische Turnzeitung (Jewish Gymnastics Newspaper) published a commemorative pamphlet titled ‘Physical Renaissance of the Jews’ to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bar Kochba gymnasts’ club and the 4th Sports Day of Jewish Gymnasts. This illustrated publication highlights the diversity of topics discussed at the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies.

The rise of German-Jewish gymnastic clubs like Bar Kochba was both a response to Jewish exclusion from German clubs and an effort to foster a unique German-Jewish community. Physical fitness was a political statement challenging antisemitic prejudices about the ‘Jewish body’ in Imperial Germany.

One of the pioneering members of the Library of Lost Books team is the LBI London’s volunteer Jonathan, who is on a year-long placement with the ARSP (Action Reconciliation Service for Peace). 

Jonathan’s support in the preparation of the project’s two London-based exhibitions has been invaluable. As you can see from the pictures, no task is too daunting for him – be it reviewing a recent donation of books for provenance markers, scanning entire publications, or expertly navigating the LBI London’s library to gather materials for the exhibition. 

Don’t miss our new exhibition, The Library of Lost Books, running till 10 July 2024, at the Wiener Holocaust Library, London. 

Prof. David Rechter, Chair of the Leo Baeck Institute London said: “The Hochschule was one of the most significant institutes of liberal German Jewry in the interwar period. The exhibition will help us highlight the diversity of German-Jewish society before the Holocaust.” 

The Library of Lost Books Team in Britain have kicked off the project's launch in the UK with an exciting session run by Kinga Bloch (LBI London) and Cassy Sachar (Leo Baeck College) with pupils at JCOSS. The students were introduced to provenance research and we were impressed by their questions and comments on their role as citizen scientists and on the historical relevance of books as witnesses to a Nazi crime. Stay tuned to hear what they will find out doing their fieldwork at the Leo Baeck College!

The Leo Baeck Institute London, in collaboration with the Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem and the Friends and Sponsors of the Leo Baeck Institute, is pleased to announce the launch of The Library of Lost Books in Britain. It is part of the broader project The Library of Lost Books, which aims to locate books stolen by Nazis from the library of the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies (Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums) in Berlin. The project’s website is available in German, English and Czech, and a Hebrew version is in the making.

Today, on the centenary of Franz Kafka’s death, we at the Leo Baeck Institute London take a moment to reflect on the legacy of one of the most enigmatic and influential writers of the 20th century.