National Library, Germany Partner to Put Papers Online

The project will focus on literature documenting German-Jewish culture of the past thousand years.

Maya Sela
Maya Sela
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Maya Sela
Maya Sela

Soon you'll be able to read the personal archives of Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem online. Hundreds of medieval manuscripts, scores of personal archives and many other materials retained at the National Library in Jerusalem will be digitized, as part of a joint project by the Israeli and German governments. The materials will then be made available on the Internet.

As the two governments are particularly interested in highlighting points of encounter between the Jewish and German cultures, the project will focus on literature documenting German-Jewish culture of the past thousand years. Digitized documents will include copies of Hebrew manuscripts produced in Germany in the Middle Ages and held today in the National Library, as well as rare Hebrew books and newspapers.

Martin Buber.

Dr. Aviad Stollman, curator of the Jewish collection at the library, told Haaretz the project will "rely on the library's advanced technology to produce high-quality scans of the texts, as well as on cooperation with German researchers, who will play a central part in cataloging the materials."

"Our shared legacy is not only that of tragedy," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a joint meeting of the German and Israeli cabinets two weeks ago. "As a child, I spent much time with Prof. Joseph Klausner and he taught me a lot about Gershom Scholem and Martin Buber. This was just one example of the fascinating encounter between Jewish and German cultures and I'd like the younger generation to experience more of that."

"When people know where they are coming from, they have a better chance of knowing where they're going. We know where we come from and we know where we're going - both as separate countries, and as friends and allies," the prime minister said.

Stollman stressed that the project typifies the general outlook of the library, which attaches great importance to the democratization of knowledge. The library will also publish the personal archives of well-known German-Jewish figures, including Buber, Scholem, Walter Benjamin and others online.

The curator indicated that a decree written by Emperor Constantine to the governor of present-day Koln, circa 321, discussing Jews living in that area, as the earliest mention of Jewish presence in Germany.

"Beginning in the 18th century, Jews began integrating into German society and contributing in many fields - including research, literature, music, philosophy and economy. A cultural encounter over a millennia old is one of the most fascinating events in Jewish history," Stollman said.

Cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser, who chairs the steering committee for the restoration of the National Library, said the project was part of a wider "legacy plan" endorsed by the government.

"[The initiative] aims to preserve our cultural assets and ensure this and following generations will be able to enjoy them," he said. "The prime minister sees the plan as an important element of increased investment in education and culture."



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