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The Revolution of 1848


"Members of the Preliminary Parliament Entering the Paulskirche"

"Members of the Preliminary Parliament Entering the Paulskirche" by J. N. Ventadour, 1848.
© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz

During the 1848 Revolution Jews became active in European politics. The progress of Jewish emancipation was dependent on its outcome. However, before the Jews could enjoy the fruits of the revolution, they became victims of anti–Semitic violence in many areas.

Among Jews in German-speaking central Europe there was great hope that the Revolution of 1848 would finally bring equal rights. Many were involved in street fighting, in parliaments and in political associations.

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The Orientalist scholar Moritz Steinschneider relates the street battles in Berlin to his fiancé, 20 March 1848 (Speakers: Shawn Lawton, Terry Martin)

The Heroic Death of the Jewish Student Levi Weiss

"The Heroic Death of the Jewish Student Levi Weiss on the Barricade on Jüden-Strasse, 18 March 1848," anonymous, 1848
© Jüdisches Museum Berlin, gift of Jürgen Dittmar

Leopold Zunz

Leopold Zunz (1794-1886), anonymous, around 1875. The Jewish scholar Zunz played an active role in the Revolution: He was a delegate to the Prussian National Assembly and the German National Assembly and a member of numerous democratic societies in Berlin.
© Permanent loan of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

In April 1848—after the initial, rapid and impressive successes of the revolutionary uprisings in Europe—Adolf Jellinek, preacher of the Jewish congregation in Leipzig, commented enthusiastically:

"Brotherhood! Brotherhood! This cry to recreate the world, which rang out on the Seine, has been met with a mighty echo on the Danube and the Spree! . . . Brotherhood leads one nation to fall into the arms of the next. And this cry shall also leave its mark on us Israelites."

Contemporary paintings, graphic art, letters, animated maps, and audio material with eye witness accounts from 1848 result in a multifaceted, exciting story of the struggle for emancipation in Europe's metropolises.

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