German culture and language has played a significant part in the Hebrew University’s self-understanding since its founding in the 1920s. Almost half of its professors in the years 1925–1948 were trained in the German academic system and perceived themselves as part of the German scientific tradition. However, in 1934, as a reaction to National Socialist race politics in Germany, attitudes toward the German language changed and it was no longer taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This status quo was challenged at the end of the 1940s, as students and professors alike sought to reintroduce German as a language as part of the curriculum. Unsurprisingly, their initiative encountered strong opposition both within and outside the University. Based on documents kept at the Archive of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, this article reconstructs the arguments in the debate that took place in the early 1950s and which culminated in the reintroduction of the German language at the beginning of 1953, shortly after the signing of the reparations agreement between Israel and Germany.
© 2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston