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Wiener Library

Kulturbund deutscher Juden: correspondence and papers (microfilm)


Reference code(s): GB 1556 WL 575

Held at: Wiener Library

Title: Kulturbund deutscher Juden: correspondence and papers (microfilm)

Date(s): 1933-1939

Level of description: collection

Extent: 1650 frames

Name of creator(s): Kulturbund Deutscher Juden


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Kulturbund Deutscher Juden was an organisation engaged in promoting culture and the arts among the Jews of Germany between 1933 and 1941. Its purposes were to enable the Jewish population to maintain a cultural life and to alleviate the distress of the thousands of Jewish theatrical artists and musicians who had been thrown out of their jobs when the Nazis came to power. The instigators were Kurt Baumann, a theatre director and Kurt Singer, a neurologist. The self-help organisation, which was funded by members' contributions, sought, in the first instance, to create work opportunities for the unemployed artists. The original title 'Kulturbund Deutscher Juden' had to soon be changed as a name containing the words 'German' and 'Jewish' was politically unacceptable.

After the initial foundation in Berlin, numerous branches emerged in other German towns and cities. By 1935 there were 36 regional and local 'Kulturbünde' (unions) with approximately 70,000 members. The individual branches were forced to affiliate to the 'Reichsverband jüdischer Kulturbünde in Deutschland' (Reich Assembly of Jewish cultural unions, RJK) by August 1935. The RJK was placed under the aegis of the 'Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda' (the Reich Ministry of Propaganda). The performances of these unions, which were censored and monitored by the Gestapo, had to be individually sanctioned by the 'Reichskulturwalter' (Reich Culture Chamber manager), Hans Hinkel. In order to facilitate the activities of the unions the RJK instituted self-censorship. In July 1937 there were 120 independent organisations, including synagogues and cultural groups united under the umbrella of the RJK.

Performances and events of the unions (above all in Berlin) took place on a daily basis. Between 1933-1935 the main venue was the Berliner Theater. The Hamburger Kulturbund was also very active. The programme included theatre and and opera performances, concerts, art, cabaret, film shows, lectures, and exhibitions. In order to ensure cultural segregation, non Jews could neither perform at nor attend these events. The works of German authors and composers could not be performed.

After the November pogrom of 1938 most unions were forced to close. Only the Berlin Kulturbund was given the permission by Joseph Goebbels, for propaganda reasons, to remain active. In 1939 the RJK was wound up and in its place the 'Jüdische Kulturbund in Deutschland e. V.', formed of the remnants of the Berlin Kulturbund, took responsibility for and organised all Jewish cultural performances thereafter. The emigration of many important Jewish artists had a detrimental effect on the quality and quantity of subsequent events. The union was finally closed down on 11 September 1941 by the Gestapo and many of its members and officials, including the founder, Kurt Singer, were deported and murdered.


Scope and content/abstract:

Original correspondence between the Polizeipräsident of Berlin and the KBDJ concerning all the activities of the organisation, eg. theatrical performances, engagement of the actors, venues etc, 1933-1935; forbidden Jewish texts including essays, lectures, poems, play scripts, short stories, anecdotes etc; general file containing programs pamphlets, correspondence between KBDJ and Staatskommisar, also Jüdischer Kulturbund, Berlin, 1938-1939; Kulturbund correspondence with groups, members, lawyers, Nazi authorities (Blank and Hinkel), reports and 3 copies of the Monatsblätter, 1933-1935; JKB Orts and Landesgruppe (except Berlin): mainly correspondence, pamphlets, programmes and other documents of the organisation in the different cities viz: Hamburg, Breslau, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Dresden, Hildesheim, Kassel, Bayern, Erfurt, Königsberg, Mecklenburg-Lübeck, Oberschlesien, Ost-Westfalen, Rhein-Ruhr, Schwarzwald, Stettin, Wien.


Language/scripts of material: German

System of arrangement:

Chronologically by material type.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies can be made for personal use. Permission must be sought for publication.

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Jewish Central Information Office


Existence and location of originals:

Wiener Collection, Tel Aviv University, Israel.

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Entry compiled Howard Falksohn

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: October 2007

Actors | Performers | Artists
Antisemitism | Racial discrimination
Jews | Religious groups
Opera | Theatre | Performing arts
Poetry | Literary forms and genres | Literature
Popular theatre | Theatre | Performing arts
Third Reich | Nazism | Totalitarianism | Political doctrines

Personal names

Corporate names
Jüdischer Kulturbünde in Deutschland (Reich Assembly of Jewish Cultural Unions) x RJK
Kulturbund Deutscher Juden

Berlin | Germany | Western Europe | Europe