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The Strassmanns: Science, Politics and Migration in Turbulent Times (1793-1993)

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The Strassmanns

Science, Politics and Migration in Turbulent Times (1793-1993)

W. Paul Strassmann
With a Foreword by Jutta Lange-Quassowski, Director of the Strassmann Foundation within the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

286 pages, 80 b/w ills, bibliog., index (7 x 10)

ISBN  978-1-84545-416-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (June 2008)

Hb   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“There is much to recommend in this family history for interested students and scholars of modern German and German-Jewish history and the Holocaust. It is a penetrating look into the culture of successful upper-middle-class German families of Jewish descent prior to Hitler's assumption of power in January 1933… It is an inspiring story of the survival of a strong, loyal, forward-looking, albeit well-placed and well-connected family under the most difficult circumstances.”  ·  Central European History

“W. Paul Strassmann's genealogical account of his own family's history is an excellent case study detailing the successes and setbacks of a single remarkable German-Jewish family during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries…The most valuable contribution of his book is the wide range of personal sources he gathers…Strassmann's book makes important contributions to the source basis for the study of fields such as migration, Jewish history, and medical history. This work will be especially useful for breathing life into the larger narrative of Jewish and European history. In this respect, it stands as an invaluable tool for instructors and lecturers.”  ·  H-Net Reviews

“This book shows once again how significant was the contribution of the small Jewish minority to the achievements of the German bourgeoisie before the devastation of the Nazis barbarism…W.Paul Strassmann tells [his family’s history] soberly, without pathos, yet with much warmth.”  ·  Berliner Tagesspiegel

“What this book offers is a thick description of German-Jewish everyday life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mild irony is a great stylistic device, used here to great effect by the author who observes his forebears with empathy but also with scholarly detachment.”  ·  Archiv für Sozialgeschichte


Across six generations and two hundred years, this book tells the story of a German- Jewish family who emigrated from Rawicz, Poland, first to Prussian Berlin, and finally to America. In Berlin they found success in politics, medical science, theatre, and aviation and considered themselves German patriots. With the catastrophe of the First World War and its aftermath, they suffered rejection, threats, and persecution as their fellow citizens became unhinged by Nazism, forcing Strassmanns into exile abroad where they again made their mark and rebuilt successful careers. This book is populated by extraordinary characters, such as Wolfgang, the convicted revolutionary of 1848 who nevertheless led urban reform; by Ernst, who directed the only liberal anti-Nazi resistance movement; and by Antonie, a celebrated actress and transatlantic sports pilot. Strassmann highlights both the large-scale and the very personal dramas of this period in world history. The book is enhanced by many photographs, offering a fascinating document of the fate of a remarkable family.

After earning his Ph.D. in economic history and development at the Universities of Texas, Columbia, and Maryland, W. Paul Strassmann worked overseas and taught at Michigan State University for four decades. He has published eight books and many articles on technology and urbanization in developing countries.

Subject: Jewish Studies General History
Area: Germany Central/Eastern Europe


Preface : Family History and Working with the Past
Jutta Lange-Quassowski

Chapter 1. Introduction: A Family En Route
Chapter 2. A Father against Orthodoxy: Heiman in Rawicz
Chapter 3. From the Revolution of 1848 to Reforms in Berlin after 1863: Wolfgang and Ferdinand
Chapter 4. Medical Achievements and Disappointments: Paul and his Siblings
Chapter 5. Golden Years of the Women’s Clinic and of Forensic Medicine: 1909 – 1933
Chapter 6. Soldiers
Chapter 7. Stage and Sky: Antonie – I
Chapter 8. A Zenith in Heidelberg with a bitter End: Gisela and Max
Chapter 9. Stalked by Nazis in the Schumannstrasse: 1933 – 1936
Chapter 10. Inseparable despite Emigration: Erwin and Ilse
Chapter 11. Transatlantic Tensions in New York: Antonie – II
Chapter 12. Old Trees, Transplanted: Paul and Hedwig in Dahlem
Chapter 13. Beginning again in Minnesota Erwin and Family
Chapter 14. On to Houston, Texas: City of the Future
Chapter 15. Destination Auschwitz Reinhold 1944
Chapter 16. Leading a Liberal Resistance Group: Ernst Karl Otto
Chapter 17. Looking Back

End Notes
Family Trees

Editorial Notes

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