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The Lion and the Star not only offers an informed glimpse into the intricacies of daily German life but also confirms the continuing danger of making sweeping generalizations about German Jews and non-Jews. In the aftermath of World War II, many viewed the Third Reich as an aberration in German history and laid blame with Hitler and his followers. Since the 1960s, historians have widened their focus, implicating “ordinary” Germans in the demise of German Jewry.

Jonathan Friedman addresses this issue by investigation everyday relations between German Jews and their Gentile neighbors. Friedman examines three German communities of different sizes—Frankfurt am Main, Giessen, and Geisenheim. Symbolized by the Hessian heraldic lion, these communities represent a cross-section of both Gentile and Jewish society in Germany during the Weimar and Nazi years. Researching in the United States, Germany, England, and Israel, he gleaned information from interviews, memoirs, diaries, letters, newspapers, church and synagogue records, censuses, government documents, and reports from Nazi and resistance organizations. Friedman’s comparative analysis offers a balanced response to recent scholarly works condemning the entire German people for their complicity in the Holocaust.

Friedman's conclusion is sober and astute: most Germans has no interest in tormenting Jews, but the 'moderate' forms of Judeophobia that had helped make Hitler acceptable to them in the first place also opened them to complicity in genocide as the Nazi leaders eliminated one option after another. -- American Historical Review

Friedman's well-written and thoroughly researched study gives readers a good sense of the complexities of Gentile-Jewish relations in Weimar and nazi Germany. -- Choice

Uses a detailed examination of Gentile-Jewish relations in three quite different German localities to shed light on the still heavily contested issues of German Gentiles’ attitudes toward Jews, Nazis, and Nazi anti-Jewish policy. -- Church History

Evinces truly sound scholarly research. -- History

Presents us with a wealth of statistical data, interviews, quotes from memoirs, diaries, letters, lengthy newspaper quotations, church and synagogues records, government documents and the reports of Nazi and Resistance organizations. -- Jerusalem Post Magazine

Demonstrates a thoughtful mastery of the literature of twentieth-century German and German-Jewish history, a prudent incorporation of oral histories and memoirs and a solid familiarity with German archival material. -- Shofar

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Jews, Germany, Holocaust


Jewish Studies

The Lion and the Star: Gentile-Jewish Relations in Three Hessian Communities, 1919-1945
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