Between Prague and Mikulov. Jewish life in the Bohemian Lands

Project duration: 09.2018 – 02.2020
Project management: Martin Schulze Wessel, Martina Niedhammer
Funding: Commissioner of the Federal Government for Culture and Media (Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien – BKM)

For about two decades now, Jewish history and culture in the Bohemian lands has been enjoying growing interest in professional circles, in the Czech media and among the wider public. This interest has brought the historical multi-ethnic character of the region increasingly to the fore, with a number of recent publications highlighting various facets of that diversity: Cultural exchanges between the various ethnic groups and languages of the region (Czech, Yiddish, German, Polish), the conflicts over nationality of the late 19th and 20th centuries, the phenomenon of anti-Semitism and the ultimate destruction of the region’s polyethnic society during and immediately after the Second World War all play a major role in that history.
All the more surprising then that an innovative synthesis of this research has yet to be produced – though an international team of authors has been tackling that challenge since 2015. Their labors have resulted in an English-language overview of the topic, re-telling over seven chapters the story of the Jews in the Czech lands from the early modern period until contemporary times. The story both speaks of the contacts made between the Jewish population and their non-Jewish neighbors and takes a look at what was happening in the provinces – that is to say the rural regions and communities away from the large urban centers of Prague, Brno and Ostrava. The mention of the Moravian town of Mikolov in the title of the work, a town that for a time housed one of the largest and most influential Jewish communities in the country and was also an important Jewish administrative center set apart from the famous Prague community, also bears witness to this aspect of the Jewish story in the region. The work discusses the latest results of research in the area as well as a large number of new sources from Czech, American and Israeli archives. In addition to the original English version, versions in German, Czech and Hebrew are currently in preparation.
The German-language version is being dealt with by Collegium Carolinum, which has scheduled the book. The book was published in 2020. The financial support provided by the BKM has made it possible both to translate and thoroughly proofread the original text and to organize a number of public presentations of the book. These public events, which put together in cooperation with numerous partners in Germany and Austria as well as with German-speaking cultural institutions in the Czech Republic and Hungary, and specifically designed to broaden knowledge of the subject matter and concerns of the book among an interested public outside academic forums.


Authorship team

  • Kateřina Čapková (Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)
  • Michal Frankl (Masaryk Institute and Archive, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)
  • Benjamin Frommer (Northwestern University, Evanston)
  • Verena Kasper-Marienberg (North Carolina State University, Raleigh)
  • Hillel J. Kieval (Washington University, St. Louis)
  • Ines Koeltzsch (Vienna)
  • Michael L. Miller (Central European University, Budapest)
  • Martina Niedhammer (Collegium Carolinum, Munich)
  • Joshua Teplitzky (Stony Brook University, New York)