While much has been written in the last three decades about Jewish life in postwar Germany, Harry Maor's 1961 dissertation remains the most detailed and valuable study of the reconstruction of Jewish communities in the years immediately following 1945.
In three separate sections he analyzes the historical background of the Jews in Germany, their demographic development, and the ways in which they identified themselves as an ethnic group and religious community. Maor describes the paradox whereby Germany became a temporary safe haven for Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe after the war. With the end of the Allied administration in Germany and the establishment of the State of Israel, most Jewish Displaced Persons eventually left Germany. Maor's study focuses on the few who stayed, on those who built new Jewish communities along with Jews who had survived the war in Germany and others who returned from exile.
Using previously unavailable data about the geographical distribution and professional activities of postwar German Jews, most of whom lived from small business or retirement money, Maor compares their situation to that of prewar German Jews. While Berlin had suffered an enormous loss, hosting only about 5% of its former Jewish population, other cities like Munich, were up to about 30% or 40% of their prewar Jewish population. Maor also documents the different geographical distribution of German Jews, most of whom lived in the West and North, and East European Jews who lived mostly in the South. Maor's study goes on to analyze the organizational structure of postwar German Jewry and the path that led to the establishment of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. In discussing the issue of identity, Maor points to the surprisingly high rate of mixed marriages in postwar Germany.
Many of the problems indicated by Maor for the 1950s are still relevant today, such as the need to import leadership in the form of Rabbis and teachers. His somewhat optimistic outlook is more relevant today than ever given the recent wave of immigration from Eastern Europe, a development that Maor himself of course could not have anticipated. As German Jewry confronts a new historical situation today, Maor’s pioneering study deserves a broad readership among all those concerned with the German-Jewish past.
Harry Maor (1914 - 1982), childhood in Munich and schooling at the Hoechberg Jewish Teachers' Institute near Wuerzburg. 1933 -1953 in Palestine/Israel, private teacher and social worker. 1953 -1963 again in Germany, first editor at the Juedische Allgemeine Wochenzeitung, the General Jewish weekly newspaper in Germany, later director of services for Jewish youth at the Central Welfare Office of the Jews in Germany. 1961 Ph.D. (Sociology) Mainz University. 1963 - 1972 worked as a teacher and translator in Germany, Israel and Canada. 1970 he became Privatdozent at the University of Heidelberg. 1972-1979 Professor at the Gesamthochschule in Kassel. 1979 retirement and return to Israel.
Dr. Maor wrote "Soziologie der Sozialarbeit" (Sociology of Social Work), (Kohlhammer,
1975) and edited with Ruth Deutscher and Gerhard Fieseler "Lexikon der sozialen
Arbeit" (Dictionary of Social Work) (Kohlhammer, 1978).