The letters of the Jewish German thinker Constantin Brunner were buried behind his grave to safeguard them from the Nazis. Now, a joint German-Israeli project is putting the letters online
[b. 1862 in Altona, d. 1937 in The Hague] is one of the historically influential German-Jewish intellectuals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His expressionist and life reformist
work attracted many intellectuals, artists and followers of the Youth Movement. At the same time, Brunner's unrelenting search for a righteous way of life alienated many of his coevals. He corresponded with people
ranging from Wilhelm Raabe and Theodor Fontane, to Walther Rathenau, Gustav Landauer, Martin Buber and Rose Ausländer.
The impact of his work was violently interrupted by National Socialism. After the Holocaust, Brunner's surviving followers kept alive the memory of the philosopher and his work, yet did so rather one-sidedly and emphatically. Consequently, 70 years after Brunner's death the importance of his work for the intellectual history of Germany and Europe is rarely noted.
Brunner's literary remains were held after the war by the International Constantin Brunner Institute
in The Hague. In 2009, they were transferred to the Leo Baeck Institute
at the Jewish Museum in Berlin
The collection of Brunner's letters, which until today remained nearly entirely unedited and virtually unknown, will close a gap in German-Jewish intellectual, cultural and political history. The research project aims to present the person Brunner as well as his philosophical concerns. By a broad historical contextualization, the project wants to facilitate a discussion of Brunner's works.
(pdf) of the letters have already been posted. A print edition with commentary is planned. In 2012, a conference
on Brunner will take place in Berlin, marking the 150th anniversary of his birth.