Leo Baeck

Leo Baeck (1873-1956) attended rabbinical school in Breslau. After studying philosophy, history and philosophy of religion, he served as a rabbi in Oppeln, Düsseldorf and Berlin. From 1913 to 1942 he taught at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (or Higher Institute for Jewish Studies) in Berlin. During the First World War, he served as a military chaplain. He is regarded as one of the most important Jewish scholars and leading exponents of Liberal Judaism. In 1933 he became president of the Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden (Reich’s Deputation of the German Jews). In this capacity, he advocated for embattled Jews and helped them to emigrate. He survived internment in the Theresienstadt concentration camp from 1943 and 1945. As a member of the camp’s Council of Elders, Beck intervened with the Nazi authorities on behalf of the persecuted, as he had done when he was president of the Reich’s Deputation. In addition, he supported his fellow prisoners with his rich intellect and by offering them spiritual counsel. After the liberation, Baeck lived in London.

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