Mapping A. S. Yahuda’s Berlin, 1906-1914

As announced in the last post, I will provide more information on the manuscript trader Abraham Shalom Yahuda (d. 1951). His biography is a global one, and in this post I will address his time in Berlin before World War 1. Arguably, Yahuda came to Berlin to teach at the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies following the completion of his Ph.D. dissertation. Here, I will provide information on his changing residences during his time in Berlin, which might also make for a good day tour.

A. S. Yahuda’s residences in Berlin, 1906-1914 (created with Palladio)

On this first image, you get a first impression of Yahuda’s Berlin experience. Whereas nowadays visitors come to Berlin to see the lively districts of Kreuzberg, Neukölln oder Friedrichshain in the East to South of the city, Yahuda’s experience was mostly restricted to Charlottenburg in the West.

This should not be surprising in the face of classism integral to Berlin even before its emergence as a metropole in the 1920s. Yahuda worked as a professor, and professors should live in the well-off neighborhoods of Charlottenburg—and not in the working-class areas of Neukölln (until 1912 known as Rixdorf) in the South or Wedding in the North.

We should also not neglect pragmatism and comfort in evaluating his choices of residence. His place of work is displayed as the most Eastern dot in the map above (right above “Berlin”). The distance from his residences in Charlottenburg is around 6 kilometers but public transport developed earlier to well-off areas outside the city center. Today, the journey is around 25 minutes from door to door.

Sources

Yahuda spent about eight years in Berlin. For this period, I was able to identify four private addresses and one professional one. In doing so, I have relied on two kinds of sources. On the one hand, the journal of the German Oriental Society (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, digitally available at MENADoc ) regularly provided lists of their members with addresses and address changes. Those can be found either in the registry (Verzeichnis der Mitglieder) or in a separate news section.{1}

However, these lists only get us so far because members with an institutional affiliation would often give their work address (perhaps because it was more stable?). When Yahuda joined the German Oriental Society in 1906 under the member number 1385, he registered his current personal address.{2} Starting in 1908, he used his professional address at the Higher Institute.{3} This address was only changed in 1915, after he had accepted a position at the University of Madrid.{4}

Lehranstalt für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, Artilleriestraße 14 (Leo-Baeck-Haus, heute: Tucholskystraße 9; source: Wikipedia)

This does not mean that Yahuda ceased to move around Berlin during those years. A second source that makes clear that the opposite is true is his correspondence. In particular, I have used his letterheads from a correspondence with Carl Bezold (d. 1922), professor in Heidelberg, to fill out the gaps.

Their correspondence lasted from 1905-1913 and contains 20 letters and postcards sent by Yahuda.{5} In addition to spicy details about academic life and shared holidays, it helps to advance the mapping. Of course, this still does not give us a full picture of Yahuda’s Berlin experience nor networks. But it is a good starting point for further inquiries.

Yahuda’s Berlin residences, 1906-1914 (created with Palladio)

A Tour of Yahuda’s residences

Let’s start with this more detailed map which combines the data from the different sources. Yahuda joined the German Oriental Society, when he was residing in the Wullenweberstrasse 8 in the recently built Hansaviertel. Not part of Charlottenburg but of Tiergarten, this was a well-off neighborhood whose construction had only finished around 1900. Already since 1882 it was connected to Berlin and Charlottenburg by train.

As you can see below, the building in which Yahuda resided does not exist anymore. However, if you look at the map, you get an idea of its prime location. It directly faced a small park behind which one of Berlin’s major canals provided additional serenity.

Wullenweberstraße 8 (source: Google)

The following year, Yahuda moved to Charlottenburg and close to the Tiergarten, the largest park of Berlin. The move must have taken place after 18 February 1907, when he still sent a letter to Bezold from “N.W.”, meaning “Berlin North West”, i.e. the Wullenweberstrasse. His first address there was Knesebeckstrasse 93 I. I am uncertain whether the “I” refers to the floor number of perhaps to a wing of the house or its garden house.

Knesebeckstraße 93 (source: Google)

While he lived in this house, Yahuda started to use his work address for his business with the German Oriental Society. But he did not stay in the Knesebeckstrasse for long. Already in early February 1909, he writes to Bezold from his third address in Berlin: the Uhlandstrasse 197. This new residence was only three minutes walking away from the Knesebeckstrasse.

Uhlandstraße 197 / Steinplatz 4 (source: Wikipedia)

As in the Wullenweberstraße, Yahuda seems to have preferred modern buildings. The architect August Endell designed this building in 1906, its construction was completed in 1907, and Yahuda moved in in 1908. Originally designed as a residential building, it is now a hotel and is listed as an historical monument. The building combines Art Nouveau and orientalizing elements. It was also located right next to a small park (the Steinplatz).

We do not know why Yahuda left this home about two years later. Did rent become too expensive? In any case, in late 1910, he had moved to Keithstrasse 16, in walking distance of the Zoo, the canal, and the Wittenbergplatz subway station.

Keithstraße 16 (source: TW)

The most puzzling aspect for me is that, in contrast to his home in the Uhlandstrasse, this was not just a residential building. Rather, as we learn from a letter Yahuda sent to Bezold on 17 May 1911, he was staying at the “Hotel-Pension Van Heuckelum”. The design of the higher balconies still hint at the building once having served as a hotel.

It is even more puzzling that Yahuda spent the longest time he ever spent in an apartment in Berlin here. Until early 1913, he wrote this address on his letters to Bezold. Could this really have been cheaper than a normal apartment? Or did he stay there because the hotel staff took care of his washing, cleaning and cooking? It seems that during this period he spent more time in his office, and commuting in conjunction with frequent travels might have overwhelmed his abilities to organize his house life (I will look at these aspects in a future post).

Cite this article as: Torsten Wollina, "Mapping A. S. Yahuda’s Berlin, 1906-1914", in Damascus Anecdotes, July 4, 2021, https://thecamel.hypotheses.org/2267.
  1. Originally, this was called personnel news [Personalnachrichten]. This was changed in the early 1910s to member news [Mitgliedernachrichten]. []
  2. Personalnachrichten“. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 60 (1906): LV. []
  3. Personalnachrichten“. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 62 (1908): lxiv. []
  4. Mitgliedernachrichten“. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 69 (1915): XXI. []
  5. The correspondence has recently been digitized; Heidelberg University Library, Heid. Hs. 1501,223. []

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