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The Invisible Wall

Germans and Jews: A Personal Exploration

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April 2, 1999 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 464 Pages | ISBN 9781582430126
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The Invisible Wall is one mans quest to understand the failure of the German-Jewish relationship and to explain the character and attitudes of Germanys assimilated Jews over a three hundred-year period. Juxtaposing the broad picture of history and politics in Germany against the stories of six of his own ancestors, W. Michael Blumenthal explores the triumphs and tragedies of Jews of successive generations, seeking the sources and outcomes of the prejudices that separated them from other Germans.

Born in Germany in 1926, Blumenthal escaped the Nazis as a teenager with his family in 1939 and grew up with other Jewish refugees in a Shanghai ghetto. When he arrived in the United States in 1947, he had only sixty-five dollars in his pocket. From these modest beginnings, he went on to a remarkable professional life in business, government service, and education. Yet questions about his past haunted him, and as the years went by, they occupied his mind with greater urgency. Turning to his family tree for answers, Blumenthal spent the better part of a decade learning the history of his people. He found rich stories in the lives of six Blumenthal ancestors—all of whom happened to be major figures in German-Jewish history.

By recounting the stories of these remarkable individuals within the historical context of three centuries, Blumenthal presents a sweeping portrait of German Jews from the birth of Christianity to the eve of the Holocaust, revealing how Jews of various generations tried but failed to pierce the prejudice that separated them from other Germans. A work of tremendous scope and vision, The Invisible Wall presents a fascinating perspective on one of the most difficult questions of our time.

W. MICHAEL BLUMENTHAL was U.S. Secretary of the Treasury in the Carter administration from 1977 to 1979. He was chairman and chief executive officer of the Bendix Corporation and of Burroughs Corporation (later Unisys). Currently serving as president and chief executive of the Berlin Jewish Museum, he lives in Princeton.

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