The Invisible Wall is one man’s quest to understand the failure of the German-Jewish relationship and to explain the character and attitudes of Germany’s assimilated Jews over a three hundred-year period.
He found rich and remarkable stories in the lives of six Blumenthal ancestors–all of whom happened to be major figures in German-Jewish history. Jost Liebmann, an itinerant peddler of trinkets and cheap jewels who became court jeweler to the Brandenburg nobility; Rahel Varnhagen von Ense, whose Berlin salon was the meeting place of Prussia’s intellectual elite; Giacomo Meyerbeer, a celebrated composer of grand opera who dealt with the antisemitism he encountered by ceaselessly striving for success; Louis Blumenthal, a respected businessman and founder of his town’s bank; Arthur Eloesser, a scholar and literary critic in the heyday of Weimar; and Ewald Blumenthal, the author’s father. Once a decorated soldier in the Kaiser’s elite guards, he was later a prisoner at Buchenwald. By recounting the stories of these individuals within the historical context of three centuries, Blumenthal presents a 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.