ISBN-13: 978-3851641677 ISBN-10: 3851641671
The photographs in this book depict the shtetls of Galicia and Bukovina, the two eastmost crown lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Margaret Mead has pointed out that the term “shtetl” is not a geographic term used to designate the area in Eastern Europe which was a home to the Jewish population, but rather refers to a community of people sharing the same background, language, religion and laws. Excluded from the gentile population of Eastern Europe, Jews lived in the “Yiddishland” between the Baltic and the Black Sea.
There is little historic material on life in the shtetl. Orthodox Jews were not permitted to have photographs taken of themselves. To do so was thus a sign of emancipation. Moses Hersch, who climbed the social ladder to become a wealthy owner of oil refineries was photographed with his wife and family around 1880. Although still wearing the traditional caftan and kippah, Hersch and his family have the appearance of Western Europeans. In later years Sische (Sigmund), who became a surgeon in Vienna, took pictures whenever he was back home on holiday.
This is a volume of photographs from the Erdheim’s family archive and includes photographs from private collections as well as from the archive of the publisher.