This letter to Hermann Hesse was written on 16 September 1945, the day after Yom Kippur.

Buber-Korrespondenzen Digital (BKD)

Approximately 40,000 letters from Martin Buber’s correspondence with his contemporaries exist, but to this day, they have hardly been accessible. A funding commitment from the federal and state governments should now change this: an academy project for the digitalisation and annotation of this valuable estate will be funded with almost € 400,000 per year.
This letter to Hermann Hesse was written on 16 September 1945, the day after Yom Kippur.
Image: Martin Buber Archive

24 years for Buber research in the digital age

Literature, art, theology – Martin Buber, one of the most influential thinkers of the modern German-Jewish intellectual world was in active exchange with the representatives and institutions in almost every area of intellectual life. More than 40,000 letters that were written by or to him have been handed down – particularly in the philosopher’s estate in Jerusalem, but also scattered throughout archives around the world. Making this research treasure accessible – that is the goal of the new academy project that Professor Martin Leiner (Friedrich Schiller University Jena) and Professor Christian Wiese (Goethe University Frankfurt), can now tackle thanks to the funds awarded by the federal and state governments. All the letters are to be digitalised as facsimile, and a large portion will also be transcribed, translated and annotated. The project is designed for 24 years and will be funded with € 9.2 million, of which half will come from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and half from the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts. Professor Martin Leiner (Friedrich Schiller University Jena), Professor Christian Wiese (Goethe University Frankfurt), Professor Abigail Gilman (Boston University) and the National Library of Israel are cooperation partners.

Martin Buber (1878 – 1965) worked at the University of Frankfurt am Main from 1924 to 1933 – first as lecturer and later as honorary professor for Jewish religious teachings and ethics. He resigned from the professorship in 1933 after Hitler took power in anticipation of having his professorship revoked. He subsequently worked on setting up the Central Office for Jewish Adult Education with the Reichsvertretung of German Jews until it was forced to give up its work. Buber emigrated to Israel in 1938 before the November pogrom. Throughout his entire life, Martin Buber was in contact with personalities from all areas of intellectual life, including many writers such as Margarete Susman, Hermann Hesse, Arnold Zweig, Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka. Here, he did not shy away from controversial discussions. 

As part of the project, the letters, which are primarily located in Europe, Israel and the USA, are now to be collected and grouped according to thematic modules that stretch over several years, and made digitally accessible in close collaboration with the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz. Depending on the content, transcripts and – where necessary – translations from the Hebrew along with annotations will be added. The academy project provides for three editorial positions and a doctoral scholarship. Annual conferences are planned, as well as intensive cooperation with researchers in Israel and the USA. The positions will be advertised soon so that work can start in the spring.

Adapted from: 

See also the presse release from the FSU Jena (in German): de 

See also the presse release from Akademie der Wissenschaften und Literatur Mainz (in German):