Kallner family

The returned book

The returned book

David Kallner's bookplate

David Kallner's bookplate

The greeting card from Jakob and Rifka Berlinger

The greeting card from Jakob and Rifka Berlinger

In 2023, one book from the Kallner family could be given back.

A bookplate and a greeting card inserted in the book positively identify David Kallner as the previous owner. The book is a parshanim, a rabbinic commentary that deals, among other things, with prohibitions on the consumption of unkosher foods and behavior toward gentiles. It is related to the Book of Proverbs, chapters 13-15 and 19, and the title refers directly to Proverbs 15:23.

David Kallner was born c. 1838 in Pajūris, Russia. He was married to Babette Kahn, who was also born there in 1847. The couple had five children and lived in what is today Lithuania until at least 1881. In 1886, the family moved to Merchingen, where David Kallner was very active in the local Jewish community, including being cantor. His activities, as well as his locality in Merchingen, finally led to the clear attribution of the provenance. Merchingen is located in Baden-Württemberg, just like Braunsbach, the place where Rabbi Dr. Jakob Berlinger was from - he also left a mark of provenance in the book. Jakob Berlinger was born in Braunsbach in 1866. He served as rabbi in Braunsbach from 1900 until the rabbinate was transferred to Schwäbisch Hall in 1913. Berlinger and his wife Rifka Herz (*1880) were able to escape from Germany in 1939 and emigrated to Palestine. Jakob Berlinger died there in 1945, Rifka joined him just one year later.

The designation מהר׳ר (Mehorar = our teacher, lord and master) contained in David Kallner's bookplate indicates that he was a traditionalist scholar. David Kallner died on 26 February 1909 in Merchingen. An obituary from the magazine "Der Israelit" describes him as a teacher, precentor and great Talmudist.  Babette Kahn had already died in 1888. David Kallner had been remarried one year later, to Bertha Niedermann, who was born in 1851 in Järkendorf, Lower Franconia. With her, he had another son, Philipp.

It is likely that the book was inherited by one of David Kallner's children.

- Abraham Kallner was born on 23 April 1868. He was married to Lena Lark. Abraham Kallner emigrated to the United States before 1929, he died on 31 May 1929 in Gary, Indiana. He is not a possible last owner of the book.

- Jacob Kallner was born on 12 October 1870. He was married to Bertha Strauss. Jacob Kallner was a physician. Jacob and Bertha Kallner were able to emigrate to the United States via Switzerland in 1939/40 and thus survived the Holocaust. Both died in Chicago in 1946. It is quite possible that Jacob Kallner, his wife or his children were in possession of the book before it was looted.

- Adolf Leser Kallner was born on 13 August 1873. He was married to Sara Beith, descendants are not known. Adolf Leser Kallner died as early as 13 January 1922 in Bad Soden. It is therefore very unlikely that he was the last owner of the book.

- Bettie Sara Kallner was born on 1 October 1877. She emigrated to the United States in 1891 and settled in Chicago. She died there in 1944. Bettie Sara Kallner is not considered as a possible last owner of the book.

- Joseph Kallner was born on 6 January 1881. He was married to Gertrud Katzenstein. Joseph Kallner was also a physician and lived in Berlin, where he died on 20 August 1938. It is quite possible that Joseph Kallner, his wife or his children were in possession of the book before it was looted.

- Philipp Kallner was born on 22 July 1892. He was killed in action in Galicia during World War I at the age of only 23. His date of death is 28 July 1915. He is not considered as a possible last owner of the book.

The path of access this book took into the stock of the Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin is unclear. It was found in unprocessed storage holdings and does not contain any traces of processing.

Based on the Kallner family history as researched through the contained provenance marks, it is likely that the book was part of an acquisition the Berlin City Library made in 1943. The library had bought ~40.000 Nazi-looted books that were previously owned by Jewish Berliners who had been deported. A deliberate purchase, e.g. via the antiquarian book trade, can practically be ruled out; not only are there no indications for this, but the work is also far too specialized for the collection of the Berlin City Library.

For their help with research, translation, and transliteration, the ZLB would like to express its sincere gratitude to Dr. Nick Block, Dr. Michael Brocke, Dr. Anke Geißler-Grünberg, and Stephan Kummer.

Additional information

  • Schwoch, Rebecca (Ed.): Berliner jüdische Kassenärzte und ihr Schicksal im Nationalsozialismus : Ein Gedenkbuch. Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich, 2009. p. 423 ff.
  • Doetz, Susanne und Kopke, Christoph: „und dürfen das Krankenhaus nicht mehr betreten“ : der Ausschluss jüdischer und politisch unerwünschter Ärzte und Ärztinnen aus dem Berliner städtischen Gesundheitswesen 1933-1945. Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich, 2018. p. 233.
  • Strauss, Herbert A./Röder, Werner (Ed.): International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Émigrés 1933-1945, hrsg. Vom Institut für Zeitgeschichte München. Volume II, Part 1: A-K. the Arts, Science and Literature. München [u.a.] 1999, p. 588.
  • https://www.alemannia-judaica.de/merchingen_synagoge.htm (Section: "Zum Tod von Lehrer D. Callner")