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German History in Documents and Images
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Group Photograph of the Maccabee Fraternity in Berlin (c. 1906)
Exclusively Jewish student associations were founded towards the end of the nineteenth century as a result of Jews’ exclusion from traditional fraternities. These groups adopted the traditional practices of non-Jewish fraternities: they wore particular colors, engaged in drinking rituals and fencing, and lived according to an explicit code of honor. Their songs drew from the German musical tradition but often featured new lyrics. Some student groups named themselves after the Maccabees, the historical Jewish liberators who fought for independence from the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty in the second century BC.

In the center of the photograph (with hat and sash) is Felix Rosenblüth (1887-1978). Rosenblüth eventually changed his name to Pinchas Rosen and emigrated to Palestine in 1931. Later, he became Israel’s first Minister of Justice, serving under Ben Gurion .