Salman Schocken

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Salman Z. Schocken (Hebrew: שלמה זלמן שוקן‎) (October 29, 1877, Margonin, Province of Posen, German Empire (today Poland) – August 6, 1959, Pontresina, Switzerland) was a German Jewish publisher and businessman.

Salman Schocken ("S" in Salman pronounced "Z") was the son of a Jewish shopkeeper in Posen.[1] In 1901, he moved to Zwickau, a German town in southwest Saxony, to help manage a department store owned by his brother, Simon. Together they built up the business and established a chain of stores throughout Germany. In Chemnitz and Stuttgart, Schocken commissioned German-Jewish architect Erich Mendelsohn to build branches of the Kaufhaus Schocken. In 1910 Salman Schocken married Zerline (Lilli) Ehrmann, a twenty-year-old German Jewish woman from Frankfurt. They had four sons and one daughter. Their eldest son, Gustav Gershom Schocken, succeeded his father at the Schocken publishing house in Tel Aviv and at the Haaretz newspaper. In 1915, Schocken co-founded Zionist journal Der Jude (with Martin Buber). After Simon's death in 1929, when his friend Franz Rosenzweig also died, Salman Schocken became sole owner of the firm and established the Schocken Institute for Research on Hebrew Poetry in Berlin. In 1931, he founded the publishing company Schocken Verlag, which, at the time, reprinted the Buber-Rosenzweig translation of the Bible.

In 1933, the Nazis stripped Schocken of his citizenship and, the next year, he left Germany for Palestine and, in 1940 with his family except for one son, settled in the United States. In Jerusalem, he built the Schocken Library, also designed by Erich Mendelsohn, was a board member of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and bought the newspaper Haaretz in 1937. His son, Gershom Schocken, became the chief editor in 1939 and held that position until his death in 1990. The Schocken family today has a 60% share of the newspaper. Salman Schocken also founded the Schocken Publishing House Ltd. and, in New York in 1945 with the aid of Hannah Arendt and Nahum Glatzer, opened another branch, Schocken Books. The Nazis forced him to sell his German enterprises to Merkur AG, but he managed to recover some of his property after the World War II. (In 1987 Schocken Books became an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group at Random House, owned by Bertelsmann since 1998.)

Schocken became the patron of Shmuel Yosef Agnon, when he was a struggling writer in Palestine. Recognizing Agnon's literary talent, Schocken paid him a stipend that relieved him of financial worries and allowed him to devote himself to writing. (Agnon went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966.)[2]

Schocken's wife's name was Zerlina (Lilli); they had five children. He died in 1959 while vacationing in Switzerland. His other son, Gideon Schocken, became Haganah fighter and later a general and the head of the Manpower Directorate of the Israel Defense Forces.

Schocken house[edit]

The home of Salman Schocken is at 7 Smolenskin Street in Rehavia (aka Rechavia), a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel.[3] It was designed by Erich Mendelsohn. The building, constructed of Jerusalem stone between 1934 and 1936, was originally surrounded by a spacious 1.5-acre (6,100 m2) garden. In 1957, the property was sold to the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, which invited another architect, Joseph Klarvin, to design an additional front wing of classrooms facing the street. Klarvin also added a third story, dispensing with the pergolas and blocking over the oval pool in the courtyard.[4]

Schocken also had a library built in Jerusalem for his significant book collection. The building was also designed by Erich Mendelsohn and was built at 6 Balfour Street. Today, the historic building is home to the Schocken Institute for Jewish Research of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The Institute houses the Salman Schocken Library and other important archives and collections of Jewish and other books.[5]


On June 12, 2014 a court in Berlin awarded 50 million euros to Salman Schoken's surviving heirs in Israel as part of reparations for the seizure of Schocken AG by the Nazi regime in 1938.[6]


A Conversation About Schocken Books [3]