Station: [351] Prologue

„My library is my autobiography“ 

This sentence was spoken by one of the most successful Jewish entrepreneurs of the 20th century: Salman Schocken made his passion for books public. Salman Schocken loved books and while he was alive he established a library of around 60.000 volumes. These were his pride and joy and this is why the impression of bookshelves, with rows of spines stretches along the total length of our exhibition wall.

Schocken was regarded as the „Master of Order,“ but despite this, was no rationalist. He believed in sparks of inspiration and loved mysticism, fiction and poetry. German poets and literati, above all Goethe, then Heine, Novalis and Hölderlin fascinated him at first. Later, when Schocken turned to Judaism he read and collected Jewish and Hebrew works.

His multifaceted interests and dedication in both his professional and personal life enabled him to come into contact with a variety of people including famous personalities from all areas of society. Among them, the later Nobel Prize winner Samuel Joseph Agnon, the Jewish religious philosopher Martin Buber and the architect Erich Mendelsohn played a special role. As in the case of Mendelsohn, this network can be regarded as an expression of the era and many Jews knew one another on an international level as well.

Schocken’s contemporaries regarded him as a man of many facets, but he was neither an ordinary businessman, nor an ordinary self-educated person. He was highly educated and interested in many things. He had a critical and analytical mind and an admirable memory. Schocken tried to have an educative effect on his surroundings, so that he wasn’t just a successful businessman, but also an intellectual leader.

Salman Schocken is rightly described as a mulit-talent. Follow the story of his life on this floor!