Station: [358] Salman Schocken as Publisher

From 1916, as director of the Jewish Cultural Committee, Schocken campaigned for the promotion of Jewish sciences and the generation of Jewish literature. He founded his own publishing company, Schocken Verlag in Berlin in 1931, which had a Jewish publishing programme. The purpose of this was to familiarize Jews with their own Jewish origins and religion during the time of assimilation. Schocken had old-Jewish writings edited and re-designed according to the current worldviews.

Schocken’s decision to found a publishing company not only shows his love for literature, but above all his love for Jewish and Hebrew literature. He wanted to promote the publication of manuscripts by young Jewish authors, such as Samuel Joseph Agnon for example. Agnon was Schocken’s protege and from 1931, Schocken didn’t only publish Agnon’s works, but also supported him financially and with non-cash benefits for his whole life. Agnon received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966, but didn’t mention his sponsor in his acceptance speech at all.

Schocken also wanted to continue the Martin Buber Bible translation project, which had begun at the Lambert-Schneider-Publishers shortly before the strike. Alongside Agnon, Buber enjoyed contractual precedence at the publishers, which was a certainly a result of Schocken’s great admiration for Martin Buber. Schocken also published Franz Rosenzweig’s works. 

As the Nazis persecution of the Jews set in, Schocken Verlag became an important intellectual refuge for German Jews. Jewish authors were given publicity here that wasn’t available anywhere else and their readers were given a new, ideal home. At the end of 1938, Schocken Verlag was banned and in order to save his own published books from destruction, Schocken, who was in Jerusalem, had them bought up by middlemen in Germany.

Salman Schocken took a over a publishing company in Tel Aviv in 1939 and in addition acquired the  „Haaretz“, daily newspaper that is now run by his grandson, Amos. Schocken founded another publishing company in the USA in 1945, and both publishing houses, „Hoza‘at Schocken“ in Tel Aviv and „Schocken Books“ in New York, still exist today.