Reuchlin, Johann. Augenspiegel (1511).

Reuchlin, Johann. Augenspiegel (1511).

The Leo Baech Institute houses “The Rare Book Collection of Frank L. Herz” which focuses on the famous Renaissance controversy between the Christian Hebraist Johannes Reuchlin, who introduced the study of Hebrew to Germany, and the anti-Jewish agitator Johannes Pfefferkorn, who was trying to lobby for the destruction of all Jewish books. You can view the collection of rare books on the LBI.org website.

Christian scholar, Johannes Reuchlin wrote “Reccomendation whether to confiscate,  destroy and burn all Jewish books” in Augenspiegel in 1511 - a courageous defense of the importance of Jewish ideas in the Christian world. Reuchlin was among the first to place Jews alongside Christians as part of the discourse on legal and human rights. Reuchlin found his chief opposition in a convert from Judaism, Johannes Pfefferkorn, who published several anti-Jewish treatises between 1507 and 1510. Pfefferkorn appealed to Emperor Maximilian I to confiscate all Jewish books as a part of his hope to eliminate Jews from German lands. The Emperor asked for theologians opinions and it was Reuchlin who was the sole defender of the preservation of Jewish literature.