Famous Jews in Koenigsberg (and East Prussia)

The Jewish society of Koenigsberg was very interesting and varied.



Haim Arlosoroff

Chaim Arlosoroff
Pic: Moshe Meron/JOP
Haim Arlosoroff (b 1899 in Romny, d. 1933 in Tel Aviv) was a Zionist leader during the British Manate for Palestine. In 1905 during a pogrom, the family fled to East Prussia and settled in Stallupoenen. Now Haim was called Victor. 1913 the family moved to Königsberg, where Haim attended the Realgymnasium. When the war broke out in 1914, the family Arlosoroff had to move to Berlin. But Victor and his sisters maintained their friendships with schoolmates and friends from Königsberg. Later Arlosoroff studied economics at the University of Berlin and obtained a doctorate under the supervision of Walter Sombart. As a member of the Zionist Action committe he moved to Palestine in 1924.


Walter Adamson

Walter Adamson
Pic: Lore Drath/JOP
Walter Adamson (born 1911 in Königsberg, died 2010 in Melbourne) studied in his hometown and emigrated 1938 to Rome and 1939 to Australia. From 1969 he worked as a writer. His poems and stories have been published in Germany, Australia, USA and England. In Königsberg he was friends with the sports teacher Hans Weinberg. The photo was taken in 1936 in Weinberg’s apartment.



Isaac Bamberger

Isaac Bamberger
Isaac Bamberger (b.1834 in Angenrod, d. 1896 in Koenigsberg) was a rabbi. He studied philosophy and philology at the University of Giessen. After having graduated as Ph.D. in 1861, he went to the Breslau Jewish Theological Seminary.He was graduated as rabbi in 1861, and in 1865 he was called to Koenigsberg as rabbi of the Reform congregation to succeed the late Rabbi Saalschütz. He held this position until his death. He was very involved in the erection of the new synagogue. He was one of the founders of the “Deutsch-Israelitischer Gemeindebund” (Union of German Congregations); and of the “Deutscher Rabbiner-Verein” (Union of German Rabbis).


Eduard Birnbaum

40th anniversary in office
Pic: Courtesy of the Leo Beck Institute, New York

Eduard Birnbaum (born 1855 in Krakow, died 1920 in Königsberg) was cantor, composer, choral conductor and one of the first explorers of Jewish music. After studying singing with Salomon Sulzer in Vienna, he was appointed principal cantor at the Königsberg Synagogue in 1879, where he worked very successfully until his death. His extensive collection of Jewish music can be found today as the Birnbaum Collection at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.
Picture was made for his 40th anniversary in office 1870 – 1919
5 min video of presentation of Eduard Birnbaum Collection at Hebrew Union Collage Cincinnati, the world largest collection of Jewish music before WW1 >>


Max Brode

Max Brode
Pic: Painting by Heinrich Wolff, Catalogue: Kabus, Juden in Ostpreussen
Max Brode (b.1850 in Berlin, d. 1917 in Koenigsberg) was a violinist and conductor. He received his education in Leipzig and in Berlin at the Stern’sche Konservatorium. 1876 Brode became concert master at the Königsberg Opera. He startet to organize classical concerts and staged successfully, inter alia, Brahms four symphonies and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Brode was appointed in 1888 as academic teacher of music history and theory at the University of Koenigsberg. He headed a string quartet, the Brode Quartet, with whom he had performed more than two decades. He coined the musical life of the city. Among his famous pupils were Louise Magnus, the future wife of Erich Mendelsohn and the later composer Werner Heymann.



Frieda Fromm-Reichmann

Frieda Fromm Reichmann

Frieda Fromm-Reichmannnee Reichmann (b. 1889 in Karlsruhe, d. 1957 in Rockville, Maryland) was a famous psychiatrist. The family moved to Königsberg ab. 1898, where her father worked in the Norddeutsche Creditanstalt. Frieda entered the Albertina in 1908. She  was one of the first women to study medicine. She received her medical degree in 1913 and began a residency in neurology studying brain injuries with Kurt Goldstein, a neurologist and psychiatrist. During World War I she worked in a clinic for brain-injured German soldiers in Königsberg. She worked under Kurt Goldstein, who was her most influential teacher and mentor. Later she established a private psychoanalytic sanitarium in Heidelberg in 1924. In 1926, she married the social philosopher Erich Fromm. Together they helped found the Frankfurt chapter of the German Psychoanalytic Society. After the Nazi takeover in 1933, Fromm-Reichmann left Germany. She immigrated to the United States in 1935 where she successful teached and worked.



Miriam Herman

Miriam Herman
Pic: Ayal Badt / Wikipedia

Miriam Herman-Badt (b. 1919 in Königsberg, d. 1990 in Jerusalem). The Herman family was a large Jewish family in Königsberg. When she was 4 years old her father, the psychiatrist Dr. Heinz Herman, was called to Jerusalem to run the hospital “Ezrat Nashim”. She was a very well known voice of the young Israeli radio station and was head of the radio department for children and young people for a long time. She was a gifted trainer of many now prominent people in the Israeli media.

Walter Heymann

Walter Heymann
Walter Heymann (b. 1882 in Koenigsberg, d. 1915 near Soissons) was a jurist and writer. He became known with poems about the Curonian spit and articles about the German expressionists and died at the front in France. His book about the artist Max Pechstein as well as several novels were published after his death. He was an older brother of the composer Werner Richard Heymann.

Arnold Hulisch

Arnold Hulisch
Pic: Heinrich Wolff.

Arnold Hulisch became the urban planner in Koenigsberg in 1864. He was the first Jews in such position in Prussia. He made the project for the Walter-Simon-place. He is the grandfather of the violonist and author Michael Wieck.



Lucia Jacoby

Jacoby Lucia
Pic: LBI, Den Unvergessenen (The not forgotten), ALB-OS 50
Lucia Jacoby (b. 1889 in Koenigsberg, deported 1942) was first the secretary of the publication “Im Deutschen Reich”, the monthly journal of the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens (Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, Central Verein, CV) and from 1923 the head of the publishing house “Philo-Verlag” in Berlin. This German-Jewish publishing house founded in Berlin as the publishing arm of the CV existed until 1938.


Max Jaffé

Max Jaffe
Picture: Drawing by Heinrich Wolff

Max Jaffé (b.1841 in Grünberg/Silesia [today: Zielona Gora /Poland], d.1911 in Berlin) was a distinguished 19th-century  biochemist, pathologist, pharmacologist, and professor. He studied medicine in Berlin, earned his degree in internal medicine, served in the Franco-Prussian War and was decorated with the Iron Cross Second Class.  in 1873 he became the first Ordinary Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Königsberg. He was promoted to director of the Laboratory for Medical Chemistry and Experimental Pharmacology in 1878 and became a member of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina in 1882. He is known for Jaffe reaction of creatinine andpicric acid—the oldest clinical methodology still in use. His Laboratory was placed in Coppernicus St. 3-4.



Shmariahu Levin

Levin Shmariahu
Frontpage of dissertation.

Shmariahu Levin (b 1867 in Svislach Mins Governorate, d. 1935 Haifa), was a Zionist activist in Russian Empire and in the United States before he settled in Palestine in 1924. He studied in Koenigsberg and defended here his Ph.D. in 1894. Immediately after the defense he married his fiancé Hellena Konheim in Cranz on the Curonian spit. He was elected to the 1906 First Duma in Russia. It would be a nice idea to name a street in Kaliningrad after him.

Aron Liebeck

Pic: David Liebeck/JOP

Aron Liebeck (b 1856 in Lötzen, d. 1935 in Berlin)
He was a textile merchant and entrepreneur. After several apprenticeships in the East Prussian province and in Berlin, he came to Königsberg in 1876, where he worked and lived successfully until 1928, before spending the last few years with his daughter in Berlin. His extensive memoirs tell a lot about Jewish life in Königsberg at the turn of the century. The complete manuscript is available at the Leo Baeck Institute: Link to manuscript >>
Our member Stephanie Schüler-Springorum analyzed his memoirs in the article:
Schüler-Springorum, Stefanie. “A Soft Hero: Male Jewish Identity in Imperial Germany through the Autobiography of Aron Liebeck.” Jewish Masculinities: German Jews, Gender, and History (2012): 90-113.

Albert Loose

Albert Loose aus Königsberg
Pic: Marianne Loose/JOP

Albert Loose (born 1873 in Königsberg, murdered 1943 in Sobibor) was merchant in Königsberg. He emigrated 1933, lived in Spain and later in the Netherlands from where he was deported in 1943 to the camps. During his emigration he wrote very impressive memoirs with detailed descriptions of his hometown.

Gerda Luft

Gerda Luft
Pic: Core exhibition in the Jeckes Museum, The Open Museum Tefen, Israel
Gerda Luftnee Goldberg (b. 1898 in Koenigsberg, d. 1986 in Tel Aviv) was a famous journalist. After World War I she started to study in Berlin. She moved to Palestine in 1924 and started to work for local and European Newspaper. She published also books in Hebrew and German. One title tells the story of the Jewish emigration to Palestine 1933-1939. The other book contains her biography.



Abraham Mapu

Mapu Abraham
Picture: Wikipedia

Abraham Mapu (b.1808 in Vilijampole [today part of Kaunas/Lithuania], d. 1867 in Koenigsberg) was a novelist in Hebrew of the Haskalah (“enlightenment”) movement.. For many years he was an impoverished, itinerant schoolmaster. 1848 he published his first historical novel, Ahavat Zion. This is considered the first Hebrew novel. He published tree more novels and some textbooks. In 1867 he moved to Koenigsberg due to illness, published his last book, Amon Pedagogue, died there and was buried there too. The romantic-nationalistic ideas in his novels later inspired the Zinoist movement.
Today exists a Mapu street in Kaunas and one in Tel Aviv.


Martin Meyerowitz

Martin Meyerowitz
Pic: See article
Martin Meyerowitz (b.1869 in Koenigsberg, d. 1942 in Flossenbuerg) was a lawyer in Koenigsberg since 1896. In 1915 he became Judicial Council. 1929 he was appointed as a lawyer at the Supreme Court In Leipzig and moved with his family in the same year to this town. Due to the NS laws he lost his authorizations as a lawyer in 1938, but continued his work as a so called “Jewish Councel”. On April 03 1942 Meyerowitz was arrested. June 10 1942 he was deported to the Flossenburg concentration camp, where he died after a short time.
Picture: Bundesarchiv Berlin, R 3002 Pers. 609. Thanks to Hubert Lang (www.HubertLang.de).


Hermann Minkowski

Hermann Minkowski
Pic: Wikipedia
Hermann Minkowski (b.1864 in Aleksotas [today part of Kaunas/Lithuania], d. 1909 in Goettingen) was a mathematician and physicist. His family moved to Koenigsberg in 1872, where his father operated his firm Lewin Minkowski & Son with his eldest son Max.Minkowski studied in Koenigsberg and taught later in Bonn, Koenigsberg (1894–1896), Zuerich (1896–1902), and finally in Goettingen from 1902 until his early death 1909.In 1883, while still a student at Königsberg, he was awarded the Mathematics Prize of the French Academy of Sciences for his manuscript on the theory of quadratic forms. He was a gifted mathematician and became very famous.In mathematical physics. Minkowski space is a combination of Euclidean space and time into a four-dimensional manifold. Picture: Wikipedia.


Ezra Munk

Ezra Munk
Pic: See article
Ezra Munk (b.1867 in Altona , d.1940 in Jerusalem)was  an Orthodox rabbi in Germany.  He studied at the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary  and at the Universities of Berlin and Koenigsberg where he received his PhD . His first position as rabbi was in Koenigsberg (1893-1900). The rabbi opened an orthodox synagoge  in  Synagogenstraße 14–15 in 1893. There  his congregation seceded from the general community in 1897. In 1900 he became  rabbi of the Adass Yisroel congregation in Berlin. Munk acted as Orthodox adviser to the Prussian Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. and was , where he enjoyed great confidence. He was one of the leading figures of the Orthodox German Jewry of his time. Picture: Nationial Libraryof Israel http://rosetta.nli.org.il/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE12154128



Rosalie Perles

Rosalie Perles
Pic: Thanks to the Perles family
Rosalie Perles (b.1839 in Breslau, d. 1932 in Koenigsberg) was a writer and philanthropist. She married  the rabbi Joseph Perles in 1863 and lived with him in Munich. After his death she went with her younger son at Königsberg, where she took up literary work. She was a regular for the “Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums”, “Im Deutschen Reich”, and “Ost und West.”


Felix Perles

Felix Perles
Pic: Thanks to the Perles family
Felix Perles (b.1874 in Munich, d. 1933 in Koenigsberg) was a rabbi  and teacherin Koenigsberg since 1899. He received his degree of Ph.D. in 1895 and continued his academic career at the Albertina in Koenigsberg where he was appointed as professor. He published very rich on several topics, mainly about Hebrew language and the bible.



Louis Saalschütz

Louis Saalschuetz
Pic: © Kunstbibliothek der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Louis Saalschütz (b. 1835 in Koenigsberg, d. 1913 in Koenigsberg) was a mathematician.He was the son of the Koenigsberg rabbi Joseph Levin Saalschütz. He studied mathematics and physics at the Albertina and earned his PhD in 1861. Later he taught mechanics and engineering at the trade school (Gewerbeschule). In 1875 he became Assoc. Professor at the Albertina, where he also taught. The Gewerbeschule was in the Schönstraße, in that building is located currently the Cadastral Office.


Rabbi Israel Salanter

Salanter Zadik
Rabbi Israel Salanter, original Yisroel ben Ze’ev Wolf Lipkin, (b. 1809 in Zagare /Lithuania d. 1883 Koenigsberg) was a famous Talmudist. He taught long years in Kovno, where he established a place, where ethical texts were studied. That was the beginning of the Musar movement. Salanter moved to Memel in 1857. He transferred the Litvakian style of Jewish learning to Memel and later to Koenigsberg too. He travelled through several European countries and supported local Jewish communities. His tombstone is one the old Jewish graveyard in todays Kaliningrad.

Rabbi Salanter Zadik
Renovated 2018


Samuel Sambursky

Shmuel Sambursky
Pic: Wikimedia Commons from Zionist Archive
Samuel Sambursky (b. 1900 in Koenigsberg, d. 1990 in Jerusalem) was scientist and historian.
He studied physics at the Albertina in Koenigsberg before going to Palestine in 1924. Four years later he joined the physics department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and became a famous lecturer. In 1957 he became dean of the Hebrew University’s faculty of science. Sambursky was active in UNESCO, serving for some years as vice chairman of Israel’s national committee for the organization. In 1968 he received the Israel Prize for Humanities.His works include Ha-Kosmos shel ha-Yevanim (1954; The Physical World of the Greeks, 1956); Physics of the Stoics (1959); and Physical World of Late Antiquity (1962). A revised edition of these three works appeared in 1965 in one volume under the title Das Physikalische Weltbild der Antike. His younger brother was the composer Daniel Sambursky.


Moishe Smoira

Smoira Moishe
Moishe Smoira (b. 1888 in Koenigsberg, d. 1961 in Jerusalem) was a jurist and the first President of the Supreme Court of Israel. He grew up in Koenigsberg as a son of the herring trader Elieser Smoira, studied law, was a soldier in the German Army during the First World War, received his doctorate and emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1921 where he opened a practice in Jerusalem. In 1948 he was appointed President of the Supreme Court. Israel issued a stamp in his honor in 1989

Benno Stolzenberg

Singer Teacher Stolzenberg
Benno (Benjamin) Stolzenberg (born 1827 in Königsberg, died 1906 in Berlin) was opera singer with tenor voice, singing teacher, composer, director of the Municipal Theatre. He startet his career in the choir of the Königsberg synagogue. 1852 he made his debut at the theatre in Königsberg as Count Almaviva in Gioacchin Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. In 1855-1856 he performed at the theatre in Reval (now Tallinn, Estonia), 1876-1879 at the theatre in Königsberg, then at the theatre in  Danzig.  Aron Liebeck described the appearance of Stolzenberg with great enthusiasm in his memoirs.


Hermann Vogelstein

Hermann Vogelstein
Pic: Courtesy of the Leo Beck Institute, New York

Hermann Vogelstein (b.1870 in Pilsen [today Plzeň], d. 1942 in New York) was a rabbi. His father was Heinemann Vogelstein, rabbi of Stettin. Vogelstein received his education at his native town, the gymnasium at Stettin, and the universities and Jewish theological seminaries at Berlin and Breslau (Ph.D. and rabbi 1894). In 1895 he became rabbi in Oppeln, He was rabbi in the Liberal Synagogue in Koenigsberg, Germany, for twenty-three years, from 1897 to 1920 when he assumed the post at Breslau. He left Germany after the Novemberpogrom in 1938 first to Enland and later to the US. He is the author of “Die Landwirtschaft in Palästina zur Zeit der Mischnah” (Berlin, 1894). He was the leading liberal rabbi in Germany in his time.


Hirsch Weintraub

Hirsch Weintraub
Hirsch Weintraub (b.1817 Dubno, d. 1881 in Koenigsberg) was cantor of the synagogue 1838-1878. The son of the well-known cantor Salomon Kashtan Weintraub studied in Vienna and Berlin. He became famous for his beautiful lyric tenor voice and his many compositions published under the title “Schire Bet Adonai”. Weintraub combined in his music a deep Jewish feeling with European culture. He received the title of “Royal Director” in 1873. After celebrating his 40th anniversary of service in 1878, he went into retirement and chose as his successor Cantor Eduard Birnbaum.