Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich

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Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich (born March 27, 1921 in Berlin ; † October 21, 2007 in Riehen near Basel ) was a German - Swiss Judaist and historian. Ehrlich, who fled the National Socialists to Switzerland in 1943 , campaigned for the Christian-Jewish dialogue for decades . From 1961 to 1994 he was European director of the Jewish organization B'nai B'rith .


Ehrlich was born the son of a civil servant in Berlin. After graduating from high school, in 1940 he began studying at the Berlin University for the Science of Judaism under Leo Baeck . When the facility closed in 1942, Ehrlich was obliged to do forced labor. The lawyer Franz Kaufmann procured Ehrlich a passport forged by Cioma Schönhaus , with which he was able to flee to Switzerland in June 1943. An encounter with Stella Goldschlag in a Berlin café almost led to Ehrlich's arrest. Ehrlich then decided to flee. In his book about Stella Goldschlag, Ehrlich's childhood friend Peter Wyden describes the circumstances of Ehrlich's flight to Switzerland. Ehrlich initially spent three months in a labor camp, but then received a scholarship to the University of Basel , where he resumed his studies and was awarded a Dr. phil. received his doctorate .

From 1955 Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich accepted teaching positions at the universities of Frankfurt am Main, Zurich, Basel, Bern and at the Free University of Berlin . In 1961 Ehrlich took over the European directorate from B'nai B'rith. He held this office until 1994, when he became honorary vice-president of the organization. From 1972 Ehrlich was an honorary professor for modern Jewish history at the theological faculty of the University of Bern .

Ehrlich promoted dialogue between Jews and Christians from an early age. In 1958 he became General Secretary of the Christian-Jewish Working Group in Switzerland. In the same year he was awarded the Leo Baeck Prize of the Central Council of Jews in Germany . During the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965 he worked as an advisor to Cardinal Augustin Bea and was involved in drafting the Declaration Nostra Aetate on the relationship of the Catholic Church to non-Christian religions. In 1972 he became co-president of the Christian-Jewish working group at the Swiss Catholic Church Federation, and in 1990 he became president of the Jewish-Roman-Catholic discussion commission of the Swiss Bishops' Conference . Also in the Swiss Protestant Church Federation and the discussion group "Jews and Christians" of the Central Committee of German Catholics worked with Ehrlich.

Ehrlich remained active until his death, he published numerous writings and books on the Christian-Jewish relationship in the past and present. Most recently, in July 2007 in Berlin, he received the Israel Jacobson Prize for his life's work. Ehrlich died on October 21, 2007 in Riehen near Basel, where he had lived since 1943.

Ehrlich's widow donated his 8,400-volume library to the Seminary for Catholic Theology at the Free University of Berlin in 2008.


Honors (selection)

As namesake

Since the 2008/09 winter semester, the "Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Masters Course" has existed at the Department of Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the Free University of Berlin . History, Theory and Practice of Judeo-Christian Relations ”, which, as an interdisciplinary master’s course, makes a contribution to Judeo-Christian dialogue.

The Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk has also been in existence since 2009 . As the twelfth institution to promote talented students in the Federal Republic of Germany, it awards the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Medal.


  • The dream in the Old Testament , Töpelmann (supplements to the journal for Old Testament science 73), Berlin 1953
  • History of the Jews in Germany , Schwann (Geschichtliche Quellenschriften 6), Düsseldorf 1957
  • History of Israel. From the beginnings to the destruction of the temple (70 AD) , de Gruyter (Göschen Collection 231 / 231a), Berlin 1958
  • The cult symbolism in the Old Testament and in post-biblical Judaism (in: Symbolik der Religionen , Volume 3, ed. By Ferdinand Herrmann), Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1959
  • The ancient Jewish state , Lower Saxony State Center for Political Education (Problems of Judaism 1), Hanover 1964
  • Hatred of Jews - guilt of Christians ?! Attempted a conversation (with Willehad Paul Eckert), Hans Driewer, Essen 1964
  • Jews and Christians have a future (with Franz König ), Pendo, Zurich 1988
  • Dealing with the Shoah. How do second-generation Jews live with their parents' fate? , Schneider, Gerlingen 1993
  • Jewish life and culture in Germany. History, destruction and a difficult new beginning (with Hans Erler), Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2000
  • Speeches about Judaism , Kohlhammer (Judentum und Christianentum 6), Stuttgart 2001
  • Understand Judaism. The topicality of Jewish thought from Maimonides to Hannah Arendt (ed. With Hans Erler), Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2002
  • "Against all futility". Jewish resistance against National Socialism (with Hans Erler and Arnold Paucker ), Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2003
  • From Job to Horkheimer. Collected writings on Judaism and its environment , ed. by Walter Homolka and Tobias Barniske. De Gruyter, Berlin 2009.


  • Rolf Vogel (ed.): Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich and the Christian-Jewish dialogue. Knecht, Frankfurt am Main 1984.
  • Marcel Marcus, Ekkehard W. Stegemann, Erich Zenger (eds.): Israel and Church today. Contributions to the Christian-Jewish dialogue. For Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich , Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1991
  • Hanspeter Heinz / Hans Hermann Henrix (eds.): "What separates us is history" Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich - mediator between Jews and Christians , Verlag Neue Stadt München, Zurich, Vienna 2008
  • Hartmut Bomhoff: Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich. A life for dialogue and renewal , Hentrich & Hentrich Verlag Berlin, 2011, ISBN 978-3-942271-11-0
  • Julius H. Schoeps : Encounters. People who crossed my path in life . Jüdischer Verlag im Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-633-54278-9 , pp. 201-214.
  • Peter Wyden : Stella Goldschlag. A true story . Steidl Verlag , Göttingen 2019, ISBN 978-3-95829-608-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Holocaust survivors thanks to passport forgers , Swiss Info, accessed on October 22, 2007.

Web links