Martin Buber

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Martin Buber
Martin Buber. Signature 1953

Martin Mordechai Buber (born February 8, 1878 in Vienna ; died June 13, 1965 in Jerusalem ) was an Austrian - Israeli Jewish religious philosopher .


Martin Buber was born in Vienna in 1878 as the son of Karl (Castiel Salomon) Buber and Elise Buber, née Wurgast, in a wealthy family. After his parents separated in 1881, he grew up from the age of four with his grandparents in Lemberg, Galicia (now Lviv , Ukraine ). His grandfather was the private scholar and Midrash expert Salomon Buber , who in his time was one of the most important researchers and collectors in the field of the Hasidic tradition of Eastern European Judaism . After attending the Polish grammar school in Lemberg, Martin Buber studied in Vienna, Leipzig, Zurich and Berlin. He studied economics, philosophy, German studies, art history, psychiatry and psychology, a. a. with Heinrich Herkner , Gustav Schmoller , Wilhelm Dilthey and Georg Simmel . In 1903 he received his doctorate with the dissertation on the history of the individuation problem. Nicolaus von Cues and Jakob Böhme .

Founding members of the Jewish publishing house . V. l. Right: (standing) EM Lilien , Chaim Weizmann , Davis Trietsch , (sitting) Berthold Feiwel and Martin Buber, Berlin, 1902
Martin Buber at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Berlin memorial plaque on the house, Vopeliuspfad 12, in Berlin-Zehlendorf

In 1899 he met the Catholic Paula Winkler , with whom he officially married in 1907 after her conversion to Judaism. She worked intensively on his work and published her own literary work under the pseudonym Georg Munk . The couple had two children: son Rafael (1900–1990), married to Margarete Buber-Neumann (1901–1989) from 1922 to 1929 , and daughter Eva (1901–1992), married to Ludwig Strauss .

In Vienna he got to know Theodor Herzl personally (first letters were in February 1900) and joined his Zionist movement. In September 1901, Herzl Buber transferred the leadership of the Zionist party organ Die Welt as successor to Berthold Feiwel , who could not be persuaded to continue to perform the function.

In 1902 Buber was a co-founder of the Jewish publishing house . From 1905 he worked for the publishing house Rütten & Loening as a lecturer; there he initiated and supervised a. a. the large-scale project of a social psychological monograph series Die Gesellschaft . In 1908 he was involved in the founding of the Socialist Federation (with Gustav Landauer and Erich Mühsam, among others).

In 1916, together with Salman Schocken , he founded the monthly magazine Der Jude , which was published until 1928. In the same year, Buber and his family moved from Berlin-Zehlendorf to Heppenheim an der Bergstrasse, where he published his main philosophical work Ich und Du and, together with Franz Rosenzweig, began Die Schrift , a new translation of the Hebrew Bible into German.

In 1924 he held a Tao-te-jing course on Monte Verità . From 1924 to 1933, Martin Buber was first a lecturer and finally honorary professor for Jewish religious studies and ethics at the University of Frankfurt am Main . He resigned this professorship in 1933 after Hitler came to power in order to forestall a dismissal. He then took part in the establishment of the center for Jewish adult education at the Reich Representation of German Jews . The Mittelstelle was a Jewish educational institution operating from 1934 to 1938. “Their main goal was to give German Jews the opportunity to strengthen their Jewish identity, especially when the Jewish world they knew collapsed around them. This is reflected in Buber's slogan for the center: 'Arming for existence'. "

On February 21, 1935, the Secret State Police forbade Buber "until further notice from any activity as a speaker in public events and in closed meetings of Jewish organizations". In the same year he was expelled from the Reichsschrifttumskammer . In 1938 he was able to escape the Nazi state to Jerusalem - he himself always spoke of his immigration - where he taught anthropology and sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem until 1951 . From this time on, Buber was close to some Zionist intellectuals, such as the philosopher Felix Weltsch , the writer Max Brod , politicians such as Chaim Weizmann and Hugo Bergman . They were all Buber acquaintances from old Europe in the cities of Prague, Berlin and Vienna; their friendship and mutual stimulation lasted until the 1960s.

Buber's house in Heppenheim was devastated during the November pogroms on November 9, 1938. He lived there from 1916 to 1938 with his wife and later his granddaughters, the daughters of Rafael Buber and Margarete Buber-Neumann. Barbara (married Goldschmidt) became a painter, Judith sociologist and women's researcher. After it had served as a vehicle registration office, the house was placed under monument protection in 1975/76, renovated and restored in 1978/79. Since April 1979 the house has been the seat of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ). Between 1938 and 1940 Paula Buber wrote the literary picture of the time Muckensturm. A year in the life of a small town published in 1953 under a pseudonym, with Muckensturm referring to Heppenheim.

Shortly after the November pogroms , at the end of 1938, Mahatma Gandhi published an open letter entitled Die Juden , in which he commented on the persecution of Jews in National Socialist Germany , on Zionism and on the Palestinian conflict. It was not only Martin Buber who opposed this text. Although Gandhi emphasized his sympathy for the Jewish people, he rejected Zionism as being unjust to the Arabs, to whom Palestine is as much a part as England is to the English and France to the French. A war against Germany could be justified to prevent the "outrageous persecution of an entire people". However, the Jews could face the persecution with non-violent, organized, civil resistance . There are similarities between the situation of the untouchables in India and the discrimination against Indians in South Africa. In his sharp reply, Buber contradicted the comparison between anti-Semitic violence and the discrimination against Indians by the British and Boers. Gandhi did not know the situation in the German concentration camps well enough, he was not aware of the extent of the National Socialist terror. Buber expressed his disappointment that Gandhi, whom he valued and revered, judged superficially, because the Indians in South Africa are discriminated against, but are neither outlawed nor are they systematically robbed or even murdered and made "hostages for the desired behavior abroad" . Years of non-violent resistance by Jewish Germans could not prevent the National Socialists from their injustice, but rather intensified the violence. Gandhi's claim that Palestine belongs exclusively to the Arabs is historically, legally and morally wrong. Rather, Palestine belongs to both peoples or to all peoples that are historically connected to this country. Only a common, nonviolent life leads to peace and justice.

In 1953, Buber received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade , and with its receipt in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt , which was very controversial in Israel , he set a sign of willingness to communicate. The Bergsträßer Anzeiger wrote in response to his acceptance speech on the occasion of the award: “In his words of thanks, Buber exhorted the world to regain trust. The crisis of people is most evident as a crisis of trust ”. Neither he nor his wife ever returned to Heppenheim.

In New York in 1955 Buber was next to Hannah Arendt , Gershom Scholem and others. a. involved in founding the Leo Baeck Institute , an important documentation and research facility for the history of German-speaking Jews. A large part of the holdings, which are also available in electronic form, can be viewed in the Jewish Museum Berlin . Buber was also - like Hannah Arendt - one of the authors of the Aufbau .

Paula Buber died in Venice in 1958 when she was returning from a trip to the USA and Europe that she had undertaken with her husband. Martin Buber died in Jerusalem in 1965.


Although Martin Buber himself did not belong to any of these Jewish schools, he devoted himself to understanding the orthodox and ultra-orthodox mystical Jewish movement in the West. To do this, he translated numerous stories and traditions of Hasidism into German. In particular, his extensive collection of texts, The Tales of the Hasidim, provides evidence of this. Throughout his life, Buber was a mediator between the threatened traditional world of the Jews in Eastern Europe and the Western Haskala . Even at the beginning of the Zionist movement and the Jewish immigration to Palestine , he urged the establishment of good relations with the Arabs. That earned him a lot of contradiction and hostility.

At the suggestion of the publisher Lambert Schneider , Buber and the philosopher Franz Rosenzweig began translating the Holy Scriptures , the Tanach , into German in 1925 . The volumes were initially published by Lambert Schneider. The main concern of the two scholars was the linguistically accurate translation of the original Hebrew text while preserving its full richness of meaning. After Rosenzweig's death in 1929 (the last joint volume, Yeschajahu, was a memorial note for Rosenzweig enclosed) Buber continued the work alone; By 1938, however, only 15 of the planned 20 volumes had appeared. The volume Gleichsprüche published by Schocken Verlag in 1938 remained the last of the individual editions. A planned publication of the already completed Job volume in the Schocken-Exilverlag, which had moved to New York, was not implemented because Buber did not want to "enlarge a torso by another piece". The missing volumes came out only after the war, combined into a single voluminous book, as written works as part of a four-volume complete edition of the Buber-Rosenzweig-Bibel by Hegner-Verlag . The Buber-Rosenzweig translation, along with the Torah translation by Moses Mendelssohn, is considered to be the most important German-language Jewish Bible (and the most precise translation of the Old Testament books). She was the model for André Chouraqui in his literal translation of the script into French; He pursued the goal of creating a likewise generally accepted French-language Jewish Bible, which appeared in 22 volumes in the 1970s and has been continuously reprinted ever since.

In Buber's philosophical works, the theme of dialogue as an anthropological principle of man is expressed above all . His main work is entitled I and You and treats the human relationship to God and to fellow human beings as existential, dialogical and religious principles. His works influenced u. a. the doctor Hans Trüb , later the pedagogue Hermann Röhrs and the philosopher Amitai Etzioni , who worked out communitarian thinking; The structuring three-step I - you - we of the dialogical learning developed by the didacticians Urs Ruf and Peter Gallin also seems to be shaped by Buber's dialogical principle. In addition, in texts like Three Sentences of a Religious Socialist , Buber pleaded for religious socialism .

In the early 1960s, Buber put his works together in three anthologies, arranged according to writings on philosophy , writings on the Bible and writings on Hasidism . His house publisher Lambert Schneider published the three books together with Kösel-Verlag . This edition is considered to be the final edition according to its composition and classification principle and therefore remains valid despite the new edition that has now started. Buber's last book in the true sense of the word is the volume Nachlese , whose proofs he corrected himself, but whose publication he never saw again. Werner Kraft documented the later days of the religious philosopher in the volume Conversations with Martin Buber .

The current 21-volume complete edition of Martin Buber's writings ( Martin Buber Werkausgabe ) was previously part of the German Research Foundation's project at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences . Since 2010, the edition has been published at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf from its own resources and with financial support from the State of North Rhine-Westphalia . In spring 2011 the ninth volume of the work edition, which was central to Buber in several respects, was published under the title Writings on Christianity . In the documents gathered there, from which in particular his text Two Types of Faith , written in 1950, stands out, Buber paradigmatically shows what divides, but at the same time also shows the close theological connection between Judaism and Christianity.




The second Judaic Institute in Germany, founded in 1966 at the University of Cologne , is called the Martin Buber Institute for Jewish Studies .

Since 1968 until today, the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal has been awarded annually by the Coordinating Council of the Societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation to people who are particularly committed to Christian-Jewish dialogue.

Furthermore, the Euregional culture and science festival Euriade, which was launched in 1982, has been awarding the Martin Buber plaque every year since 2002 in the Rolduc Abbey in Kerkrade . The festival takes place in the triangle between Belgium, the Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia.

In 1970 the Bubergasse in Vienna- Floridsdorf (21st district) was named after him. Numerous schools honor the educator Buber in their name and the Martin Buber Youth Hostel (1974) in Überlingen on Lake Constance is named after him.

At the Hebrew University, an endowment fund of 20 million euros has been set up for the Martin Buber Society for research fellows in the humanities, cultural and social sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem , which is intended to support further work by graduates.


On October 16, 2018 , a Berlin memorial plaque was unveiled at his former residence, Berlin-Zehlendorf , Vopeliuspfad 12 .

Martin Buber Society

The Martin Buber Society , founded in 2000, seeks to “awaken and deepen knowledge and understanding of Martin Buber, and to promote research and presentation of his work, his person and his time. Included in the elucidation of Buber's circle of life should be his origins, primarily the Jewish intellectual and religious history, predominantly from the 18th century onwards. ”In society there is a philosophical section, an educational section and a therapeutic section. The first chairman is Wolfgang Krone , the deputy chairwoman is Ursula Frost . Lothar Stiehm is the honorary chairman .

Works / editions (selection)

  • Martin Buber work edition (MBW) . On behalf of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (until 2009), the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (since 2010) ed. by Paul Mendes-Flohr , Peter Schäfer and Bernd Witte (since 2010). 21 vol., Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 2001ff. (Previously published: Vol. 1, 2001; Vol. 6, 2003; Vol. 8, 2005; Vol. 3, 2007; Vol. 10, 2008; Vol. 19, 2009; Vol. 9, 2011; Vol. 14, 2012; Vol. 2.2, 2012; Vol. 2.1, 2013; Vol. 2.3 2013; Vol. 15, 2015; Vol. 16, 2018)
  • The stories of Rabbi Nachman . 1906 digitized .
  • Ed. Of the book series Die Gesellschaft. 1906-1912, 40 vols.
  • The fiftieth gate. 1907.
  • The legend of the Baal Shem . 1908 digitized .
  • Ecstatic denominations. 1909.
  • Speeches and parables of Tschuang Tse . 1910 (first German edition, important epilogue).
  • Three speeches on Judaism. 1911 digitized .
  • Daniel. Conversations about the realization. 1913 digitized .
  • From the spirit of Judaism. Speeches and forewords. 1916 digitized .
  • The Jewish Movement. Collected essays and speeches 1900–1915. 1916 digitized .
  • My way to Hasidism. Memories from Martin Buber. 1918, digitized version of the Freimann collection of the university library of the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main,
  • The sacred way. A word to the Jews and the peoples. 1919, digitized version of the Freimann collection of the university library of the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main,
  • Events and encounters. 1920.
  • Me and you. 1923 (Reclam 1995 (No. 9342)).
  • The writing . (translated by Martin Buber together with Franz Rosenzweig ), 1926–1938.
  • The Hasidic Books. 1928.
  • Dialogue. (First print 1929, book edition 1932), u. a. in: The dialogical principle.
  • Kingship of God. 1932.
  • Battle for Israel. Speeches and writings 1921–1932. 1933.
  • The question for the individual. 1936, in: The dialogical principle.
  • MB, Judah L. Magnes and Ernst Simon (eds.): Towards Union in Palestine. Essays on Zionism and Jewish-Arab cooperation. IHUD (Union) Association, Jerusalem 1947.
  • The human problem. 1948.
  • Gog and Magog. 1949.
  • The stories of the Hasidim. 1949. (New edition with index and glossary: ​​Manesse, Zurich 2014, ISBN 978-3-7175-2368-0 ).
  • Two beliefs. 1950.
  • Paths in Utopia. About community and its realization. 1950 (primarily a discussion of Gustav Landauer's ideas ).
  • The utopian socialism. 1952 and 1967 [supplement to the volume Paths in Utopia ].
  • The real conversation and the possibility of peace . Acceptance speech on the occasion of the award of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Peace Prize of the German Book Trade 1953
  • God's eclipse. Reflections on the relationship between religion and philosophy. 1953.
  • Elements of interpersonal. In: The dialogical principle. 1953.
  • Talking about education. 1953, L. Schneider, now: Gütersloher Verlagshaus; 10th edition, Heidelberg 2005, ISBN 3-579-02581-3 .
  • Die Legende des Baalschem , revised new edition, Manesse Verlag, Zurich 1955, ISBN 3-7175-1060-6 .
  • Encounter. Autobiographical Fragments. 1961.
  • Jews, Palestine and Arabs. 1961, Ner-Tamid-Verlag.
  • Work edition in 3 volumes by Lambert Schneider / Heidelberg and Kösel / Munich: ›Writings on Philosophy‹ (Vol. 1, 1962), ›Writings on the Bible‹ (Vol. 2, 1964), ›Writings on Hasidism‹ (Vol. 3, 1963).
  • The Jew and his Judaism. Supplementary volume to the three-volume work edition. Cologne, Melzer 1963.
  • Gleanings. 2nd supplement to the work edition, Heidelberg 1965.
  • The dialogic principle. Heidelberg 1973.
  • One country and two peoples. On the Jewish-Arab question. Jüdischer Vlg., Ffm., Date of publication: 1993, ISBN 3-633-54085-7 .
  • Gleanings. 1965, Heidelberg: L. Schneider, currently Gütersloher publishing house; 3rd edition (July 2002), ISBN 3-579-02576-7
  • Correspondence from seven decades. Three volumes, ed. and introduced by Grete Schaeder , Heidelberg 1972–1975.
  • The Baal-Shem-Tov instruction in dealing with God. Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer called Baal-Shem-Tov, that is a master of a good name, instruction from the fragments. added by Martin Buber. With afterword and commentary ed. by Lothar Stiehm. Schneider, Heidelberg 1981, ISBN 3-7953-0185-8 .


  • Oliver Bidlo : Martin Buber: A forgotten classic of communication science? Tectum, Marburg 2006, ISBN 978-3-8288-9086-2 .
  • Jochanan Bloch , Haim Gordon Ed .: Martin Buber. Balance of his thinking. Series: Publication by the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Herder, Freiburg 1983, ISBN 3-451-19192-X .
  • Dominique Bourel: Martin Buber: Sentinelle de l'humanité , Albin Michel 2015, ISBN 978-2-226-33218-9 .
    • German by Horst Brühmann: Martin Buber. What it means to be a person , biography. Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 2017, ISBN 978-3-579-08537-1 .
  • Martin Buber, Carl Rogers : In conversation. First: Dialogue between MB and CR In Zeitschrift Psychologia, Vol. 3, No. 4, Kyoto 1960. German first in work group person-centered conversation, Ed .: Personality development through encounter. The person-centered concept in psychotherapy, education and science. Österreichischer Bundesverlag, Vienna 1984 ISBN 3-7005-4499-5 pp. 52-73.- Slightly licensed, revised, partly re-translated. and a. by Wolfgang M. Pfeiffer, again in: Person-centered psychology and psychotherapy . Yearbook 1992. GwG, Cologne 1992 ISBN 3-926842-09-1 pp. 184-201.
  • Bernhard Casper: The dialogical thinking. Franz Rosenzweig, Ferdinand Ebner and Martin Buber. First in 1967. Revised. and exp. New edition Karl Alber, Freiburg 2002 ISBN 978-3-495-47933-9 .
  • Erhard Doubrawa , Frank-M. Staemmler (Hrsg.): Healing Relationship - Dialogic Gestalt Therapy. Peter Hammer, 2003, ISBN 3-87294-820-2 .
  • Hans Duesberg: Person and Community. Philosophical-systematic investigations of the meaningful context of personal independence and interpersonal relationship on texts by JG Fichte and Martin Buber. Bouvier, Bonn 1970 (series: Munich philosophical research, 1) ISBN 3-416-00633-X .
  • Martha Friedenthal-Haase, Ralf Koerrenz (Hrsg.): Martin Buber: Education, image of man and Hebrew humanism. Schöningh, Paderborn 2005, ISBN 3-506-71790-1
  • Maurice Friedman: Meeting on the fine line. Martin Buber, one life. Agenda, Münster 1999, ISBN 3-89688-059-4 .
  • Andreas Haupt: The third way. Martin Buber's late work in the field of tension between philosophical anthropology and devout humanism. Herbert Utz, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-8316-0068-6 .
  • Hans Kohn : Martin Buber. His work and his time. 1930, new edition 1961.
  • Ernst Simon : Martin Buber and German Judaism. In: German Judaism. Rise and Crisis. Design, ideas, works. Fourteen monographs. Edited by Robert Weltsch . Publication by the Leo Baeck Institute . Deutsche Verlagsanstalt , Stuttgart 1963, pp. 27–84.
  • Peter Stöger: Martin Buber, the educator of dialogue. Insights and perspectives with special consideration of “I and you” and “Tales of the Hasidim” . Savaria University Press, Szombathely 1996, ISBN 963-8275-42-1 .
  • Peter Stöger: Martin Buber. An introduction to life and work . Tyrolia, Innsbruck 2003. ISBN 3-7867-8488-4 .
  • Yigal Wagner: Martin Buber's struggle for Israel. His Zionist and political thinking. Publishing house for Berlin-Brandenburg, 1999.
  • Gerhard Wehr : Martin Buber: Life, Work, Effect. Diogenes, Zurich 1991, ISBN 3-257-01908-4 .
  • Hans-Joachim Werner: Martin Buber. Campus, Frankfurt 1994, ISBN 3-593-35057-2 .
  • Siegbert Wolf : Martin Buber for an introduction. Junius, Hamburg 1992, ISBN 3-88506-873-7 .
  • Michael Zank: New Perspectives on Martin Buber. Mohr-Siebeck, Tübingen 2006, ISBN 3-16-148998-5 .

Broadcast reports


  • Martin Buber, religious philosopher and humanist , documentary film on the occasion of the 50th year of death, arte, France 2015, director: Pierre-Henry Salfati, academic support: Dominique Bourel, author of the biography Martin Buber: Sentinelle de l'humanité , 2015. Based on previously unpublished archive material and interviews with scientists and scholars, Pierre-Henry Salfati traces the career and thoughts of the philosopher. Recording in the Internet archive: .

Web links

Commons : Martin Buber  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikiversity: Martin Buber  - course materials

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gerhard Ruhbach: Buber, Martin (1878-1965) . In: Helmut Burkhardt, Uwe Swarat (ed.): Evangelical Lexicon for Theology and Congregation . 1st volume. R. Brockhaus Verlag, Wuppertal 1992, ISBN 3-417-24641-5 , p. 317 .
  2. Buber Martin
  3. Bernhard Lang : God's Eclipse - God's Secret. Karl-Josef Kuschel on Martin Buber's "Challenge to Christianity" . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, international edition, June 2, 2015, p. 47.
  4. Laurence J. Silberstein; Martin Buber's Social and Religious Thought: Alienation and the Quest for Meaning Reappraisals in Jewish social and intellectual history. NYU Press, New York 1990, ISBN 0-8147-7910-7 , p. 275.
  5. ^ Lionel Gossman: Art Nouveau in Firestone: The Jewish Illustrator EM Lilien (1874-1925). , last page
  6. a b Headlines from Bensheim on the 175th anniversary of the "Bergsträßer Anzeiger" 2007. (PDF 8.61 MB) 1928: Martin Buber celebrates his 50th birthday. P. 60 , archived from the original on October 5, 2016 ; accessed on December 28, 2014 .
  7. Living Museum Online: Martin Buber
  8. Yad Yashem: Central Office for Jewish Adult Education . "Its main goal was to give German Jews the opportunity to strengthen their sense of Jewish identity, especially when the Jewish world as they knew it was falling down all around them. This is reflected in the center's slogan, coined by Buber: 'arming for existence'. "
  9. Volker Dahm, The Jewish Book in the Third Reich , Frankfurt am Main 1979, p. 87.
  10. ^ Christian Bartolf: We don't want violence - The Buber-Gandhi controversy . Berlin 1998, pp. 11-13
  11. ^ Christian Bartolf: We don't want violence - The Buber-Gandhi controversy . Berlin 1998, p. 16 ff.
  12. Three Sentences of a Religious Socialist (1928) ( Memento of the original from September 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. (PDF)
  14. see also Dominique Bourel: Martin Buber: What it means to be a person. Biography , footnote 302.
  15. ^ Honorary doctorates from the faculty of the University of Münster. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  17. Janca Imwolde, Silke Maurmair: Martin Buber. Tabular curriculum vitae in the LeMO ( DHM and HdG )
  18. Articles of Association of the company dated February 11, 2000 on their website .
  19. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 (German).
  20. ^ Conversation between the two, moderated by: Maurice Friedman, April 18, 1957, University of Michigan
  21. Simon was a close colleague of Buber, see also primary lit.