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November 20, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-20

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PURELY COMMENTARY

The Forgotten Emil Berliner: Remembered In Germany

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

S

omething very puzzling and
distressing is occurring in the
achievements of inventors and
their inventions. The name of one of the
very great of the last century, that of
Emil Berliner, seems to be totally
forgotten. There is special interest in
his being recalled and acclaimed in
West Germany. There is a lesson in that
fact as well.
The occasion for bringing back to
fame the name of Emil Berliner is the
hundredth anniversary of his having
received a patent for his gramophone
using a flat disc.
The importance of the observance
has been recalled, along with the
display of the original invention in
Berliner's birthplace, Hanover, Ger-
many. The news of it appears in an ar-
ticle in Die Welt, published in Bonn,

Germany. The author is Rolf Manfred
Hasse. The article which appeared in
German is reprinted in an English
translation in the German Tribune of
Hamburg under the title "Emil
Berliner, Pioneer of the Gramophone
Record!'
The German Tribune explanatory
editorial note introducing the Hasse ar-
ticle from Die Welt states:
It is a century since Emil
Berliner was in 1877 given a pa-
tent for his gramophone using a
flat disc as a sound source. The
reproduction quality was better
than Edison's phonograph
which, using a drum, had been
patented ten years before.
Berliner's invention became the
basis for the modern
gramophone record. The inven-
tor was born in Hanover in 1851
and went to America in 1870. He
died there in 1929. Rolf Manfred

Littell: Inspired Ecumenist

M

artyrology predominated in
Jewish experience from time
immemorial. Simon Wiesen-
thal chronicled it in a day-by-day record
in Every Day Remembrance Day (Henry
Holt Co.). Yet, even in the tragic eras of
Holocaust, Crusades, Inquisition, there
was always a voice that cried out
against the cruelties. There was also a
decent spark, among non-Jews, that re-
jected the venom and the mass murders.
Those who defied the bigots often
themselves became martyrs. They were
the pioneers who in our day are the
libertarian ecumenists.
When new bigots arose, the
spokespeople for justice and humanism
gave momentum to new causes for
decency. In our time it had the slogan
"God Will" and the Round Table
became a challenge under the direction
of the National Conference of Chris-
tians and Jews. More immediately the
new term — ecumenism — became a
guideline for honorable human deal-
ings without which anything resembl-
ing respect of worshipers of all faiths
would be modified.
Ecumenism itself would be weak
without inspired leadership. The pre-
sent time for action has brought forth
the guides and enthusiasts so sorely
needed for the sacred aim. To some, the
generations will owe a deep debt for
their devotion and enthusiasm.
Franklin H. Littell occupies the posi-
tion of leadership that assures continui-
ty for ecumenism and the good will that
goes with it. Therefore, the justified ac-
claim for Faith and Freedom, a
festschrift — a festival volume — that
lends glory to title and contents of the
assembled tributes to the scholar,
teacher and leader in whose name it
was compiled.
Faith and Freedom (Pergamon
Press) is a title, in the book's tribute to
Dr. Littell, that immediately takes in-
to consideration the honoree's devotion

2

FRIDAY, NOV. 20, 1987

Hasse looks at the amazing
career of Emil Berliner for the
Bonn-based daily, Die Welt.
It is necessary to record an impor-
tant fact about German attention, in
the media and in official quarters, to
achievements by Jews born in Germany.
Such positive concerns offset the
deplorable re-emergence of neo-Nazi
prejudices.
Another fact requiring attention in
the Emil Berliner case is the perfection
of his invention which was in great
measure competitive with Thomas
Edison's. The prejudice against Jews in
the Edison career, when he had a rela-
tionship with Henry Ford's anti-Semitic
activities, was believed to have con-
tributed to the manner in which
Berliner was often ignored in the con-
sideration of the history of inventions.
Now it is a German interest that
again provides due attention to
Berliner's contributions to modern
progress.
The Hasse story about Berliner
pays honor to the eminent scientist and
inventor and adds credibility to the
West German aim to exercise fairness
in the treatment of Jews who stemmed
from Germany.
Encyclopedia Judaica has a brief
yet very important resume of Emil
Berliner's life and accomplishments. It
states:
BERLINER,
EMILE
(1851-1929), inventor. Born and
educated in Wolfenbuettel, Ger-
many, Berliner emigrated to the

Emil Berliner

U.S.A. in 1870. He worked in
New York and Washington D.C.,
as a clerk, salesman, and assis-
tant in a chemical laboratory.
He studied electricity and in
1876 began experimenting with
Bell's newly invented telephone,
which he succeeded in refining
with his invention of the loose-
contract telephone transmitter
or microphone and the use of an
induction coil. The Bell
Telephone Company immediate-
ly purchased the rights to his in-
vention, which for the first time
made the telephone practical for

Continued on Page 46

Noteworthy Yiddish Triumph

I

Franklin Littell

to highest religious principles and his
dedicated battle for the freedoms for all
peoples. Issued on the occasion of Dr.
Littells 70th birthday, the publisher of
Pergamon Press, Robert Maxwell,
declares that the volume is an expres-
sion of the conscience of the Christian
and Jewish communities.
Dr. Richard Libowitz, the editor of
this volume, explains in an introduction
how his teacher, Franklin Littell,
welcomed him to the Religion Depart-
ment of Temple University. He em-
phasizes especially that Dr. Littell was
a devoted disciple of Reinhold Niebuhr
and "has drunk deeply from the wells
of intellectual and moral integrity and
sought to impart his love for liberty —
both religious and political — as well as
the implications of that love to his own
students on three continents."
It is in this spirit, imbibed from Lit-
tell, that the contributors to this
festschrift have passed on the high
idealism of a noble ecumenist to the
readers and to the adherents to "faith
and freedom."

Continued on Page 46

t is still in the memory of many
of much more than the half cen-
tury mark in age — who can recall
the years when it was dangerous to de-
fend Yiddish in Israel. The langauge
was maligned and those who dared
speak it were abused. It was dangerous
to plan a concert strictly in Yiddish.
The pioneering halutzim conversed in
Russian but Yiddish was forbidden.
It was all out of the commitment to
Hebrew as one of the stepping stones to
statehood. Hebrew was sanctified while
Yiddish was defiled. What had been
Mame Loshen — Mother lbng -ue — was
relegated to defilement.
A revolution has taken place. Now
Yiddish is a popular subject in a wide-
ly acclaimed Yiddish department at
Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan. The
language studies in Yiddish have a
large enrollment at the Hebrew
University.
Dr. Gershon Winer, who holds a Bar
Ilan deanship, supervising the Yiddish
programs, has just announced that in
the current new school year, 39 Israeli
high schools now include Yiddish in
their curricula. This, Dr. Winer asserts
becomes possible as a result of the
leacher Training Cathedral at Bar-Ilan
made possible by the Yiddish Teachers'
Training Chair established by
Detroiters Sarah and Morris Friedman.
The revolutionary steps which
again elevate Yiddish to recognition

and respect as the Mame Loshen is a
result of many transformations. There
was a time when David Ben-Gurion
reviled Yiddish. His associates were
disrespectful to it. The revolution has
taken place and the many positive
results of it was described in a recent
issue of the National Jewish Post,
edited by Gabriel Cohen, in an article
translated from the Yiddish by Rabbi
Samuel Silver's weekly column devoted
to translations of appealing articles
from Yiddish periodicals, Rabbi Silver
writes under the headline "40-Year Bat-
tle" in his most recent column:
Yiddish has achieved a modicum of
recognition in Israel, having even at-
tained a place in some of the school
systems. But it required a 40-year
uphill battle. Some of the details of that
long struggle are disclosed for the first
time by M. Tzanin, the language's chief
protagonist, who now puts out a small
daily paper, Letzte Neies (Latest News)
and is one of the Forward's leg men in
Israel.
Tzanin told his story in a letter to
the editor of a Jewish periodical, Oifn
Shvel (On the Threshold) put out by the
League for Yiddish. When Israel
became independent, Tzanin tried to
start a paper, but his effort was frown-
ed on by Israeli officials. After unravel-
ing much red tape, he got the okay to
put out a newspaper three times a

Continued on Page 46

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