Research Update #2: Peasants and Jews


Sometimes, you learn something new. Pictured above, the city hall of Leer, below, the ornate entry. Leer is a seaport on the river Ems, located along the overland trade route between Bremen and Groningen.

Leer was a small but prosperous place until the building of the canal linking it to Dortmund was built. Suddenly, it became the most important place for exporting coal and goods from the Ruhr. The city grew exponentially, but the kernel of the old town, typified by the town hall at the head of the old harbor, remained. As did the old class of merchants and retailers who had controlled the city for centuries. No surprise then really that Leer had both a thriving Jewish community and a (rare for East Friesland) active chapter of the the anti-Semitic Reformverien.

I had not previously used the Leer city archives before this trip. I went to search for local elections data, which I found. Talking with the archivist, I realized that they have much more material that I can use as I complete my book manuscript.

A return urn trip is planned for May.


About George Vascik, Historian

A 1988 graduate of the University of Michigan, I have taught history at Miami University since 1992. I maintain blogs on teaching Western Civilization and on Great War. My research focuses on anti-Semitism and rural politics in northwest Germany. I am completing a monograph for Bloomsbury Press, Anti-Semitism and Rural Politics. You can follow my project at Along with Mark Sadler, I have published a book of primary documents on the Stab-in-the-Back Myth (Dolchstoßlegende). I also invite you to visit my profession web page at
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