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Another Side-Street Off “Bleibtreustrasse 34”

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 48, Number 1, Fall 2010
pp. 154-156 | 10.1353/jjq.2010.0036

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

A minor addendum to my note on the Agendath Netaim passage (U 4.191–99)1 and to Arye Kendi’s well-researched parallel examination of Bloom’s unexpected find might interest aficionados of random factual traces that can be detected in or around Joyce’s texts.2 The London Germanist and translator Joyce Crick informed me that the German-born English poet Michael Hamburger mentions Joyce and Bleibtreustrasse in his autobiography String of Beginnings.3 Hamburger was born 22 March 1924 in Berlin at Charlottenburg, Lietzenburger Strasse 8, W 15, and he died on 7 June 2007 in Middleton, Suffolk, England. He refers to his maternal grandparents' apartment, “the address of which, in Bleibtreustrasse, found its way into Joyce’s Ulysses, because Joyce must have picked up the address from a bizarre newspaper advertisement put out by my grandfather” (11). Hamburger’s maternal grandfather’s name was Louis Bertrand Hamburg. He was a “well-off” Jewish merchant banker who had Zionist sympathies about which he “kept quiet” in the face of pressures within his family generally to assimilate (3, 20). In Hamburger’s recollection, “not only the advertisement taken over by James Joyce, but a collection of ancient coins and glassware dug up in Palestine, pointed to his support of the Jewish settlers there” (21).

I mentioned Hamburg in my earlier JJQ note (804). In 1908 and 1909, according to the Berlin Address Directory,4 he served as the business manager (“Geschäftsführer”) of the Palestine Industrial Syndicat (“Palästina-Industrie-Syndikat m.b.H.”), founded by Otto Warburg’s Palestine Commission with the aim of furthering industrial activities. It operated first from Warburg’s address, Uhlandstrasse 175, and moved to the new building at Bleibtreustrasse 34/35 in 1909. From 1910, Selig Eugen Soskin, a close associate of Warburg, figured as its business manager. Obviously, Hamburg was the first “Geschäftsführer,” and his tenure was from 1908 to 1910. The Berlin Address Directory also lists him among the first private residents at Bleibtreustrasse 34/35 in 1909. His name appears at this address until 1931 when he retired from his “Bankkommissions-Geschäft” and moved to the suburban village of Kladow.

To this extent, Hamburger’s memory is correct, but his idea of relating his grandfather’s residence and activities to the Bleibtreustrasse passage in Ulysses is, sadly, only wishful thinking. Emphasis must be put on the fact that the “Palästina-Industrie-Syndikat” is only one of the economic organizations pioneered by Warburg. It operated independently of the “Pflanzungsverein Palästina” (Palestine Plantation Society), the statutory regulations and advertising texts of which are, as I showed earlier, Joyce’s sources (but not of “Agendath Netaim”) (801–02). Its published location was Uhlandstrasse 175. Hamburg is not mentioned in the documents of the “Pflanzungsverein.” As Kendi discovered (156), however, the “Pflanzungsverein” was integrated into the office of the “Palästina Ressort” (the Palestine Department of the World Zionist Organization) when it moved to Bleibtreustrasse 34/35 in May 1909. For this reason, one can imagine that Hamburg had access to the statutes and documents of the offices next door. A letter that the Berlin Office of the Palestine Land Development Company sent to London on 18 April 1910 is also marked to the attention of Hamburg, one of some six figures who played a role in the Zionist movement.5

Undoubtedly, Hamburg had been involved in supporting Warburg’s Palestine activities. The headquarters were at Bleibtreustrasse 34/35 until late in 1911 when the Jewish offices and organizations were centralized at a location close to the “Jüdisches Zentralbüro” at Sächsische Strasse 8, after Warburg’s election as President of the World Zionist Organization. In this respect, there is a grain of truth in Hamburger’s speculation that Joyce picked up the (incomplete) address from a Jewish, probably German, newspaper (almost certainly in Trieste and, within the bounds of probability, at the flat of Moses Feuerstein Dlugacz).6 The adjective “bizarre,” however, betrays the autobiographer’s distance both from past events and factual truth. Moreover, Hamburger’s turn of phrase “put out by my grandfather” is quite unclear. Did Hamburg write it, publish it...


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