Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Condoms & Jewish History

I recently finished reading this book; perhaps it's not the type of book that I'd normally read, but I'm glad that it was recommended and sent to me by a book publicist.

Fromm's story is a fascinating one -- a blend of family, sexual mores, and business...combined with general and Jewish history -- and it left me quite sad and even angry. I might've heard stories in general about the Nazi regime and the power of the German government, but here is a story about a particular family who was robbed of so much of its personal identity.

Fromms Act was the first brand-name, top-quality condom in prewar Germany, and Julius Fromm was the man, the successful entrepreneur, who made the condom and the business behind it a business landmark in Germany.

This book tells about Julius's rise as an emigre from Russia, his work ethics and attempts in the business world, the conditions of Germany for the Jews and general public in the twenties and thirties, and his success. The conditions began to change when Nazi power came into effect, and Fromm's Act and Julius's financial state began to falter.

Julius and his family fled to London in 1939 after being forced to sell his model business for a fraction of its worth. We learn about his homes and personal effects -- and finances --being taken over by the Nazis. This man, who was proud to call himself a German Jew and had built himself up into a status entity, was cheated by the government. . . as were so many others.

The book provides an historical and social look at German Jewry between the wars, and the tragic outcome that befell the country with the onset of Hitler coming to power.

Translated by Shelley Frisch, the book was written by Gotz Aly and Michael Sontheimer, and features photos of the Fromm family and their businesses. It is put out by Other Press. www.otherpress.com .

For an insightful read about a Jewish family within an historical and business perspective, I suggest you find yourself a copy of Fromm's: How Julius Fromm's Condom Empire Fell to the Nazis.