Siegfried Kracauer (1889-1966) was one of the twentieth century's German Jewish cultural critics, scholar, journalist, and theorist of film. He is best understood as a charter member of the extraordinary constellation of Weimar-era intellectuals which has been dubbed retroactively the Frankfurt School. After Hitler came into power in Germany, Kracauer emigrated first into collaborationist France and then, after eight years of exile there, into America in 1941 where he continued to spread the ideas of the Franfurt School. He was able to eke out a living in New York as a freelance writer, publishing articles in a wide range of journals (including the Nation, Commentary, the New Republic, Harper's Magazine, Public Opinion Qiuirlcrly, and the New York Times Book Review). He was preparing reports i.a. for the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University and enjounyng grants i.a. from Rockefeller Foundation. Kracauer was also described as an essayist-provocateur on a wide variety of social and cultural themes.
Attack on the Buber-Rosenzweig translation of the Bible
Buber and Rosenzweig held the Bible to be an antidote to the ills of modern experience and published the first volume of their German Bible in 1925. While the translators felt a new German Bible could provide fresh insight and experience to modern Jewish readers and saw biblical translation as a way to restore meaning to modern life, Kracauer, like other representative of Frankfurt School Walter Benjamin, started to attack it, first one arguing that "For today access to truth is by way of the profane" and blamed translators as attempting "fundamentally to renounce the declining idealist philosophy".
- From Caligari to Hitler - polemical history of Weimar cinema (Princeton University Press, 1947)
- Theory of Film (Oxford University Press, 1960)
- History: The Last Things before the Last (Oxford University Press, 1969) - a meditation on the philosophy of history published posthumously
- Brian Britt (Fall 2000). "Romantic Roots of the Debate on the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible". Prooftexts 20 (3): 262–289. doi:10.1353/ptx.2000.0016. http://muse.jhu.edu/article/28568. Retrieved 5 Jan 2017.
- Siegfried Kracauer. "Introduction by Thomas Y. Levin", The Mass Ornament (Weimar Essays). Harvard University Press, 1+. ISBN 0-674-55162-1.