Sinological Profiles
Bruno Schindler
16 Oct 1882 (Leschnitz, Silesia) - 29 July 1964 (London)

There are the heroes, who do the work of Sinology. And there are the angels, who somehow make it possible for the heroes to do their work. Bruno Schindler was one of the Angels of Sinology.

Schindler, the son of a German Jewish businessman, supplemented his early education with Latin and Greek (not taught at the Gleiwitz Oberrealschule, from which he graduated in 1903), and went on to study history, political economy, and constitutional law at Berlin and Breslau. In 1907 he went to England, where he worked in various library positions, and also served as private secretary to Moses Gaster (1856-1939), a widely learned man who among other things first translated the Jewish liturgy into Rumanian (1883). Gaster had been expelled from his native Rumania for his agitation on behalf of Rumanian Jews, had lectured at Oxford on Slavic and Byzantine literature, and at this time was prominent in the Anglo-Jewish movement in England. He served as the Chief Rabbi of the Sephardic community in England, and in political circles was a strong supporter of Zionism (in several versions, eventually preferring that of Herzl). This exotic environment turned Schindler's interests eastward, toward linguistic and Oriental studies. He returned to Germany in 1910, to begin Arabic and Assyrian (along with ethnology) at Leipzig, but under the influence of Conrady's seminar, he was drawn into the Chinese field. In 1912, on Conrady's advice, he went to China, and among other things, studied on the spot the problems of the Chinese Jews of Kaifvng; he also helped to found the Jewish community of Shanghai.

He was back in Germany in time for WW1. Being by then well into his thirties, his military service was confined to home garrison duty, and he was able at the same time to teach classics at a school, and to continue his Chinese studies, whose first published fruit was several articles on Chinese script in Ostasiatische Zeitschrift. He earned his doctorate in 1919 with a thesis on Priestertum in Alten China. In that same year he married Alma Ehrlich, who lent her own species of generosity to Schindler's great undertaking. This was the publication of the journal Asia Major, whose dedicated Press (Verlag der Asia Major, in Leipzig) was founded in 1920. Before v1 proper, Schindler issued an Introductory Volume dedicated to Friedrich Hirth; later volumes (from 1924) were similarly dedicated to other leading Sinologists, including Conrady and Arthur von Rosthorn. In parallel with the journal, Schindler and his Verlag Asia Major also lent aid and encouragement to the publication of several scholarly books, among them works by Gustav Haloun and Erich Haenisch. AM was international from the beginning (most articles were in English), and it rapidly became the leading German Sinological journal. In addition to taking responsibility for all of Asia outside the Near East, AM had an avowed philological focus:

Grundlage aller Arbeit soll eine exacte Philologie sein.

Those were the brave days when such a prospectus could be laid down. The days came to an abrupt end for AM with the 1933 legislation barring Jews from positions in German academe. The Schindlers departed for England, leaving AM v2 pt 2 in proof, but never to be printed. In England, Schindler associated himself with various publishing enterprises, and himself contributed to the 1936 Gaster Anniversary Publication (evidently an 80th birthday tribute, though University College thinks otherwise) a "List of Publications of Dr M Gaster." Time passed. Schindler became associated with Taylor's Foreign Publishers in 1936, and soon became known as its "spiritual leader." He assisted his wife Alma as Director of the Regent Park School which they had founded to educate Jewish children, many of them orphans from Germany and Austria. He became a publication manager for Lund Humphries in 1939. In this capacity, he produced many books on Oriental and Slavonic linguistics, and in the field of art. Schindler's own collection of rare typefaces, and his concern for the physical appearance of the resulting book, were a great help and encouragement to the authors with whom he worked. He thus acquired many grateful friends in England, as he earlier had in Germany. Active in publishing, but for the moment lost to Sinological publishing, he passed his 60th birthday in 1942, at the height of WW2. Germany, on the decline at the other end of the war, and vaguely aware of what it had lost Sinologically with Schindler's departure and AM's abrupt end, attempted in 1944 a revival of the journal at AM's old home in Leipzig. It was too late to nourish this lost orphan of Sinology. Leipzig itself was shortly to vanish behind the Iron Curtain. The enterprise came to nothing.

Asia Major's revival was not accomplished until 1949, and not in Germany (whose Sinology, to paraphrase Bernhard Führer, had been smashed and scattered under Hitler) but in England. With Taylor as publisher, the new series of Asia Major (its first volume pointedly dedicated to Henri Maspero), was launched, at first with a substantial subsidy from Schindler himself, and later with financial support which Gustav Haloun, also in his second Sinological career, had arranged from his own institution, Cambridge, and also from Oxford and London Universities. Under the new arrangement, an editorial board from the three institutions was appointed, and beginning with v2 of the new series, AM carried the subtitle "British Journal of Far Eastern Studies." Money and publishing troubles continued, however, and AM ground to a halt, unable to publish v4 pt 2. The situation was saved by a transfer to the publisher Lund Humphries.

Schindler's charm and energy seemed alike inexhaustible, and he worked virtually to the end, seeing almost through the press the issue of AM (v11 part 2) in which his own obituary by Walter Simon (here paraphrased and expanded) was to appear. The editorial board of that issue is sufficient tribute to the stature of his creation; its members were the following:

The troubles of Asia Major were not yet over, but the rest of them belong to a later chapter in Sinology. Schindler's own chapter was characterized by a constant and remarkable dedication to the scholarship of others. We may let Germany have the last phrase. It is from Erich Haenisch's memorial minute, which ends by characterizing Schindler this way:

Bruno Schindler mit der alten Asia Major ein Bauherr der Deutschen Sinologie

That is only one word too long.

E Bruce Brooks


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