Artifact of the month for May

Speech at the Wergeland Monument, 17th May 1881

Jacob Herman Prager (1836 – 1898)

herman_pragerJacob Herman Prager was born in Aschersleben in Germany in 1836, where his father, Isidor Prager was a rabbi. In 1876 he came to Christiania with his wife Jenny (b. Levy). The couple eventually had seven children, amongst them a daughter, Else Sarah, who died in 1885, and was the first to be buried in the Jewish part of the Sofienberg cemetery. Herman Prager left Norway in 1887 and returned with his family to Germany. In 1917, his son Frithjof (1878-1946) came back to Norway. He ran an agency business in Oslo and married Rosa (b. Behak) in the late 1920’s. Herman Prager died in Hamburg in 1898, survived by his wife by 31 years.

The first time the Jews in Norway appeared publicly and hence manifested their position as Norwegian Jews, happened on the 17th of Mai 1881 when the Wergeland Monument in Studenterlunden was unveiled. Approximately fifty thousand people were gathered around the monument, and Bjornstjerne Bjornson was the keynote speaker. After Bjornson came Herman Prager forward as the representative of the Norwegian Jews. At the end of the speech, which was received with applause, Prager put down a laurel wreath at the monument, adorned with ribbons in Norwegian colors and with the following inscription: You, who sacrificed your ability for humanity, your memory will live forever, with Norwegian Jews. The annual tradition of Norwegian-Jewish youth’s 17th of Mai ceremony on Wergelands grave, arise from this event.