Arts & Culture

The Jew and The Condom

I’m sure there have been times when you’re sitting around on your lunch break, looking dully down at your salad, thinking to yourself, "I wonder who invented this spork?"  While the question of the genesis of the spoon-plus-fork is one … Read More

By / February 11, 2010

I’m sure there have been times when you’re sitting around on your lunch break, looking dully down at your salad, thinking to yourself, "I wonder who invented this spork?"  While the question of the genesis of the spoon-plus-fork is one many of us have pondered, I’m willing to bet you’ve never looked at a condom and thought to yourself, "I wonder who the real pioneers of condom manufacturing are?" During the height of the Weimar Republic, Julius Fromm’s "Fromm’s Act" condoms were the Trojans of their time.  They were pretty handy, since promiscuity and prostitution experienced a boom in those pre-Nazi days.   Still, what is most interesting about the biography, Fromm’s: How Julius Fromm’s Condom Empire Fell to the Nazis (Other Press), written by Gotz Aly, and Michael Sontheimer, is the vivid picture of a thriving Jewish business in the days leading up to Adolf Hitler, headed by a subject who is as interesting and complex as the trade he mastered.  Here, the book’s writers don’t fall into the trap of presenting their story in the form of an overly-academic tome ; Fromm’s focuses on a condom empire, but it also provides a better description of how the Nazi’s slowly broke apart Jewish business, and in Fromm’s case, a Jewish businessman.