Born in Lissa/Poland on May 23, 1873, Leo Baeck qualified as a rabbi in Berlin in 1897, serving as a rabbi in Oppeln until 1907. It was there that he wrote his most significant work, The Essence of Judaism. In 1912, Berlin’s Jewish Community appointed Baeck as a rabbi. A year later, he became a lecturer at the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies, later taking part in World War I as an army rabbi. Elected president of the General German Rabbinical Association in 1922, he was then appointed president of the Reich Deputation of German Jews in the fall of 1933. In this position, he often had to negotiate with the National Socialists. After many Gestapo interrogations, in 1943 Baeck was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he had to accompany the Jews in their suffering to the very end, as the spokesman for the Council of Elders. He was liberated in 1945 and lived in London until his death on November 2, 1956.