I left the following comment at a looong debate at Hirhurim about Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch. Agree? Disagree? Comment below.
You know, much like how RSRH is often (wrongly) credited as being the only major figure involved in beginning Austritt, I have to question the combination of Modernity and O Judaism being solely associated with him or even just the German O community.
There was quite a bit of educational experimentation in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Mizrachi, for instance, played a very big part in granting O Jews the world over a mixed religious/secular curriculum between the two World Wars. Eastern Europe was full of “refined chadarim” that gave a mixed curriculum. I have difficulty believing that RSRH was the ONLY or even the primary inspiration for these efforts.
There were also plenty of Rabbis who were well versed in secular studies to one degree or another, and “seminaries” existed in countries other than Germany. Really, the only difference I see between German O Jewry’s efforts and O Jews in other countries is that the Germans have much better PR.
If I’m wrong, so be it, but that’s my impression.