“See that ye fall not out by the way.”
Synopsis: Introducing the topic of strife by recounting the story of Joseph and his brothers (Gen. 45, 24.), the writer goes on to explain how danger unites people but misfortune divides them and causes them to blame the other. Which is what is happening with the German fatherland in its current misery with the Jews being the scapegoat for all that is wrong. Unfortunately Germans and Jews share the inclination to foster hatred within even when the danger is external. For example, when Rome laid siege to Jerusalem, bloody partisan battles ensued during which one side even surrendered to Rome. Today, Judaism seems torn apart by the same kind of partisan strife, with the Liberals being suspected of doing anything for the sake of peace. The various perspectives within Judaism must be validated, but without sacrificing unity. We are all pursuing the same goal, though following different paths.
On Vanquishing Anti-Semitism.
by Pastor Lic. th. Ernst Moering, Breslau
A great misfortune has befallen Germany, but this misfortune is not just fate, it has been caused by guilt. If we had not been drunk on our successes, we would not have overestimated our power and would have been more cautious and careful with the aim of making friends in the world. If we had had better diplomats, we would have had better allies. If during the war a thoughtful statesman had been the Imperial Chancellor, one would have ended the war at a better time than October 1918, when Ludendorff’s nervous breakdown led to the dissolution of what was still holding together. If … yes if, yes if there hadn’t been an “if”!
It is horrible to watch these events unfold even if only in hindsight. It’s as though one is watching at a distance how a pedestrian gets run over by a car that he hadn’t even seen. Observing a fall from prideful heights to horrifying and often dishonorable misery stirs such feelings that one would rather shut one’s eyes and not see the images and not reflect on where we went wrong. What is left is the excitation and anger that comes from seeing how things were and how things are. But this anger is directed outwards instead of inwards. No one accepts the blame. No one likes being reminded of the mistakes of family or friends. It’s known that we more easily see the mote in another’s eye than the beam in one’s own. We have suffered misfortune. Who failed? The entire people. We all share the blame, because it was in our power to have a different political system, because we were all too much a part of the careless use of force—all of us because we were almost completely lacking in a simple, quiet recognition of political shortcomings. We are all to blame. But such a though is fatal. That pulls us down. Already in ancient myths man did not accept guilt. “The woman that you gave me…” The Jews that we have, they caused our misfortune.
Thank God, that there are still Jews! On whom else would some people unload their anger? It’s exactly the anti-Semites who can do without Jews the least! How grotesque it would be if they were to wake up one morning to find that all the Jews had gone. Their sputtering and shouts would never end because these poor creatures are constructed in such a way that they only feel good when they have someone at whom they can get angry! They are like those beasts that bark the whole night long even though there’s no sign of a troublemaker. Truly, these poor people have it tough, if they had to get over their incitement. How tragic domestic peace would be for some hatemongers from the Christian churches of both confessions. For there are people who can only be pious when they put down the religion of others. Why is that the Jew is such a favorite lightening rod?
For one, we can look at the effects of history. Just a couple of words on that. We know of course the middle ages, know how tied to the church they were. The church had pure teachings, everywhere else there was falsehood, damnation. The Jews were completely damned: they had crucified Christ. They had lost their land, lived in foreign lands. A treasured example for teaching naïve people about the consequences of evil deeds. The ghetto was erected creating a dividing wall, and because the Jews had special customs, that was naturally reason enough to wrap this anger with the veil of mystery and recount horror stories. And once the animosity was there, a few actions on the part of Jews increased it. Whoever is seen as the outcast is often not very particular in the choice of the cause of blame.
This was reinforced by the different appearance and manner. Every people has its particular customs and bad behaviors, its idiosyncrasies, to which another people takes affront or at which the ignorant laugh. These differences of course disappear with time, and sometimes, quite ridiculously, there are arguments about whether someone is Jewish or not. Some who have no Semitic origins are found to be Jewish, though “one hardly can tell that he’s a Jew.” From the east, new elements are coming in, with their particular dress and downtrodden conduct: they are seen as strangers. And strangers are mistrusted. Here in Germany one above all mistrusts that the stranger cannot love Germany. With this suspicion the German betrays himself. He doesn’t have a secure, firm bond with his homeland or a patriotism born of its intellectual culture; he is an internationalist or a chauvinist. When he himself is not completely firm, he thinks, how can the stranger have feelings for the homeland? Germans don’t realize that the eastern Jew rejoices when he escapes Russian oppression because they know so little about conditions outside of Germany; and one just won’t believe that because of Yiddish he is already entwined in German culture and will easily enter it more deeply.
To these two reasons comes a third nowadays. The Jews, as conservative as they often are, could not support the conservative political parties because these were all more or less anti-Semitic. They belonged to the left and gained leadership positions there—understandably given the political apathy of the middle class, and understandably found their way more easily than Christian intellectuals to the social democrats. But in 1918 the left-wing parties made crass mistakes. They promised “Peace, Freedom, Bread” because they believed in all earnestness that the Allies would be well disposed toward a democratic Germany. That was a delusion. Instead of telling the people that the peace will be terrible, because the old system ruined everything, they raised hopes (similar to what the military had done earlier) that they could not fulfill. Easily forgetful we are so that our anger was not aimed at the parties on the right, but against the left. And since those on the German nationalist side knew how to operate, they pointed to the Jews who were well represented on the left and blamed them. They did this all of course to make themselves richer for even though Krupp or Stinnes heaps up millions and agriculture clears its debts, only the Jews are getting rich – and they led us into the misfortune of being able to make a whole lot of profit. That’s how the proof is arrived at—which we can only grade the way the still-known theologian, Tholuk, once graded an exam: “Correct with incorrect unclearly mixed: D!”
What’s to be done? On the one hand once could wait with Noah’s patience in the ark until the waters have drained. Things will change. Even the anti-Semites cook only with water, stinking water, that is. This stinking water turns to steam and we have unquestionably reached the boiling point. But this passivity is unworthy of man. It’s up to us Christians who have not yet lost our senses to the stinking anti-Semitic gases to stand against the anti-Semites. This won’t earn anyone laurel wreaths so one will do this all the more gladly to show whether one truly fights for what is right and ethical or for individual glory. But the Jews must also fight against anti-Semitism. They can do it with strict discipline in their own ranks. Who sits in a glass house must hold themselves together. There are of course bad Jews. Saying that there are also bad Christians is no excuse. Of course there are bad people in both religions, probably to the same extent. But that should not placate us. We pastors must be especially careful for every badly behaving pastor damages the church. Officers have to win the trust of the people again and they can only do this through stiff discipline in their ranks. So must Jews see to it that their fellow Jews can stand up to the strictest judgement. The must ensure the highest moral standards spread through the farthest circles.
Only this way will we gain peaceful conditions. Only this way do we avoid radicalisms that are as grotesque as the intentions of the anti-Semites and the goals of the Zionists. The ones want to drive away all the Jews, the others want voluntary retreat. Both would cause the death of many Jews: they cannot leave the country to which they have such a deep bond. And both would damage our country: the contribution of the Jews to the economy and culture is so great that we cannot do without it. Therefore let us defeat anti-Semitism! And we have to get to work, because cleaning out the Augean stables was Hercules’ most disgusting feat.
The Plight of Jewish Teachers and Workers.
Synopsis: In normal times, low salaries, although a shameful neglect on the part of the community, could be borne. Now, however, the struggle for a minimal existence being so difficult, the conditions have become catastrophic. One often doesn’t realize that the cantor can’t afford to keep his Sabbath suit repaired or the teacher spends his salary on coal for the classroom instead of on warm clothing. Four weeks earlier the Silesian Israelite Teachers Union pled their case before the Breslau city council. The outcome was that the Jewish teachers were to be paid according to the state’s guidelines for teachers’ salaries, which is seen as just. However, the congregations’ boards must be mobilized to act to raise salaries for their teachers and other employees.
This is not just an issue for the employees but also for the small congregations. If they can’t hire teachers or clergy, they will disappear. These important carriers of Jewish tradition are already dwindling and the Jewish community must unite to support them.
Remember the Vote in Upper Silesia!
Donate now and generously!
A Trade Means Financial Security.
Synopsis: Breslau has barely 100 Jewish tradesmen (out of 7500 people who pay taxes to the congregations). Jews are certainly capable of hard work as Poland, Russia, America, and the Orient show. In the war, Jewish hands proved that they were equally capable of digging trenches and building concrete defenses. The anti-Semitic claim that Jews cannot do fine handiwork or have endurance can be disproven by Jewish achievements in art which certainly requires both. Whereas other branches of the economy are struggling, the trades have it easier. Parents should encourage their sons to take up a trade, even if they have attended Gymnasium. The trades have unlimited financial potential; they have brought forth a Trelenberg and a Krupp. In addition, it benefits German Jews to be represented at every level of society so that Germans have an opportunity to get to know how they really are instead of just seeing them through the lens of anti-Semitism.
About the Jews in Lithuania.
Partial Translation: As reported by Professor Bergsträβer in the Frankfurter Zeitung. Jews play a different role in the former Russian northwestern territories than in Germany. In Lithuania, they represent 10% of the population and almost 50% of urban populations. Culturally their situation is also different from German Jewry’s as they maintained their language, have a separate intellectual life, and stayed racially pure. There is also a difference in worship as the eastern Jew keeps strictly to the laws. Since 1919 there has been a cabinet-level ministry for Jewish affairs with divisions for education, community administration, economy, and press, which represents Jews as a minority nation. It conducts business with the government in Lithuanian and with the Jewish administration in Yiddish (“Jargon”). The Jews have the same entitlements as all other minorities—the government funds Jewish elementary schools and will fund secondary schools if they teach Lithuanian.
While the political situation of the Lithuanian Jews is satisfactory, the same cannot be said about the economic situation. The entire Lithuanian population suffered terribly in the war but the recovery in the cities is especially slow. In 1915, the cities were evacuated during the retreat of the Russian forces and residents had massive material losses. Especially Jewish tradesmen were hard hit. The reconstruction efforts aim to move a large segment of the population to agriculture. Jews who already had farms are doing very well. Tradesmen are being helped with loans to purchase new tools. A number of banks have been established to assist the lower classes.
Kurt Walter Goldschmidt.
a Jewish poet and philosopher
by Dr. Ino Gaβmann.
Partial Translation: What could this fine thinker have achieved if he hadn’t had to earn his living by writing articles and teaching at high schools? As a writer, he earned one fourth or fifth of what a Berlin trash hauler earned. He thought to earn his living as a lawyer, but quit his studies to write. His work reveals his enthusiasm for Judaism—he angrily protests baptism—and harks back to the cultural achievements of the biblical era. At the same time he expresses his German sensibility and is able to formulate the foundations of Liberal Judaism. In 1884 he publishes a book on Henrik Ibsen. In 1907 his first volume of poetry, Cosmos and Chaos, appears. His poetry advances Nietzsche’s creative work as exemplified in the poems called “Walls” (“Mauern”) and “To Wrath” (“An den Zorn”). A cultural critique is published in 1908, Zur Kritik der Moderne, with essays on the modern psyche, race and individualism, and the theater. These themes continue in Erlebte Dichtung (1912) with portraits of leading poets of the day, including Carl Spitteler, the Nobel Prize winner in literature for 1920. Two works, The Value of Life and Halfmask: Confessions of a tragic philosophy from life and beyond life establish Goldschmidt as the equal of academic thinkers. He served in the war as a low-ranking soldier four years during which he continued to write. Manuscripts awaiting publication include a developmental novel that brings to mind Romain Rolland’s Jean Christoph.
Aus dem Reich.
Hindenburg. A lecture titled “On the threshold of a new fight for emancipation” was held at the local chapter meeting of the Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith.
Königsberg. Rabbi Dr. Vogelstein from Breslau spoke on “Revelation and Development” being the two poles of religious life at the local chapter meeting of the Liberal Jewry Association. He also lectured on the spiritual values of the liberal movement at the local chapter meeting of the Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith.
Hamburg. Erich Siegel directed the premiere of Jacob Scherek’s “Insanity” (“Wahn”) which deals with the topic of ritual murder.
The Decisions of the Conference of Fraternities.
Synopsis: Only German students of Aryan decent may belong to fraternities. Members may not marry Jewish or colored women. Members may not support separatist or international political parties.
Excavations in Palestine.
Synopsis: The Jewish Archeological Society in Jerusalem has received permission to excavate in the area surrounding Tiberius and Capernaum. Already, part of the ancient Roman city has been uncovered.
The Representatives Assembly will hold an open meeting to discuss the price of cemetery plots, the election of a new superintendent, salary increases for cemetery workers, and the creation of two teaching positions.
The Princess Luise institute, founded by Regina Schlesinger to support widows and orphans of all religions celebrates its 40th anniversary.
The Natural Healing Association of Breslau and – the Eastern Jews.
The board stated that it did not support the motion to prohibit Eastern Jews from their facilities, but that it had to place it on the agenda according to their bylaws. The person who had raised the issue denied having anti-Semitic tendencies. The board declared that no one will ever be excluded from the association on the basis of religion.
Heinz Kochanowski, son of the late cantor, Victor Kochanowski resident of Wallstraβe 5, will celebrate his bar mitzvah in the Old Synagogue on December 19.
Rosa Freudenthal’s delightful Chanukka exhibit (Goethestraβe 11) has been extended until December 19.
Associations and Assemblies.
Celebrating Chanukka in Breslau.
Synopsis: In addition to the family celebrations with their shining lights on the menorah and happy faces of young and old (off the old especially, as they well know how little attention was paid to this holiday 20 to 30 years ago), there were various celebrations sponsored by associations. Because of space restrictions, only three are described: a children’s party hosted by the Jewish Home, a celebration that included a living menorah and scenes from Stefan Zweig’s “Jeremias” by the “Comrades,” and the Jewish-Liberal Youth Association’s celebration that featured a concert, interpretive dances, and poetry readings.
Synopsis: The Breslau Union of Jewish Veterans met on December 13th to review the last year’s activities. In its first fourteen months, it grew to 700 members. The main topic of discussion was fundraising.
Synopsis: The Jewish-Liberal Youth Association board wrote to correct the statement that subscribing to this publication was mandatory for its members. Rather, subscription was recommended because the association will now rely on publishing its announcements in the newspaper instead of printing them separately at great expense. The money saved will be used to help pay for members’ subscriptions with the remainder being covered by the association’s treasury.
This edition of the Jewish-Liberal Newspaper includes an insert with the members’ list of the association of independent Jewish Craftsmen, Breslau.