The Eastern Jewish Question.
by Chief Rabbi Felix Goldmann (Leipzig).
From the days that it seemed useful in the Russian state’s wisdom to massacre masses of Jews, from the days of the first pogroms, there has existed for Germany an Eastern Jewish question. Depending on the strength of the hatred in the East, the press of Jews was felt more weakly or strongly. Since Germany was the natural refuge for those persecuted on the other side of the border, and since on the other hand this passage often was the passage to a new world, the emigration from the east and the issues caused by it never stopped. The war added a new angle. As long as one was able to believe in Germany’s victory, one assumed that the Reich would spread towards the east, and this expansion would have made hosts of Jews into German citizens. A lot of paper has been used to describe the associated benefits and harm; many hoped and many worried, and thus the question of Eastern Jews became the favorite topic of Jewish and non-Jewish discussions.
“Peace” came; our fatherland lay on the ground, bleeding from a thousand wounds and the Jewish question took on a worrisome perspective. What was until now regarded as a political event, since the handful of Eastern Jews were as nothing to the strong, economically secure Reich has now become an economic danger after the number of unemployed Germans has swollen and the lack of housing and food are wreaking havoc. And the more pressure there is on the masses of Jews to leave their country under the force of Polish hatred, the less they can find accommodation near the borders, the greater the hatred against the eastern emigrants grows in Germany’s interior. The common attempt to make the Jews the scapegoat for all the evils of the war and the peace grows to such an extent that the Eastern Jewish questions seems to have become the focal point around which the whole of the internal politics revolves.
It’s all the more difficult to make an objective judgment, the more the question becomes embroiled in everyday politics and then combine with a thousand other things. Precisely we Jews, who feel both the patriotic and the religious sympathies, should take a position based on thorough and calm exploration of the facts. Above all, our judgment and our actions can in no way be influenced by the anti-Semitic clamor.
When we look closely into the matter, we see that there is a great misconception about the intentions of the Eastern Jews. Even in peacetime, few had the desire to settle in Germany permanently in contrast to the number of emigrants. Now that the economic opportunities in Germany have decreased greatly, the majority of the refugees are only looking for asylum and temporary protection as they make their way to America. Whoever is active in the care of refugees, knows this. He also knows of course that the United States is making it more and more difficult to immigrate, even to the point of threatening a complete ban on immigration. An essential responsibility of German Jews is to awaken the consciences and brotherly love of their North-American co-religionists so that they, members of today’s strongest economic power, prove their readiness to help the Eastern Jews not only through tawdry enthusiasm for Palestine and a few alms along the way, but also by working toward the right to immigrate for all who are being forced out of the East.
The Jewish judgment must secondly be beyond all anti-Semitic calumny. One must always keep in mind that the enemy of the Jews will not distinguish between German and Eastern Jews, and the agitation against the latter is just a means to undermine the respect and position of the second. That is true above all of those which he sees as politically clever and can bring over to the side of the enemy and thus cause confusion in our ranks. They only hurt themselves because as soon as the anti-Semite succeeds in striking a blow against the Eastern Jews, he will turn towards the German Jews. To adopt his argumentation is like sawing off the branch on which one sits.
That of course doesn’t mean that we should overlook things that are obvious out of defiance or caution. Neither will be forget that Germany simply can’t take in immigrants because any settlement makes the living condition of the inhabitants harder, nor may we overlook the Eastern Jews’ different ways that slow down a smooth integration into German life. Are they worse?—only the dogmatic anti-Semite can determine that with any confidence. In any case, they are different, have different customs and attitudes, which would not matter in times of calm and economic security as with the culturally assimilated Eastern Jews who have lived here for years. But during today’s unsettled, nervous phase this difference leads to constant clashes.
Our position easily becomes clear. As long as it concerns Jews who have settled here before the war or came here with the German government’s permission during the war, there is no Jewish question. If it were not for the reactionary anti-Semitism these Jews would have long been naturalized; and just because earlier governments treated them worse than Christian foreigners who are German citizens today does not mean that we can let them suffer again now. Ne bis in idem. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ne_bis_in_idem It cannot be right that in a lawful state one first lures people to Germany with promises or threats, exploit their labor, and then expel them as burdensome foreigners. From both a German and a Jewish perspective it is our duty to energetically confront any misdeeds committed against these categories [of persons]. Not just because they would harm our co-religionists, but because such deception would be a shameful mark on the German name. That naturally no finger will be lifted for those that have in any way broken the law goes without saying but should nevertheless be highlighted here. When these have to leave the country, no regret or empathy follows them.
Given current conditions we certainly must see the closing of the borders against new immigration and settlement as a hard albeit necessary ruling. But we cannot be satisfied with any ruling that disadvantages Jews specifically. We must frankly admit that regarding this we are in a difficult situation. Since Jews do make up the majority of the immigrants it is all too easy to see an anti-Semitic impulse behind a generally applicable rule. We are highly aware that our fatherland truly is not able to accept immigrants, thus we will be understanding about rulings preventing new permanent settlement in Germany.
Naturally, none of this pertains to the right of asylum. Since one grants this to the many Baltic barons, Jews too may claim it. If we are to oppose mass immigration in the interest of German strength, so too must we act in the interest of German honor so that the political refugee – and who would be that more than an Eastern Jew saving themselves from pogroms?—is granted temporary residence and legal protection. The facts make clear that foreigners of Christian faith largely enjoy these rights. And when one complains that the lack of apartments in Berlin is increased due to the Eastern Jews, one should not forget the hospitality that the expelled Estonians and Kurlanders continuously enjoy in large numbers. It must surely be the responsibility of German Jews to ensure that the Eastern Jews moving through Germany are brought as quickly as possible to the place they are emigrating to. It is just as important, however, to protect them during their stay from any treatment that other foreigners are not subjected to. Regretfully we realize that in Germany anti-Semitism’s boldness lets loose on defenseless Jewish refugees through petty exception-rulings and chicanery. And this consequence of the Jewish question is indeed capable of seriously damaging Germany’s position as a cultured nation.
We need not go into the charity aspects of the Eastern Jewish question here. That German Jews must dedicate themselves to caring for the physical and spiritual needs of their travelling brothers is understood that those who have been so tested by fate still have their lives and their strength. It is shameful that only we Jews take on this responsibility when caring for those that have been persecuted for their religion should be seen as the duty of every feeling, cultured person. The fact that this duty is not being filled by anyone else may not be taken as an excuse to withdraw from it. And if one or the other fears that by supporting these “foreigners” one draws criticism for not being German enough, then we should with good conscience reject a “German-ness” that manifests itself in cold lack of charity and hard-hearted smallness of mind.
If we want to condense our political position regarding the Eastern Jewish questions into a short formula, it would be: Equal rights for all immigrants during admission and processing! If it could be achieved that a Jew is viewed exactly the same as a Czechoslovakian, the problem would be solved. If we had this guarantee of equal and objective treatment, we wouldn’t need to turn to government regulations, we would be assured that the Eastern Jewish question is not ruled by untamed anti-Semitism, but rather based on consideration of real political necessities that we must abide by. With that we conclude with the question of the actual scope of the immigration.
This will surprise us a bit. If one subtracts the Jews who were brought here by the German government before the war, we are left with a few thousand. One estimates that the entire number of refugees who came here during the revolutions is at most 30,000 for the entire country. What significance can this number have compared to the German population of 65 million? It can be calmly stated that, with the exception of the trade centers of Berlin and Leipzig, the only Eastern Jewish question is one conjured by the dictatorship of the anti-Semitic slogan. To liberate oneself from that would be of great benefit to the Christian part of the population as well, so that they can see that an economic or political threat from Eastern Jews only exists in the imagination of those who claim to see ghosts.
Politics and Religion.
by Hermann Becker, Berlin
Synopsis: This article is a response to the article, “Jews Among Nationalities,” published in the “Ost und West” journal in which the author describes the position of Jews in the new nations created in the wake of World War I—Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Hermann disagrees with the thesis that protection of the weak and justice are guidelines that Jews should follow when defining their role in these new nations. Becker considers each new nation in turn and analyzes how the nationalities that constitute these new states have Jews and juxtaposes this historical treatment with current trends. For example, Hungary was previously one area where Jews had enjoyed equal rights but are now relentlessly persecuted. He concludes that Yugoslavia is the only new country where there was a history of tolerance and now the Jews enjoy the state’s protection. He concludes that the relationship of Jews to the politics of their country cannot be defined by a single set of guidelines, and certainly not one derived from the dogmatic aspects of the Jewish religion.
From Ludwig Geiger’s youthful and elderly days.
A memorial to the 9th of February.
Synopsis: Ludwig Geiger, Abraham Geiger’s son, died on February 9, 1919 at the age of 70 and is mourned by the entire German Jewry. The article surveys his life from his childhood, the early loss of his mother to his student days and his decision to abandon the study of theology for that of literature and philosophy. Ludwig went on to become a celebrated Goethe scholar. Although he did not follow in his father’s footsteps, he remained involved with the Jewish community of Berlin, especially with educational matters.
Aus dem Reich.
Berlin. Synopsis: Jewish congregations’ taxes. Rumors that the taxes will increase by 60% are not true. The actual increase will be a small percentage of that.
Berlin. Partial translation: Reichstag representatives Dr. Schücking and Dr. Steiger spoke about “the political parties and their position on the Jewish question” at a meeting of the Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith. Schücking reported on the democratic party, Steiger on the centrist Christian Volk party. Schücking pointed out that the pre-war diplomacy gave the anti-Semites a reason to hold Jews responsible, just as blind insanity did in medieval times. Today, the Democrats are seen as being in the service of Jews even though “democracy is a specifically Germanic idea.” Democracy recognizes the civic rights of Jews, and that Jews have contributed to raising the level of the economic and cultural life for all. Of course, it would be desirable that Germany would be spared the flood coming from Eastern Europe and the League of Nations should see to channeling it to countries that can absorb it. Now is the time for unity and not class hatred or religious hatred. Energetic applause followed.
Steiger began his speech with a reminder that the founder of the centrist party, Windthorst, was against any laws that discriminated against groups. Certainly, the German nationalists want to do away with the Old Testament in Germany. If that were the case, all religious teaching would come to an end. Energetic applause broke out here. The dependence of the New Testament on the Old should be the bridge that brings citizens together.
Munich. Synopsis: The proceedings for the violent assault on Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld have been dropped because there was no evidence against the assailants, although it was determined that the attack had been planned.
Osterode. Synopsis: A well-publicized assembly was sponsored by the local German völkisch group at which Dr. Veit spoke on the “psychology of Judaism.” He reviewed Roman and Greek writings on Jews, repeating what is well known from anti-Semitic writings and is not even worth refuting here. The speaker poisoned the crowd. Mr. Bax, general secretary of the German farmers’ union accused the speaker of politicking for the German nationalists and using Jews as a lightning rod—the crowd shouted him down. The preacher, Mannheim, could make himself heard as he defended the morality of Jews, their messianism, and the passages from the Talmud that Veit had misappropriated. Mannheim offered Veit 10,000 Marks if he could point to one of the passages he had “quoted.” The crowd prevented Veit from continuing his speech.
Dessau. Synopsis: Union of the State of Anhalt’s Jewish Congregations. The organization was founded on January 9 by the congregations in Dessau, Bernburg, Cöthen, Zerbst, Sandersleben, Ballenstedt, Coswig, Gröbzig, and Jeβnitz. The union agreed to be a strictly democratic organization with both men and women having equal voting rights. Dr. Cohn (Dessau) is president.
Frankfurt a. M. Synopsis: The Prospects for Theologians. At a lecture series held by the Academic and State Employment Affairs offices, three theologians of different confessions spoke about their careers. Rabbi Dr. Horovitz represented Judaism. The three agreed that since the losses inflicted by the war, the prospects in their career were good, though it could not be considered a normal career because of the requirement for religiosity and vocation. It was not a career for getting rich, especially for rabbis as they are not subsidized by the state.
From the Province.
Tarnowitz. Synopsis: Businessman Elias Bach has been elected president of the local synagogue and Aron Perlberg and Fedor Schweiger as alternates.
Schreiberhau. Synopsis: The anti-Semitic post secretary, Obst, has been transferred by decree as of April 1.
The Association of Former Residents of Posen
List of members
Emanuel Wertheimer und sein “Buch der Weisheit”.
(Verlag Hoffmann & Campe.)
Synopsis: A review of Wertheimer’s book of aphorisms includes a sampling of his darkly pessimistic and satirical observations.
The next meeting will cover the election of a new cantor for the Old Synagogue, release of the cantors from their ritual duties, raising burial fees in the Cosel cemetery, increasing the contribution to the vocational school from 2,000 Marks to 10,000 Marks, and a pledge of 2000 Marks for kosher meals for the Upper-Silesian voters.
The Old Synagogue in Glogau.
The celebration of the seventh Adar will take place on the February 15 at 4 o’clock.
Art of the Eastern Jews.
The lecturer, Professor Grotte writes: After my opening lecture at the Jewish Continuing Education School, I was asked if I would publish my lecture. Allow me to point to some of my published writings, which include many illustrations:
“Synagogentypen vom 11. Bis 19. Jahrhundert,” Der Zirkel, Berlin, 1915. Three articles in art and architecture journals. A publication on figural Jewish art is underway.
Engaged: Miss Elly Heydemann, Breslau, with Mr. Max Laske, Berlin; Miss Grete Freund with Mr. Leopold Krämer, Beuthen, Upper-Silesia.
Married: Mr. Herbert Fuchs with Miss Margarete Tichauer, Breslau; Mr. Siegbert Rosenbund with Miss Hanna Hiller, Breslau; Mr. Hans Silberstein with Miss Margot Rosenthal, Breslau; Mr. Alfred Hirschberg with Miss Käte Israelowitz, Breslau.
Born: Son: Dr. Leopold Moses and Margot nee Peritz, Berlin; Mr. Philipp Gutmann and Margot nee Kober, Hamburg; Mr. Otto Bial and Marta nee Weiβler, Breslau; Attorney Joseph Hirschberg and Else nee Baumgart, Frankfurt a. O.; Mr. Paul Cohn and Trude nee Reichmann, Reichenbach, Silesia.
Daughter: Mr. Adolf Strumpfner and Margot nee Fleischer, Hindenburg.
Died: Leopold Goldstein, Breslau; Hirsch Gotthilf, Breslau; Adolf Schäffer, Upper-Glogau; Claudia Eckersdorff nee Mühsam, Breslau; Julian Jacobowitz, Gleiwitz; Hugo Kohn, Rimlau; Louis Wulff, Breslau; Ida Gutzmann nee Heil, Breslau; Else Meseritzer nee Honigbaum, Breslau.
Think of Upper-Silesia on all occasions!
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