Judaism and Internationalism.
by Dr. Siegfried Marck, Docent at the University Breslau.
Synopsis: Two forms of internationalism are central to the discussion of Judaism and internationalism: a positive one and a negative one. Negative internationalism is rootlessness, that is, being cut loose from any sense of nationalism. Negative internationalism leads to a loss of character. Negative internationalism is associated with the “eternally wandering” Jew, a type which is often caricatured. To the thinking Jew, this rootless internationalism is a painful problem and something to be overcome.
This rootlessness is overcome by increased nationalism, hence there are two trends, one toward embracing German-ness and the other being Zionism. The choice is a personal one. Positive internationalism is characterized by a feeling of solidarity that overcomes national divisions. It does not want to negate one’s nation, but wants to see it take its place in the supra-national organism.
The author associates positive internationalism with socialism and sees elements of capitalism in the negative, materialistic internationalism. Ethical socialism is aligned with Judaism’s ethic of ideal union of nations and peoples. This Jewish ethic should be fertile ground for unifying a feeling of German nationalism with the belief in a supra-national entity.
“Of course, coldly calculating enemies have maligned us with holding pacifistic ideas as part of an antagonistic ploy. But the defamation of pure ideas characterizes the defamers, not on the ideas. Judaism is called upon to hold high the messianic ideal and to shield it from any misidentification with divisive internationalism even when surrounded by waves of hatred as we now are.”
Is There a Crisis in Liberal Judaism?
by Erich Bayer (Breslau), Chairman of the German Jewish-Liberal Youth Workgroup
Synopsis: A crisis in Liberal Judaism would consist of conflict between theory and practice, and one to such an extent as to one undermining the other. First, one must assess whether practice is formed by the theory or whether theory is influenced by practice. All directions in Judaism have the one goal of connecting Jewishness with Judaism. What does practice reveal of Liberalism’s essence?
The author describes two kinds of Liberalism: one is religious and scientific, the other practical and political. The first is represented by rabbis and the youth that study the origins and literature and build a Jewish family and congregational life based on this knowledge. The practical and political Liberalism dominates because of generational numbers. This type of Liberalism is engaged in battling Zionism, anti-Semitism, and prescribed religious tradition in congregational life. The older Jews see Zionism used as a weapon in the hands of the anti-Semites, which might be one reason they are so opposed to it. The author does not want to diminish the work of the Central Organization, but there is a danger that all of Liberalism is defined by this struggle against Zionism and anti-Semitism. Practical and political Liberalism is vulnerable to being judged by external appearance because of its apathy toward religion. It is more interested in opposing orthodoxy than in developing a vibrant, living Judaism. This has the outcome that Liberals have not formed liberal organizations and institutes within congregational life, other than serving on councils and as administrators. They have impeded any sense of community among liberals. The author sees the mission of Liberalism to further religious sensibility among Jews and thereby build a sense of community. Perhaps this mission is at odds with the Liberalism itself which is capable of fostering divisiveness, but not forging connections? One may not forget that Liberalism originated as a way to collect like-minded Jews. But the practical, political type has only succeeded in giving divisiveness the upper hand, with the result that there is indeed a serious crisis within Liberalism.
The youth movement is not experiencing such a crisis as it is focused on the religious aspects of liberal Judaism. Its goal is simply the transformation of the individual. The communal is grounded in the smallest circle of the family, in the organization built on common goals, and within the whole of Judaism. This communal sensibility will show itself in how the Eastern Jews are—as fellow believers that are being persecuted and who must be helped. There can be no question that Palestine will be a safe haven for many and must continue to be supported as a charitable cause. Palestine will be the origin of a strong religious impulse that Liberalism will benefit from. Liberalism must be more than just a German movement, for anywhere one finds Jews who live with a modern, scientific perspective, there is Liberalism, which attempts to make a living connection between religion and the individual.
Aus dem Reich.
Berlin. Synopsis: The Liberal Association for the Affairs of the Jewish Community in Berlin held its annual meeting on February 28. A modest celebration of its 25th anniversary was held. Benas Levy looked back on its accomplishments. Among its founders were Hermann Veit, Hermann Makower, Karl Emil Franzos, and Karpeles. Since then, two new synagogues were built, schools, a hospital, a second orphanage, and a home for the elderly. Chairmen of the association were Hermann Veit Simon, Bernhard Breslauer, and Plonsker. The speaker called for the continued engagement of the liberal association and the liberal majority in the Jewish community, especially with the purpose of opposing Jewish nationalism. Counselor Plonsker was elected chair and the dentist, M. Lipschitz was elected vice chair. Eugen Caspary and Dr. Walter Breslauer were elected secretaries, and Richard Cassel and Albert Maaβ treasurers. 7 other members were elected, among them a woman for the first time, Mrs. Seligsohn.
Hamburg.Synopsis: When the Union of German Jews was asked whether it would continue its existence given the newly instituted Central Organization, it responded that it will continue until the new organization is legally formed under Section 137 of the Reich’s constitution.
Schwerin. Synopsis: In Plau, Mecklenburg, the former Jewish synagogue was purchased by a manufacturer, Paul Strauβ who has donated it to the Catholic parish. It has been renovated as an elegant chapel and last week a Catholic Mass was held there for the first time.
Frankfurt a. Main. Synopsis: The Jewish community requested additional flour for Passover Matzoh given last year’s shortage. Ration card A will receive 4.5 pounds and card B 2 pounds. In exchange for this flour, bread rations will be reduced by the amount of Matzoh received. 1 pound of Matzoh will cost 5 Marks; 1 pound of Matzoh meal will cost 5.20.
From an Upper-Silesian Nest: Childhood Memories.
Die Stadt Düsseldorf ist sehr schön, und wenn man in der Ferne an sie denkt, und zufällig dort geboren ist, wird einem wunderlich zu Muthe. Ich bin dort geboren und es ist mir, als müsste ich gleich nach Hause gehn. Und wenn ich sage nach Hause gehn, dann meine ich die Bolkerstraße und das Haus, in welchem ich geboren wurde…“ – Heinrich Heine, 1827 (Das Buch Le Grand)
One doesn’t have to be the great Heinrich Heine, one can be a humble average person and still understand and share that same magical feeling here in such an immediate and lively fashion.
And one doesn’t have to have been born in the beautiful city of Düsseldorf to experience this feeling in just the same way. The Upper-Silesian town about whose seemingly monotonous life I’ll be telling you a thing here and there as images cross the threshold of my memory is not at all beautiful, as all contemporaries agree, but since I happened to be born there, I still get a wondrous feeling when I think of that dear nest. Indeed, all the more wondrous a feeling these days as we Upper Silesians “go home” to help protect our homeland from a dismal fate by gladly professing our loyalty to the German fatherland.
By the way, just so I don’t err, you don’t have to faithfully believe the negative judgment I just made. You can take the usually sarcastic reference, “Nest” in its different sense, and think it lovely when seen with an objective eye. The town has two unusual adornments: the wide band of the Oder which divides into two branches here and the green belt of wonderful promenades that surrounds the town.
Anyone who has grown up near a body of water knows what that means to the youth. Swimming, rowing, fishing in summer, ice skating in winter, — always new pleasures, against which the life of most urban children who live far from nature seems flat and hollow.
And then our promenades. They lie under tall, full trees that each seemed to look upon us with a trusted face. Generations of people, German people, have grown up and grown tall at the feet of these old ones, seen them bloom and fade. And now they must be shaking their heads in wonder that anyone can doubt whether the inhabitants of this land and this town are Germans. They know full well that the children, whose gleeful shouts and singing reaches them, the burghers who walk of a late afternoon with measured steps, and then the couples who come in the evening and whose language and means of communicating we can’t exactly describe…
Above all there are wonderful old oaks that we treasured, not just for their beauty or the mysterious sighs and rustlings of their crowns but for their material value. For when the real autumn winds came, then they threw off their hard, firm fruit. We zealously collected these acorns and sold them to a merchant who made them into pig feed. The money we turned around into candy, and then later into our first forbidden cigarettes. We ran off with those back to the protection of the broad oak boughs and played our forbidden Skat card games…
The promenades were named “Glacis” which hearkened back to their earlier military purpose and their historic role. In 1806/7, the former fort held fast courageously and stubbornly against the attacks of the French and their Bavarian allies. During my childhood larger and smaller bullets in houses and in the old barracks that had been converted to apartments and workshops recalled that time of German trouble vividly and visibly. We sometimes stood before them and let our childish dreams of olden times meander through the lovelier present and our brightly colored future.
But daydreaming was naturally not our main occupation – playing is when the child comes to life. And where could anyone play better than in our hometown? We played in the ruins of the old robber baron’s castle, that rose so ghostly behind the old trees, in the space around the old fortifications’ mounds and ditches that were made for games of cops and robbers, on the modest “Witch Hill” down whose slops our sleds raced, in the birch forest where we stealthily built fires to roast the new fall potatoes (which were naturally stolen). What does the average city kid know of these heavenly pleasures?
One more thing gave life in our town, and our childhood, its uniqueness: it was a garrison town with two infantry battalions. There were 1500 soldiers in a town of seven or eight thousand inhabitants. No wonder that the bright uniform almost completely dominated the town’s streets and our childish imagination! We experienced the whole year on a military schedule. The military year began around the time of our religious New Year, with the arrival of the recruits. During the high holidays, the congregation’s sons that had just been recruited were the objects of our admiration and attempts at befriending them. But their glory faded when other uniforms appeared in the synagogue such as that of a sub-lieutenant that had come in for military manoeuvers (it never got any more senior!) or of a staff doctor…naturally “d. R.”
On clear autumn days we watched the new recruits being drilled and we developed a much higher degree of enthusiasm than the objects themselves had for this not always so gentle training.
The secular New Year brought quite a military show: The Great Wake Up, that is reveille, that went through the streets at seven in the morning and brought out the pointed caps. Every boy ran to the window and watched full of admiration as they moved through the morning gray—first the lieutenant with his sash, then the musicians, the drum, the band, and then our friends, the musketeers. Of course we had our own special relationship to them—not least because of the Kommiβ bread. These relationships were tightest in the weeks before the Kaiser’s birthday. Because then we were after invitations to the individual companies’ displays, or at least to go to the public rehearsals, where there was so much to see, and hear, to laugh about and sometimes to cry over. I still remember quite well how moved we were when a soldier (who might well have been a talented actor) recited the Julius Wolff poem, “The Flag of the Sixty-first.” When he got to the end:
“…If we return without our flag,
Our brothers one and all – pardon us!
We did lose it,
But it was not taken from anyone yet living.”
we cried as though we were trying to outdo the girls…
The day before the great day, our illuminated town was like out of a fairy-tale. Today’s youth that is growing up in the time of expensive candles has no idea how beautiful, in a purely aesthetic sense, a see of candlelight can be and what a magical atmosphere it creates. That’s over with now—so much is over with—that which is beautiful, but externally so, must now be replaced with things of interior worth…
Then came the holiday itself. Again, an early reveille. Then the school celebrations, at which Jewish pupils were often enough selected to recite patriotic poems. There was no anti-Semitism that would have prevented that from happening at the integrated elementary school, which I first attended, or at the college preparatory school which accepted me later.
After these celebrations there came more pleasures. The military displays: the ceremonial reception of those who were housed in the commandant’s quarters, the honorably displayed regimental flags, the troops on parade, the commandant’s speech which sounded as far as the marketplace, and then the parade. The commandant could be as harsh a critic as might be—we were harsher. Our hearts beat high when the country’s veterans’ associations marched after the troops. From veterans from three wars, whose iron crosses were reverently admired to the soldiers who had just become reservists, all competed with the military bearing of the active soldiers. And yet, amongst the older ones were many who could not have given a comprehensible German answer to a German question because Polish was their mother tongue and their daily language. But if anyone had dared say anything inappropriate about the meaning of the day or about Germany within earshot, then those Polish hands would have returned a German enough answer. For we who grew up in Upper Silesia must affirm and emphasize against the deceptive propaganda of these times: May the Prussian bureaucracy and Prussian militarism in the bi-lingual areas been too forceful, may those that came from the west and didn’t understand the people and thus made harmful missteps, all in all this soft, Slavic people did not feel unsafe under this rigid control that brought peace, order, and wealth. That is why during my childhood one never felt opposition between the two nations—opposition has been created gradually by the arts of sedition. The German side made a grave mistake for not having fought against these sentiments. Despite all this, Germans an Poles were not so bitter towards each other until recent years as this example shows: During the 15 years I served as an attorney in the Upper-Silesian courts, I have never seen trials for beatings or assaults, or civil proceedings in which conflict between Germans and Poles played any role whatsoever. Compare that with today’s times, and there is no doubt who bears the blame for the bitter turn of events.
Relations between us Jews and the rest of the population were characterized by a peaceful and friendly tone. I never heard an insulting word spoken about Jews at school—not by teachers or pupils. Certainly, many things had to come together to create such favorable conditions. Everyone knows that in Upper Silesia the people’s mentality is largely shaped by Catholic religiosity. The old town priest—he still serves today—was always a man of God who performed his duties as Lessing urged “with gentleness, with sincere tolerance, with charity, with heartfelt submission to God.” With the same peaceful sensibilities the protestant pastor, the state council, the mayor—all strictly conservative men, who have as much in common with today’s swastika wearers as a noble hound has with a yapping mutt.
Naturally the preservation of these friendly relations between us Jews and the others was made much easier by the character of the man who served as cantor and preacher. In the small red house next to the synagogue whose inhabitants were close family friends, in the garden at the rear of the house and on the green area around the temple I spent the happiest hours of my childhood. But this isn’t what forms my judgment of the good-hearted old man, at whose feet I was allowed to sit and who applied such enthusiasm and love to teaching us the sacred meaning of prayers and the spirit of the language in which they were passed down t o us. Oh, how often we rewarded his efforts so poorly! Hebrew lessons took away our Wednesday afternoon, one of the two afternoons during the week when we didn’t have school. They took away Sunday mornings when our comrades were allowed to play outside. We were all too often aware of that and let it distract us. When the old man, whom we all loved, struck the table with his thick cane and began the lesson, always with the same words, “Look, be quiet, school has started,” the boys and girls in the room grew quiet but our thoughts didn’t let themselves be controlled as easily as our busy mouths—they fluttered freely around the room and away from the seven prayers and the other holy things out to the blossoming meadows and our schoolfriends’ ballgames [“Klippe” and “Knetschenball”].
Even though the resulting positive knowledge did not equal his untiring efforts, he did root the essentials deep in our hearts: the love of Judaism; because he possessed it himself in such endless measure and because he was such a good man and of such pure will. That’s why former pupils visited with him and his angelic wife in his home with such pleasure when they came back for vacation or were travelling through. During these days, when the town’s sons and daughters, now living abroad, return to their home, the old woman, who is still mentally alert and physically lively, will receive many guests and reap a bit of the immeasurable love she sowed over the decades. In these days during which is taking place something that has never taken place before on such a scale: coming together with the people with whom we enjoyed the happiness of those golden early years which gave way to the unspeakably difficult experience of war and revolution. At first, feeling our way through hesitatingly and unsure and then full of joy at finding and recognizing each other on the earth of our passionately loved, deeply threatened homeland. In these days when the dice roll…
With that, I must think of one of my hometown’s Jewish hucksters who gathered the people around his booth for throwing dice on the Pentecost fairgrounds with loud speeches that always ended with the words, “und quietsch und quatsch und querimonia, und jacta est alea …”
Now it’s “jacta est alea” [the die are cast] in all earnestness. The die will fall and determine the fate of this country and this city, and your fate, my home on the Oder, about which I’ve said nothing here and don’t want to.
When we first became concerned that Upper Silesia could be lost to us, my little girl started ending her bedtime prayer: “Dear God, don’t let us become enemies.” How a seven-year-old mind worked that out, whether she truly believed that shifting the country’s border would mysteriously change the people—I’m not sure. But I take those childish words a different way. Upper Silesians will have to prove whether they are their own enemies. If they are not,–and we have the utmost confidence that they are not—then we’ll see a wave of rejoicing sweep through our Germany on a level never before experienced, and nowhere will it echo more loudly than in my homeland, in my beloved Upper-Silesian nest. Erich Spitz
[Translator’s Note: The German Bundesarchiv lists Erich Spitz as having been born in Cosel, (PL Koźle) Upper Silesia.]
From the Province.
The Plebiscite in Upper Silesia. Synopsis: We are certain that the 20th of March will bring an overwhelming victory for Germany. What it would mean to our fellow Jews in Upper Silesia if the region were to be ceded to Poland needs hardly be mentioned. But for a more important reason than that, the Jews of Upper Silesia gladly cast their vote for our German fatherland because of how firmly they belong to the German culture. At Breslau’s increasingly busy train stations, fellow Jews are receiving kosher meals as organized by the banker, Löwy. The atmosphere was dampened however when some volunteers helping with the transportation of voters displayed the swastika. The newspaper’s editors were assured that measures were immediately taken against these displays.
Rybnik, Upper Silesia. Synopsis: Kosher meals are available for voters. Contact Rabbi Dr. Nellhaus.
Synopsis: In the official journal of the Central Union of Jewish Craftsmen of Germany, “Craftsmanship and Industry,” Alfed Vogelsang (Dusseldorf) writes about the belief that even the Jewish community has that Jewish craftsmanship is inferior which leads to congregations often hiring non-Jews. One way to counteract that is to make every effort to be a trustworthy advisor and spare the customer unnecessary expenditures.
In the “Israelitsches Familienblatt” Dr. Margarete Pinner
writes about the career choices of Jewish girls. Only in the case of some individuals is the choice of career determined at the outset by a special talent. In the majority of cases of our girls traditional considerations influence the decision to take up one career or another.
While the Jewish woman of course went into homemaking until just a couple of decades ago, a career in business is now the dominant choice. It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Jewish parents now send their daughters to a business school after completing their basic education or have them go into a business apprenticeship.
A thorough study of the question of career advice reveals that this situation is damaging to the life of our community. Being seated impedes the natural development of women’s bodies, and the one-dimensional activity leaves the intellectual and emotional strengths of our girls undeveloped. Our women have grown more nervous from the hectic life of commerce; the task of raising and feeding our children is done less lovingly and less carefully than in the past. And the Jewish house now only rarely has the calm beauty for which it had been praised earlier.
In our unquiet times the affinity of many women for the orderly and calm work of homemaking has already reawakened. It is important that we strengthen this affinity by emphasizing to our girls that homemaking is a real “career” through which value can be created such that the domestically occupied woman is not to be respected less than the commercially engaged one. It seems to us that working towards this is one of the most essential goals of career counseling.
The fact that our girls are educated only scientifically, and are not exposed to the domestic or agricultural occupations, is a serious shortcoming of our educational system. Only when they have had a chance to practice all types of work as children can they choose one career over another. If this were the case, it seems certain that a significantly larger percentage of girls would choose domestic or agricultural careers. One way to close this gap immediately would be to offer homemaking evening courses and to install school gardens. The costs for these are not unmanageable and could be supplied by private donors, organizations, and congregations. While these are being put in place, Jewish parents who are at all in the position to do so could let their children work in another household for a year before a career is decided upon. In addition to the urban and rural domestic apprenticeships of which the employment officials are already aware of, an exchange of children could be organized, as is currently being planned by the lodge. This would free up some apprenticeships and give young girls the opportunity to educate themselves more broadly without it costing too much. This year-long apprenticeship should take the place of the boarding-school year that used to be common.
Hopefully the coming years will be marked by progress in the education of our girls brought about by cooperation among concerned parties and that the career choices of Jewish women become healthier and strengthen Jewish families.
Synopsis: An article appearing in the “Illustrowany Kuryer Codzienny” (Krakau) connects Lloyd George’s anti-Polish policies to his supposed pro-Jewish stance and support of international Jewish financiers, especially those now responsible for moving the world’s financial center from London to Wall Street.
Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith, Breslau chapter, Synopsis: reports that the attorney, Dr. Dütschke (Zobten) has written Counselor Landsberg (Schweidnitz) that he will not accept a retainer from him because he does not accept retainers from Semitic lawyers on principle.
Erna Bial Dance Recital.
Synopsis: The young Breslau native gave a modern dance recital, notably to Scriabin’s Prelude where she perfectly combined music and movement to give expression to the subtle nuances of interior emotion. Even more impressive were three dances performed without music which revealed her keen creativity.
Assemblies and Associations.
Synopsis: The Liberal Union of Synagogue Congregations hosted a “Bierabend” with speeches by Alfred Bielschowsky, John Levi, and Rabbi Dr. Vogelstein. The highlight of the evening was a talk by Counselor Heilberg that explored the relationship of Jews to the press and focused on the goals of Jewish publications which are love of truth, commitment to duty, and conscientiousness. Speeches were followed by singing, raffles and an auction.
The Association for Jewish History and Literature will sponsor a lecture on “The Rhine in Jewish History” by Rabbi Dr. Adolf Kober (Cologne) on March 22.
Engagements: Ruth Schutz (Glatz) with Dr. Lothar Markiewitz (Breslau), Hermine Hauβmann (Breslau) with Dr. Paul Mayer (Charlottenburg), Alice Friedländer (Mikultschütz, Upper Silesia) with Rudolf Caro (Breslau), Elly Groβmann (Frankenstein, Silesia) with Georg Bernstein (Seeburg, East Prussia).
Marriages: Paul Ries with Felicia Feibelsohn (Breslau), Paul Mottek with Erna Jaentke (Breslau), Curt Wittenberg with Charlotte Fischer (Breslau), Max Lewin with Lisbet Tockuβ (Breslau), Curt Süβmann with Suse Lustig (Breslau).
Births. Son: Josef Manneberg and Erna nee Rahmer (Breslau), Georg Bujakowski and Gertrud nee Grün (Waldenburg, Silesia), William Heumann and Mally nee Klindworth (Breslau).
Daughter: Dentist Richard Engel and Alice (Breslau). Dr. Paul Ledermann and Elisabeth nee Freter (Breslau), Walter Weiβ and Philipine nee Bileski (Breslau), Bernhard Lob and Aenne nee Schmitz (Breslau).
Deaths: Geheimer Justizrat Dr. Ludwig Cohn (Breslau); Adolf Lustig (Breslau), Oscar Freund (Breslau), Hertha Pick nee Süβmann (Breslau), Michael Weiβ (Berlin), Bruno Lomnitz (Breslau), Fanny Markus nee Wittenberg (Breslau).