Shock and New Orientation
Source: FROM THE PRESENTATION
With the Nazis' rise to power, Germany's half-million Jews suddenly found themselves abandoned in the country most of them had considered their homeland. The Liberal ideals that sustained their integration in Germany, as well as the Jewish identity of most Jews, had been demolished. Many took these developments very hard and a significant number emigrated. But after a few months a process of accommodation began, in which many reappraised what it meant to be a Jew in Germany. This process was accompanied by major social changes, which included shifts within the political map of German Jewry, reorganization of Jewish social services, and the development of new educational and cultural institutions.
In January 1933, despite all the disturbing signs, German Jews found it difficult to believe that Adolf Hitler could assume leadership of the nation. Indeed, for a brief period after Hitler took over the chancellery, they continued to hope that their situation would not worsen significantly. Editorial: Israelitisches Familienblatt, It is hard to get used to the idea that the new government is headed by an individual whose party has thus far regarded long-term struggle against the Jews as its principal goal. Nevertheless, the leading figures in the National Socialist Party should now conduct a responsible government policy. The new government will be judged by its policy.' (2 February 1933) Belligerent people don't stay in power for long. The Nazis' rise to power hasn't really come as a surprise. Governments used to constantly come and go. We saw SA parades. My late grandmother said, So what, even if he comes to power it won't be for more than three or four months.... Belligerent people don't stay in power for long.' (Aryeh Eitan, Yad Vashem VD 568)
In a Rural Jewish Community the more traditional Jews, living in rural communities, also adhered to the belief that their lives in Germany could continue unchanged despite the political upheaval. Eric Lucas, son of a family of cattle traders and butchers, describes the atmosphere in his home at that time: It was in early 1933. A shouting, roaring voice thundered from the radio...the same voice that also rose from newspaper headlines You couldn't avoid him.... The event that we had doubted but also feared had come to pass. What would happen now? What did the future have in store for the Jewish families? Men talked about it at home and at the cattle market.... My father tried to calm the tempers: Most of the peasants obviously don't agree with the new regime, they said so and they made no secret about what they meant... I've lived among these peasants for 30 years and I have many friends among them. Will they suddenly stop being my friends?...Members of the Jewish community organization discussed the matter and tried to calm themselves.... They did not wish to believe, they could not believe, that values they had lived by for generations suddenly became invalid.' (Lucas 53) Eric Lucas, Die Herrschaft, Geschichte einer Juedischen Grossfamilie im Kreis Aachen von der mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts bis zum 2. Weltkrieg,' Heimatblaetter des Kreises Aachen, No. 1¯4, 1980.
Reactions to Initial Anti-Jewish Measures (April - May 1933)
The turn for the worse in the Jews' situation became palpable and painful with the economic boycott on 1 April 1933, and the beginning of antisemitic legislation. Faced with the collapse of emancipation - the very framework for their self image as Jews and as German citizens - the different Jewish organizations responded according to their ideological perspectives.
The Liberals : Insult and Sorrow. We, the Jews of Germany, greet the boycott proclaimed against us with deep shame and rage. Its brief duration and its astonishingly quiet implementation does nothing to compensate us for the deep insult and sorrow that we feel.... The actions that followed the boycott were meant to cause harm to Jewish existence at large. The rationale holds that only people whose veins flow with German blood may personally represent the prominence of the state and the dignity of German civilisation.... We do not believe that these principles can stand the test of responsible judgment.... We fear that implementation of these measures will harm not only a part of the German people...but will also add no honour to German civilisation and to Germany's reputation throughout the world.' (C.V Zeitung, 6 April 1933)
The Zionists: Struggle for a New Emancipation. German Jewry is convinced that it has fulfilled its civic duties with as much dedication as any other group of the population. On this basis it demands its fair share of living space (Lebensraum) in the new Germany and expects its civil rights to be reinstated. But neither the Jews nor the Germans would be served by a re-instatement of the old situation. Germans and Jews once again face the Jewish question, which requires a better solution than the former one . Only a fraction of the half million German Jews can emigrate; an even smaller percentage have the prospect of settling in Palestine.... Undoubtedly one cannot let the Jews of Germany starve.... The German Jewish community today must struggle for a new Emancipation, but by new means.... In so much as we are Jews of deeply rooted ancestry who serve the German edifice, we will also avoid the blunders and cliffs over which we have plunged to our present misfortune. (Rosenthal, May 1933) Hugo Rosenthal, German Jewry in the New German Reich' Juedische Rundschau, 30 May 1933.
The Orthodox: The Hand of God. German Jewry suddenly faces events and facts so powerful as to speak to our hearts. A question mark hangs over everything that took us so long to attain.... Anyone who believes that Jewish history is meaningful cannot regard this grave ordeal as a coincidence. Only force major can speak to us in this harsh language.... Shall we disregard this hand of God? Mustn't we admit that we are helpless, that all efforts to change our fate have failed, and that the foolish attempts to place our trust in fair-weather friends have been harmful? We dare trust in no one but our Father in Heaven!.... Brethren of the faith! Do not give up! We are being made to suffer greatly, but according to the Prophets, these are the pangs of the Messiah, which foretell the future Redemption.... Be faithful to God, because He and His deliverance will not fail!' (Israelitisches Familienblatt, 6 April 1933)
Union of Jewish Front Veterans (RjF): For the Blood That We Shed. Letter to Hitler and Hindenburg, 4 April 1-933: Esteemed Reichskanzler! The Union of Jewish Front Veterans, representing 30,000 Jewish soldiers who served at the front in the German army during the Great War, we call the following to your attention: Of the half-million Jews in Germany, 96,000 men participated in the war in the ranks of the Wehrmacht, including 10,000 volunteers. Twelve thousand of them fell. [A list of their names is attached.] On the basis of our sacrifice of blood and our service for the Fatherland, we believe that German Jews have the right to full civil equality in Germany. We observe in great pain how our dignity is being offended and the economic basis of Jewish existence in Germany is being undermined... We therefore request: 1. That no occupational and economic harm come to former soldiers from Germany's wars or to their families.... 3. That the appropriate forces among German Jewry be integrated into the army...'. Dr. Loewenstein, Union of Jewish Front Veterans, German Federal Archive, Koblenz, E 611927/8/9. Pessimism & Self-Censorship. The authors of articles in the Jewish-German press during the Nazi era were afraid to express their feelings because of the vigilant surveillance of the German censor. Nevertheless when they felt free to speak openly, some expressed much more pessimistic evaluations of the situation. On 27 March 1933, a delegation representing German Jewish leadership with a group of British Jewish leaders and representatives of world Jewish organizations in London. In a csession the German Jewish delegation gave such a gloomy report, that their counterparts found it hard to accept. Still, after the meeting, the mission from Germany issued a reassuring press release to the public.
More On Personal Responses: German-Jewish Identity in Crisis.
German Jews' personal responses to the events of April 1933 were varied. While some witnesses recall that their daily lives were not seriously affected in the first few months of 1933, most testimonies describe a grim atmosphere, frantic decisions to leave Germany, and instances of suicide. In their subsequent memoirs, certain Jews depicted the harsh experiences of the boycott day as a watershed in their attitude toward, and identification with, Germany. This was my Leave-Taking. [During the boycott day] I went to the synagogue like many other Jews. There I saw desperate faces.... Never before did Jews pray more ardently than on that evening on, which they were experiencing their being Jews so fundamentally.... And when, as always, I consecrated the Sabbath there, in the circle of my family, and came to the passage in the prayer You who have chosen us from among all the peoples' and saw my children, who were looking at me with innocent and questioning eyes, my composure was at an end, the whole weight of the day's experiences struck me, and I broke down.... This was my Leave-taking from everything German, my inner separation from what had been my fatherland - a burial. I buried forty-three years of my life...I could not be a German anymore.... I went to the graves of my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, and spoke with them. I returned to them everything German that I had received from three generations.... I cried into their graves: You are mistaken. I, too, have been misled. I know that I am no longer a German. And what will my children be?' The question remained open. (Richarz 312-3) Edwin Landau in M. Richarz ed., Jewish Life in Germany, Memoirs from Three Centuries (New York 1991).
More On A Wave of Mass Emigration
The onset of anti-Jewish measures prompted a spontaneous wave of mass Jewish emigration from Germany, which peaked in April-June 1933. In all, 37,000 Jews left Germany in 1933 ¯ about 8 percent of Germany's total Jewish population at the time. Most emigrants were members of the liberal professions expelled from the civil service, eastern European Jews who returned to their countries of origin, Zionists who decided to settle in Palestine, and political refugees who surreptitiously fled Germany to nearby European countries to avoid internment in concentration camps. (An additional 16,000 Jews left Germany in 1933, but later returned.) Escape to Prague (1933) [Sexual] relations were considered a profanation of the race. Three of my [women] employees visited me one night and warned me, advised me to flee.... The father of a fourth employee, a sixteen-year-old girl, came to me at 3:00 that night. His sixteen-year-old daughter had been coerced by the rigorous interrogation into signing a statement that I had had relations with her. Afterwards, she sank into despair and nervous collapse, screamed that she was a murderer, wanted to kill herself, and forced him to rush to me and warn me.... I spent that night getting my papers ready, outwardly composed but inwardly shuddering with fear that it was too late for me to escape. I had to leave everything behind - my large, flourishing factory, my print shop, my home with its 7,000-volume library, my father's oil paintings. . .the lovely garden that I had personally tended, and thousands of other things that I cherished.... I slipped out with my suitcase like a thief, fleeing from the bestial masters of Germany, from the land of Goethe, Schiller, Kant and Schopenhauer, Heine and Mendelssohn. I had to speak to the housekeeper calmly, as if nothing were wrong and as though I would return in a few days' time. I could not even take a last glance back, despite the pain of parting.' (Martin Feuchtwanger 173) Martin Feuchtwanger, Zukunft ist ein blindes Spiel (Munich 1989).
Screen C Pleas for Unity and New Leadership
After the shock had set in that their sworn enemies, now in power, were intent on antisemitic persecution, the German Jews slowly began to seek ways to orient themselves to the new reality. At first, the responses of major Jewish organisations reflected the organizational fragmentation that had long characterised German Jewry. However, gradually elements in the Jewish public began to call for a reassessment, beginning with an overhaul of the leadership. After a while the call for Jewish unity grew louder and major Jewish leaders came to see it as the key to Jewish survival.
The Generation Debate
In the Israelitisches Familienblatt, one of the main organs of German Jewry, the editors posed the following question: Who should assume leadership - the young generation or the old?'
For the Younger Generation: German Jewry needs a political and community leadership that sees the current situation through the eyes of the young [First World] war generation.... [The] defense of lost positions cannot give German Jewry its future, but rather a spiritual effort to create new possibilities of civil existence for German Jews.... The leaders of German Jewry have accomplished great things during the period of ascendancy and efflorescence until they attained emancipation and full equal rights and civil status for the Jews. This era of democratic liberalism has come to an end in Germany. In these new times, a new and different struggle on the Jews' behalf is needed. Only members of the Jewish community who do not bear the burden of past struggles can wage this struggle with the help of Jewish youth.' Max Reinheimer, Frankfurt, Israelitisches Familienblatt. (18 May 1933)
For the Adult Generation: No one objects to letting the young generation merge into the leadership, even more than in the past. However, the decisive question is not age alone but the personality needed for leadership.... Today, everything depends on the ability to centralise the Jewish leadership. It is no longer advantageous to spread responsibilities across too many shoulders.... It is especially important in this very situation to select the few who will assume responsibility and to make sure they have the requisite qualities for leadership and assumption of the yoke of responsibility.' Leo Kreindlei, Berlin, Israelitisches Familienblatt, (18 May 1933).
The Tachlis Debate
On 14 July 1933, the Israelitisches Familienblatt, under the headline Tachlis (Yiddish: Getting do to serious business) invited German Jewry to participate in a public debate on a comprehensive plan for their future under the new circumstances. The invitation led to a flood of letters to the editor which, according to the editor, expressed every imaginable proposal and all possible scenarios that we may face in the near future.... The extreme demands included organised mass emigration, on the one hand, and over optimistic hope that things would return to what they had been, on the other.' Two weeks later, on 27 July 1933, the newspaper began to print some of the responses. Proposal to Restructure the Jewish Community: The community committees should be composed of small numbers of representatives. Too many people participate in them today. Political parties should be banned; they have brought us very little benefit.... Members of the [First World] War generation should be brought into the leadership, along with rabbis, whose status in the future community leadership should be reinforced. Wealth and status must not be criteria in choosing the leaders, as they have been thus far, but only diligence, ability, character, and dedication. A pre-requisite, of course, should be absolute allegiance to the current government - a community leadership hostile to the government must not be allowed.... A community leadership of the kind described would be able to take actions that can enhance the community's prestige both inwardly and outwardly, and may even dispel prejudices.... Only thus will it become possible to conduct negotiations withthe authorities...'. P.G., Hannover, Israelitisches Familienblatt, 27 July 1933.
Resettlement vs Self-Help
The situation of German Jewry cannot be improved by complaining or wishful thinking. Palestine, as valuable as it is as a solution for individuals, cannot currently offer a far-reaching solution because it cannot absorb Jewry en masse. For this purpose, it will first be essential to assure possibilities of extensive vocational retraining of the Jews in Germany [for agricultural and physical labor].... About two or three years later, we will begin to resettle - to build totally new Jewish villages and peripheral towns.... Within 30 years, it will be possible to relocate about half the Jews from the large cities to the countryside, thereby letting a normal Jewish economic structure coalesce. L.A., Hamburg, Israelitisches Familienblatt, 27 July 1933.
Establishment of the Reichsvertretung (National Representation)
The dynamic set in motion by the events of April 1933 gathered momentum. Many German Jews believed it necessary to reassess their condition and establish an agency that would promote their interests in a concerted fashion and speak for them with one voice. This need led the existing Jewish organizations - Liberal, Zionist, Orthodox, and others - to establish a joint umbrella agency, the National Representation of German Jews - the Reichsvertretung. Overcoming inter-organizational divisions, which delayed its final establishment until September, Rabbi Leo Baeck - a figure who transcended party affiliations and whose spiritual authority was accepted by all constituents in the Representation - was installed as its leader. Proclamation of the Reichsvertretung, September 1933 In the new State the position of individual groups has changed.... We must understand this and not deceive ourselves. Only then will we be able to discover every honourable opportunity The German Jews will be able to make their way in the new State as a working community that accepts work and gives work.... We place our faith in the active sense of community and responsibility of the German Jews, as also in the willingness to sacrifice our Brothers everywhere.... We will stand united and, in confidence in our God, labor for the honor of the Jewish Name. May the nature of the German Jews arise anew from the tribulations of this time!' National Representation (Reichsvertretung) of German Jews: Leo Baeck, Otto Hirsch ¯ Stuttgart, Siegfried Moses ¯ Berlin, Rudolf Callmannn ¯ Cologne, Jacob Hoffmann ¯ Frankfurt, Leopold Landberger ¯ Nuremberg, Franz Meyer ¯ Berlin, Julius L. Seligsohn ¯ Berlin, Heinrich Stahl ¯ Berlin. Add short Biographies / pictures with roll-over : Leo Baeck ¯ Liberal Rabbi and Jewish Thinker Otto Hirsch, Stuttgart ¯ Lawyer, CV Leader Siegfried Moses, Berlin ¯ Economist & Jurist, Zionist Leader Rudolf Callmann, Cologne ¯ Lawyer, CV Leader Jacob Hoffmann, Frankfurt ¯ Orthodox Rabbi, Religious-Zionist Leader Leopold Landberger, Nuremberg ¯ Lawyer, Jewish Front Veterans (RjF) Leader Franz Meyer, Berlin¯ Merchant, Zionist Leader Julius L. Seligsohn, BerlinJurist, CV Leader Heinrich Stahl, Berlin ¯ Businessman, Chairman of the Berlin Jewish Community Juedische Rundschau, 29 September 1933.
Internal Struggles Continue The establishment of the National Representation (Reichsvertretung) created a framework for cooperation among the diverse Jewish organizations, but it did not end their internal disagreements and struggles. The Zionists continued to place greater emphasis on Jewish nationalism and Palestine, exploiting the new atmosphere to build support in an attempt to take over the community organisations. The Liberals, who felt the collapse of Emancipation had toppled their world, sensed that they were losing the support of the young generation and attempted to re-deploy against the Zionist momentum. The differences in outlook were also accompanied by power struggles on behalf of various interests, foremost that of Berlin's Jewish community organization, the largest body in Germany to remain politically independent of the National Representation.
Re-organising Jewish Life and Society
Notwithstanding initial hopes, the National Representation (Reichsvertretung) could do little to represent German Jewry vis-a-vis the Nazi regime. Hitler and other officials did not even bother to relate to the appeals of members of the Representation, who in turn soon felt they should focus their activity not on pointless political struggle but on reorganizing various aspects of German-Jewish life. The National Representation (Reichsvertretung) , along with its affiliated Central Committee of German Jews for Relief and Reconstruction, took action in various fields to improve the living conditions of individual Jews in Nazi Germany. Jewish education and culture were two areas where they were active. The Jewish press also played an important role in reorganizing German Jewish life at this time.
Education Screen 1
A large majority of German-Jewish children and teenagers attended German public schools until 1933, when the new regime turned such attendance into a humiliating experience for many. Legally, Jews were allowed to attend German schools, under certain conditions, until 1938, but the agonizing daily reality in the schools prompted them to leave and enroll in separate Jewish schools. Jewish teachers in German schools were also dismissed at this time, and some accepted teaching jobs in the Jewish schools. In this new situation, both teachers and pupils had to struggle, under harsh conditions, to answer a key question: Should the nature of study in these schools be Jewish or German? From a Student Essay: Why I Chose a Jewish Boarding School.' Suddenly, in the Spring of 1933 everything changed ... Thanks to having served as a prefect for two years, I had gained the respect and friendship of my schoolmates. Until one day the teacher entered classroom and announced: There is no need to elect a new prefect, I shall appoint one. Obviously nowadays a Jew cannot lead the class anymore....' I felt very hurt and more than any previous experience this proved to me that I didn't belong there.... So, I then sought a way to get out of that community...straight to a school where I could learn and mature freely. That is what happened to most of the Jewish students. But...what can we do to prevent the doctrine of our racial inferiority from eating into our brains?.... My desire was to learn about Jewish culture and literature, to explore the greatness of Jewish knowledge.' Chaienu [Our Life: a student newspaper of the Jewish Boarding School in Herrlingen near Ulm], Yad Vashem Archive 08/62.
Organising a Jewish Primary School (Bonn, 1934)
At the end of 1933, there were 121 Jewish elementary schools active in Germany. Their number rose by 1937 to 145 notwithstanding the overall decrease in the German Jewish population as a result of emigration. The number of Jews in these schools was 15,000 in 1933-34 and rose to more than 23,000 in 1937-38. At first we had 90 pupils. We set up two classes - an upper class for the four upper grades, and a lower class for the four lower grades. One of the people who attended a parents' evening that we'd organized, was somebody from the Reinhald furniture factory in Bonn. He said, If you're interested in furniture, we're making several hundred or thousand kitchen tables and kitchen chairs right now.' They sent us very large tables, two meters or more. [They were also] very wide. That way, however, we could seat six to eight children around one table. If something had to be moved, they could all pick it up together. I liked that very much, teamwork.... We sawed [the legs] according to the children's height... We did much of the work by ourselves. Instead of buying a blackboard, I painted the walls all around like a blackboard, to theight at which a child could reach up with his hand. I didn't use black, because that was too sad, but medium blue, a more encouraging colour.... We made our own study materials. There were no textbooks for a Jewish school; the general Nazi textbooks were out of the question for us. Yisrael Shiloni, Oral Documentation Department, Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University, Interview No. 183, pt. 2: 22-23.
Teaching became very difficult.
Teaching became very difficult in the first weeks after 30 January 1933. Especially with my feelings about the Reich and the Kaiser. My students knew that I was fully Jewish and fully German, that these two components of my emotional self were never in contradiction.... Now [my students] were increasingly faced with accusations: You are not Germans, you don't belong to this people, you are enemies, Asians, human parasites, human trash, get out, we loathe you'... Could one be surprised if their young hearts bled and they asked themselves:Are we indeed Germans? Are we foreigners?'.... Joseph B. Levy, Philanthropin Jewish School, Frankfurt [b. 1870], My Life in Germany Before and After 30 January 1933', Yad Vashem Archives 0.33/975: 32-3.
Guidelines for Jewish Elementary Schools, January 1934
The school is to be permeated by a consciously Jewish spirit. The growing child is to have a secure and healthy awareness of himself as a Jew; he is to learn to take pleasure in the name, with all the pride and all the deprivation that it involves. In order to achieve this aim, what is essentially Jewish is to be made the center of all subjects where this can be done.... There should be emphasis on mutual influence of everything that Jewish being and thinking has derived from the German spirit, and, on the other hand, everything that the Jewish spirit and Jewish work have contributed to the growth of German culture.... The Jewish child must be enabled to take up and master the exceptionally difficult struggle for survival that awaits him.' Central Committee of German Jews for Relief and Reconstruction, Documents on the Holocaust 65-6, Y. Arad, Y. Gutman, A. Margaliot, Eds., Documents on the Holocaust (Yad Vashem 1981)
Education Screen 2
The Jews' social isolation made many feel a greater need to re-examine their Jewish identity, and rediscovering the Jewish sources was one way to accomplish this. The Center for Jewish Adult Education, founded in 1934 by Martin Buber, one of the most prominent intellectuals in German Jewry, helped individuals seeking to come to terms with their tradition, and to prepare displaced teachers for their new role in Jewish schools. The Center offered intensive seminars for teachers and youth leaders. Its' Associates taught in Jewish teachers' seminars all over Germany. In addition, open seminars in the larger communities were arranged as well as lectures for the wider Jewish public. Martin Buber on The Meaning of Jewish Adult Education'. The issue is no longer supplying knowledge, but mobilizing for existence. Persons, Jewish persons are to be formed, persons who will not only hold out' but will uphold some substance in life; who will have not only morale, but moral strength, agnd so will be able to pass on moral strength to others. Persons who live in such a way that the spark will not die. Because our concern is for the spark, we work for education and enlightenment' [Bildung].... This goal determthe what' and the how' of this education for adults and youth, its subject matter and methods...'. (Buber, June 1934) Juedische Erwachsendenbildung', in Rundbrief an unsere Mitarbeiter und Freunde. Mittelstelle fuer juedische Erwachsenbildung bei der Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden, Frankfurt am Main, June 1934.
Buber's Goals: Reclaiming Jewish Heritage and Values
There were several goals. One goal, perhaps Buber's main goal, was that after this catastrophe for German Jewry, at least in terms of the loss of Emancipation, they should be given the possibility of defending themselves, understanding why we are suffering so much, and identifying with this suffering.... Second - it was necessary to help educate teachers who had until then taught in high schools and public schools, for now almost all of them had lost their jobs. We had to prepare them; they came to us as almost total ignoramuses. . .and they had to prepare themselves to obtain assistance so they could work in the new schools that were formed at that time because most of the Jewish pupils had also been expelled.... The intent was to attract them to the Jewish spiritual heritage, which was alien to most of them.... We had values that are worth suffering for. It's not something that you should throw away now, but the opposite - to get into that historical heritage, which was part of the difficulty...'. Ernst Simon, The Yellow Badge, Open University of Israel.
Culture Screen 1
The Cultural League of German Jews ( Kulturbund ) The Nazis' struggle against Jewish cultural influence in Germany rendered thousands of Jewish performing artists jobless overnight and deprived them of their audience. Many Jews also sensed growing discomfort and estrangement from the German community. Thus, in the summer of 1933 a group of Jewish actors and musicians in Berlin, headed by Kurt Singer - dismissed as director of the Berlin Opera - established the Kulturbund, the Cultural League of German Jews. The league would provide a forum for Jewish artists and enable them to continue their creative work by performing for Jewish audiences. After the authorities gave their approval, a Jewish philharmonic orchestra, theater, and opera were established in the autumn of 1933. By January 1934, the League had 20,000 subscribers. Similar associations quickly formed in other large cities such as Frankfurt and Cologne. Fortifying the Spirit We call upon you to join the Cultural League of German Jews (an officially approved organization with the goal of encouraging spiritual and cultural life within Judaism). We wish to give work, life, optimism and focus to hundreds of dismissed people who are about to give up! To make manifest the religious and ethnic solidarity of Jews! To build a proud consciousness for better times by affirming Judaism in troubled times! To see and experience works of art! To hear and comprehend music! To fortify one's spirit with the spirit of greater ones! To strive to be an appreciative and modest part of a greater whole, bound to the community by conviction and action! One League - One Community - One Will - One Religion. Honorary Presidency Leo Baeck, Martin Buber, Ismar Elbogen, Arthur Eloesser, Georg Hermann, Leonid Kreutzer, Max Liebermann, Max Osborn, Franz Oppenheimer, Jacob Wassermann, Chairman Dr. Kurt Singer.' Advertisement, C.V Zeitung, 17 August 1933 Add short Biographies / pictures with roll-over : Leo Baeck ¯ Liberal Rabbi and Jewish Thinker Martin BuberJewish Philosopher & Educator Ismar ElbogenJewish Historian, Rector of the Berlin Liberal Rabbinical Seminar Arthur EloesserWriter & Theater Critic Georg Hermann Writer & Theater Critic & Historian of the Arts Leonid KreutzerPianist & Conductor Max LiebermannPainter, former Pres. of the Prussian Academy of the Arts Max Osborn ?? !!! Franz OppenheimerEconomist & Sociologist Jacob Wassermann Writer Kurt Singer- Conductor, former Director of the Berlin Opera From the Kulturbund Performances ((Several Kulturbund performances are displayed here, with photos)) Shakespeare's As You Like It INFO-LINE: Shakespeare's As You Like It, 9 May 1934, at the Kulturbund Charlottenstrasse Theater Stefan Zweig's Jeremiah Stefan Zweig's Jeremiah, at the Kulturbund theater in Berlin, 7 October 1934 Yiddish theater Yiddish theater : January 1937, Musiker-Festsaele, Kaiser-Wilhelm Strade 31 Concerts Banned to a Cultural Ghetto' Naturally the participation of Jews in public life, especially in cultural life, was severely limited by the National Socialist State, and eventually forbidden altogether The Kulturbund offered a pale substitute for such important part of a modern man's life.... The events organized by the Kulturbund were held only in large cities, in small inadequate halls.... The programs were under supervision. Plays and music by German poets, authors and composers were not allowed Left were only Jewish or foreign authors. Only Jews could participate in these limited and internal performances.... One had to present a ticket with photo at the entrance. Thus we were banned to a cultural Ghetto; which in spite of the cultural pleasures it offered, left us with the oppressive feeling of being banned and isolated from the world around us...'. Joseph B. Levy, My Life in Germany Before and After 30 January 1933', Yad Vashem Archives 0.33/975: 42.
Culture Screen 2
Nathan the Wise: The Politics of Culture
The decision of the Kulturbund in Berlin to produce Lessing's play Nathan the Wise', a work that symbolized the emancipation of German Jewry, in its inaugural performance on 1 October 1933, unleashed a controversy in the Jewish press. The public debate brought into focus a question of principle. Should the Jewish Kulturbund be Jewish in nature and concern itself with Jewish subject matter, or should it deal with universal art and culture?
The Zionist Critique: Why Nathan the Wise? We Jews regard Nathan the Wise as a great work of art and an expression of humanistic ideals. But we also consider it to be a period piece, and we do not want to give the impression that the Kulturbund...implies that this represents the real German spirit as opposed to another spirit that we label as inauthentic'; we are not entitled to instruct the Germans... We Jews ought to look to the future instead of the past. Rather than comfort ourselves with knowing that Lessing wrote Nathan the Wise 150 years ago, we want to cope with the current plight of Jews. Should the performance of Nathan the Wise, which we welcome as an artistic event, have the explicit or implicit intention of isolating the Jews in an old world of illusions; then we would have to object to such a performance.' (Juedische Rundschau, 25 July 1933)
Kurt Singer: Purely Human, Timeless Spiritual Nature
We do not intend to be politically active in the Kulturbund but to perform art.... There can be no doubt that Nathan is the very first play to produce, precisely because it is a modern, combative work. Its language, dramatic qualities...its purely human, timeless spiritual nature: these are chords that resonate in harmonic unity. The artist in the Jew finds his way into the hearts of the Jewish audience. If the Jew were to triumph over the artist, then liturgy and Chassidic folk song would be the sole focus of our musical events. But that would be to cut off the branch that bears the fruits...'. (Juedische Rundschau, 8 August 1933)
Press Screen 1
The Jewish Press
The Jewish press in Germany, which until 1933 represented mainly the political organizations and community establishments, transformed itself in the 1930s. The press became one of the major tools in the struggle for the survival of German Jewry. The Jews of Germany, most of whom read the regular German press before 1933, now felt estranged from the new Nazi media and turned - as readers and as writers - to the Jewish newspapers, whose circulation and size grew immensely. C.V Zeitung The weekly journal of the Central Association, first published in 1922, had the largest circulation of German Jewish newspapers. It expressed various voices in the German Jewish liberal camp. In the first few months of Nazi rule, some of its contributors continued to call for struggle on behalf of the heritage of liberalism and the Emancipation; several continued to cling to German patriotism. Gradually, the paper showed growing acknowledgment of German Jewry's new situation and the need to redeploy to meet its challenges. Israelitisches Familienblatt Published in Hamburg since 1899, and the largest unaffiliated Jewish weekly, this paper defined itself as reflecting the interests of German Jewry as a whole. It dealt especially with the Jews' daily life and various community activities, and it included supplements for women, children, teenagers, and various communities. Juedische Rundschau The organ of the Zionist movement in Germany, established in 1896. Much of its reportage and features dealt with the situation in Palestine and the World Zionist movement. After 1933, however, it showed much greater involvement in the condition of the Jews in Germany. Starting in 1933, as the Zionist message became more alluring, the journal's distribution rose swiftly and peaked at nearly 40,000 - almost as high as the C.V Zeitung.
Advertising in the Jewish Press The abundant advertising in the Jewish press, reflecting the richness of Jewish daily life and the diversity of its public agenda, played a crucial role in the growth, funding, and circulation of the Jewish press in Germany at this time. The diversity of the classified advertisements that appeared in these papers - jobs, emigration, marriage, etc. - reflected the creation of an inwardly looking German Jewish society. From 1933 life on, advertisements for Jewish businesses made use of symbols such as the Star of David.
Press Screen 2
Women's and Children's Supplements
The German Jewish press also helped individual Jews struggle with their daily hardships and created a new community solidarity by targeting various sectors for special attention. These trends were evident in the women's and children's supplements that the major newspapers occasionally published.
Jewish children wrote personal letters to the editor, expressing their feelings. The choice of letters the editors published reveals their intentions: to encourage schoolchildren to get involved in Jewish activity and to shape their consciousness.
A Vacation Experience: I spent my holidays in Munich. There was clear and beautiful winter weather. There was a big skating rink in the Luitpold park. I went skating everyday and during that time I got to know a nine year old boy. I asked him: Are you Jewish?' He answered: I don't know'. With such a careful response, I thought immediately that he was a Jewish boy. I asked: Do you read the Juedische Rundschau at home?' He answered: Yes, I know it.' Thus I knew for sure that he was Jewish. Why didn't you say that in the first place?', I asked him. We certainly have to be proud of being Jews.' Hans Baer, aged 9, Nuremberg, Juedische Rundschau, 29 January 1937.
I am the only Jewish child...' Dear friend Gelle! Please don't be annoyed that I address you like this, but I honestly hope that I have finally found a Jewish friend. I live in Eggenfelden (Lower-Bavaria) and I am the only Jewish child in the area. That is also the reason I can't attend our services. Since it takes a three-hour train ride to get to the next synagogue....This year we unfortunately couldn't even form a Minyan, because two families have emigrated. Erich Faltischek, aged 11, Eggenfelden, Unser Familienblatt [Youth Supplement of Israelitisches Familienblatt], 14 February 1935.
What do you want to become?' Someday I want to go to Palestine and become a baby nurse. Why? Because I like children very much. When the children's mothers and fathers are out to work, I think, there is a need for nurses for infants. Margot Fuhrmann, aged 8, Dresden.
I would like to become a cook. I am interested in all household matters especially in cooking. I have often prepared salted potatoes and fried potatoes all by myself. Perhaps I will someday become a cook on an ocean liner to America or Palestine. My little brother said he will become a waiter and we will open a restaurant together. My brother's name is Axel and he is six years old. Gerd Lewy, aged 9, Berlin I have an aunt in Vienna. She has three children. The oldest daughter is learning how to make corsets for a living. Thus I have decided to learn the same, as one has to know a trade. And I always get an A in arts and crafts. My mother also thinks that it would be a good job for me. AdeVogel, aged 10, Berlin, Unser Familienb[Youth supplement of Israelitisches Familienblatt], 23 April 1936.
Women's Supplements The expulsion of Jews from most settings of German life and their retreat into internal (family and community) affairs was reflected in the women's supplements of the Jewish newspapers in Germany. A new Duty for the Jewish Woman' Today we Jewish women share the same fate as Jewish men. We are affected not only in the home and family; it strikes us in the work place, in our professions and in our civic and economic rights, which perhaps has been more costly to us than to the men; since these rights have been more recently acquired, and are not yet self evident. And still vividly attached to these rights is the memory of the woman's-movement struggle, in which Jewish woman took on their share. But we would not be women, if we did not now perceive our own responsibility.... A new duty arises for the Jewish woman with her open heart and nursing hands.... You should not retreat into yourselves!.... We Jewish women, our home, our table, our hearts have a new task in Israel. It is as old as our blood and faith. It is called love and loving.' Israelitisches Familienblatt [Women's Supplement], 7 September 1933.
Thrown Off Course
What options does the (female) Jewish student who was forced to give up her studies have?.... She had the insight to see that a Jewess intending to stay in Germany has at least to share positions as medical or laboratory assistant, teacher or administrator with male aspirants of her community, as the professions of doctors and lawyers are totally closed. However, for her there are broader and relatively more promising openings in the domain of the domestic occupations.... Whatever she does in Germany, one thing is sure: She had to forfeit some things, but she has also gained something significant - the return to the community and Jewish life.' Israelitisches Familienblatt [Women's Supplement], 6 December 1934.
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