German Anti-Semitism in the Great War
When the Great War broke out, the position of the Jews, especially that of the six millions living in Eastern Europe, was most pitiable. At that time, Jewish sentiment was distinctly antiRussian-not pro-German. Surprize and chagrin were exprest that liberal countries should ally themselves with the government of Czar Nicholas II. Scarcely one in a thousand knew which way to turn. There were a little over six hundred thousand Jews in the German Empire, the total population of which is about sixty-five million. The Jews of Germany had again and again demonstrated their loyalty, yet Germany is the home and the fountainhead of antiSemitism.
Jews could not be officers in the German army, and altho today, as a result of the heroism and martyrdom of German-Jewish soldiers, some have been elevated to the rank of officers, there has been an outcry against that. No Jew could become a full professor of any German university and remain Jew. There have been only a few exceptions, and when the incumbents either retired or died, no other Jews were appointed.
Foreign-born Jews could not become naturalized subjects of the German Empire, and in the middle eighties there were wholesale expulsions of these foreign-born Jews, altho large numbers of them had resided in Germany for twenty years or more and their children had been born in the country.
German scholars wrote books in which they attempted to show that the Jew did not even give a religion to the world. The famous Bible-Babel controversy will be recalled in this connection. Professor Delitsz and Houston Chamberlain, a renegade Englishman, the son-in-law of Richard Wagner, are the chief exponents of this theory of the inferiority of the Jewish people.
Anti-Semitism was officially recognized in court circles. Bismarck, it is true, appointed Jews to positions in the foreign office, but he advanced only those who agreed to become converts to Christianity. Indeed, official Germany has regularly promoted baptism among Jews. The notorious Pastor Stoecker was court chaplain and the confidant of Emperor William II. His influence was most pernicious and he was never checked. The historian Treitschke, to whom reference has already been made, was another favorite at court. From his platform at the University of Berlin, Treitschke openly insulted Jews and impressed the students with the inferiority and unworthiness of the Jewish race.
Germany, official as well as unofficial, has given credence to the shameful blood accusation. A Jewish butcher in Konitz was arrested and actually convicted upon the charge that he had killed a Christian boy and used the blood for Passover. Tho it was conclusively established that the man had never committed the deed, and that the Jews have no such heinous practise, the German press, with a very few exceptions, raised the cry against Jews.
Germany fostered anti-Semitism in other countries. Back in the late nineties, Ahlwardt, another notorious anti-Semitic leader, came to this country and began an anti-Semitic agitation here. He addressed at Cooper Union a meeting largely attended by Germans. Colonel Roosevelt, at that time Police Commissioner, detailed policemen who were Jews to guard the meeting against any disturbance, and incidentally to protect Ahlwardt. Germany, in establishing colonies in Palestine in the Lebanon region, harassed the Jewish colonies in the Holy Land and endeavored to prevent the settlement of Jews in the ancient homeland of their people.
The governing element in Germany was inspired by anti-Jewish sentiment and this feeling was fostered among all sections of the population. The German People's Gazette, the official organ of the anti-Semite movement in Germany, conducted a campaign against German Jews. The Gazette stated that the time had come when Germany must declare open warfare against the Jews for fostering a spirit of revolt, and for being opposed to the war.
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