The Jewish Question in Germany
Anti-Semitism in Germany did not die with political emancipation. For Germany, though modern in many respects, remained feudal in spirit. The soldier was still the highest ideal of manhood in Germany. The German still believed that dueling promoted valor just as the Roman thought that periodic combats with wild beasts in the arena made men brave. Every university student considered it his duty to vindicate his honor with his sword in his hand. And since wherever there is darkness there is Jew-hatred, the German Jew had to win his rights as a man by sheer force of will.
For more than a quarter of a century before the outbreak of the Great War the progressive forces were arrayed on one side championing the cause of the Jew, and the retrogressive on the other side constantly attaching. With German thoroughness these powers of darkness perfected a complete system of Jew-hatred, classified and indexed, which they spread over the whole world. They evolved a theory that the Jew was a Semite and therefore was different from Aryans. Their chief characteristics were said to be graspiness, underhandedness, meanness, emitting a peculiarly noxious odor, to be met with among no other people. They also perfected a social boycott against Jews.
In civil and political life the Junkers constantly demanded the freeing of Germany from Jewish influence. To cite a few cases; at Munster the court decreed that no Jew be employed as an expert in cases where another Jew was involved. Russian Jews who happened to come into the country were arrested quite frequently. Some of the Junker deputies demanded that all Jews who had adopted non-Jewish names be forced to resume their Hebrew names. General von Kleist stated in the Kreuz-Zeitung that the reason Jews were not promoted in the German army was the fact that Germany was essentially a Christian country and Judaism was the sworn enemy of Christianity. (A fine Medieval argument.) Above all else, the General pointed out, the Jews preached progressive principles which in the long run was bound to destroy the Prussian military state and substitute for it a democracy.
But just at the outbreak of the Great War, anti-Semitism was practically dead. Germany began making up for past offenses. She placed Jewish synagogue officials on the same footing occupied by similar officials of other churches. When the armies were mustered anti-Jewish newspapers began publishing statements from their readers that they were now completely cured of Jew-hatred. The Staatsburger Zeitung, formerly an inveterate antiSemitic organ, declared that it would forever cease its attacks on Jews. And to make sure that it would keep its word the government suppressed it for the duration of the war. Der Hammer, another publication of this type was also suppressed. A few other anti-Jewish publications had to mend their ways or be suppressed. The uninitiated could have suspected that the Kaiser himself, the leader of the Junkers and the militarists, had suddenly become a friend of the Jews. Anyway, anti-Semitism in Germany had become a dead issuet. Germany had apparenly discovered the truth of Bismarck's statement, himself not a friend of the Jews, that Jew-hatred was the wrong antidote against liberalism.
Nevertheless, the Jews suffered a great deal during the war. Many cities were partly destroyed and plundered. In Greisburg, Niedenburg, Marggrabowa, Goldap, Angerburg, Gerdaucn, Friedland, Eydtkuhnen, ets., Jews suffered especial cruelties. Jewish women in the conquered territories were separated from their children and sent to Germany to work, many of them enduring such miseries that they committed suicide. The German soldiery was unusually hard on the Jewish population in Poland and Ukrainia. But most of their suffering thus far was practically the same a; that suffered by non-Jews.
But as failure began looming on the military horizon, the newspapers began reporting active preparations of the anti-Semitic forces to launch an attack. The Deutschvolkesche Blaetter, soon came out with a clarion call to all patriotic citizens to unite in an open war on Jews. Immediately after the call it came out with a story that a certain child which had been found dead, had been murdered by Jews for ritual purposes. Reactionary members of the Reichstag demanded the adoption of stringent measures "against the Jewish race, which agitates for strikes and raises the price of food." A bill to disfranchise all the Jew? in Germany had gained such momentum that it held the house for two davs. Professor Erich Turv issued a pamphlet entitled "The Gold Princes" in which he proves to the satisfaction of all anti-Semites, that the Jewish bankers were primarily responsible for the war. Handbills appeared in Berlin declaring that the Allied peace offers were the machinations of a quadruple composed of Baron Sonnino, Roosevelt, England, and the Jews, all set upon Germany's enslavement.
And all the sacrifices that German Jewry had made for their country were effaced in a moment. The hundred thousand Jews, of a total of six hundred thousand, who had participated in the war found themselves objects of greater hate than ever before. The universities became more hostile than before. The medical institutions, the professional organizations, the government employment agencies, all set out upon a path of militant anti-Semitism. For instance, the Marburg medical faculty of the university voted by a large majority to exclude Jews from the hospitals lest they become the ruling race of Germany and masters of the Red government." A party was organized ("The Christian Peoples' Party") for the purpose of procuring the enactment of measures to "safeguard Germany from Jewish despotism and to prevent Jews who only seek financial advantages, from destroying the country."
And when the armistice was signed and Germany had the proof brought home to her that he who lived by the sword must also perish by the sword, she poured out her wrath on the Jews. The storm broke with such violence that a month after the signing of the armistice the Jews in Berlin had to organize selfdefense corps. For the soldiers and the students everywhere openly incited pogroms, boycotts, expulsions, and extermination. Had it not been for the strong progressive forces we should have had such pogroms in Germany as we have had in Poland, Galicia, and Ukrainia. And thus had the Jews lost in four years of war what took them a thousand years to gain.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|