History of the Jews in Germany | Wikipedia audio article

History of the Jews in Germany | Wikipedia audio article


Jewish settlers founded the Ashkenazi Jewish
community in the Early (5th to 10th centuries CE) and High Middle Ages (circa 1000–1299
CE). The community survived under Charlemagne, but suffered during the Crusades. Accusations
of well poisoning during the Black Death (1346–53) led to mass slaughter of German Jews, and
they fled in large numbers to Poland. The Jewish communities of the cities of Mainz,
Speyer, and Worms became the center of Jewish life during Medieval times. “This was a golden
age as area bishops protected the Jews resulting in increased trade and prosperity.” The First
Crusade began an era of persecution of Jews in Germany. Entire communities, like those
of Trier, Worms, Mainz, and Cologne, were murdered. The war upon the Hussite heretics
became the signal for renewed persecution of Jews. The end of the 15th century was a
period of religious hatred that ascribed to Jews all possible evils. The atrocities during
the Khmelnytsky Uprising committed by Khmelnytskyi’s Cossacks (1648, in the Ukrainian part of southeastern
Poland) drove the Polish Jews back into western Germany. With Napoleon’s fall in 1815, growing
nationalism resulted in increasing repression. From August to October 1819, pogroms that
came to be known as the Hep-Hep riots took place throughout Germany. During this time,
many German states stripped Jews of their civil rights. As a result, many German Jews
began to emigrate. From the time of Moses Mendelssohn until the
20th century, the community gradually achieved emancipation, and then prospered. In January
1933, some 522,000 Jews lived in Germany. After the Nazis took power and implemented
their antisemitic ideology and policies, the Jewish community was increasingly persecuted.
About 60% (numbering around 304,000) emigrated during the first six years of the Nazi dictatorship.
In 1933, persecution of the Jews became an official Nazi policy. In 1935 and 1936, the
pace of antisemitic persecution increased. In 1936, Jews were banned from all professional
jobs, effectively preventing them from participating in education, politics, higher education,
and industry. The SS ordered the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) the night of
November 9–10, 1938. The storefronts of Jewish shops and offices were smashed and
vandalized, and many synagogues were destroyed by fire. This prompted a wave of Jewish mass
emigration from Germany throughout the 1930s. Only roughly 214,000 Jews were left in Germany
proper (1937 borders) on the eve of World War II.
Beginning in late 1941, the remaining community was subjected to systematic deportations to
ghettos, and ultimately, to death camps in Eastern Europe. In May 1943, Germany was declared
judenrein (clean of Jews; also judenfrei: free of Jews). By the end of the war, an estimated
160,000 to 180,000 German Jews had been killed by the Nazi regime, by the Germans and their
collaborators. A total of about 6 million European Jews were murdered under the direction
of the Nazis, in the genocide that later came to be known as the Holocaust.
After the war, the Jewish community in Germany started to slowly grow again. Beginning around
1990, a spurt of growth was fueled by immigration from the former Soviet Union, so that at the
turn of the 21st century, Germany had the only growing Jewish community in Europe, and
the majority of German Jews were Russian-speaking. By 2014, the Jewish population of Germany
had leveled off at 118,000, not including non-Jewish members of households; the total
estimated ‘enlarged’ population of Jews living in Germany, including non-Jewish household
members, is close to 250,000. Currently in Germany, denial of the Holocaust or that six
million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust (§ 130 StGB) is a criminal act; violations
can be punished with up to five years of prison. In 2006, on the occasion of the World Cup
held in Germany, the then Interior Minister of Germany, Wolfgang Schäuble, urged vigilism
against far-right extremism, saying: “We will not tolerate any form of extremism, xenophobia,
or anti-Semitism.” In spite of Germany’s measures against these groups and anti-Semites, a number
of incidents have occurred in recent years.==From Rome to the Crusades==Jewish migration from Roman Italy is considered
the most likely source of the first Jews on German territory. While the date of the first
settlement of Jews in the regions which the Romans called Germania Superior, Germania
Inferior, and Magna Germania is not known, the first authentic document relating to a
large and well-organized Jewish community in these regions dates from 321 and refers
to Cologne on the Rhine (Jewish immigrants began settling in Rome itself as early as
139 BC). It indicates that the legal status of the Jews there was the same as elsewhere
in the Roman Empire. They enjoyed some civil liberties, but were restricted regarding the
dissemination of their culture, the keeping of non-Jewish slaves, and the holding of office
under the government. Jews were otherwise free to follow any occupation
open to indigenous Germans and were engaged in agriculture, trade, industry, and gradually
money-lending. These conditions at first continued in the subsequently established Germanic kingdoms
under the Burgundians and Franks, for ecclesiasticism took root slowly. The Merovingian rulers who
succeeded to the Burgundian empire were devoid of fanaticism and gave scant support to the
efforts of the Church to restrict the civic and social status of the Jews.
Charlemagne (800–814) readily made use of the Church for the purpose of infusing coherence
into the loosely joined parts of his extensive empire, by any means a blind tool of the canonical
law. He employed Jews for diplomatic purposes, sending, for instance, a Jew as interpreter
and guide with his embassy to Harun al-Rashid. Yet, even then, a gradual change occurred
in the lives of the Jews. The Church forbade Christians to be usurers, so the Jews secured
the remunerative monopoly of money-lending. This decree caused a mixed reaction of people
in general in the Frankish empire (including Germany) to the Jews: Jewish people were sought
everywhere, as well as avoided. This ambivalence about Jews occurred because their capital
was indispensable, while their business was viewed as disreputable. This curious combination
of circumstances increased Jewish influence and Jews went about the country freely, settling
also in the eastern portions (Old Saxony and Duchy of Thuringia). Aside from Cologne, the
earliest communities were established in Mainz, Worms, Speyer, and Regensburg.The status of
the German Jews remained unchanged under Charlemagne’s successor, Louis the Pious. Jews were unrestricted
in their commerce; however, they paid somewhat higher taxes into the state treasury than
did the non-Jews. A special officer, the Judenmeister, was appointed by the government to protect
Jewish privileges. The later Carolingians, however, followed the demands of the Church
more and more. The bishops continually argued at the synods for including and enforcing
decrees of the canonical law, with the consequence that the majority Christian populace mistrusted
the Jewish unbelievers. This feeling, among both princes and people, was further stimulated
by the attacks on the civic equality of the Jews. Beginning with the 10th century, Holy
Week became more and more a period of antisemitic activities, yet the Saxon emperors did not
treat the Jews badly, exacting from them merely the taxes levied upon all other merchants.
Although the Jews in Germany were as ignorant as their contemporaries in secular studies,
they could read and understand the Hebrew prayers and the Bible in the original text.
Halakhic studies began to flourish about 1000. At that time, Rav Gershom ben Judah was teaching
at Metz and Mainz, gathering about him pupils from far and near. He is described in Jewish
historiography as a model of wisdom, humility, and piety, and became known to succeeding
generations as the “Light of the Exile”. In highlighting his role in the religious development
of Jews in the German lands, the Jewish Encyclopedia (1901–1906) draws a direct connection to
the great spiritual fortitude later shown by the Jewish communities in the era of the
Crusades: He first stimulated the German Jews to study
the treasures of their religious literature. This continuous study of the Torah and the
Talmud produced such a devotion to Judaism that the Jews considered life without their
religion not worth living; but they did not realize this clearly until the time of the
Crusades, when they were often compelled to choose between life and faith.===Cultural and religious centre of European
Jewry===The Jewish communities of the cities of Mainz,
Speyer, and Worms formed the league of ShUM-cities which became the center of Jewish life during
Medieval times (after the first letters of the Hebrew names: Shin for Schpira (Spira),
Waw for Warmaisa and Mem for Mainz). The Takkanot Shum (Hebrew: תקנות שו”ם‎ “Enactments
of ShU”M”) were a set of decrees formulated and agreed upon over a period of decades by
their Jewish community leaders. The official website for the city of Mainz states: One of the most glorious epochs in Mainz’s
long history was the period from the beginning of the 900s and evidently much earlier. Following
the barbaric Dark Ages, a relatively safe and enlightened Carolingian period brought
peace and prosperity to Mainz and much of central–western Europe.
For the next 400 years, Mainz attracted many Jews as trade flourished. The greatest Jewish
teachers and rabbis flocked to the Rhine. Their teachings, dialogues, decisions, and
influence propelled Mainz and neighboring towns along the Rhine into world-wide prominence.
Their fame spread, rivaling that of other post-Diaspora cities such as Baghdad. Western
European – Ashkenazic or Germanic – Judaism became centered in Mainz, breaking free of
the Babylonian traditions. A Yeshiva was founded in the 10th century by Gershom ben Judah. Historian John Man describes Mainz as “the
capital of European Jewry”, noting that Gershom ben Judah “was the first to bring copies of
the Talmud to Western Europe” and that his directives “helped Jews adapt to European
practices.” Gershom’s school attracted Jews from all over Europe, including the famous
biblical scholar Rashi; and “in the mid-14th century, it had the largest Jewish community
in Europe: some 6,000.” “In essence,” states the City of Mainz web site, “this was a golden
age as area bishops protected the Jews resulting in increased trade and prosperity.”==A period of massacres (1096–1349)==The First Crusade began an era of persecution
of Jews in Germany, especially in the Rhineland. Entire communities, like those of Trier, Worms,
Mainz, and Cologne, were murdered. The Jewish community of Speyer was saved by the bishop,
but 800 were slain in Worms. About 12,000 Jews are said to have perished in the Rhenish
cities alone between May and July 1096. Alleged crimes, like desecration of the host, ritual
murder, poisoning of wells, and treason, brought hundreds to the stake and drove thousands
into exile. Jews were alleged to have caused the inroads of the Mongols, though they suffered
equally with the Christians. When the Black Death swept over Europe in 1348–49, some
Christians communities accused Jews of poisoning wells. In the Erfurt Massacre of 1349, the
entire Jewish community was murdered and expelled from the city, due to superstitions about
the Black Death. Royal policy and public ambivalence towards Jews helped the persecuted Jews fleeing
the German-speaking lands to form the foundations of what would become the largest Jewish community
in Europe in what is now Poland/Ukraine/Romania/Belarus/Lithuania.==In the Holy Roman Empire==The legal and civic status of the Jews underwent
a transformation under the Holy Roman Empire. Jewish people found a certain degree of protection
with the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, who claimed the right of possession and protection
of all the Jews of the empire. A justification for this claim was that the Holy Roman Emperor
was the successor of the emperor Titus, who was said to have acquired the Jews as his
private property. The German emperors apparently claimed this right of possession more for
the sake of taxing the Jews than of protecting them.
A variety of such taxes existed. Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor, was a prolific creator
of new taxes. In 1342, he instituted the “golden sacrificial penny” and decreed that every
year all the Jews should pay to the emperor one kreutzer in every gulden of their property
in addition to the taxes they were paying to the state and municipal authorities. The
emperors of the house of Luxembourg devised other means of taxation. They turned their
prerogatives in regard to the Jews to further account by selling at a high price to the
princes and free towns of the empire the valuable privilege of taxing and fining the Jews. Charles
IV, via the Golden Bull of 1356, granted this privilege to the seven electors of the empire
when the empire was reorganized in 1356. From this time onward, for reasons that also
apparently concerned taxes, the Jews of Germany gradually passed in increasing numbers from
the authority of the emperor to that of the lesser sovereigns and of the cities. For the
sake of sorely needed revenue, the Jews were now invited, with the promise of full protection,
to return to those districts and cities from which they had shortly before been expelled.
However, as soon as Jewish people acquired some property, they were again plundered and
driven away. These episodes thenceforth constituted a large portion of the medieval history of
the German Jews. Emperor Wenceslaus was most expert in transferring to his own coffers
gold from the pockets of rich Jews. He made compacts with many cities, estates, and princes
whereby he annulled all outstanding debts to the Jews in return for a certain sum paid
to him. Emperor Wenceslaus declared that anyone helping Jews with the collection of their
debts, in spite of this annulment, would be dealt with as a robber and peacebreaker, and
be forced to make restitution. This decree, which for years allegedly injured the public
credit, is said to have impoverished thousands of Jewish families during the close of the
14th century. The 15th century did not bring any amelioration.
What happened in the time of the Crusades happened again. The war upon the Hussites
became the signal for renewed persecution of Jews. The Jews of Austria, Bohemia, Moravia,
and Silesia passed through all the terrors of death, forced baptism, or voluntary self-immolation
for the sake of their faith. When the Hussites made peace with the Church, the Pope sent
the Franciscan monk John of Capistrano to win the renegades back into the fold and inspire
them with loathing for heresy and unbelief; 41 martyrs were burned in Wrocław alone,
and all Jews were forever banished from Silesia. The Franciscan monk Bernardine of Feltre brought
a similar fate upon the communities in southern and western Germany. As a consequence of the
fictitious confessions extracted under torture from the Jews of Trent, the populace of many
cities, especially of Regensburg, fell upon the Jews and massacred them.
The end of the 15th century, which brought a new epoch for the Christian world, brought
no relief to the Jews. Jews in Germany remained the victims of a religious hatred that ascribed
to them all possible evils. When the established Church, threatened in its spiritual power
in Germany and elsewhere, prepared for its conflict with the culture of the Renaissance,
one of its most convenient points of attack was rabbinic literature. At this time, as
once before in France, Jewish converts spread false reports in regard to the Talmud, but
an advocate of the book arose in the person of Johann Reuchlin, the German humanist, who
was the first one in Germany to include the Hebrew language among the humanities. His
opinion, though strongly opposed by the Dominicans and their followers, finally prevailed when
the humanistic Pope Leo X permitted the Talmud to be printed in Italy.===Moses Mendelssohn===Though reading German books was forbidden
in the 1700s by Jewish inspectors who had a measure of police power in Germany, Moses
Mendelson found his first German book, an edition of Protestant theology, at a well-organized
system of Jewish charity for needy Talmud students. Mendelssohn read this book and found
proof of the existence of God – his first meeting with a sample of European letters.
This was only the beginning to Mendelssohn’s inquiries about the knowledge of life. Mendelssohn
learned many new languages, and with his whole education consisting of Talmud lessons, he
thought in Hebrew and translated for himself every new piece of work he met into this language.
The divide between the Jews and the rest of society was caused by a lack of translation
between these two languages, and Mendelssohn translated the Torah into German, bridging
the gap between the two; this book allowed Jews to speak and write in German, preparing
them for participation in German culture and secular science. In 1750, Mendelssohn began
to serve as a teacher in the house of Isaac Bernhard, the owner of a silk factory, after
beginning his publications of philosophical essays in German. Mendelssohn conceived of
God as a perfect Being and had faith in “God’s wisdom, righteousness, mercy, and goodness.”
He argued, “the world results from a creative act through which the divine will seeks to
realize the highest good, ” and accepted the existence of miracles and revelation as long
as belief in God did not depend on them. He also believed that revelation could not contradict
reason. Like the deists, Mendelssohn claimed that reason could discover the reality of
God, divine providence, and immortality of the soul. He was the first to speak out against
the use of excommunication as a religious threat. At the height of his career, in 1769,
Mendelssohn was publicly challenged by a Christian apologist, a Zurich pastor named John Lavater,
to defend the superiority of Judaism over Christianity. From then on, he was involved
in defending Judaism in print. In 1783, he published Jerusalem, or On Religious Power
and Judaism. Speculating that no religious institution should use coercion and emphasized
that Judaism does not coerce the mind through dogma, he argued that through reason, all
people could discover religious philosophical truths, but what made Judaism unique was its
revealed code of legal, ritual, and moral law. He said that Jews must live in civil
society, but only in a way that their right to observe religious laws is granted, while
also recognizing the needs for respect, and multiplicity of religions. He campaigned for
emancipation and instructed Jews to form bonds with the gentile governments, attempting to
improve the relationship between Jews and Christians while arguing for tolerance and
humanity. He became the symbol of the Jewish Enlightenment, the Haskalah.Early 18th Century In the late 18th century, a youthful enthusiasm
for new ideals of religious equality began to take hold in the western world. Austrian
Emperor Joseph II was foremost in espousing these new ideals. As early as 1782, he issued
the Patent of Toleration for the Jews of Lower Austria, thereby establishing civic equality
for his Jewish subjects. Before 1806, when general citizenship was
largely nonexistent in the Holy Roman Empire, its inhabitants were subject to varying estate
regulations. In different ways from one territory of the empire to another, these regulations
classified inhabitants into different groups, such as dynasts, members of the court entourage,
other aristocrats, city dwellers (burghers), Jews, Huguenots (in Prussia a special estate
until 1810), free peasants, serfs, peddlers and Gypsies, with different privileges and
burdens attached to each classification. Legal inequality was the principle.
The concept of citizenship was mostly restricted to cities, especially free imperial cities.
No general franchise existed, which remained a privilege for the few, who had inherited
the status or acquired it when they reached a certain level of taxed income or could afford
the expense of the citizen’s fee (Bürgergeld). Citizenship was often further restricted to
city dwellers affiliated to the locally dominant Christian denomination (Calvinism, Roman Catholicism,
or Lutheranism). City dwellers of other denominations or religions and those who lacked the necessary
wealth to qualify as citizens were considered to be mere inhabitants who lacked political
rights, and were sometimes subject to revocable residence permits.
Most Jews then living in those parts of Germany that allowed them to settle were automatically
defined as mere indigenous inhabitants, depending on permits that were typically less generous
than those granted to gentile indigenous inhabitants (Einwohner, as opposed to Bürger, or citizen).
In the 18th century, some Jews and their families (such as Daniel Itzig in Berlin) gained equal
status with their Christian fellow city dwellers, but had a different status from noblemen,
Huguenots, or serfs. They often did not enjoy the right to freedom of movement across territorial
or even municipal boundaries, let alone the same status in any new place as in their previous
location. With the abolition of differences in legal
status during the Napoleonic era and its aftermath, citizenship was established as a new franchise
generally applying to all former subjects of the monarchs. Prussia conferred citizenship
on the Prussian Jews in 1812, though this by no means resulted in full equality with
other citizens. Jewish emancipation did not eliminate all forms of discrimination against
Jews, who often remained barred from holding official state positions. The German federal
edicts of 1815 merely held out the prospect of full equality, but it was not genuinely
implemented at that time, and even the promises which had been made were modified. However,
such forms of discrimination were no longer the guiding principle for ordering society,
but a violation of it. In Austria, many laws restricting the trade and traffic of Jewish
subjects remained in force until the middle of the 19th century in spite of the patent
of toleration. Some of the crown lands, such as Styria and Upper Austria, forbade any Jews
to settle within their territory; in Bohemia, Moravia, and Austrian Silesia many cities
were closed to them. The Jews were also burdened with heavy taxes and imposts.
In the German kingdom of Prussia, the government materially modified the promises made in the
disastrous year of 1813. The promised uniform regulation of Jewish affairs was time and
again postponed. In the period between 1815 and 1847, no less than 21 territorial laws
affecting Jews in the older eight provinces of the Prussian state were in effect, each
having to be observed by part of the Jewish community. At that time, no official was authorized
to speak in the name of all Prussian Jews, or Jewry in most of the other 41 German states,
let alone for all German Jews. Nevertheless, a few men came forward to promote
their cause, foremost among them being Gabriel Riesser (d. 1863), a Jewish lawyer from Hamburg,
who demanded full civic equality for his people. He won over public opinion to such an extent
that this equality was granted in Prussia on April 6, 1848, in Hanover and Nassau on
September 5 and on December 12, respectively, and also in his home state of Hamburg, then
home to the second-largest Jewish community in Germany. In Württemberg, equality was
conceded on December 3, 1861; in Baden on October 4, 1862; in Holstein on July 14, 1863;
and in Saxony on December 3, 1868. After the establishment of the North German Confederation
by the law of July 3, 1869, all remaining statutory restrictions imposed on the followers
of different religions were abolished; this decree was extended to all the states of the
German empire after the events of 1870.===The Jewish Enlightenment===During the General Enlightenment (1600s to
late 1700s), many Jewish women began to frequent non-Jewish salons and to campaign for emancipation.
In Western Europe and the German states, observance of Jewish law, Halacha, started to be neglected.
In the 18th century, some traditional German scholars and leaders, such as the doctor and
author of Ma’aseh Tuviyyah, Tobias b. Moses Cohn, appreciated secular culture. The most
important feature during this time was the German Aufklärung, which was able to boast
of native figures who competed with the finest Western European writers, scholars, and intellectuals.
Aside from externalities of language and dress, the Jews internalized the cultural and intellectual
norms of the German society. The movement, becoming known as the German or Berlin Haskalah
offered many effects to the challenges of German society. As early as the 1740s, many
German Jews and some individual Polish and Lithuanian Jews had a desire for secular education.
The German-Jewish Enlightenment of the late 18th century, the Haskalah, marks the political,
social, and intellectual transition of European Jewry to modernity. Some of the elite members
of Jewish society knew European languages. Absolutist governments in Germany, Austria,
and Russia deprived the Jewish community’s leadership of its authority and many Jews
became “Court Jews.” Using their connections with Jewish businessmen to serve as military
contractors, managers of mints, founders of new industries and providers to the court
of precious stones and clothing, they gave economic assistance to the local rulers. Court
Jews were protected by the rulers and acted as did everyone else in society in their speech,
manners, and awareness of European literature and ideas. Isaac Euchel, for example, represented
a new generation of Jews. He maintained a leading role in the German Haskalah, being
one of the founding editors of Ha-Me/assef. Euchel was exposed to European languages and
culture while living in Prussian centers: Berlin and Koenigsberg. His interests turned
towards promoting the educational interests of the Enlightenment with other Jews. Moses
Mendelssohn as another enlightenment thinker was the first Jew to bring secular culture
to those living an Orthodox Jewish life. He valued reason and felt that anyone could arrive
logically at religious truths, while arguing that what makes Judaism unique is its divine
revelation of a code of law. Mendelssohn’s commitment to Judaism lead to tensions even
with some of those who subscribed to Enlightenment philosophy. Faithful Christians who were less
opposed to his rationalistic ideas than to his adherence to Judaism found it difficult
to accept this Juif de Berlin. In most of Western Europe, the Haskalah ended with large
numbers of Jews assimilating. Many Jews stopped adhering to Jewish law, and the struggle for
emancipation in Germany awakened some doubts about the future of Jews in Europe and eventually
led to both immigrations to America and Zionism. In Russia, antisemitism ended the Haskalah.
Some Jews responded to this antisemitism by campaigning for emancipation, while others
joined revolutionary movements and assimilated, and some turned to Jewish nationalism in the
form of the Zionist Hibbat Zion movement.===Reorganization of the German Jewish Community
===The empowerment of the Jews and the rebirth
of Jewish science led to a transfer of ancient traditions to the newer generations. Geiger
and Holdeim were two founders of the conservative movement in modern Judaism accepted the modern
spirit of liberalism. Samson Raphael Hirsch defended traditional customs: denying the
modern “spirit”. Neither of these beliefs was followed by the faithful Jews; Zachary
Frankel created a moderate reform movement in assurance with German communities, public
worships were reorganized, reduction of medieval additions to the prayer, congregational singing
was introduced, and regular sermons required scientifically trained rabbis. Religious schools
were enforced by the state due to a want for the addition of religious structure to secular
education of Jewish children. Pulpit oratory started to thrive mainly due to German preachers,
such as M. Sachs and M. Joel. Synagogal music was accepted with the help of Louis Lewandowski.
Part of the evolution of the Jewish community was the cultivation of Jewish literature and
associations created with teachers, rabbis, and leaders of congregations.
Another vital part of the reorganization of the Jewish-German community was the heavy
involvement of Jewish women in the community and their new tendencies to assimilate their
families into a different lifestyle. Jewish women were contradicting their view points
in the sense that they were modernizing, but they also tried to keep some traditions alive.
German Jewish mothers were shifting the way they raised their children in ways such as
moving their families out of Jewish neighborhoods, thus changing who Jewish children grew up
around and conversed with, all in all shifting the dynamic of the then close-knit Jewish
community. Additionally, Jewish mothers wished to integrate themselves and their families
into German society in other ways. Because of their mothers, Jewish children participated
in walks around the neighborhood, sporting events, and other activities that would mold
them into becoming more like their other German peers. In order for mothers to assimilate
into German culture, they took pleasure in reading newspapers and magazines that focused
on the fashion styles, as well as other trends that were up and coming for the time and that
the Protestant, bourgeois Germans were exhibiting. Similar to this, German-Jewish mothers also
urged their children to partake in music lessons, mainly because it was a popular activity among
other Germans. Another effort German-Jewish mothers put into assimilating their families
was enforcing the importance of manners on their children. It was noted that non-Jewish
Germans saw Jews as disrespectful and unable to grasp the concept of time and place. Because
of this, Jewish mothers tried to raise their kids having even better manners than the Protestant
children in an effort to combat the pre-existing stereotype put on their children. In addition,
Jewish mothers put a large emphasis on proper education for their children in hopes that
this would help them grow up to be more respected by their communities and eventually lead to
prosperous careers. While Jewish mothers worked tirelessly on ensuring the assimilation of
their families, they also attempted to keep the familial aspect of Jewish traditions.
They began to look at Shabbat and holidays as less of culturally Jewish days, but more
as family reunions of sorts. What was once viewed as a more religious event became more
of a social gathering of relatives.===Birth of the Reform Movement===
The beginning of the Reform Movement in Judaism was emphasized by David Philipson, who was
the rabbi at the largest Reform congregation. The increasing political centralization of
the late 18th and early 19th centuries undermined the societal structure that perpetuated traditional
Jewish life. Enlightenment ideas began to influence many intellectuals, and the resulting
political, economic, and social changes were overpowering. Many Jews felt a tension between
Jewish tradition and the way they were now leading their lives-religiously- resulting
in less tradition. As the insular religious society that reinforced such observance disintegrated,
falling away from vigilant observance without deliberately breaking with Judaism was easy.
Some tried to reconcile their religious heritage with their new social surroundings; they reformed
traditional Judaism to meet their new needs and to express their spiritual desires. A
movement was formed with a set of religious beliefs, and practices that were considered
expected and tradition. Reform Judaism was the first modern response to the Jew’s emancipation,
though reform Judaism differing in all countries caused stresses of autonomy on both the congregation
and individual. Some of the reforms were in the practices: circumcisions were abandoned,
rabbis wore vests after Protestant ministers, and instrumental accompaniment was used: pipe
organs. In addition, the traditional Hebrew prayer book was replaced by German text, and
reform synagogues began being called temples which were previously considered the Temple
of Jerusalem. Reform communities composed of similar beliefs and Judaism changed at
the same pace as the rest of society had. The Jewish people have adapted to religious
beliefs and practices to the meet the needs of the Jewish people throughout
the generation.==1815–1918==Napoleon I emancipated the Jews across Europe,
but with Napoleon’s fall in 1815, growing nationalism resulted in increasing repression.
From August to October 1819, pogroms that came to be known as the Hep-Hep riots took
place throughout Germany. Jewish property was destroyed, and many Jews were killed.
During this time, many German states stripped Jews of their civil rights. In the Free City
of Frankfurt, only 12 Jewish couples were allowed to marry each year, and the 400,000
gulden the city’s Jewish community had paid in 1811 for its emancipation was forfeited.
After the Rhineland reverted to Prussian control, Jews lost the rights Napoleon had granted
them, were banned from certain professions, and the few who had been appointed to public
office before the Napoleonic Wars were dismissed. Throughout numerous German states, Jews had
their rights to work, settle, and marry restricted. Without special letters of protection, Jews
were banned from many different professions, and often had to resort to jobs considered
unrespectable, such as peddling or cattle dealing, to survive. A Jewish man who wanted
to marry had to purchase a registration certificate, known as a Matrikel, proving he was in a “respectable”
trade or profession. A Matrikel, which could cost up to 1,000 gulden, was usually restricted
to firstborn sons. As a result, most Jewish men were unable to legally marry. Throughout
Germany, Jews were heavily taxed, and were sometimes discriminated against by gentile
craftsmen. As a result, many German Jews began to emigrate.
The emigration was encouraged by German-Jewish newspapers. At first, most emigrants were
young, single men from small towns and villages. A smaller number of single women also emigrated.
Individual family members would emigrate alone, and then send for family members once they
had earned enough money. Emigration eventually swelled, with some German Jewish communities
losing up to 70% of their members. At one point, a German-Jewish newspaper reported
that all the young Jewish males in the Franconian towns of Hagenbach, Ottingen, and Warnbach
had emigrated or were about to emigrate. The United States was the primary destination
for emigrating German Jews. The Revolutions of 1848 swung the pendulum
back towards freedom for the Jews. A noted reform rabbi of that time was Leopold Zunz,
a contemporary and friend of Heinrich Heine. In 1871, with the unification of Germany by
Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, came their emancipation, but the growing mood of despair among assimilated
Jews was reinforced by the antisemitic penetrations of politics. In the 1870s, antisemitism was
fueled by the financial crisis and scandals; in the 1880s by the arrival of masses of Ostjuden,
fleeing from Russian territories; by the 1890s it was a parliamentary presence, threatening
anti-Jewish laws. In 1879 the Hamburg anarchist pamphleteer Wilhelm Marr introduced the term
‘anti-Semitism’ into the political vocabulary by founding the Anti-Semitic League. Antisemites
of the völkisch movement were the first to describe themselves as such, because they
viewed Jews as part of a Semitic race that could never be properly assimilated into German
society. Such was the ferocity of the anti-Jewish feeling of the völkisch movement that by
1900, anti-Semitic had entered German to describe anyone who had anti-Jewish feelings. However,
despite massive protests and petitions, the völkisch movement failed to persuade the
government to revoke Jewish emancipation, and in the 1912 Reichstag elections, the parties
with völkisch-movement sympathies suffered a temporary defeat.
Jews experienced a period of legal equality after 1848. Baden and Württemberg passed
the legislation that gave the Jews complete equality before the law in 1861–64. The
newly formed German Empire did the same in 1871. Historian Fritz Stern concludes that
by 1900, what had emerged was a Jewish-German symbiosis, where German Jews had merged elements
of German and Jewish culture into a unique new one. Marriages between Jews and non-Jews
became somewhat common from the 19th century; for example, the wife of German Chancellor
Gustav Stresemann was Jewish. However, opportunity for high appointments in the military, the
diplomatic service, judiciary or senior bureaucracy was very small. Some historians believe that
with emancipation the Jewish people lost their roots in their culture and began only using
German culture. However, other historians including Marion A. Kaplan, argue that it
was the opposite and Jewish women were the initiators of balancing both Jewish and German
culture during Imperial Germany. Jewish women played a key role in keeping the Jewish communities
in tune with the changing society that was evoked by the Jews being emancipation. Jewish
women were the catalyst of modernization within the Jewish community. The years 1870-1918
marked the shift in the women’s role in society. Their job in the past had been housekeeping
and raising children. Now, however, they began to contribute to the home financially. Jewish
mothers were the only tool families had to linking Judaism with German culture. They
felt it was their job to raise children that would fit in with bourgeois Germany. Women
had to balance enforcing German traditions while also preserving Jewish traditions. Women
were in charge of keeping kosher and the Sabbath; as well as, teaching their children German
speech and dressing them in German clothing. Jewish women attempted to create an exterior
presence of German while maintaining the Jewish lifestyle inside their homes.The Jewish population
grew from 512,000 in 1871 to 615,000 in 1910, including 79,000 recent immigrants from Russia,
just under one percent of the total. About 15,000 Jews converted to Christianity between
1871 and 1909.===World War I===
A higher percentage of German Jews fought in World War I than of any other ethnic, religious
or political group in Germany; some 12,000 died for their country.Prominent Jewish industrialists
and bankers, such as Walter Rathenau and Max Warburg played major roles in supervising
the German war economy. In October 1916, the German Military High
Command administered the Judenzählung (census of Jews). Designed to confirm accusations
of the lack of patriotism among German Jews, the census disproved the charges, but its
results were not made public. Denounced as a “statistical monstrosity”, the census was
a catalyst to intensified antisemitism and social myths such as the “stab-in-the-back
myth” (Dolchstoßlegende).==Weimar years, 1919–33==
Under the Weimar Republic, 1919–1933, German Jews played a major role in politics and diplomacy
for the first time in their history, and they strengthened their position in financial,
economic, and cultural affairs. Hugo Preuß was Interior Minister under the first post-imperial
regime and wrote the first draft of the liberal Weimar Constitution. Walther Rathenau, the
chairman of General Electric (AEG) and head of the German Democratic Party (DDP), served
as foreign minister in 1922, when he negotiated the important Treaty of Rapallo. He was assassinated
two months later.Already by 1914, the Jews were well represented among the wealthy, including
24 percent of the richest men in Prussia, and eight percent of the university students.===Antisemitism===
There was sporadic antisemitism based on the false allegation that wartime Germany had
been betrayed by an enemy within. There was some violence against German Jews in the early
years of the Weimar Republic, and it was led by the paramilitary Freikorps. The Protocols
of the Elders of Zion (1920), a forgery which claimed that Jews were taking over the world,
was widely circulated. The second half of the 1920s were prosperous, and antisemitism
was much less noticeable. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, it surged again as Adolf Hitler
and his Nazi party promoted a virulent strain. Author Jay Howard Geller says that four possible
responses were available to the German Jewish community. The majority of German Jews were
only nominally religious and they saw their Jewish identity as only one of several identities;
they opted for bourgeois liberalism and assimilation into all phases of German culture. A second
group (especially recent migrants from eastern Europe) embraced Judaism and Zionism. A third
group of left-wing elements endorsed the universalism of Marxism, which downplayed ethnicity and
antisemitism. A fourth group contained some who embraced hardcore German nationalism and
minimized or hid their Jewish heritage. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, a fifth option
was seized upon by hundreds of thousands: escape into exile, typically at the cost of
leaving all wealth behind.The German legal system generally treated Jews fairly throughout
the period. The Centralverein, the major organization of German Jewry, used the court system to
vigorously defend Jewry against antisemitic attacks across Germany; it proved generally
successful.===Intellectuals===
Jewish intellectuals and creative professionals were among the leading figures in many areas
of Weimar culture. German university faculties became universally open to Jewish scholars
in 1918. Leading Jewish intellectuals on university faculties included physicist Albert Einstein;
sociologists Karl Mannheim, Erich Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse;
philosophers Ernst Cassirer and Edmund Husserl; political theorists Arthur Rosenberg and Gustav
Meyer; and many others. Seventeen German citizens were awarded Nobel prizes during the Weimar
Republic (1919–1933), five of whom were Jewish scientists. The German-Jewish literary
magazine, Der Morgen, was established in 1925. It published essays and stories by prominent
Jewish writers such as Franz Kafka and Leo Hirsch until its liquidation by the Nazi government
in 1938.==Jews under the Nazis (1933–45)==In Germany, according to historian Hans Mommsen,
there were three types of antisemitism. In a 1997 interview, Mommsen was quoted as saying: One should differentiate between the cultural
antisemitism symptomatic of the German conservatives—found especially in the German officer corps and
the high civil administration—and mainly directed against the Eastern Jews on the one
hand, and völkisch antisemitism on the other. The conservative variety functions, as Shulamit
Volkov has pointed out, as something of a “cultural code.” This variety of German antisemitism
later on played a significant role insofar as it prevented the functional elite from
distancing itself from the repercussions of racial antisemitism. Thus, there was almost
no relevant protest against the Jewish persecution on the part of the generals or the leading
groups within the Reich government. This is especially true with respect to Hitler’s proclamation
of the “racial annihilation war” against the Soviet Union.
Besides conservative antisemitism, there existed in Germany a rather silent anti-Judaism within
the Catholic Church, which had a certain impact on immunizing the Catholic population against
the escalating persecution. The famous protest of the Catholic Church against the euthanasia
program was, therefore, not accompanied by any protest against the Holocaust. The third
and most vitriolic variety of antisemitism in Germany (and elsewhere) is the so-called
völkisch antisemitism or racism, and this is the foremost advocate of using violence.
In 1933, persecution of the Jews became an active Nazi policy, but at first laws were
not as rigorously obeyed or as devastating as in later years. Such clauses, known as
Aryan paragraphs, had been postulated previously by antisemitism and enacted in many private
organizations. The continuing and exacerbating abuse of Jews
in Germany triggered calls throughout March 1933 by Jewish leaders around world for a
boycott of German products. The Nazis responded with further bans and boycotts against Jewish
doctors, shops, lawyers and stores. Only six days later, the Law for the Restoration of
the Professional Civil Service was passed, banning Jews from being employed in government.
This law meant that Jews were now indirectly and directly dissuaded or banned from privileged
and upper-level positions reserved for “Aryan” Germans. From then on, Jews were forced to
work at more menial positions, beneath non-Jews, pushing them to more labored positions.
The Civil Service Law reached immediately into the education system because university
professors, for example, were civil servants. While the majority of the German intellectual
classes were not thoroughgoing National Socialists, academia had been suffused with a “cultured
antisemitism” since imperial times, even more so during Weimar. With the majority of non-Jewish
professors holding such feelings about Jews, coupled with how the Nazis’ outwardly appeared
in the period during and after the seizure of power, there was little motivation to oppose
the anti-Jewish measures being enacted—few did, and many were actively in favor. According
to a German professor of the history of mathematics, “There is no doubt that most of the German
mathematicians who were members of the professional organization collaborated with the Nazis,
and did nothing to save or help their Jewish colleagues.” “German physicians were highly
Nazified, compared to other professionals, in terms of party membership,” observed Raul
Hilberg and some even carried out experiments on human beings at places like Auschwitz.On
August 2, 1934, President Paul von Hindenburg died. No new president was appointed; with
Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany, he took control of the office of Führer. This,
and a tame government with no opposition parties, allowed Adolf Hitler totalitarian control
of law-making. The army also swore an oath of loyalty personally to Hitler, giving him
power over the military; this position allowed him to enforce his beliefs further by creating
more pressure on the Jews than ever before. In 1935 and 1936, the pace of persecution
of the Jews increased. In May 1935, Jews were forbidden to join the Wehrmacht (Armed Forces),
and that year, anti-Jewish propaganda appeared in Nazi German shops and restaurants. The
Nuremberg Racial Purity Laws were passed around the time of the Nazi rallies at Nuremberg;
on September 15, 1935, the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor was passed, preventing
sexual relations and marriages between Aryans and Jews. At the same time the Reich Citizenship
Law was passed and was reinforced in November by a decree, stating that all Jews, even quarter-
and half-Jews, were no longer citizens (Reichsbürger) of their own country. Their official status
became Reichsangehöriger, “subject of the state”. This meant that they had no basic
civil rights, such as that to vote, but at this time the right to vote for the non-Jewish
Germans only meant the obligation to vote for the Nazi party. This removal of basic
citizens’ rights preceded harsher laws to be passed in the future against Jews. The
drafting of the Nuremberg Laws is often attributed to Hans Globke.
In 1936, Jews were banned from all professional jobs, effectively preventing them from exerting
any influence in education, politics, higher education and industry. Because of this, there
was nothing to stop the anti-Jewish actions which spread across the Nazi-German economy.
After the Night of the Long Knives, the Schutzstaffel (SS) became the dominant policing power in
Germany. Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler was eager to please Hitler and so willingly
obeyed his orders. Since the SS had been Hitler’s personal bodyguard, its members were far more
loyal and skilled than those of the Sturmabteilung (SA) had been. Because of this, they were
also supported, though distrusted, by the army, which was now more willing to agree
with Hitler’s decisions than when the SA was dominant. All of this allowed Hitler more
direct control over government and political attitude towards Jews in Nazi Germany. In
1937 and 1938, new laws were implemented, and the segregation of Jews from the true
“Aryan” German population was started. In particular, Jews were penalized financially
for their perceived racial status. On June 4, 1937, two young German Jews, Helmut
Hirsch and Isaac Utting, were both executed for being involved in a plot to bomb the Nazi
party headquarters in Nuremberg. As of March 1, 1938, government contracts
could no longer be awarded to Jewish businesses. On September 30, “Aryan” doctors could only
treat “Aryan” patients. Provision of medical care to Jews was already hampered by the fact
that Jews were banned from being doctors or having any professional jobs. Beginning August 17, 1938, Jews with first
names of non-Jewish origin had to add Israel (males) or Sarah (females) to their names,
and a large J was to be imprinted on their passports beginning October 5. On November
15 Jewish children were banned from going to normal schools. By April 1939, nearly all
Jewish companies had either collapsed under financial pressure and declining profits,
or had been forced to sell out to the Nazi German government. This further reduced Jews’
rights as human beings. They were in many ways officially separated from the German
populace. The increasingly totalitarian, militaristic
regime which was being imposed on Germany by Hitler allowed him to control the actions
of the SS and the military. On November 7, 1938, a young Polish Jew, Herschel Grynszpan,
attacked and shot two German officials in the Nazi German embassy in Paris. (Grynszpan
was angry about the treatment of his parents by the Nazi Germans.) On November 9 the German
Attache, Ernst vom Rath, died. Goebbels issued instructions that demonstrations against Jews
were to be organized and undertaken in retaliation throughout Germany. The SS ordered the Night
of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) to be carried out that night, November 9–10, 1938. The
storefronts of Jewish shops and offices were smashed and vandalized, and many synagogues
were destroyed by fire. Approximately 91 Jews were killed, and another 30,000 arrested,
mostly able bodied males, all of whom were sent to the newly formed concentration camps.
In the following 3 months some 2000–2500 of them died in the concentration camps, the
rest were released under the condition that they leave Germany. Many Germans were disgusted
by this action when the full extent of the damage was discovered, so Hitler ordered that
it be blamed on the Jews. Collectively, the Jews were made to pay back one billion Reichsmark
in damages, the fine being raised by confiscating 20 per cent of every Jewish property. The
Jews also had to repair all damages at their own cost. Increasing antisemitism prompted a wave of
Jewish mass emigration from Germany throughout the 1930s. Among the first wave were intellectuals,
politically active individuals, and Zionists. However, as Nazi legislation worsened the
Jews’ situation, more Jews wished to leave Germany, with a panicked rush in the months
after Kristallnacht in 1938. Palestine was a popular destination for German
Jewish emigration. Soon after the Nazis’ rise to power in 1933, they negotiated the Haavara
Agreement with Zionist authorities in Palestine, which was signed on August 25, 1933. Under
its terms, 60,000 German Jews were to be allowed to emigrate to Palestine and take $100 million
in assets with them. During the Fifth Aliyah, between 1929 and 1939, a total of 250,000
Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine—more than 55,000 of them from Germany, Austria,
or Bohemia. Many of them were doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, and other professionals,
who contributed greatly to the development of the Yishuv.
The United States was another destination for German Jews seeking to leave the country,
though the number allowed to immigrate was restricted due to the Immigration Act of 1924.
Between 1933 and 1939, more than 300,000 Germans, of whom about 90% were Jews, applied for immigration
visas to the United States. By 1940, only 90,000 German Jews had been granted visas
and allowed to settle in the United States. Some 100,000 German Jews also moved to Western
European countries, especially France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. However, these countries
would later be occupied by Germany, and most of them would still fall victim to the Holocaust.
Another 48,000 emigrated to the United Kingdom and other European countries.==The Holocaust in Germany==Overall, of the 522,000 Jews living in Germany
in January 1933, approximately 304,000 emigrated during the first six years of Nazi rule and
about 214,000 were left on the eve of World War II. Of these, 160-180,000 were killed
as a part of the Holocaust. On May 19, 1943, only about 20,000 Jews remained and Germany
was declared judenrein (clean of Jews; also judenfrei: free of Jews).==Persistence of Antisemitism==
During the medieval period antisemitism flourished in Germany. Especially during the time of
the Black Death from 1348 to 1350 hatred and violence against Jews increased. Approximately
72% of towns with a Jewish settlement suffered from violent attacks against the Jewish population.
After World War I Antisemitism grew again, during the time of the Weimar Republic and
later on during the Nazi reign. Regions that suffered from the Black Death
pogroms were 6 times more likely to engage in anti-Semitic violence during the 1920s,
the Nazi parties like the DNVP, NSDAP and DVFP gained a 1.5 times higher voting share
in the 1928 election, their inhabitants wrote more letters to anti-Semitic newspapers like
“Der Stürmer”, and they deported more Jews during the Nazi reign. This is due to
cultural transmission. A simple model of cultural transmission and Persistence of attitudes
comes from Bisin and Verdier who state, that children acquire their preference scheme through
imitating their parents, who in turn attempt to socialize their children to their own preferences,
without taking into consideration if these traits are useful or not.Economic factors
had the potential to undermine this persistence throughout the centuries. Hatred against outsiders
was more costly in trade open cities, like the members of the Hanseatic League. Faster
growing cities saw less persistence in anti-Semitic attitudes, this may be due to the fact that
trade-openness was associated with more economic success and therefore higher migration rates
into this regions.==Jews in Germany from 1945 to the reunification
==When the Soviet army took over Berlin in 1945,
only 8,000 Jews remained in the city, all of them either in hiding or married to non-Jews.
Most German Jews who survived the war in exile decided to remain abroad; however, a small
number returned to Germany. Additionally, approximately 15,000 German Jews survived
the concentration camps or survived by going into hiding. These German Jews were joined
by approximately 200,000 displaced persons (DPs), Eastern European Jewish Holocaust survivors.
They came to Allied-occupied western Germany after finding no homes left for them in eastern
Europe (especially in Poland) or after having been liberated on German soil. The overwhelming
majority of the DPs wished to emigrate to Palestine and lived in Allied- and U.N.-administered
refugee camps, remaining isolated from German society. When Israel became independent in
1948, most European-Jewish DPs left for the new state; however, 10,000 to 15,000 Jews
decided to resettle in Germany. Despite hesitations and a long history of antagonism between German
Jews (Yekkes) and East European Jews (Ostjuden), the two disparate groups united to form the
basis of a new Jewish community. In 1950 they founded their unitary representative organization,
the Central Council of Jews in Germany.===Jews of West Germany===
The Jewish community in West Germany from the 1950s to the 1970s was characterized by
its social conservatism and generally private nature. Although there were Jewish elementary
schools in West Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich, the community had a very high average age.
Few young adults chose to remain in Germany, and many of those who did married non-Jews.
Many critics of the community and its leadership accused it of ossification. In the 1980s,
a college for Jewish studies was established in Heidelberg; however, a disproportionate
number of its students were not Jewish. By 1990, the community numbered between 30,000
and 40,000. Although the Jewish community of Germany did not have the same impact as
the pre-1933 community, some Jews were prominent in German public life, including Hamburg mayor
Herbert Weichmann; Schleswig-Holstein Minister of Justice (and Deputy Chief Justice of the
Federal Constitutional Court) Rudolf Katz; Hesse Attorney General Fritz Bauer; former
Hesse Minister of Economics Heinz-Herbert Karry; West Berlin politician Jeanette Wolff;
television personalities Hugo Egon Balder, Hans Rosenthal, Ilja Richter, Inge Meysel,
and Michel Friedman; Jewish communal leaders Heinz Galinski, Ignatz Bubis, Paul Spiegel,
and Charlotte Knobloch (see: Central Council of Jews in Germany); and Germany’s most influential
literary critic, Marcel Reich-Ranicki.===Jews of East Germany===
The Jewish community of East Germany, a communist country, numbered only a few hundred active
members. Most Jews who settled in East Germany did so either because their pre-1933 homes
had been there or because they had been politically leftist before the Nazi seizure of power and,
after 1945, wished to build an antifascist, socialist Germany. Most such politically engaged
Jews were not religious or active in the official Jewish community. They included writers such
as Anna Seghers, Stefan Heym, Stephan Hermlin, Jurek Becker, Stasi Colonel General Markus
Wolf, singer Lin Jaldati, composer Hanns Eisler, and politician Gregor Gysi. Many East German
Jews emigrated to Israel in the 1970s.==Jews in the reunited Germany (post-1990)
==The end of the Cold War contributed to a growth
in the Jewish people of Germany. An important step for the renaissance of Jewish life in
Germany occurred in 1990 when Helmut Kohl convened with Heinz Galinski, to allow Jewish
people from the former Soviet Union to emigrate to Germany, which led to a large Jewish emigration.
Germany is home to a nominal Jewish population of more than 200,000 (although this number
reflects non-Jewish spouses or children who also immigrated under the Quota Refugee Law);
104,024 are officially registered with Jewish religious communities. The size of the Jewish
community in Berlin is estimated at 120,000 people, or 60% of Germany’s total Jewish population.
Today, between 80 and 90 percent of the Jews in Germany are Russian speaking immigrants
from the former Soviet Union. Many Israelis also move to Germany, particularly Berlin,
for its relaxed atmosphere and low cost of living. Olim L’Berlin, a Facebook snowclone
asking Israelis to emigrate to Berlin, gained notoriety in 2014. Some eventually return
to Israel after a period of residence in Germany. There are also a handful of Jewish families
from Muslim countries, including Iran, Turkey, Morocco, and Afghanistan. Germany has the
third-largest Jewish population in Western Europe after France (600,000) and Britain
(300,000). and the fastest-growing Jewish population in Europe in recent years. The
influx of immigrants, many of them seeking renewed contact with their Ashkenazi heritage,
has led to a renaissance of Jewish life in Germany. In 1996, Chabad-Lubavitch of Berlin
opened a center. In 2003, Chabad-Lubavitch of Berlin ordained 10 rabbis, the first rabbis
to be ordained in Germany since World War II. In 2002 a Reform rabbinical seminary,
Abraham Geiger College, was established in Potsdam. In 2006, the college announced that
it would be ordaining three new rabbis, the first Reform rabbis to be ordained in Germany
since 1942.Partly owing to the deep similarities between Yiddish and German, Jewish studies
has become a popular academic study, and many German universities have departments or institutes
of Jewish studies, culture, or history. Active Jewish religious communities have sprung up
across Germany, including in many cities where the previous communities were no longer extant
or were moribund. Several cities in Germany have Jewish day schools, kosher facilities,
and other Jewish institutions beyond synagogues. Additionally, many of the Russian Jews were
alienated from their Jewish heritage and unfamiliar or uncomfortable with religion. American-style
Reform Judaism (which originated in Germany), has re-emerged in Germany, led by the Union
of Progressive Jews in Germany, even though the Central Council of Jews in Germany and
most local Jewish communities officially adhere to Orthodoxy. On January 27, 2003, then German Chancellor
Gerhard Schröder signed the first-ever agreement on a federal level with the Central Council,
so that Judaism was granted the same elevated, semi-established legal status in Germany as
the Roman Catholic and Evangelical Church in Germany, at least since the Basic Law for
the Federal Republic of Germany of 1949. In Germany it is a criminal act to deny the
Holocaust or that six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust (§ 130 StGB); violations
can be punished with up to five years of prison. In 2007, the Interior Minister of Germany,
Wolfgang Schäuble, pointed out the official policy of Germany: “We will not tolerate any
form of extremism, xenophobia or anti-Semitism.” Although the number of right-wing groups and
organisations grew from 141 (2001) to 182 (2006), especially in the formerly communist
East Germany, Germany’s measures against right-wing groups and antisemitism are effective: according
to the annual reports of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution the
overall number of far-right extremists in Germany has dropped in recent years from 49,700
(2001), 45,000 (2002), 41,500 (2003), 40,700 (2004), 39,000 (2005), to 38,600 in 2006.
Germany provided several million euros to fund “nationwide programs aimed at fighting
far-right extremism, including teams of traveling consultants, and victims’ groups”. Despite
these facts, Israeli Ambassador Shimon Stein warned in October 2006 that Jews in Germany
feel increasingly unsafe, stating that they “are not able to live a normal Jewish life”
and that heavy security surrounds most synagogues or Jewish community centers. Yosef Havlin,
Rabbi at the Chabad Lubavitch in Frankfurt, does not agree with the Israeli Ambassador
and states in an interview with Der Spiegel in September 2007 that the German public does
not support far-right groups; instead, he has personally experienced the support of
Germans, and as a Jew and rabbi he “feels welcome in his (hometown) Frankfurt, he is
not afraid, the city is not a no-go-area”.A flagship moment for the burgeoning Jewish
community in modern Germany occurred on November 9, 2006 (the 68th anniversary of Kristallnacht),
when the newly constructed Ohel Jakob synagogue was dedicated in Munich, Germany. This is
particularly crucial given the fact that Munich was once at the ideological heart of Nazi
Germany. Jewish life in the capital Berlin is prospering,
the Jewish community is growing, the Centrum Judaicum and several synagogues—including
the largest in Germany—have been renovated and opened, and Berlin’s annual week of Jewish
culture and the Jewish Cultural Festival in Berlin, held for the 21st time, featuring
concerts, exhibitions, public readings and discussions can only partially explain why
Rabbi Yitzhak Ehrenberg of the orthodox Jewish community in Berlin states: “Orthodox Jewish
life is alive in Berlin again. […] Germany is the only European country with a growing
Jewish community.In spite of Germany’s measures against right-wing groups and antisemites,
a number of incidents have occurred in recent years.
On August 29, 2012 in Berlin, a rabbi in visible Jewish garb was physically attacked by a group
of Arabic youths, causing a head wound that required hospitalization. The rabbi was walking
with his six-year-old daughter in downtown Berlin when the group asked if he was a Jew,
and then proceeded to assault him. They also threatened to kill the rabbi’s young daughter.
On November 9, 2012, the 74th Kristallnacht anniversary, neo-Nazis in Greifswald vandalized
the city’s Holocaust memorial.On June 2, 2013, a rabbi was physically assaulted by a group
of six to eight Arabic looking youths in a shopping mall in Offenbach.Over the last few
years, Germany has witnessed a sizable migration of young, educated Israeli Jews seeking academic
and employment opportunities, with Berlin being their favorite destination.==See also==
Association of German National Jews Germany–Israel relations
HaGalil Online – an online magazine of Jews in German-speaking countries
History of the Jews in Cologne History of the Jews in Hamburg
History of the Jews in Munich History of the Jews in Poland
Jewish Agency for Israel List of German Jews
Orientalism Peter Stevens (RAF officer)==Notes====References==
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore;
et al., eds. (1901–1906). “Germany”. Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
Jewish Encyclopedia Jewish Virtual Library
Jewish Museum Berlin==Further reading====
External links==Leo Baeck Institute, NY a research library
and archive focused on the history of German-speaking Jews
DigiBaeck Digital collections at Leo Baeck Institute
Berkley Center: Being Jewish in the New Germany The Jews of Germany, The Museum of the Jewish
People at Beit Hatfutsot

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