Germany without Jews 9780553244458, 0553244450

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English Pages 380 pages: facsimile; 19 cm [400] Year 1984

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Germany without Jews
 9780553244458, 0553244450

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ALBERT EINSTEIN, HANS ADOLF KREBS, BRUNO WALTER, KURT WEllL, ARNOLD SCHONBERG, MAX LIEBERMANN, RICHARD TAUBER, MARC CHACALL ... Even today the fullest extent of the outcome is not known. True, we know that millions of people have been murdered, but even here actual numbers caD only be estimated. Today we know the crude outlines of the extent of human suffering that was evoked, and at least 'we have an inkling that, beyond the terrible injustice, something more happened, something irretrievable was lost to both the Jews and the Gentiles of Europe. Now German culture is to all intents and purposes "cleansed of Jewish influence," just as Goebbels and. his friends had wished. At the same time, we must realize that the promised gains have eluded us; instead an indefinable loss seems to have set in-.-a loss at best only felt, possibly estimated. How could such loss ever be measured? -From Gennany Without Jews



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BERNT ENGELMANN was born in Berlin in 1921. He served in the Luftwaffe during the first three years of World War II, mostly in France. Due. to his work with the French resistance and German anti-Nazi groups, he was arrested twice by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau concentration camp. He was freed when the camp was liberated by the U. S. Army in April 1945. Today Engelmann is acclaimed as one of West Germariy's leading journalists and writers, with over thirty books to his credit. He lives with his wife and four children in RottachEgern in Upper Bavaria.

. BlPltam Books of Related Interest Ask your bookseller for the books you have missed CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST by Helen Epstein DAWN by Elie Wiesel THE LAST JEWS IN BERLIN by Leonard Gross NIGHT by Elie Wiesel AN ORPHAN IN HISTORY by Paul Cowan THE WAR AGAINST THE JEWS by Lucy S. Dawidowicz

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Bernt Engelmann Translated by D.J. Beer




A Bantam Book / October 1984

PRINTING HISTORY .'First printed in Germany April 1979

All rights reserved. Copyright © 1979 by Wilhelm Godmann Verlag, Munich. English translation copyright © 1984 by Bernt Engelmann. Cover art copyright © 1984 by Bantam Books, Inc. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by mime9graph or any other means, without permission. For information address: Bantam Books: Inc. ISBN ()"'553-24445-0

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I Author's Acknowledgments

The author wishes to thank all those who in one way or another have helped in the preparation and completion of this work. Special thanks are due Mr. Ludwig Lazarus, Hanover, for his extreme helpfulness in gathering material and finding sources; to the editors of the Jiidischer Pressedienst (Jewish Press Service); to Dr. H. G. van Dam, Secretary General of the Central Committee for Jews in Germany, and to Mr. Paul Spiegel, for their willingness to help and their loyal support; to Mrs. Mary Tucholsky for helpful suggestions and her generous permission to use materials from the Kurt Tucholsky Archives in Rottach-Egern; to Dr. Frank Arnau for



tremely cruel manner, calculated to stifle any thought of renewed disobedience within the widest possible circle. However, Jews willing to tum Christian were received into the church with open arms, rewarded into the bargain, and safeguarded against further discrimination from the secular rulers, who joined in the jubilation. And the universal rejoicing was all the greater as such conversions were none too common. It was precisely this growing isolation in a world of increasing hostility and deepening religious fanaticism that confirmed the members of the Jewish communities in Germany in their faith, producing the "obstinacy" that so infuriated :- many a Christian divine. Even the most dire misery and the " most stringent oppression were able only iIi exceptional instances to induce the German Jews to change their religion. , Beginning in the seventeenth century, Jewish refugees, who had left the Rhineland to settle in Poland and other Eastern countries, were subjected to still more heinous persecution. * They were as steadfast as other religious minorities under pressure. But what oppression could rru-ely achieve was frequently brought about by absence of pressure. The chronicles of the early and late Middle Ages record numerous cases in which Jews- voluntarily-and presumbly out of conviction~ agreed to baptism. In Cologne alone several dozen such conversions are documented, most commonly of educated and well-respected Jews, and it seems reasonable to suppose that the total number was much greater. A fair estimate of German Jewish families who converted to Christianity before 1800 would be several thousand. Conversely, a far smaller number of Christians converted to Judaism. But such conversions did occur, even among prominent churchmen. Both Bodo, the Alemannic deacon at the court of Louis the Pious, and Wezelin, confessor to Emperor Henry II became Jews, to the great consternation of Christendom. This brings us to a question that was of no importance until the late nineteenth century and assumes acute relevance in ·One exception was the mass conversion of Polish Jews to Roman Catholicism under the leadership of Jakob Frank (1726-1791). Frank's daughter, Eva (d. 1817 in Offenbach), succeeded her father as head of the Frankists.



the twentieth-what determines Jewishness? Does descent rather than religious affiliation decide who is Jewish? This question was exploited, manipulated, distorted, and exaggerated in the Third Reich, with an extremism to the point of absurdity and with catastrophic consequences. History makes us reluctant to entertain it at all; but perhaps it contains a kernel of validity. FollOwing centuries of social segregation on the basis of religion, German Jews were naturally united by a bond that went beyond religious affiliation. Until their destruction they not only shared Germany's fate and contributed substantially to it, but also had a distinct group identity: Their restriction, voluntary or otherwise, to certain urban profeSSions; the different customs and habits required by their religion; their .stronger drive toward education and learning; the unremitting defensiveness necessitated by the generally hostile conduct of the Christian world; and last but not least, the limited number of suitable marriage partners--all these and more combined gradually to effect the evolution of shared attitudes and traits. When a familv left the Jewish community by converting or emigrating; thes~ characteristics went with them, and it naturally took generations for the· influence of a new group or environment to extinguish them. It is this vague sense that underlies and supports the thesis of a more or less clearly definable Jewish group existing, independently of the religion. This leaves the questioncategorically rejected by the anti-Semites of the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries-whether the German Jews were not first and foremost Germans, differing from other Germans no more than, say, Catholic winegrowers in the Mosel region differed from Protestant businessmen in Hamburg. It must be remembered that all regional and class differences were originally far more pronounced, having begun to blur only in the last fifty years or so as a result of greater mobility, an upsurge in tourism, and the homogeniety brought about by the mass media. Opposed to this view is the anti-Semitic doctrine according to which Jews are members of a foreign "Semitic" race from the near East and therefore, for reasons other than religion, "alien to the species" of interrelated German tribes. GermaQs, the argument goes, with their predominantly "Nordic-Germanic" racial traits, share "blood kinship" that must be protected against mixing with

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the 'alien "inferior race," since any intermingling "inevitably leads to degeneration."

, If we begin. by examining the alleged "Semitic" origin of German Jews, we immediately encounter a mass of confused concepts, The term "Semitic" applies only to the language ,·groJlP of which Hebrew-the language of the Bible, of theology, · and of the Jewish liturgy-is a member. But to call Jews ·Semites for that reason is absurd; one might just as easily call all Catholics "Latins" or "Romans." The supposed source of all that is Jewish in the near East is true QJ1ly for the religion of Moses and to those believers in one invisible God who; expelled by the Romans or abducted as slaves in the first . 'century A.D., spread the Law of Moses to the farthest comers .of the known world. To therefore summarily designate the " J~and particularly those living in Central Europe during .• the nineteenth and twentieth centuries-as Near Eastern and thus "alien to the species" is as senseless as calling all Western Christians simply "Levantines". After all, Christian teachings also began nearly two thousand years ago along the · coasts of Asia Minor, and were propagated by apostles who .. were descended from the mixed populations of the Levant. The vast majority of the Jews living in the medieval towns along the Rhine--towns that had begun as ancient Roman settlements-were by no means pure descendants of the of the Book. They were certainly no more homogeneous than the local disciples of Christianity, a JeWish sect . also exported from Judea, which had been raised by the Romans to the position of state religion. The original Jewish · tribes had, at any rate, formed only a very small community, and their heroic struggles against the Roman colonizers·came to wiping them out. The Jews along the Rhine may at have had a "non-Aryan" great-grandmother who had favor in the eyes of a Gallic or Germanic legionnaire; or were simply descendants of Celtic, Germanic, or other '.rnlIlVf'~Tts, no different from converted ehristians. It is patobvious that only a minute fraction of the several hunthousand Jews who settled in the German towns during of the Merovingians up to the first Crusades, be descended from Judean exiles. These are the same who later moved eastward, becoming the forebears of many million Russian and Polish Jews.



None of the anthropological measurements and other research procedures--beginning with those of Rudolf Virchow, through those of Fishberg and of the Nazi racial researchers, up to comparisons of blood groups and the Rh factor undertaken by UNESCO-has succeeded in establishing any kinship between European Jews and Oriental peoples, or a link with Jews of the Yemen or Buckara. But there is clear proof of membership in the western mix that counted as Aryan during the Third Reich. The Nazi persecution of Jews, therefore, was obliged to ascertain "race" merely on the basis of parents' and grandparents' religious affiliation. The lack of any other established characteristics gave rise to a. wonderful lack of logical reasoning: they claimed at the same time that it was not religion, but on Iv "blood" that determined the worth or worthlessness of a h~rhan being. ' In fact German Jews-who differed as much from those of distant countries and continents as did other Central Europeans-had intermingled to the same considerable extent with neighbors, conquerors, fugitives, and slaves as the Christians. (Two special cases are represented by Sephardic Jews and Khazars. The former, a Spanish-Jewish group, consisted of a small portion of the Jews expelled from the Iberian peninsula in the late fifteenth century. The Khazars, a group of Jews from 'eastern and southeastern Europe, arose in, the middle of the eighth century, when the king and nobility of the Khazars, an ancient Turkish people originally settled between the Black-and Caspian Seas and converted to Judaism.-) The Jews and Christians of Cologne may serve illustration. During the late-Roman period they made up only two of five competing religious groups. Originally at odds with the state religion bf the Romans and with the slightly Romanized cult of the native Ubians, a mixed Celtic-Germanic population. But in the end the Ubians were supplanted. Besides Christianity and Judiasm, there was Mithraism, from Persia, preferred by the garrison soldiers; the cult of Isis; imported from Egypt, initially considered too lascivious but eventually powerful enough to gain offIcial recognition (and possibly the basis of the Cologne carnival); and finally, the cult of Jupiter Dolichenus, brought from Syria, with its own temple in Cologne. . The diversity of these cuI tic forms, all transposed from the East, gives some indication of the motley mix of people that

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.' made up the Roman colony of Cologne. Greeks,. Syrians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Palestinians, and Persians lived along,_ side slaves and freedmen and freedwomen of every nationality, soldiers and veterans from the regiments garrisoned in the town, including not only Germans and Gauls, but also members of the Nubian legion-tall black men from Mrica. The city was further peopled by sailors and officers of the Classis Germanica, the Roman Rhine fleet-some of them Batavians from the Rhine estuary, others seamen from Cyprus; aecording to the gravestones, some came from such distant parts of Asia Minor as Phrygia and Mysia. Most of them were married to local women, of predominantly Celtic-Germanic descent. In all, the city's population has been estimated at thirty to forty thousand people. Of these, at most a few hundredlegionnaires, freedmen and women slaves, who came from Frisia-were blond and blue-eyed. Five hundred years later the Nazi "race" fanatics seized on these traits and raised them to the level of an ideal, though they themselves could not for the most part meet these criteria. The transition from Cologne's Roman rule to control by the Frankish kings was almost entirely peaceful. No one was expelled or displaced as an "undesirable alien." In fact, the mixture of races and populations grew even more motley with the medieval influx of still more Germanic tribes and the invasions of Huns and other central and East Asian people. They considered it their inalienable right to rape all the women and girls they could lay their hands on-a custom observed by conquerors to this day. Volumes could be filled with lists of all the peoples whose men passed through Cologne as warriors or traders, often leaving offspring behind. The women of just as many tribes came to Cologne, where they often settled permanently. They came as slaves or prostitutes in the trains of conquerors or as booty of returning crusaders. They also established theQlselves as market women and as artists of some kind. In modem times new blood keeps arriving as forced labor and as foreign workers. In short, at one time or another Cologne was occupied by every European nation, by almost all African and Asian peoples, and of course, in 1945, by the victorious United States Army. This last power included such a variety of ethnic groups that it is to be compared only with the Roman army. And all the different occupying troops stayed long enough, at least, to