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THE CHURCH AND JUDAISM IN GERMANY AS REFLECTED IN THE JEWISH PRESS, 1933-1938 / הכנסיה והיהדות בגרמניה - בראי העתונות היהודית, 1933-1938
הרברט פרידן, אברהם הנדלזלץ and Herbert Freeden
Kesher / קשר
No. 5 (מאי 1989), pp. 41-47
Published by: Tel Aviv University / אוניברסיטת תל-אביב
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23890951
Page Count: 7
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The German-language Jewish press had functioned for more than 130 years before Hitler's rise to power. It had been established by rabbis whose aim was to interest their congregants in Jewish issues and Torah learning. At the beginning of the 20th century, a new kind of Jewish periodical appeared, dealing with national and social issues and representing the gamut of Jewish organizations and associations, including the Orthodox, Zionists, liberals, assimilationists and nationalists. These publications became increasingly important as a means of strengthening the Jewish community during the difficult period from 1933 to 1938. Their press run increased during this period, reaching a total of over a million copies. With the Jewish population of Germany numbering about 500,000 in 1933, it may be assumed that every Jew subscribed to at least two periodicals. The Nazi authorities had their reasons for allowing the Jewish newspapers to function. A special department in the Propaganda Ministry supervised the papers, giving the impression that there was autonomous self-expression, although the opposite was the case. Actually, the existence of the Jewish press aided the authorities in monitoring developments within the Jewish community. Although the Jews of Germany saw themselves as loyal patriots, the process of their de-legitimization as Germans began in 1933 with racist anti-Jewish laws, culminating in the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 which forbade Jews to identify themselves as Germans. In 1933 the Jewish press of every persuasion reacted to the new laws with insistent, even extreme, loyalty to the true Germany. A letter published by the Bishop of Luntz in early 1933, in which he rejected Nazi racist theories as contrary to Christian principles, while still upholding the Christian commitment to correct the Jews' errant theological course, elicited a somewhat favorable reaction in the "Jüdische Rundschau." The controversy caused in Catholic circles by this letter was reported in detail in the newspaper. Similarly, after the Nazi ban on Jewish businesses and professions, and the ejection of "non-Aryans" and those married to "non-Aryans" from the civil service in 1933, the "Jüdische Rundschau" reported on mixed reactions within the Evangelical church as well as in the Catholic church. Nevertheless, the Evangelicals, as reported in the paper, proceeded to attune themselves to the regime. Even the Hebrew words "Halleluja" and "Amen" were replaced in the liturgy by German phrases. With the proclamation of the Nuremberg Laws removing German citizenship and isolating the Jewish community, the reactions of the Orthodox Jewish press differed significantly from the rest of the Jewish press. The Orthodox saw the will of the Almighty in the events, suggesting that the assimilationist behavior of modern Jews had contributed to their downfall. The ultra-Orthodox saw a new opportunity to intensify inner Jewish life now that there was complete isolation from the outside world. The secular papers urged organized emigration, especially of young people, preferably to Eretz Israel, as well as self-help measures in education and employment, expressing the hope for a continued decent and honorable Jewish existence. By then, the controversies within Christian circles over Nazism and the Jewish question had diminished considerably, while the restraints on the Jewish press became much more severe. After "Kristallnacht," virtually all Jewish organizations were disbanded, and the editors of the Jewish periodicals were called in by the police to sign a declaration of their agreement to close down their newspapers.
Kesher / קשר © 1989 Tel Aviv University / אוניברסיטת תל-אביב