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Jewish Responses to Anti-Semitism in Germany, 1870-1914

Jewish Responses to Anti-Semitism in Germany, 1870-1914: A Study in the History of Ideas

Sanford Ragins
Copyright Date: 1980
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Jewish Responses to Anti-Semitism in Germany, 1870-1914
    Book Description:

    This book is a study of a community under attack, and its goal is to describe, analyze, and illuminate the response of that community to a series of unexpected and deeply threatening developments. Just a few years after achieving full civil emancipation in 1871, the Jews of Germany were confronted with a sudden surge of anti-Jewish hostility different from anything they had ever experienced before. The new “anti-Semitism" (the word was coined at this time) was complex movement emanating from diverse groups in German society and using a variety of tactics and ideological formulations. Dr. Ragins’ study is an attempt to understand how the German Jewish community responded to anti-Semitism during the decades before World War I, and, especially, why it reacted as it did. The central argument of the book is that German Jewry defended itself against modern anti-Semitism with all the ideological, legal, and organizational weapons at its disposal, and that the liberal Jews of Germany mounted the best possible defenses which could be achieved in their historical circumstances. Among the topics treated are the emergence of the Centralverein, the attempt to form a common front with the Orthodox community against the anti-Semites, and the responses of Jewish spokesmen to the racial ideologies which made their first appearance in public discussion during this period. Just as Jewish liberation reached what may have been its culmination, however, a serious dissent from the position of the established community was created by the young people of Herzl’s Zionist movement, and this dramatically new development is studied in some detail. In analyzing the way in which the first German Zionists responded to anti-Semitism, we understand something about the power as well as the limitations of Jewish liberalism, and we also comprehend the rise of an ideology that was to have great significance in the Jewish future.

    eISBN: 978-0-87820-136-5
    Subjects: Religion, History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. ix-x)
  3. PREFACE (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. CHAPTER ONE The Background (pp. 1-22)

    During the period from the mid-eighteenth to the late nineteenth century Jewish life in Western and Central Europe was radically transformed. Powerful forces were revolutionizing all Europe in those years. The growth of commercial and, later, industrial capitalism, the spread of nationalism, the emergence of new social classes out of the crumbling old corporate structures, the growing dominance of new modes of thought in religion, science, politics, and philosophy—all these irresistible currents Were destroying, reordering, and challenging existing ideas, patterns, and institutions. A new Europe was being shaped to take the place of the old, and the ghetto, the...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Jewish Responses to Anti-Semitism, 1879–1893 (pp. 23-44)

    The surge of anti-Semitisrn in the late 1870s took German Jewry completely by surprise, and for some time their response to it was marked largely by a continuation of the buoyant optimism with which they had greeted the Emancipation Edict. Though occasionally recognized, the signs of the growing tension in German-Jewish relations were consistently underestimated or dismissed altogether. In an age of enlightenment, it was believed, isolated incidents of hostility were without abiding significance. The Jewish community was counselled by its leadership not to create problems where none existed by reacting with excessive sensitivity to minor expressions of prejudice. Again...

  6. CHAPTER THREE The Centralverein (pp. 45-103)

    In December 1892 there occurred the first in a series of events that were to alter the framework within which all previous jewish responses to anti-Semitism had taken place. In that month at the Tivoli Hall in Berlin, the Conservative Party held its first convention since 1876. As we have seen, an awareness had long been growing among conservative political leaders that the key to power in an age of elections depended upon their ability to attract the votes of substantial masses. Now, in 1892, with Bismarck no longer in office and the new chancellor, Caprivi, following policies hostile to...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR First-Generation Zionists (pp. 104-131)

    Within the scope of this study it is neither necessary nor possible to present a full history of the Zionist movement in Germany.¹ Rather, our interest is limited to a consideration of Zionism as one of the most important ways in which German jewry reacted to anti-Semitism. Zionist was not, of course, a purely reactive phenomenon, although Zionist leaders Were confronted with this charge and sensitive to it.² And by concentrating on those aspects of Zionism which illuminate the response of Western Jewry to anti-Semitism, We in no way deny the importance ot other in factors in the emergence and...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Second-Generation Zionists (pp. 132-160)

    The positions of I Herzl and his associates were, as we have seen, still quite close to the emancipation ideology. Although breaking radically with the liberal Jewish community on the crucial question of Jewish nationalism, these first-generation Zionists continued to affirm and defend a number of the most important values of the Enlightenment, and with the exception of Birnbaum, they remained aloof from the blatant anti-liberalism of volkisch and racial thought. Seen as a response to anti-Semitism, their Jewish nationalism was still closely linked to the modes of thought which had long been dominant among German Jews and testifies to...

  9. CONCLUSION (pp. 161-163)

    Over half a century has elapsed since the ideological struggles discussed in this study took place, and many have seen the judgment of history in the events of the years that followed. The emergence of Nazism out of the political and economic turmoil of the twenties, the implementation of Hitler’s “Final Solution” for the Jewish problem during World War II, the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948—in all of this, it is often claimed, the naiveté of the emancipation ideology and the perspicacity of early Zionism are revealed. These tumultuous, tragic decades, it is said, settled once...

  10. ABBREVIATIONS (pp. 164-164)
  11. NOTES (pp. 165-213)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 214-222)
  13. INDEX (pp. 223-226)