German Jewry on the Eve of Destruction Essay

German Jewry on the Eve of Destruction Essay

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Did the Jews of Germany do enough to prevent their wholesale massacre by the Nazis? Should they have resisted earlier and to a greater degree? Should the Jews in Western countries acted even when Jews within Germany did not? In 1933, there were several different responses to Germany's increasingly anti-Jewish tendencies. Then, on the eve of destruction, before the Nazis had fully planned for their extermination, the German Jews had a chance to affect Germany and their own lives. I have chosen a few of the German Jewish responses to examine in this essay.

After the single-day boycott of April 1, 1993, where the Magen David was posted on establishments of Jewish-race ownership, a Zionist named Robert Weltsch wrote the following lines in a Zionist newspaper article titled '"'Wear It With Pride, The Yellow Badge'"':

This is a painful reminder to all those who betrayed their Judaism...The Jew who denies his Judaism is no better a citizen than his fellow who avows it openly...The Jew is marked a Jew. He gets the Yellow Badge...This regulation is intended as a brand, a sign of contempt. We will take it up and make it a badge of honor.[1]

As a Zionist, Weltsch was critical of those Jews who had replaced their Jewish identities with solely German ones. He was happy to see the German government show those Jews that they were still Jewish, regardless of what they thought -- as far as he was concerned the German government was helping his cause by reawakening the assimilated Jews in Germany. The Magen David was being recreated as the symbol of the Zionist movement and so why shouldn't Jews be proud to wear it? What Weltsch unfortunately did not seem to comprehend was the significance of these initial acts of discrimination.


... middle of paper ...

...story of the Holocaust. New York: Franklin Watts, 1982. p. 120.

[**] Centralverein deutscher Straatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens

[5] C.V.-Zeitung, No. 22, June 1, 1933 (cited in Documents on the Holocaust p. 50-51).

[6] Holborn, Halo. A History of Modern Germany. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969. p. 277-280.

[7] Bauer, p. 123.

[8] Bauer, p. 117-118.

[9] Yahil, p. 95.

To return to the reference in the text, click on the number.

Works Cited

ed. Arad, Yitzhak, Yisrael Gutman and Abraham Margaliot. Documents on the Holocaust. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1981.

Bauer, Yehuda. A History of the Holocaust. New York: Franklin Watts, 1982.

Holborn, Halo. A History of Modern Germany. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969.

Yahil, Leni. The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

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