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Until then, anti-Semitism was not a driving force in German political matters. If anything, Germany (which you must remember had only been a country since 1870) was driven by militarism and nationalism. These two things come from the influence of Prussia and were not surprising since Prussians had enormous influence, especially in the army. Nationalism is characteristic of countries still finding their identity.
There is great distress in German Jewry....New distress has overtaken us. Jewish people are torn away from their work: the sense and basis of their lives have been destroyed." Central-Vereins-ZeitUng. April 21, 1933
In his book "Mein Leben als deutscher Jude" ("My Life as a German Jew"), Dr. Nahum Goldmann describes the "phenomenal rise of German Jewry" as follows:
"German Jewry, which found its temporary end during the Nazi period, was one of the most interesting and for modern Jewish history most influential centers of European Jewry. During the era of emancipation, i.e. in the second half of the nineteenth and in the early twentieth century, it had experienced a meteoric rise.... It had fully participated in the rapid industrial rise of Imperial Germany, made a substantial contribution to it and acquired a renowned position in German economic life. Seen from the economic point of view, no Jewish minority in any other country, not even that in America could possibly compete with the German Jews. They were involved in large scale banking, a situation unparallelled elsewhere, and, by way of high finance, they had also penetrated German industry. A considerable portion of the wholesale trade was Jewish. They controlled even such branches of industry which is in general not in Jewish hands. Examples are shipping or the electrical industry, and names such as Ballin and Rathenau do confirm this statement. I hardly know of any other branch of emancipated Jewry in Europe or the American continent that was as deeply rooted in the general economy as was German Jewry. American Jews of today are absolutely as well as relatively richer than the German Jews were at the time, it is true, but even in America with its unlimited possibilities the Jews have not succeeded in penetrating into the central spheres of industry (steel, iron, heavy industry, high finance, shipping), as was the case in Germany.
Their position in the intellectual life of the country was equally unique. In literature, they were represented by illustrious names. The theatre was largely in their hands. The daily press, above all its internationally influential sector, was essentually owned by Jews or controlled by them. As paradoxical as this may sound today, after the Hitler era, I have no hesitation to say that hardly any section of the Jewish people has made such extensive use of the emancipation offered to them in the nineteenth century as the German Jews! In short, the history of the Jews in Germany from 1870 to 1933 is probably the most glorious rise that has ever been achieved by any branch of the Jewish people". (p. 116)
In the early 1920s jews were prominent in almost every important phase of German life. They occupied highly respected positions throughout society. They were doctors, lawyers, scientists, academics as well as businessmen. The move against jews did not come until Hitler came to power in 1933 during the Great Depression.
And by a strange paradox, the German Jewry has become a stronghold of the finest German civilization. The German theatre, the film, literature, and--in large measure--music and painting have suffered severely during the last ten months. German science has received irreparable damage, not merely by the loss of Jewish and liberal scientists, but by the ascendancy of a spirit that is unscientific, or rather anti-scientific. German thought has been equally damaged--German political thought has ceased to exist. There is a profounder understanding of German classical literature amongst Jews than amongst Nazis. There is a Jewish theatrical company which does superb performances of German drama, though only “non-Aryans” are admitted (not the Jews but the Nazis exclude the many “Aryans” who, wishing to see a good play just for once, would like to come).
It would be an illusion to suppose that there can be any amends for the persecution--the cost in physical and mental suffering, in lives, and in the total ruin of families and fortunes has been far too great. And “surely oppression maketh the just man mad”. A terrible hatred and bitterness that often break out inwardly, poisoning a whole mind, or, in the home, creating rancor, ill-temper, and disruption, are common enough in the absence of any outward justice or possibility of redress. Some German Jews have acquired an extraordinary obsequiousness and a disposition to accept any compromise. But the stupendous disaster that has overtaken the German Jewry, one of the most civilized and intelligent communities in modern Europe, has also produced in many of its members a greater self-reliance, an intensification of the inner life, a deepened religious sense, and a passionate devotion to the permanent values inherent in Judaism. [23 January 1934]