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May 19, 1961 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1961-05-19

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THE DETROIT JEWIS H NEWS — Friday, May 19, 196 1

,
Purely Commentary

t

A Report on a Tour of
a Country That Once
Sparkled with Jewish Genius
and is Now a Desert for Jewry

By Philip

SiOMOVitZ

The Government Attitude and the jetvish . Position—The German Past, Present and Future

Reporting objectively about the situation in Germany, it is
memories, and suspicions still lurk in the hearts of German
necessary to indicate that there are two specific factors in the post-war bitter
Jews—the
era. In the land where a single individual was able to negate the Republic. handful of _them who remain in the Federal German
Decalogue and to proclaim to the world a new faith of "thou shalt kill,
There is a double tragedy here—the virtual disappearance of
thou shalt pillage, thou shalt hate thy neighbor," where the most
German Jewry and the community's demoralization.
satanic spirit of all time was able to fulfill the program of "the final
Just as there is a sense of guilt in the hearts of Germans over
solution of the Jewish problem" in terms of the devastation of German what had
under Hitler—the fairest-minded of Jewish leaders
and East European Jewries, there is no longer anti-Semitism. A truly vouch for happened
it—so is there also a sense of guilt among Jews: for having
liberal government, now in power in Germany, would not permit it remained
in Germany. And just as much as there is a challenge to
even if there was a sizable Jewish community upon whom bigotry their parents
among Christian youth for their having either partici-
could be vented.
pated
in
or
condoned
the Nazi crimes, so is there the challenge of
In this same land, where great Jewish geniuses created scien- the youth to their Jewish
parents to explain why they remained in
tific wonders, where Judische wissenshaft enriched Jewish knowl-
Germany.
edge, where industrial and commercial giants established vast indus-
This is how the tragedy is multiplying in Germany. There
tries, there is now an impoverished Jewish community.
are
many
devoted leaders of German Jewry who maintain that there
Hitler had lost the war to the democracies, but he won the war will always
remain a Jewish community among them, that Jews are
against the Jewish people.
needed in Germany, that the genuine official German friendship for
Out of the Hitler-made holocaust_ has emerged a government Jewry
must be welcomed and encouraged and appreciated because
that is above reproach. There can be no doubt about either Adenauer it is needed
for historical' reasons and as a mark of German-Israel
or Luebke or Heuss, just as, there can be no doubt about the determina-
amity.
tion of the entire present German regime to guarantee just rights
Yet, one must leave Germany with a feeling that there is an
for Jews, to bend backwards in, their desire to prevent the recurrence
uncertain
for Jewry in that land, that the youth, who are
of Nazism, to ban all pro-Nazi elements. From the men above all the so small in future
numbers,
may already be planning to emigrate either
way down the line, this program is being put into effect. Even if to Israel or to some other
country. The future is bleak,
those in the government who are former Nazis—and there must be in spite of the genuineness democratic
of
the
democratic
spirit of the new Ger-
some, Hans . G7obke being an example — strain themselves to enforce
many, regardless of the optimism of the Jewish leaders.
the ultra-democratic principles, yet, there is a feeling of insecurity,
A contributing factor to this situation is the spiritual impover-
of a void, of a strained relationship that perpetuates suspicions.
of German Jewry. It is no longer the creative force it was.
A high government official expressed the wish that there could ishment
It
is
limited
scholarship, like the Germans themselves the Jews
again be Jews in Germany, that there might even be three million of are primarily in
interested
in material gains, the synagogues are empty,
them in Germany, so that Germans should know Jews and build except on the Holy Days,
Jewish teachers must be imported from
together with them a new society ; But he knows, as I have told him,
Israel,
there
isn't
enough
confidence
in the ,German Jewish leader-
that Jews would not return.
ship to inspire unified communal action. It is a community split and
The anomaly of the situation is that, unlike the situations in
other democratic countries, Germany virtually bans anti-Semitism, lacking in creativeness. It is no wonder that the frequent comment
is that Hitler and Eichmann achieved their goal of "the final
whereas in the United States and Great Britain and Canada Jew- here
solution to the Jewish problem."
baiting could flourish. Hitler's "Mein Kampf" can be purchased in
It is wrong to generalize. It is unfair and unhealthy; since
all countries, but not in Germany where it is banned. A German
there
has
been so much generalizing also about the Jewish people.
girl could "Heil Hitler" in Detroit or in Milwaukee or New. York,
Therefore
this Commentator brings the views of responsible leaders
and could not be arrested for it—although she would be viewed as
among Germans and Jews to his readers, so that they may know the
irrational—but in Germany she would be given a jail sentence. A facts
and judge the situation, as it exists and as it faces the future.
German boy could not shout "death to the Jews" within hearing of The German government is genuinely sincere. The Jewish community
the police without being arrested, but a Rockwell has freedom of is impoverished. There are differences of opinion regarding Jewry
speech in the United States.
as it exists and as it may develop. To this Commentator, it is a bleak
That's how far Germany has gone to eradicate anti-Semitism, future: But the facts should be known and understood, so that the
to make swastika-painting -a crime, to encourage Jewish cultural relationships among future generations may be in the spirit of the
activities, to finance synagogues and Jewish seminars.
human decency that met destruction under Nazism and struggles for
But the German government's efforts have not wiped out reconstruction within the orbit of democratic idealism.
Van Dam Believes There Will
criticize the present German government and that
He admitted that this is a speculative augury,

Always be a German Jewish , Community

DUSSELDORF, West Germany — From his of-
fice at Fischerstrasse 49, in this reconstructed com-
munity, where there isn't a sign of any of the
remains of the bombing that razed most of the town
towards the end of World War II, Dr. Hendrik
George van Dam, the general secretary of the Zen-
tralrat der -Juden in Deutschland, the Central
Committe of German Jewry, directs the activities
of the Jewish communities in the Federal German
Republic.
In the 10 years of the Zentralrat's activities,
many things have happened, but the real challenge
probably is yet to come.
Dr. van Dam reports that there are 22,000 Jews
affiliated with Jewish communities in Germany. He
believes there are 8,000 more who are unaffiliated,
and he does not count at all any of the additional
thousands who have intermarried and left the fold.
But Jewish leaders do not agree on the exact
numbers. Some claim there are many more.
Similarly, there is a variety of figures on the
percentage of the aged. But on this score there is
a measure of agreement. It has been established that
while the average age of Jews in Germany was 57 a.
few years ago, it is now 48. Thus, it is agreed that
there are few young people here—and that is con-
sidered German Jewry's problem.
Some contend that many of the youth will
emigrate, that most of them plan to leave for studies
abroad or for settlement in Israel. Some give the
figure for youth as 3,000, while Dr. van Dam claims
its is 4,000.
But there is near total agreement on the lack
of interest in Jewish religious life among the youth.
There is total agreement that religious activities
generally are at a very low ebb.
Dr. van Dam is challenging on this point.
"I have attended international gatherings and
have heard many reports which prove to me that
the situation is like that in the United States,
Great Britain and other countries," he said.
Thus, a declining spiritual status is in evidence,
and the Jewish leaders here consider it their major
problem.
Dr. van Dam, like many of his associates, holds
to the view that "it is important historically that
there should be a Jewish community here." He con-
ceded that there are no Jews in the Bundeswehr and
he ascribes it primarily to the consequence of the
composition of the Jewish , community, which has
few youths, and to the reaction against participation
in a military force.
The . secretary general of the Zentralrat was
especially anxious to emphasize that his committee
is an independent body, that it has the right to

it utilizes that right.

Germany's Spiritual impoverishment

BADEN BADEN, West Germany — From the
mountain heights of this world famous resort city,
where he has recently built his home at Herrenecker-
strasse 24, Karl Marx supervises the activities of the
leading Jewish newspaper published in Germany-
the Allgemeine Wochen ze itu ng der Juden
en in
ll
the Agem
eine Wochen bl a tt der d Deutschen Juden
(A smaller publication appears in Munich).
As editor and publisher of the paper, Karl Marx,
who may have been the first German Jew to return
to his native land with the American occupation
forces, holds' a position of great status in Germany.
He is constantly consulted by German officials, he
' has access to Chancellor Adenauer, to President
Luebke and former President Heuss, all of whom
he has befriended, and to the various ministries
in the Federal
R
Republic
ra l epuc
o Germany,
of G
No relation to the founder of the Socialist
movement and the author of "Das Kapital", the
name Karl Marx has occasioned unusual experi-
ences and reactions, all of which he has handled
with a sense of good humor. He seems to like the
idea of having to counteract the Karl Marxism in
his name.
Karl Marx's paper has a circulation of 48,000.
He claims that 60 per cent of his readers are non-
Jews, and he ascribes it to the interest that exists
in many ranks in the position of German Jewry.
But the fact that German officialdom is so deeply
concerned in whit is being published in his paper,
the German government's desire to befriend the
Jews and to grant them - all sorts of privileges, may
more than anything else, be responsible for a large
readership of the Allgemeine Wochenblatt in of-
ficial quarters. - Marx also claims wide readership of
his paper by former German Jews in Israel, the
'United States and other countries. .
Karl Marx believes that the existence of a
strong Jewish community in Germany is a necessity
for Germany and that it also is vital for Israel.
"West Germany is and will remain Israel's
strongest defender and supporter in Europe," Marx
said.
Is there much of a future for German Jewry?
Karl Marx is the most optimistic German leader I
have met. Unlike most of the others, who foresee
only bleakness in the years to come, he believes
that in another generation there may be 100,000
Jews in Germany.
"When° there were only 12,000 Jews left in
Germany," he stated, "about 10 years ago, I pre-
dicted a Jewish population of 30,000 in 1960. My
prophecy came true, and I believe that more and
more Jews will come here in the years ahead."

but he insists that relations between Jews and
Germans will be good, that such good relations are
needed and he expressed the view that many Jews
may, in the future, come to Germany from behind
the Iron Curtain.
Karl Marx is a conservative in his editorial t"!a-
pacity. He does not stir up controversial issues.
When a conflict arose among Jewish leaders regard-
ing the film "Die Schwartze Kies"—"The Black
Gravel"—which has been condemned as anti-Semitic,
Marx hushed the matter up. The general secretary
of the Zentralrat der Deutschen Juden, Dr. Hendrik
van Dam, had registered a protest against the film
and preferred charges against Producer Kaeutner
and later withdrew them. Marx rejected the charges
of anti-Semitism both against the film and the pro-
ducer, and said nothing about the controversy in his
paper.
Thus there is an evident difference of opinion
between Marx and van Dam, just as there is a
definite division of views on many subjects among
most of the Jewish spokesmen here.
Marx is especially concerned about the "spirit-
ual status" of German Jewry.
"We are spiritually impoverished," he said.
"German Jewry has no leaders. That is why the 30
to 40 prominent Jewish professors who are now
teaching in German universities refuse to be active
in the Jewish communities in Germany, although
most of them are affiliated with the communities."
- Marx has another criticism. He states that Ger-
man Jewish leaders now have control of approxi-
mately 140,000,000 Deutsche Mark, which have been
provided la the reparations by the Federal Republic
for the destruction of Jewish communal property.
That, Mark contends, has given the Jewish leaders
power that makes them a bit arrogant.
Many of the objective Jewish personalities have
made tin point that too many synagogues are being
built for communities that do not use them, that it
is difficult to gather minyanim for services, and that
the funds could be used for better purposes, in
addition to aiding Israel.
That's one of the views held by Marx, who was
anAnti-Zionist in pre-Hitler days but who now is
tl. % head of the West German Zionist movement.
Apparently van Dam's anti-Zionist views irk him.
Marx, who has traveled many times to Israel,
who has been to many European countries and to
Latin America, says he will continue to refuse to
go to the United States because he will not visit a
country that condones racial discrimination. It was
a viewpoint that sounded rather inconsistent for a
man who lives in a land that still has many—very
many Nazis, and which has to express pride in
having outlawed Nazism.
(Continued on Page 40)



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