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January 10, 1964 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-01-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Dr. Holborn's History of Germany Relates Early Anti-Semitic Trends

Dr. Hajo Holborn, Sterling
Professor of History at Yale
University, who is considered
the leading authority on Ger-
man history in this country, had
intended to follow up his His-
tory of the German Reforma-
tion with a one-volume history
of Germany from 1648 to 1945.
He found that task to be im-
possible. It would have necessi-
tated, as he explains, "a com-
pression of the history of the
last century that would have
blurred the understanding of
the complex developments
which enabled Germany twice
during the last 50 years to
challenge the traditional world
order."
Prof. Holborn states further
that "although Germany's drive
for world power in many re-
spects served only as a catalyst
for the radical transformation
of our world, her part in this
historic process deserves a full
treatment."
He has therefore written "A
History of Modern Germany,
1648-1840," which has been pub-
lished by Knopf, and he plans
to follow it with an 1840-1945
history in which he will deal
with the Nazi era.
A native of Germany, he held
professorial posts at Heidelberg
and in Berlin. An opponent of
Nazism ("I was an outspoken
republican, of which there were
not so many—particularly of
my age"). he was forbidden to
teach in Germany and he came
to the U.S. in 1933 to join the
Yale University faculty.
Many of the experiences
affecting Jews during the
periods under review are de-
scribed by Prof. Holborn.
With reference to the Edict
of Toleration of Oct. 13, 1871,
which ended Austria's "Ferdi-
nandean period," he states

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that "the legal position of
Jews, like that of other
groups, rested on special
privileges and not on general
legislation."

led to the emigration of many
Jews to Poland, indicated the
insecurity of the Jews in
Germany," the historian
points out.
Jews continued in many
He continues to describe the
conditions of that time by places in spite of the catastro-
stating: "Prior to the late 18th phes, but in some cities they
century„ equality of Jews could were not tolerated. Dr. Holborn
only have meant equality with lists the status of Jews in some
either the nobility or the peas- of the German communities—
ants of burghers. But the ques- there was one Jew in Ulm, 500
tion would still have remained Jewish households in Frank-
in what class of burghers they furt. There were opportunities
should have been fitted. On the for improvement, since Jews
other hand, the Jews wanted to were of assistance in economic
be a group of their own in matters, and because they could
order to cultivate their religion establish contacts. The histor-
and live according to the law ian states: "After 1648 Germany
of their fathers. The special had to rely almost entirely on
position of the Jews in the the importation of metals, and
medieval and modern world is consequently Jewish connec-
not surprising, nor is the fact tions with the sources of sup-
of their pariah role in a society ply were of great value. Coinage
dominated by a single orthodox and currency operations be-
faith. The centuries that saw came main activities of Jewish
the worst persecution of Chris- bankers."
tians who deviated from ortho-
Jewish participation in pro-
doxy could not be expected to duction was made possible
forgive the Jews their religion. with the decline of the guilds.
Only a generation that began That's when Jewish capital was
to see the different religions welcomed, and although the
as emanations of a universal Jews were expelled from Vienna
natural religion could become their financial expertness was
more tolerant in this respect." needed and special permission
Thereupon, the historian ana- was given to some to return.
lyzes the status of the Jews at
Prof. Holborn describes the
that time during which anti- functions of the "court Jews,"
Semitism was rampant. "All the activities of Samuel Op-
during the Middle Ages," Dr. penheimer who died in 1703
Holborn writes, "Jews managed after becoming a mighty
a substantial part of the long- figure in Austria's financial
distance trade, particularly of history. There is special ref-
luxury goods and of all money erence to the famous "Jew
and loan operations. The canon- Suss," Joseph Suss Oppen-
ic prohibition of usury had no heimer who served Duke Carl
parallel in Hebrew religious Alexander of Wurtenburg
laws, and consequently Jewish and whose life ended on the
social ethics presented no im- gallows.
pediment to capitalistic atti-
A happier note is struck in
tudes. Dire necessity compelled dealing with Moses Mendelssohn
the Jews to live outside the (1729-86) "to whom (Ephraim
occupations and craft guilds, Go tthold) Lessing created a
which were set up as Christian monument in his 'Nathan the
corporations. Moreover, the ac- Wise.' " Mendelss ohn, who
quisition of landed property worked his way up to owner-
was forbidden, and schools, ship of a silk firm, is described
universities, and all public of- as the devout Jew who became
fices were closed to them. On active in the Enlightenment
the other hand, kings, princes, movement.
and bishops needed their ser-
Commenting on the attitude
vices. The privileges and
exemptions that the Jews re- of students towards Jews, Dr.
ceived constituted a bare mini- Holborn states that their refusal
mum of protection. Often they to accept Jewish students in
were swept aside when Chris- their unions "reflected their
tian religious feeling ran high families' social attitude." He
or Jewish economic practices adds on this score: "The be-
were rightly or wrongly sus- lievers in a Kantian concept of
pected of damaging the liveli- universal man lost out. Only
'Germans and Christians' were
hood of the Gentiles."
admitted. This did not mean the
"The violent persecutions adoption of racist principles,
of the Jews in the 15th and for converted Jews were not
early 16th centuries, which rejected, and in this age many
(the Restoration after 1815)
" •
German Jews joined Christian
4
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that German education could
not overcome these barriers of
religion."
Curiously, the author of this
history maintain that "Karl
Marx, who came from a family
that had cut its ties with the
Jewish community completely,
nonetheless by his intense ra-
tionalism showed traces of the
long rabbinical tradition of his
family."
Of interest also in this history
is the reference to Metternich's
interest in the Jewish problem,
and this observation: "Wilhelm
von Humboldt, through his con-
tacts with the Jewish literary
circles of Berlin, had gained
a great human liking for Jews
early in his life. Together with
Metternich he struggled suc-
cessfully ... to defeat attempts
of some states to deny full
equality to the Jews . . ."
It is surprising, however,
that there is no mention in the
Holborn history of Heinrich
Heine (1767-1844) who was a
prominent figure in the period
discussed in this book.
The Holborn history is val-
uable for its evaluative material.
We shall look forward with the
keenest interest to the second
volume which will deal with the
era of the horrible holocaust
that has disgraced Germany.

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