London (May. 24)
When I come across the phrase “German citizens of the Jewish persuasion” I cannot avoid a melancholy smile, Professor Einstein writes in an article which he contributes in the “Sunday Express” to-day. What is this “Jewish persuasion”? he asks. Is there, then, a kind of non-persuasion by virtue of which one ceases to be a Jew? There is not. What the description really means is that our beaux esprits are proclaiming two things. First, I wish to have nothing to do with my poor (East European) Jewish brethren, Second, I wish to be regarded not as a son of my people, but only as a member of a religious community.
Is this honest? the Professor pursues. Can an “Aryan” respect such dissemblers? I am not a German citizen, nor is there anything about me that can be described as “Jewish persuasion”. But I am a Jew, and I am glad to belong to the Jewish people, though, I do not regard it as “chosen”.
Antisemitism as a psychological phenomenon will always be with us so long as Jews and non-Jews are thrown together, Professor Einstein writes. But where is the harm he asks. It may be thanks to antisemitism that we are able to preserve our existence as a race; that, at any rate, is my belief.
When I lived in Switzerland, Professor Einstein continues, I did not realise my Judaism. There was nothing that called forth any Jewish sentiments in me. When I moved to Berlin all that changed. There I realised the difficulties with which many young Jews were confronted. I saw how, amid antisemitic surroundings, systematic study, and with it the road to a safe existence, was made impossible for them. This refers specially to the Eastern-born Jews in Germany. These Eastern-born Jews are made the scapegoat for all the ills of present-day German political life and all the after-effects of the war. Incitement against these unfortunate fugutives, who have only just saved themselves from the hell which Eastern Europe means for the to-day, has become an effective political weapon, employed with success by every demagogue.
When the Government contemplated the expulsion of these Jews I stood up for them and pointed out the inhumanity and the folly of such a measure. Together with some colleagues, Jews and non-Jews, I started university courses for these Eastern-born Jews, and I must add that in this matter we enjoyed official recognition and considerable assistance from the Ministry of Education.
These and similar happenings have awakened in me the Jewish national sentiment, Professor Einstein concludes. I am a national Jew in the sense that I demand the preservation of the Jewish nationality as of every other. I look upon Jewish nationality as a fact, and I think that every Jew ought to come to definite conclusions on Jewish questions on the basis of this fact. I regard the growth of Jewish self-assertion as being in the interests of non-Jews as well as of Jews.