German Jewry’s “back to Land” Movement: First Colony Organised Under Auspices of Jewish Ex-soldiers
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German Jewry’s “back to Land” Movement: First Colony Organised Under Auspices of Jewish Ex-soldiers

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The foundation stone was laid yesterday at Gross Gaglow, near Cottbus, outside Berlin, of the first Jewish agricultural settlement in Germany, established with the aid of the Government, which is intended to mark the beginning of the big movement to settle German Jews on the soil in Germany, which has been launched by the Union of Jewish Ex-Soldiers in Germany.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Prussian Government, the District Chief, Dr. Eichler, the Lord Mayor of Cottbus, Dr. Kreutz, and other State and local dignitaries, and by about 200 representatives of Jewish communities and Jewish organisations of all shades of opinion, among them Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck, President of the Federation of German Rabbis; Law Councillor Leo Wolff, Vice-President of the Berlin Jewish Community, representing also the Federation of Jewish Communities in Prussia; Herr Heinrich Stern, President of the Federation of Liberal Jews in Germany; Professor Frankfurt, on behalf of the O.R.T. World Federation; Herr Wilhelm Graetz, on behalf of the German O.R.T.; Dr. Ludwig Tietz, on behalf of the Jewish Youth Crganisation in Germany; Dr. Friedrich Brodnitz, on behalf of the Keren Hayesod, Dr. Nathan Birnbaum, on behalf of the Agudath Israel, and Councillor Rau, on behalf of the Jewish People’s Party and the Zionist Federation in Germany.


The estate at Gross Gaglow was acquired last year by the Federation for Jewish Land Settlement in Germany with the aid of a loan advanced by the Berlin Jewish Community, and there are already a number of Jewish land workers engaged in working the land there.

Till the war, we German Jews were comfortably placed as merchants, traders, artisans, or as members of the academic and liberal professions, Herr Moritz Rosenthal wrote recently of the project in the official journal of the Berlin Jewish Community. We were assured of our livelihood, and for the most part we were well-to-do. The war and the inflation period destroyed most fortunes. The trustification and syndicalisation of trade and the overcrowding of all the academic professions uprooted the basis of Jewish livelihood. The Jews in Germany, once a bulwark of the middle class, are becoming more and more proletarianised, and unemployment among Jews is acute. The high standard of living and of culture to which German Jews have been accustomed as the bearers of spiritual liberal Judaism throughout the world is no longer. Emigration, the cure-all in times of political or economic distress is out of the question, for there is no country which will open its doors to the emigrants. Together with this economic annihilation of German Jewry, we have the unholy political and social distress of our time. We German Jews are truly in a catastrophic position. We must organise our self-aid before it is too late, before we grow too weak. Gross Gaglow is a model and a beginning, he concluded. The alleviation of Jewish distress in Germany by means of land settlement is the great task of the future, a work which must be taken up by all the Jews in Germany, and by all the Jewish communities.


Dr. Eichler, speaking at the function in the name of the District Authorities, said that they had to do here with an important enterprise. The sparsely populated district of Cottbus was still capable of absorbing agricultural settlers, and it could develop into a centre for supplying vegetables to the whole of Greater Berlin. Bearing in mind the possibilities and the idealistic motive behind the Jewish movement to settle town-dwellers on the soil, the authorities could only view the scheme with favour and do all they could to promote it.

Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck, who delivered the dedication address, dwelt on the significance of the return of Jews to the plough, emphasising the close connection between man-Adamwith Adamah – the earth. The reunion of the two, he said, was the fulfilment of an old Jewish yearning. In the spiritual atmosphere of the ghetto, he went on, the Jew had felt himself to be in intimate contact with the things that were above the earth, working the heavenly plough. But with the entry of the Jew into the world, with the secularisation of Jewish life, he could no longer keep away from the real soil, and the real plough, and the reunion of Adam and Adamah was the religious commandment of the hour.

Ex-Captain Dr. Leo Loewenstein, the President of the Federation of Jewish ex-Soldiers in Germany, said that the achievements of German Jewry in all spheres of German cultural life, and not least the fact that 12,000 Jewish soldiers had laid down their lives in defence of the German fatherland, gave the German Jews the right to settle on the soil which they had guarded with their lives against the foe during the war.

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