Berlin (Dec. 1)
It is worth fighting for a people whose ancestors went to the stake for their “Hear, O Israel”, Professor Leopold Jessner, the producer of the State Theatre in Berlin and one of the most famous theatrical producers in Germany, said speaking at the New Synagogue in the Prinzregenten street here, inaugurating a series of lectures, which have been arranged there for the winter season.
Dr. Wilhelm Kleemann, the President of the Berlin Jewish Community, was in the chair.
To me, Professor Jessner, said, Judaism is a Community in the religious sense, and it is more essential now than ever that the link with Jewish tradition should not be broken by lack of responsibility.
The basis of all art, he said, is to produce something that is culturally native to oneself, that goes down to the roots of one’s soul and the past life of one’s ancestors. Without that art would die because it would be superficial.
Art depended on the personality of the artist, and that was the impress of his own soul and that of his forbears. On top of that there was the ethical value of the religion in which he had been brought up and which he felt. On that depended the character of his work as an artist. To the Jew there was a two-fold reason for this, because the Jew stood between two opposing worlds. He had to find a unity between his upbringing and his surroundings. He had to be firm in his own soul and yet to recognise the world around him.
To the German Jew at the present time this was more important than to any other Jew in any other country. The German Jews had for generations given of their best in the artistic, the economic and every other branch of German life, and were still doing so. Yet with all the achievements of the Jews, Jewish brains were barred from the Universities, from the service of the State, the Municipalities and from heavy industry. In Germany no Jew was allowed to become a supreme judge as in certain other countries.
He himself, as the producer of the German State Theatre had to be very careful, Professor Jessner said, in selecting German Jews to appear in the plays which he produced, because he was always subjected to anti-Jewish criticism.
But however that might be, he concluded, it was now a time of war, and war brought out character more strongly. It was for the Jew to realise that in war the great thing is not to surrender. One must fight on, and it is in the spirit of our ancestors who could die gladly for the “near O Israel”, he concluded, that we must carry on the fight.