Berlin (May. 15)
Germany was always the land of antisemitism, Dr. Georg Bernhard, former editor of the “Vossische Zeitung” and ex-President of the International Federation of Journalists, said in an address to a meeting of Jewish students arranged by the Berlin Jewish Community, to consider the position of the Jewish students in Germany.
Everywhere the Jew encountered not only indifference, but actual hostility, varying in the different sections of the population only in the degree of intensity and of tactfulness in its application, he continued.
We must not delude ourselves, Dr. Bernhard went on Even when the Hitlerist Wave will have passed, antisemitism will not completely disappear. The Jew was in Germany always subordinated in the matter of his participation in the cultural life of the nation. Yet in spite of that, Jews were always successful in all spheres of German life. That was possible only because the Jews had everywhere developed greater potentiality, more capacity, diligence and an obstinate will to live. It had always been so in Jewish history, and it was that which had kept Jewry alive through all the centuries of persecution.
The problem of the Jewish youth in Germany has to-day become more acute, Professor Bernhard continued, but in pre-war Germany, too, it was almost impossible for a Jew to become a professor, and a Jew found it very difficult also to obtain a teaching position in the higher schools, not to speak of other things to which no Jew could ever attain, like the rank of officer, even the lowest rank of lieutenant.
Postwar Germany changed the situation, but only for a short time. All the achievements of the new developments after the war have to a great extent been now lost.
But in one respect, the youth of to-day has a harder time than the previous generation had, Dr. Bernhard continued, for previously they lived in hope, while now they are reduced to a state of resignation.
I know that I shall be making myself very unpopular, Dr. Bernhard said, by telling you that there is nothing in the belief held by young Jewish people to-day that they will secure equal treatment by giving equal service. To-day, as always, the Jew in all branches of cultural and economic life will have to do much more to obtain the same amount of recognition as the non-Jew. It would be wrong to pretend that things are easier than they are. Perhaps I shall only make myself still more unpopular if I tell you that being compelled in this way to give more than other people is a blessing to Jewry. It has kept the Jewish people at a high pitch of alertness through the centuries.
To a large extent the position of the student is linked up with the general position of the German people, Dr. Bernhard went on. The Universities are overcrowded, he said. They have become a sort of incubator to deal with the surplus youth who want to enter professional life. The professional classes are all overcrowded. On top of the political animosity against the Jews, we now have economic competition-naked, primitive competition for bread. No Jew can obtain employment to-day if there are non-Jews applying for the position. This is true even of businesses which are owned by Jews. There is a curious mentality abroad that one is really conferring a favour on the Jew by not giving him employment. There is also the same competition in the liberal professions. At present, the movement is all to replace the Jewish doctor and the Jewish lawyer by the National Socialist doctor and the National Socialist lawyer.
Dr. Bernhard Proceeded to say that in economic life there are cycles and curves, and he warned his hearers against excessive pessimism in regard to the future. If they did not believe in the victory of human reason, they had to believe at least in the reason of things, and there they saw a way out. So long as unemployment exists in its present proportions, he said, the position of the Jews will be menaced, but things cannot remain like that. The problem of unemployment would have to be dealt with by reducing hours. The time was coming when capitalism would be curbed. The economic programmes of the various political parties were already beginning to look like each other.
A section of the Jewish student youth would have to go into non-academic occupations, Professor Bernhard suggested. They would have to learn to do manual work, while keeping their brains alert, in the same way as our forefathers and our coreligionists in Eastern Europe were able to maintain a high cultural and spiritual level while earning their bread in other ways.
As for the problem of the Jewish students from Eastern Europe who are now studying at the Universities in Germany, Professor Bernhard said, they constitute definitely part of the problem of German culture. The Jews from Eastern Europe who have adapted themselves to the Western Universities have always been the pioneers of German culture. We must keep open the doors for the people of Eastern Europe to obtain their education in the German Universities, he said. That is the duty of German Jewry in the interests of Germany Itself, as well as of Jewry, because if these young people go to study at English or French Universities they will be lost to German culture.