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Stefan Zweig Depicts Humiliating Lives of German Jewish Children

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A depressing picture of the manner in which German Jewish youngsters are obliged to subject themselves to humiliating conditions in Germany was the theme of an address delivered by Stefan Zweig, exiled German author of world reputation, at a meeting of the women’s committee of the Central British Fund for German Jewry held here.

“Grown-up men and women must not acknowledge defeat”, said Zweig. “They have the strength or think they have to master their fate, and to build a new home on the ruins of the old. It is the defenseless, the children, the growing generation who must have all our care, for they are faced by a double peril. The first menace that confronts the Jewish children in Germany today is the sense of inferiority.

“Think of the fate prepared for thousands of German children today, through organized humiliation. A little girl wants to play with other children; but they shrink from her, hurl an ugly word at her, the sense of which she cannot yet grasp; but she has sobbingly realized that she is a pariah. A boy sees the other boys in school wearing a new, very attractive brown uniform. He comes home and begs his father and mother to buy him a uniform like it, so that he should not be different from the other children. The father and mother feel embarrassed. They must very carefully explain to him why he alone must not wear this dress. And a child is weeping here, and another there, and hundreds more elswhere.

“They have all experienced one profound incomprehensible, and therefore doubly unforgettable, humiliation. And from this earliest painful childish experience it goes on undeviatingly step by step, through the whole period of youth. In school they must sit on separate benches, are treated differently and even though the teacher may be most considerate and friendly, the memory of the scoffing of the other children, the taunt of the alleged inferiority of their race remains.

“Young girls find the dancing school shut against them; they must not join in rambles, because they belong to another race, a race that Germany has for less than a year branded as inferior and contemptible.

“There is scarcely a town in Europe in which ancestors of ours have not been burned at the stake, not a street through which our forefathers have not fled into exile. Yet —and this is the pride of the Jewish people—we have not become a people of hate. We have always tried to serve humanity. We have loved the land in which we dwelt, and its language which we speak. There is nothing that I find, as a Jew, nobler in our people than the fact that we have always been the masters and not the slaves of our sufferings, that we did not convert misery inflicted upon us into lasting enmity against the nations that wronged us. We have always lived as grateful friends in the midst of the nations that had done injustice to our fathers and our forefathers. I hope that the terrible misunderstanding that has now been converted into deeds against us in Germany will not remain lasting and eternal.”

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