There used to be a popular song to the effect that every cloud has a silver lining. Lately that song hasn’t been much in evidence. When gloom hangs low and the crowds walk with their heads in its black atmosphere, the silver lining talk somehow rings hollow.
During the nadir of the depression (and there are some who still think the nadir is where we’re at even today) there was a spirited attempt on the part of song pluggers and professional pollyannas to bring the cloud’s silver lining from the upside of the vaporous mass to its nether side by the simple expedient of song and slogan. Happy days are here again, the songbirds crooned into the microphones and across the footlights. But not everybody seemed to believe the silver-lining pointers-out. To many, indeed, the silver looked so tarnished that it seemed even darker than the cloud itself.
However, the thought that every dark cloud has its lighter side is a pretty one and one that might be worth playing around with. By Jews the world over, particularly, we mean.
Speaking of dark clouds, we could start with Germany, where the floating masses of vapor are so black and hang so low that Jews in that country may be said literally to be walking in eternal darkness of the blackest sort.
What’s the silver lining there?
Not so good. Germany’s “sturdy oak,” according to the most reliable reports, has been as good a friend to the Jews as he could be under the circumstances without plunging his country into a bloody civil war. His passing is in the nature of an added stratum of gloom on the cloud that hangs over and all around German Jewry.
Recently there came a report that the Frankfurter Zeitung had urged a more moderate policy towards the Jews in commerce. That seemed to be an indication, since the Zeitung is backed by powerful industrialists who have been among Hitler’s most generous financial backers, that there might be a strong movement toward easing Jewry’s lot in the Reich. Although the Reich’s Big Three haven’t shown any enthusiasm for this idea, as a silver lining it had its possibilities.
But it was soon eclipsed. On the heels of the announcement came a report that the mayor of the city of Erfurt had granted a Jewish merchant a license to operate a new clothing store. Swell, eh? Silver lining with a capital S. But the silver quickly turned to dross. In granting the license, the good mayor made a remarkable public speech. The gist of it was that he was giving the license out of the goodness of his heart. But if anybody bought from the Jew, he wasn’t a good “Aryan.” It would be interesting to know how much business that merchant has succeeded in doing since getting that graciously-granted license.
In the same batch of news, came the story that a Jew had been sentenced to seven months in jail in Darmstadt-Hesse because he had dared to declare that the anti-Jewish boycott of the Nazi government had ruined his business.
Another wire reports that all candidates taking state examinations for the bar must prove their “Aryan” descent.
Anyone who can see silver in that sort of cloud-lining would be a valuable adjunct to Carl Byoir’s staff of Nazi publicists. His imagination could be valued in gold rather than the white metal.
Large chunks of that same all-enveloping anti-Semitic cloud have strayed into Poland (where it somehow seems thoroughly at home), into Austria (where the pre-war generation of Jews tells us it is a strange manifestation), into Turkey (where it has hovered ere this), into Britain (where it gets all tangled up with the good old London fog so that nobody pays much attention to it), and even over the ocean into Brazil, Mexico, Chile and other such civilized lands.
With the possible exception of England, the Jews in all the countries named have had little opportunity to discover a silver lining. If they’re thought about it at all, it must be with excusable skepticism.
As for this department, incurable hunters of the silver lining that we are, we won’t take our telescope off the clouds until we’re able to announce definitely that thar’s silver in them thar watery hills.
And this is our idea of silver, in case the reader is curious:
Hitler suddenly decides he’s had enough.
“I want to get away from it all,” he announces officially through his mouthpiece Goebbels. “Ay tank ay go home.”
Accompanying this terse resignation is an apology for all he has done to the Jews of Germany and, indirectly, the world. As a token of his sincerity he calls his Reichstag together again for a farewell address and advises them that the best thing it could do would be to restore Jewish rights completely and name some prominent Jew to the vice-chancellorship or some other high post.
But maybe we’re asking for too much. That wouldn’t be silver. That would be New Deal gold.
â€”A. R. Z.