The Daily News Letter a Crisis in German Jewry
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The Daily News Letter a Crisis in German Jewry

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J.T.A. Special Correspondence


It was not so long ago that we all pointed with pride to the unity achieved by German Jewry in the face of great adversity. And it was true that German Jews, despite divergencies of opinion, had achieved the measure of solidarity dictated by the circumstances. The great value of this new orientation of Jewish communal life was quickly felt and appreciated in meeting the difficult problems which a Nazi regime presented for the Jews of Germany. It resulted in many soundly constructive developments and many accomplishments not otherwise possible.

But now a cleavage is appearing in German-Jewish unity and a crisis is approaching rapidly. It is due to a fundamental philosophical difference which, true enough, has been present all along but now is being forced to the fore.


The issue between those German Jews who wish to direct German-Jewish life on the fundamental thesis that the majority of the Jews in Germany and their children will have to work out their destiny in the Reich and the Zionists who see the only solution in the German-Jewish question in Palestine and insist that all German-Jewish life be directed to that end.

The former who are in the majority in the administrations of the national Jewish organizations and in the community organizations, have been handicapped in the preaching of their doctrines by the very real government objection to any propaganda seeking to induce the Jews to remain in Germany and rebuild their lives to conform with the altered circumstances. Such German-Jewish leaders, for instance, as Dr. Martin Buber, Dr. Bruno Woyda and others have been forbidden to address public meetings to urge this point of view.


On the other hand, the authorities listen with interest to any plans or measures designed to facilitate the emigration of Jews from the Reich. They welcome every activity tending to lead the Jews out of Germany and have cooperated in such measures as the transfer agreement permitting emigrants to Palestine to take capital in the form of German goods.

Now the issue has been precipitated by the Zionist forces who have demanded that control of the Berlin Jewish community be handed over to them and that the personnel of its various departments be changed.

The German Zionist Federation, at its recently concluded conference adopted a remarkable resolution which cannot but bring matters to a head. This resolution proclaims the right of the Zionist movement to influence decisively the whole of Jewish life in Germany. The leadership belongs to Zionism in all branches of life in which Zionist initiative has shown the German Jews new roads for constructive upbuilding and systematic aid; in the question of the Jewish schools, of vocational and economic policy, the promotion of Palestine upbuilding and emigration. “Zionism cannot in the present situation of the Jews in Germany restrict itself to certain spheres of work, but must demand that the Zionist recognition should serve as the foundation of a new shaping of the whole of Jewish life.”


On this fundamental the resolution proceeds: “The Conference of the German Zionist Federation decides: The German Zionists demand a personal and organizational trans formation of the central and local bodies of German Jewry which will guarantee them the influence due them in the shaping of Jewish work in Germany. The executive committee is instructed to take the necessary action to realize these demands and to see that they are carried into effect.”

This resolution, virtually an ultimatum, if it is to be followed up— as indeed the Zionists have every intention of doing—can only bring the widely-heralded German Jewish unity tumbling down into ruins. For the non-Zionist elements cannot accede; they cannot surrender without abandoning beliefs as deeply rooted in themselves as Zionist ideology in the Zionists.


Many of them believe that the issue at stake in Germany is not that of just the 500,000 Jews remaining there today—but that in Germany issues are being decided and must be decided that must profoundly affect the Jews of the entire world and must materially shape Jewish destiny for generations to come. To these people, flight to a Palestine refuge, the abandonment of the field of battle without a struggle, is a cowardly course. Rightly or wrongly, they believe their fate and the fate of Jewry in general is to be decided in Germany. They cannot and will not adopt a course which to their thinking is nothing but surrender.

Many others are opposed to Zionist domination of German-Jewish life because they feel that Palestine cannot be the refuge for all of them —that at best it can only shelter a part of German Jewry. They favor a program that will expedite the emigration to Palestine of those who are temperamentally suited to Palestine life and can be accommodated there but will also consider the requirements of the great majority who will have to remain in Germany and build new lives here. The Zionist program, to their way of thinking, is unsatisfactory because it does not recognize this second factor and does not provide for it.


We observers from beyond the borders of the Reich who enter Germany at intervals only are perhaps frequently better enabled to

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