Mrs. Randolph Guggenheimer, Editor
Miss Pauline Baerwald, chairman of the Junior Division of the United Jewish Appeal, has just returned from Germany, where she met and talked with many of the young men and women whose lives have been affected by the present persecutions. The thing that impressed her most was the strength with which these young people are facing a world that has suddenly become so changed for them. Young men who have been trained to be doctors or lawyers are calmly and uncomplainingly learning to become locksmiths and carpenters. Young women who had been living in real luxury are not calling themselves martyrs. They are busy readjusting themselves to an entirely new standard of life.
It is not apathy that is making them willing to adapt themselves to conditions that are forced on them. There is no little amount of courage that is demanded for sacrifices of this magnitude. In Germany today the members of the younger generation are fighting, fighting to stand on their own feet, and the fearless way in which they have met their dangers is giving them strength.
The Jews in different countries have always attained positions of respect. They have become great lawyers and doctors, merchants and bankers, artists and statesmen. I do not believe that this is due to an innate ability that all Jews possess. The Jews have always been forced to fight to get ahead. It is part of their tradition, this desire to struggle upwards. Ambition is a wonderful motivating force, and ambition is the gift that persecution has given back to the young people of Germany.
What I am wondering is just how many of our younger group in America have any of this fighting spirit left, and how many are perfectly content to sit back and accept the things that our fathers and grandfathers fought for. There are still fighters in our ranks, but there are, at the same time, plenty of slackers. There are too many young men today who consider themselves thoroughly abused if they are forced to work particularly long or particularly hard, and there are too many young women who feel that a comfortable income and the accompanying conveniences are the truly important inducements for matrimony. There is no crisis here, no battleground, and the result is that too many of us are sitting back, smugly satisfied and thoroughly unwilling to exert ourselves. Our ambition is no longer to surpass, but merely to equal the feats of those around us, and that with the least possible effort. How many of us could face cheerfully, bravely, and even more, strenuously, the conditions which have been thrust upon the youth of Germany?
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.