Silverfield 1 Jerusalem stood along the banks of the River Jordan as one of antiquity’s earliest capitals, being fortified

1800 years prior to the Common Era. The walls first utilized to protect this Israelite municipality from outsiders would eventually become a metaphor for the alienation befalling Jews as the world around them transitioned into an increasingly homogenous society. Over the ensuing course of their history, looming convictions of anti-Judaism would emerge in the form of exiles, legislative acts and violence, measures that thrust Jews into a mutli-generational struggle for status within oscillating European regimes. Though this battle for acceptance would rage for nearly two millennia, as Europe approached modernity the maturation of enlightened philosophy began the process of altering Europe’s totalitarian landscape through the revolutionary demand for universal egalitarianism. As the winds of change cultivated a shift toward liberalism, social reform bred optimism among European Jews who believed their constant sense of inequity could be alleviated by way of Emancipation; an ideal providing approval in the form of legislative equality. While the eventual adoption of this policy was perceived as an enormous victory for European Jewry, Emancipation’s accords were initially withheld from those still suffering in the East, whose mounting persecution under Tsarist rule caused many to pursue a more drastic solution than their western counterparts. This uniquely paradoxical circumstance would create a schism within European Jewry that gave rise to a pair of conflicting ideologies: one favoring a return to Jerusalem in order to reinstate the Jewish claim to a homeland (Zionism), the other strongly encouraging Jews to continue their fight for European assimilation (Anti-Zionism). Though the emergence of these dissimilar theories was at first deemed irrelevant by the majority of Emancipated Jews, the devastation of their civil rights that came at the hands of Nazism would

Silverfield 2 ultimately force Jews to come face-to-face with the reality of unwavering anti-Semitism and the necessity of Zionism’s struggle for Palestine. Far prior to Nazism’s chilling inquiry regarding what should be done about Europe’s Jewish population; the Jews themselves had been pondering one of a similar nature: regarding the likelihood of integration within an environment characterized by cross-cultural antagonism. This problem arose in the aftermath of the 135CE Jewish Diaspora, an event propagated by the Roman Emperor Hadrian that exiled Israelites from the Kingdom of Judah and, in order to avoid their future identification with Israel, forbid Jews to return while renaming the area Palaestina, which it would remain for the next 1800 years1. With their claim to a universal homeland purloined by the mighty Roman Empire, forced emigration left Jews with no choice but to venture out of Zion and find solstice in the arduous process of cultural absorption. So began a new chapter of Jewish history that spawned communities in areas all across Imperial Europe, societies whose capability to thrive hinged primarily on Jews’ ability to coexist with often hostile neighbors. For the remainder of their history under such conditions, Jews bore witness to cyclic periods of accomplishment and failure, all but obscuring the overall success of their pre-Emancipation struggle into ambiguity. The next 1700 years of their existence would be comprised of fluctuating phases of tolerance and prejudice that resulted in a historical conglomeration of flourishing Jewish influence (such as 13th century Mediaeval Al-Andalus) followed shortly by blatant episodes of intolerance, notably the 15th century Iberian Exile. This characteristic ebb-and-flow of Jewish subsistence would continue on its teetering path for centuries, but as autocratic oppression bred enlightenment, the people of Europe would rise-up against despotism, actions that played a crucial role in

Yohanan Aharoni, The Jewish People an Illustrated Text (Continuum International, 2006) pp. 99-101.

Silverfield 3 formulating the ideals of Jewish thinkers who emerged to become the voice of a people persecuted for millennia. Upon the dawn of the 18th century Age of Enlightenment, the majority of Jews still looked back on their quest for acceptance as neither an overall success nor complete failure; a trend that persisted even as Thomas Paine and Voltaire presented Europeans with the possibility of universal egalitarianism. This is not to say that the Enlightenment completely omitted European Jewry, rather that the Jews would again face an ambiguous outcome, some benefiting while others only received harsher stipulations. As philosophic ideals became radical action, revolutionary demands for collective equality bred sanguinity among Western European Jews, their French counterparts being granted full citizenship on September 27, 1791, yielding a status they had not held since the region belonged to the Roman Empire2. At the same time, however, this victory was only celebrated regionally as the fear of a similar eastern upheaval caused many European monarchs to only tighten the authoritative grip held on their masses. This Revolutionary backlash was especially significant for the Jews living under the totalitarian regime of Czar Catherine II, who, following the fall of France’s Ancien Régime, alienated Russian Jews by establishing the Pale of Settlement in the 1790’s3. Here, over 90% of Russia’s Jewish population was forced into isolation, where constant discrimination resulted in Jews paying double taxes only to be denied the ability to own property or receive a higher education4. Once again it appeared that another historical era had come and gone, still leaving the whole of European Jewry at idle, but this progressive stalemate was merely a product of the short-term. The Jews of Europe would use the tenets of egalitarianism first
2 3

Frederic C. Jaher, The Jews and the Nation (Princeton University Press, 2002) p. 75 Dov Levin, The Litvaks: A Short History of the Jews in Lithuania (Berghahn Books, 2000) p. 66 4 Ibid

Silverfield 4 outlined during the Enlightenment to create their own vision of equality that manifested itself in the form of Emancipation. By the time world order was resorted in 1817 with the reseating of France’s Bourbon Monarchy, it seemed that French Jews may have been the sole benefactors in the march toward freedom stemming from the Enlightenment. Unbeknownst at the time, however, the remainder of the 19th century would be a period marked by a pivotal turning point in Jewish history: Emancipation. First appearing in an 1837 Encyclopedia, the term came from the phrase “Emancipation of the Jews” which was defined as a legal process “giving [Jews] equality of status with the rest of the citizens of the state in respect of political and civic rights”5. Clearly derived from Enlightenment-era principles, it would be this term that outlined the single-most significant theorem that could give Jews hope in ending their struggle for parity. Nevertheless, Emancipation was not so easily achieved as it was defined, for like all previous developments impacting European Jewry, this was not a singular occurrence that all Jews experienced at once in a similar fashion, but a slow process that varied greatly from region to region. Regardless of Emancipation’s measured espousal, it soon fostered optimism among Europe’s Jewish intelligentsia, who firmly believed that their peoples’ barriers to assimilation could be requited under the auspices of legislation giving all Jews equal rights. One decade after its emergence into European culture, the feasibility of wide-spread Jewish Emancipation would be thoroughly tested in the wake of liberal insurrections that spread across the European countryside in the summer of 1848. Much like the Jews living in France during its revolutionary period, those fighting along-side non-Jews in 1848 understood that supporting the radicals was in their best interests, the demand for new constitutions and civil rights paralleling the Jews’

Werner Mosse, Revolution and Evolution, 1848 in German-Jewish History (Mohr Siebeck, 1981) p. 4

Silverfield 5 own need to abolish the prejudicial laws that hindered their ability to fully assimilate and adapt to the ways of the majority. In turn, countries such as Belgium, Denmark and Germany all succumbed to revolutionary pressure following the 1848 uprisings; each passing legislation granting Jews civil rights, causing many to believe that their struggle had finally coming to an end6. So immense was the initial impact of this freedom that Jewish professionals quickly made milestones, one such example being Gabriel Riesser who was elected vice-president of the Revolutionary Frankfurt Parliament and later became Hamburg’s Obergerichtsrat (head judge) in 1859, proclaiming his position was achieved “not for [his sake] but for the sake of the Jews”7. In the winter months of 1867, Emancipation trudged eastward, proving beneficial in Austria-Hungary and Prussia, where upward mobility allowed Jews to be the sole population demographic able pull themselves from the lower rungs of society and break-through into the emerging middle class8. By January of 1871, the expectations of full assimilation were only broadened in the eyes of German Jews, who were granted complete legal equality and citizenship under the new German Reich, rights that would remain intact until the rise of Nazism over fifty years later9. However, while Westerners rejoiced at the apparent end of their persecution, such freedoms were withheld from those suffering in the East. The Jews still living under Tsarist oppression would continue to wage their emancipatory battle until 1917, the four decade gap cultivating a movement that soon advocated a return to Zion and the recreation of a Jewish state along the Mediterranean coast.

6 7

Ibid, 6 Henry Morais, Eminent Israelites of the Nineteenth Century (University of Michigan, 2006) pp. 370-371 8 Ritchie Robinson, The ‘Jewish Question’ in German Literature: 1749-1939 (Oxford University, 1999) pp. 53-55 9 Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Judaism: History, Belief and Practice (Routledge, 2003) p. 243

Silverfield 6 Among the first and most influential of these Eastern Zionist activists was Leon Pinkser, a Jew born into Tsarist Russia who would become the leader of Hibbat Zion, an organization widely appreciated as the precursor to the modern Zionist movement. Interestingly, Pinkser did not begin his life as Jewish nationalist; in fact, his first contributions to Russian Jewry came in 1849 with the publication of a weekly journal entitled Razsvei (Dawn) whose main purpose was to foster societal integration through adoption of Russian culture and language10. Pinkser’s premature, anti-Zionist viewpoint was not uncommon during the early stages of Emancipation, for he, like many Jewish philosophers, sincerely believed that Eastern European anti-Semitism could be resolved through cultural absorption and that Russia’s Jews were next-in-line to reap the benefits Emancipation had brought Westerners. This idealism was short-lived, however, as, in lieu of liberalism; Russian Jews were instead subjected to numerous examples of anti-Semitic “demonstrations” that erupted in the form of violent attacks known as pogroms, causation for newspapers such as the St. Petersburg Golos (Voice) to suspect that anti-Jewish brutality was spiraling out of control11. One article in particular, taken from January of 1870, forewarned Russian Jews that the “hatred [against them] is so great that sooner or later it will force its way into the open”, words that forecasted events whose impact on Russian Jewry would force even the most optimistic anti-Zionists to drastically rethink the possibility of Eastern Emancipation12. Eleven years after the article’s publication, the Golos’ unsettling prediction came to fruition as an unsubstantiated rumor caused majority of Russia’s population to link the March 1, 1881 assassination of Tsar Alexander II with


Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Fifth Key Jewish Thinkers (Routledge, 1997) p. 106 John D. Klier, Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Russian History (Cambridge University, 2004) pp. 16-17 12 Ibid

Silverfield 7 their country’s Jewish communities13. Wide-spread anti-Semitic beliefs turned this conspiracy theory into action, initiating a series of pogroms that sped across Russia beginning with Kiev and Odessa in April, rapidly boiling over to the countryside throughout the spring and summer months of 188114. The violence perpetrated against the Jews during this period had ominous consequences that reached beyond trepidation, it also convinced many that a more extreme solution was required if Russian Jews ever hoped to live lives free of cruelty. Such attitudes deeply affected Pinkser, who, in the wake of the violence, promptly became a Zionist, publishing Auto-Emancipation in 1882, a pamphlet which noted that: “Judaism and anti-Semitism have been inseparable companions…any struggle against this aberration against the human psyche is fruitless”15. This struggle, which Pinkser clearly concreted as a failure, was primarily attributed to the fact that he felt “legal emancipation will [never] bring about social emancipation…the isolation of the Jews cannot be removed… [for] unlike other peoples the Jew is inevitably an alien. Having no home, he can never be anything but a stranger”16. Although Pinkser died shortly after this publication, his lexis helped catalyze the quest to bring Jews back to their homeland, cementing Zionism’s place within in European Jewry over the course of the next six decades. Though the concept of Zionism dated back to prior events, publications and theories, it did not become a worldwide political phenomenon until popularized by Theodore Herzl’s Austrian publication of Der Judenstat (The Jewish State: an Attempt at a Modern Solution to the Jewish Question) in 189617. Intriguingly, Herzl seemed to
13 14

Ibid, p. 39 Ibid 15 Cohn-Sherbok, Fifth Key Jewish Thinkers p. 106 16 Ibid 17 Ibid, 107

Silverfield 8 believe his concept was unremarkable, stating: “The idea which I have developed in this pamphlet is an ancient one…I have discovered neither the Jewish situation nor the means to remedy it”, though to many Jewish historians, this booklet remains the foundation upon which modern political Zionism was built18. As Herzl worked to spread his message, it was at first greeted with hesitance from the majority of Europe’s Jewish population, with less than one percent of Vienna’s Jews subscribing to his initial Zionist publications19. Furthermore, when Herzl attempted to call a congress regarding his Modern Solution in the assimilated area of Munich, it was met with much resistance, the region’s Jews rejecting the proposal, believing Emancipation had dissolved the need for any further probing into the Jewish question, fearing that Zionist ideals would compromise their newly acquired equality and citizenship by “stirring up accusations of disloyalty”20. Within Russia itself, other barriers cluttered the proliferation of the Zionist movement, most notably the fact that Herzl’s goal coincided with an enormous need for financial aid; because, in order to reclaim Palestine, the Zionists required a charter. With hopes of obtaining £8 million to receive the grant, Herzl established the Jewish Colonial Trust in 1899, but by 1903, the sum fell well short, raising £395,000, merely 5% of the total21. Herzl’s inability to accumulate these funds by 1903 would have a devastating effect on the Zionists Movement, for in April of the same year; a massive pogrom broke out in the Russian province of Kishinev, leaving 47 Jews dead and many thousands wanting out of Russia22. As a result, from 1903-1907 hundreds of thousands of Jews fled the country and, since the Zionists had yet to secure Palestine, over 90% headed across
18 19

Theodor Herzl, Theodor Herzl: A Portrait for this Age (World Pub. Co, 1955) p. 233 Walter Laqueur, The History of Zionism (Tauris Parke, 2003) pp. 87-88 20 Ibid, 103 21 Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lexicon of Zionism ( September 22, 2003 22 Katharine Knox, Refugees in an Age of Genocide (Routledge, 1999) p. 20

Silverfield 9 the Atlantic to the United States23. Despite these early failures, Herzl continued his “struggle for Palestine” by preaching this initiative to those attending the six Zionists congresses held before his death in 1904, overall, however, it appeared as if Herzl’s ideals were simply ahead of their time. Dismissing the Russian violence as purely regional, Western Jews held steadfast in their belief that Emancipation had sojourned their troubles, but this legislative equality only acted as a temporary blinder. They could not have foreseen the vehement racism brewing in Germany and the devastation that would soon follow in the wake of Nazism’s rise to power. Although Herzl did not live to see it, European Jews slowly came to the ill-fated realization that he was correct in “[recognizing] the emptiness and futility of trying to ‘combat’ anti-Semitism”24. With their blinders securely fastened, those Jews not confined to the East started to view the 20th century as an era that was shaping out to be one of Jewish prosperity. They had perceivably won the battle for acceptance and this was reflected in the highdegrees of assimilation that were prevalent in areas of Germany, France, Italy, and Belgium. In these countries, Jews sought to dress and talk like their non-Jewish countrymen while fostering cultural absorption through formal education and urban dwelling; with more than 70% of German Jews residing in cities25. More fuel for the German anti-Zionist fire came in 1912, when, for the first time, Jewish college graduates held a percentage (10%) of the seats that made up the Reichstag26. Two years later, World War I would only deepen the ingrained feelings of pride held by German Jews, for, in terms of patriotism, there is no better way to show allegiance to a country than fighting

23 24

Paul M. Johnson, A History of the Jews (Harper Collins, 1988) pp. 365-367 Lance Selfa, The Struggle for Palestine (Haymarket Books, 2002) p. 4 25 Marion A. Kaplan, Jewish Daily Life in Germany: 1618-1945 (Oxford University, 2005) p. 175 26 Steven Lowenstein, German-Jewish History in Modern Times (Columbia University, 1998) p. 275

Silverfield 10 for their cause and, as a result of their efforts numerous Jewish veterans received citations for valor from the German government. This service and decoration would soon become among the main factors that forced thousands of Jews to down-play the tightening grip of Nazism, many of them simply unable to come to the realization that the country they bled for could propagate such heinous acts against them. Although the devastation witnessed in the wake of World War I forced humanity to grow insensitive toward six-figure casualties (including thousands of innocents), its conclusion only marked the beginning of a bloodier chapter of human history and laid the foundation for an even more dismal future for German Jewry. All of this began on June 28, 1919 when German foreign minister Hermann Müller signed the Treaty of Versailles and unwittingly agreed to concessions that would seal the fate of German democracy two months prior to its formation. Among the most damaging stipulations of the Treaty was Article 231, the so called “War Guilt Clause” that stated: “Germany accepts the responsibility… for causing all the loss and damage to [the Allies] as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies”27. This admission of culpability would prove to be not only demeaning to the German populace but also devastating to their budding democracy, imposing a $32 billion financial burden from which it would never recover28. In the aftermath of their humiliating (and highly expensive) defeat, Germany hoped to rebuild, thusly reorganizing its politics by drafting a new constitution which established the Weimar Republic on August 11, 191929. Though life in the Weimar Republic was by no means void of anti-Semitism or political instability, Jewish communities shortly became empowered by the government, which
27 28

Ruti G. Teitel, Transitional Justice (Oxford University, 2000) p. 122 Eberhard Kolb, The Weimar Republic (Routledge, 2004), p. 43 29 Ibid, 19

Silverfield 11 cultivated an increasing sense of communal identity through the organization of communal and ritual affairs30. By way of this autonomy, Jews were not only considered Germans but also given the opportunity to promote their individual customs, constructing synagogues as well as participating in numerous local organizations including student fraternities along with athletic and singing societies while promoting their culture through the establishment of visual arts centers and museums31. For the time being, it appeared as if Jewish influence was steadying as a result of Weimar democracy and most German Jews seemed to be no different from their non-Jewish, middle class, peers; people who were affected by socio-economics in the exact same manner as other Germans. These factors acted in harmony to build the foundation for a strong sense of Germanic acculturation among Jews, something that soon hindered their ability to accept the fact that the country they acted as functional citizens in could take a methodical approach to their execution: that the Holocaust might indeed take place in their own back-yard. With the hope of building a strong foundation for the future and starting anew, in its infancy the Weimar Republic urged its citizens to put Germany’s World War I defeat behind them, though there still were those who could not accept their nation as a weak country whose military prowess fell short of Allied strategy. Instead, these groups attributed Germany's defeat to Dolchstosslegende, the myth that they had been “stabbed in the back” by a number of domestic entities such Jews and Communists who deliberately sabotaged the German war effort32. The persistence of these groups soon gave rise to rogue political factions who based their principles around the idea of völkisch which hoped to promote the power of ethnic nationalism by fostering a sense of German

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "Jewish Communities of Prewar Germany." Holocaust Encyclopedia 31 Ibid 32 Léon Poliakov, The History of Anti-Semitism (University of Pennsylvania, 2003) pp.322-323

Silverfield 12 Volksgemeinschaft or “national community” and among the first and most influential of such parties would be the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP) 33. Founded by Anton Drexler in 1919, the DAP aimed to bring solidarity to the German populace by speaking out against immigration and capitalism, their message being readily received by veterans who believed non-ethnic citizens had usurped German victory. One such patriot was Adolf Hitler, whose passionate speech during one of the party’s first meetings caused Drexler to insist on the spectacular orator becoming the 54 person to join the DAP. Almost immediately, Hitler began making numerous addresses that captivated audiences and gained recognition, causation for the party to grant increasing power to what they viewed as an invaluable tool. By early 1920, Hitler began to utilize this growing powerbase to fit his own xenophobic needs, tweaking the socialistic tenant of egalitarianism so it would apply only to those of "Aryan blood”, deeply ingraining ethnicity into the party-line and placing Nationalsozialistische in front of Deutsche Arbeiterpartei to create the NSDAP (Nazi Party)34. Becoming the Party’s first chairman on July 29, 1921, Hitler’s eventual rise to power coincided with the dissolution of the democracy that once allowed Jewish influence to thrive in Germany. As the Weimer crumbled, Hitler’s message continued to permeate the German consciousness, forcing Jews into a precarious position that culminated in millions being murder by their own government. Overall, the 1920’s had been a period of transition for Germany, their conversion to deomcracy initally helping the economy to flourish, but booming production soon turned into economic turmoil as the Great Depression devestated Germany in 1929 and sent Wiemar Republic into a tail-spin. As a result of the world-wide financial down-turn,

Jeffrey Verhey, The Spirit of 1914: Militarism, Myth and Mobilization in Germany (Cambridge University, 2000) pp. 214-216 34 Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich (Penguin, 2004) p. 173

Silverfield 13 limited resources exacerbated the looming debt still owed from war-time concessions and citizens began to question their government’s ability to cope with such economic constraints as they witnessed unemployment skyrocket to 2.5 million by the winter of 192935. Over the ensuing months, the German public was thrown into a state of panic, causing then president Paul von Hindenburg to declare a State of Emergency in 1930, a decision that would set the stage for a three-year train-wreck of mishaps that subjected Germans to a flurry of govermental restructuring and elections. Following the Emergency Decree, which enabled Hindenburg to enact laws without Reichstag majority, the German president reorganized the administration to include both a Presidential seat and a Chancellorship, the later being the de facto head of government. This creation of a Chancellorship, coupled with subsequent elections, put the growing Nazi Party in a position of power, receiving 37.3% of the Reichstag seats in 1932 and having their leader named Chancellor a year later36. Hitler’s position, in combination with the party’s domination of the Reichstag, permitted a swift codification of the 1933 Enabling Act, effectively bringing an end to the democracy seen under the Weimar Republic and the Reichstag no longer functioned as a parliamentary organization37. More-so resembling Nazi Headquarters, any further Reichstag elections to replace Hindenburg following his death on August 2, 1934, were dismissed and Hitler named himself Führer und Reichskanzler, combining the highest offices in terms of the state, military and party while giving him a an authority that could no longer be challenged in a court of law. The Third Reich had begun and European Jews were not prepared for what was on the horizon, the centuries of struggle that had brought forth Emancipation would all be lost
35 36

Ibid, 234 Werner Maser, Hitler’s Letters and Notes (Harper & Row, 1974) p. 147 37 Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich pp. 284-285

Silverfield 14 over the span of one decade. Outside German borders, the post-World War I age was appearing to be a victorious era in the quest to return Jews to Israel, as the most important Zionist legislature to date, the Balfour Declaration, was transmitted on November 2, 1917. Sent from the desk of British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour, it publicized the fact that “[the British government] viewed with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object”38. While Zionists reveled in Balfour’s pledge, the “achievement of this object” could not be realized until Britain gained control of Palestine, which occurred during the San Remo Conference of April 19, 192039. After six days of negotiation, the delegation adopted the San Remo Resolution, incorporating the Balfour Declaration and Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations to become the foundation for the July 24, 1922 Mandate for Palestine, effectively giving Britain sovereignty over the area until 194840. The immediate impact of the Resolution was not primarily felt by the Zionists, but sent shockwaves throughout Palestine’s outraged Arab community who threatened to boycott all economic activity with the Jews, marking the first of many blatantly antagonistic acts that bolstered the animosity brewing between the two main presences in the region. In order to control this growing hostility, a pair of committees emerged in May of 1924; the General Zionists (representing the voice of Jews) and the Supreme Muslim Council, which the British hoped would quell anti-Jewish sentiment by centralizing Muslim religious affairs and institutions41. Britain’s desire to

Mitchell Cohen, Zion and State: Nation, Class, and the Shaping of Modern Israel (Columbia University, 1992) 39 Doreen Ingrams, Palestine Papers, 1917-1922: Seeds of Conflict (G. Braziller, 1973) p. 88 40 Cohen, Zion and State, pp. 75-77 41 Uri M. Kupferschmidt, “The Supreme Muslim Council: Islam Under the British Mandate for Palestine” Ph.D. diss., Hebrew University, 1987, p. 297

Silverfield 15 suppress this antipathy would be tested merely five years later as an unprovoked surge of attacks broke out against Palestine’s Jewish population beginning in August of 1929 on one of Judaism’s most sacred dates, Tisha B'Av, a prayer session devoted to commemorating their people’s numerous tragedies42. As they mourned, Arab militants stormed the Kotel ha-Ma'aravi (Western Wall) leaving Jews fearing for their lives even during such a highly consecrated event43. Shortly after the violence witnessed at the Kotel, increasing Jewish influx had reached its breaking point and the Arab community could no longer tolerate the growing tensions caused by Jewish settlement. They retaliated on August 23, 1929, massacring 67 Jews living in the once-peaceful town of Hebron, causing a mass panic that resulted in hundreds of Jews fleeing for Jerusalem44. In the aftermath of the violence, public outcry forced British Colonial Secretary Lord Passfield to reassess the feasibility of continued Jewish immigration in his October 1, 1930 White Paper, the most telling passage stating that: “It is an error to imagine that Palestine is in possession of large areas of vacant land which could be made available for [further] Jewish [immigration or] settlement”45. By the time Lord Passfield’s assessment reached British shores, the Second Census of Palestine showed a total population of 1,035,154 and it appeared as if the region had reached maximum capacity, forcing many Zionist to believe that perhaps their ultimate goal was never to be achieved46. In spite of all the problems facing Zionists in their quest to secure Jerusalem, the increasingly anti-Semitic environment of Germany caused the attention of the world’s Jewish population to transition away from Palestine and toward Western Europe just as

Jonathan Frankel, Jews and Messianism in the Modern Era: Metaphor and Meaning (Oxford University, 1991) pp. 392-393 43 Ibid 44 Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate (Holt, 2000) p. 314 45 Zionism-Israel Information Center, The Passfield White Paper: 1930 ( 46 Aaron Berman, Nazism, the Jews and American Zionism, 1933-1948 (Wayne State, 1990) p. 41

Silverfield 16 the Third Reich began its formal campaign against Jewry, something that was to be initially achieved through legislation. Although Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor and the rise of Nazism foreshadowed ensuing acts of persecution in the minds of some Jews, most were unaware of Hitler’s intentions to strip them of the freedoms Emancipation had granted in 1871. On August 20, 1935, however, these objectives were clarified through the drafting of two acts that together formed the basis for the Nuremberg Laws and ushered in the Nazi Racial State. The first of the Laws was entitled The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, and hoped to safeguard the purity of Aryanism by forbidding “marriages between Jews and citizens of German blood” along with criminalizing “relations between Jews and nationals of German blood”, with the penalties being “imprisonment or hard labor”47. Though this first Law derided Jews of a portion of their rights, the second act was what truly devastated the community, robbing them of the most cherished entitlement coinciding with Emancipation: citizenship. What the Jews had finally achieved over a 2,000 year period was taken from them in a single phrase contained in Article 2 of The Reich Citizenship Law which stated that “a citizen of the Reich is that subject only who is of German or kindred blood”48. As of September 15, 1935 Germany’s Jews were no longer citizens and all would effectively lose their “full political rights in accordance with the provision of the laws” until the collapse of Third Reich in 194549. In the wake of the laws that voided Emancipation, it would be logical to assume all German Jews immediately became strongly convinced Zionists; however, this was not the case. Instead, Jewish reaction to the Nuremberg Laws was divided, some agreeing that Zionist were correct in seeing the “futility of trying to ‘combat’ anti47

Geoffrey Pridham. Documents on Nazism 1919-1945. (Viking Press, 1974) pp. 463-465 Ibid, pp. 466-467 49 Ibid

Silverfield 17 Semitism” whereas others viewed the Laws as the worst and only examples of antiJewish legislation, still unconvinced that mass emigration and the reclamation of Palestine was in their best interests50. Of those in the latter majority, the Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland (Reich Deputation of German Jews), acted as Jews’ main ally in recovering from the devastation their civil rights had endured and, as of September 17, 1933, the Reichsvertretung quickly became the chief organization that represented Jewish interests at a national level51. Two years after its founding, the Nuremberg Laws acted as the first challenge to the organization, who issued a reactionary statement through the pages of September 24, 1935’s issue of Juedische Rundschau (Jewish Review [JR]), the bi-weekly journal of the German Zionist movement. Oddly, the statement was as antiZionist as it was optimistic, stating that “[the Jews in Germany] must create a basis on which a tolerable relationship becomes possible between [them and the German people]… [with the] hope that the Jews will be enabled to keep a moral and economic means of existence”52. This belief that Germans and Jews could foster a new relationship in the wake of the Laws was even expressed by the Zionists themselves, who stated in September 17th’s issue of JR that: “Once the Jews have been stamped a national minority it is again possible to establish normal relations between the German Nation and Jewry. The new Laws give the Jewish minority their own cultural life, their own national life”53. Such attitudes, while clearly hopeful, did not mean that the Zionists viewed the Laws as a good omen for the Jewish people, (referring to them as “the heaviest of blows for the Jews in Germany”) but rather that Jews could still survive under the restrictions, not as
50 51

Jack Fishcel, The Holocaust (Greenwood Press, 1998) p. 23 Hubert Rübsaat, Germans No More: Accounts of Jewish Everyday Life, 1933-1938 (Berghahn Books, 2006) p. 5 52 "Formal Statement by the Reichsvertretung,” Juedische Rundschau, September 24, 1935 53 “Statement from The Editor: A.I. Berndt,” Juedische Rundschau, September 17, 1935

Silverfield 18 German citizens, but as a clearly defined minority54. Still, even the Reichsvertretung recognized that the Laws stood as evidence to continue “hoping for the future by the vitality of the progress in the construction of a Jewish Palestine” by “offering its services to the work of reconstruction in Palestine”55. So the question still remained, why did the Zionists not use the Nuremberg Laws as supreme justification for their position? The answer, for the time being, was simple; they felt that mass emigration would spell the end of German Jewry, but their initial advocacy to limit the number of Jews able to leave the country would soon pose a threat to not only ending German Jewry but European Jewry as a whole. As the Jews of Germany sought to recover from what they believed was the first and final act of Nazism antagonism, everything they had endured until the winter of 1938 would soon pale in comparison to the events of November of that same year, the most dreadful pogrom in Jewish history: Kristallnacht. Over the 24 hour course of the demonstration, 7,500 Jewish-owned shops were either ravaged or destroyed and over a thousand synagogues were ransacked for their “material of historical value” with 190 being set aflame, the shattered remnants standing as the achievements of the Night of the Broken Glass56. While this caustic demolition devastated the Jewish community, the destruction of edifices was not the only goal of Kristallnacht, and following the orders set forth by SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the State Police arrested thousands of Jewish men, with 3,700 being sent to the Dachau concentration camp57. Again, it would appear that the aggression against German Jews should have supplied the Zionists with ample ammunition to support emigration to Palestine, but, in October of 1938, merely a
54 55

"Formal Statement by the Reichsvertretung,” Juedische Rundschau, September 24, 1935 Ibid 56 David Cesarani, Becoming Eichmann (Da Capo Press, 2007) p. 70 57 Ibid, 71

Silverfield 19 month prior to Kristallnacht, the Arab world was fighting their own anti-Semitic battle, calling for “a halt-a total halt-to Jewish immigration to Palestine”58. In response to the Arab “urge that all further Jewish immigration into Palestine should be stopped forthwith”, the British Colonial Government issued a statement entitled the White Paper of May 17, 1939 that addressed the situation with the intention to limit immigration under the British Mandate at a rate of 75,000 between 1939 and 194459. This sum equated to allowing merely 15,000 Jews to emigrate per year, representing an extremely low quota considering the fact that 150,000 Jews were seeking a way out of Germany in the wake of Kristallnacht60. For many, the stipulations of the 1939 White Paper had essentially made it as difficult to achieve Zionism’s goal as it was for Jews to live under the restrictions of Nazism, but in the words of David Ben-Gurion (a Zionist who would later become Israel’s First Prime Minister in 1955) the Zionists “should fight Nazis as if there were no White Paper and fight the White Paper as if there were no Nazis”61. Ben-Gurion’s statement soon turned ironic as it was made only months prior to the Allied declaration of war on Germany and, although the effort drained a majority of Britain’s resources, this did not mean that they simply ignored Palestine; the Royal Navy still keeping a watchful eye over Jewish activity, enforcing the immigration quotas in ways reminiscent of the Nazi’s own Police State. The most infamous example of this came in the aftermath of the British authorities’ refusal to allow the Patria, a Jewish refugee ship, to dock in Palestine, arresting those aboard and sending them to the Atlit detainee camp in November of 1940. For Ben-Gurion and his Zionist followers, it seemed as if the events of the late 1930’s had effectively brought Jewish immigration to a
58 59

Bernard Avishai, The Tragedy of Zionism (Allworth Press, 2002) p. 153 Ibid 60 Ibid 61 Avishai, 154

Silverfield 20 standstill, a tragic occurrence as he felt that this period was the time when Jewish emigration was “most urgently needed”62. Akin to his 19th century Zionist predecessors, Ben-Gurion’s notion of the deteriorating Jewish situation was proven correct within Germany only three years after the 1939 drafting of the White Paper, as, on January 20, 1942, German SS and state officials met at the Wannsee Conference in order to coordinate the deportation of European Jews: the Final Solution for achieving Nazism’s ultimate aim. While it is now known that these men were planning the systematic transportation of Jews to the extermination camps of Poland, at the time, German Jews viewed the deportations with much uncertainty, thinking their destination was “a place where an unknown fate await[ed] them”63. Although their fate was mysterious, in a letter from Berlin’s Zionist Youth Movement dated March of 1942, their words show trepidation that this journey was indeed a one-way trip: “we write in the hope that at least one of us will remain alive …many of our members are no longer with us”64. Even as the Nazis deported many of their neighbors, the Youth Movement held on to the conviction that they may one day see Jerusalem, ending their communication with the words: “do not forget us, just as we will not forget you; those already living in the Land of Israel and building our future… until the day comes when we can once more all be together”65. These young Jews would never be united with their Zionist brothers in Palestine, their optimistic message being the final communication sent from Berlin’s chapter of the Young Maccabi Union of Scouts. While it is clear that the surviving Zionists in Germany’s capital remained hopeful, those living in captivity were much less ambivalent to the goings-on around them by March of 1942,
62 63

Ibid Y. Schwersenz, Pioneer Underground in Nazi Germany (Tel Aviv, 1969), pp. 55-57 64 Ibid 65 Ibid

Silverfield 21 and Poland’s Warsaw Ghetto was no different. During the war years, Warsaw remained a hotbed for Zionist activity and among the most influential of these groups was HaShomer Ha-Zair, who began circulating an underground newspaper, entitled Jutrznia (Dawn). In an issue from March 28, 1942, it is apparent that these particular Zionists were well aware of their people’s doom: “We know that Hitler's system of murder leads steadily to a dead end and the destruction of the Jews. [Their fate]…marks a new period in the total annihilation of the Jewish population”66. Though they were starring into the face of certain annihilation, the Zionists stood strong, urging ghettoized Jews to fight against Nazi aggressors with the hope of one day returning to Palestine, a will to fight that was tested when the first of two uprisings broke out in the Ghetto on April 19, 1943. The valor of the Jews involved was reported upon by the Biuletyn Informacyjny (Information Bulletin), another underground newspaper run by the Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army) on April 29, 1943: “With scant forces, few arms and little ammunition… Jewish fighters defended streets and individual houses. They considered it a victory if a part of those imprisoned in the ghetto were able to escape; it was a victory in their eyes to die while their hands still grasped arms”67.The militancy advocated by the underground resistance paralleled the aggression Zionists had toward the Nazi Regime, something that helped keep some of them alive to see the Jews reclaim their homeland less than an half-decade later. The persecution of the Jews under the Nazi Regime officially came to end with the liberation of the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz by Soviet troops on January 17, 1945. Although it is estimated that over six million Jews died as a result of the Third Reich’s

66 67

“Call to Armed Self-defense,” Jutrznia, March 28, 1942 “The Last Battle in the Great Tragedy,” Biuletyn Informacyjny, April 29, 1943

Silverfield 22 Final Solution, many of those who remained alive to see the Red Army free them from the grips of Nazism only looked into the future for the strength needed to recover from Judaism’s most horrendous tragedy. This strength would come in the form of a new Jewish homeland, but, though the biggest threat to European Jewry had been defeated, there still existed barriers to realizing the ultimate goal of Zionism. Three years would pass before Jews were finally able to see the British Mandate over Palestine expire, which occurred on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People's Council declaring the establishment of the State of Israel on the very same day68. Within this declaration was a sentence that summarized the end of the Jewish struggle that had been rumbling along its unwavering path since 135 CE: “After being forcibly exiled from their land, the [Jewish] people kept faith…and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to [Israel] and for the restoration in it of their political freedom”69. Though the two post-World War II superpowers (the USSR and USA) recognized the new state only three days after its proclamation, the Jewish struggle for Palestine was yet to be resolved; until a victory against the Arabs came during the Jewish War of Independence. Their triumph over both Nazism and the Arabs helped to convince Jews in the strength of their people, a strength that Israel would be founded upon. After signing numerous armistices with its neighboring countries of Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, Israel was admitted to the United Nations as its 59th member on May 11, 1949 and the 2,000 year Jewish struggle had finally come full-circle70. The Zionist Movement had at long last made good on its promise to return Jews to their home-country, but indeed this triumph appears to be a double-edged sword. While it is clear that Jews found strength in establishing Israel,

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, Declaration of Israel’s Independence 1948 ( 69 Ibid 70 Richard W. Bulliet, Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East (Macmillan Reference USA, 1996) p. 1835

Silverfield 23 perhaps it is only a product of weakness, their failure to assimilate into European society being the main catalyst for the men who began advocating a return to Jerusalem. But, as the Jews faced persecution from various entities in their “struggle for Palestine” they developed a strong sense of ethnic identity, an individuality that became the foundation for Hitler’s ultimate aim. In this sense, the Holocaust was in actuality the one event that tied Jews to their Judaism more so than any other occurrence, and the reclamation of Palestine simply fulfilled the need to turn Jews from a minority into a majority. Although the devastation caused by the Shoah is unmatched throughout the annals of Jewish history, its legacy remains to the Jews as another tragedy that forced them to regroup and move forward, just as their ancestors had done for centuries in the face of exiles, pogroms and legislation. In short, the mere fact that the Jews were able to survive such ominous threats to their heritage is by far the most telling evidence that they are, and will always be, a resilient people whose perseverance is unmatched by any other ethnicity.

Works Cited Aharoni, Yohanan. The Jewish People an Illustrated Text. New York, NY: Continuum International, 2006. Avishai, Bernard. The Tragedy of Zionism: How Its Revolutionary Past Haunts Israeli Democracy. New York, NY: Allworth Press, 2002. Berman, Aaron. Nazism, the Jews and American Zionism, 1933-1948. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1990. Bulliet, Richard W. Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East. Woodbridge, CT: Macmillan Reference USA, 1996 Cesarani, David. Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a Desk

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Murderer. New York, NY: Da Capo Press, 2007 Cohen, Mitchell. Zion and State: Nation, Class, and the Shaping of Modern Israel. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1992. Cohn-Sherbok, Dan. Judaism: History, Belief and Practice. London, UK: Routledge, 2003. Cohn-Sherbok, Dan. Fifth Key Jewish Thinkers. London, UK: Routledge, 1997. Evans, Richard J. The Coming of the Third Reich. New Yock, NY: Penguin Press, 2004. Fishcel, Jack. The Holocaust. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. Frankel, Jonathan. Jews and Messianism in the Modern Era: Metaphor and Meaning. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1991 Herzl, Theodor. Theodor Herzl: A Portrait for this Age. New York, NY: World Pub. Co, 1955. Ingrams, Doreen. Palestine Papers, 1917-1922: Seeds of Conflict. New York, NY: G. Braziller, 1973 Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lexicon of Zionism. 22 Sep 2003. Online. 15 Nov 2007. <>. Jaher, Frederic C. The Jews and the Nation: Revolution, Emancipation, State Formation and the Liberal Paradigm in America and France. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

Johnson, Paul M. A History of the Jews. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1988. Kaplan, Marion A. Jewish Daily Life in Germany: 1618-1945. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005. Klier, John D. Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Russian History. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Knox, Katharine. Refugees in an Age of Genocide. London, UK: Routledge, 1999. Kolb, Eberhard. The Weimar Republic. London, UK: Routledge, 2004. Kupferschmidt, Uri M. The Supreme Muslim Council: Islam Under the British Mandate for Palestine. Jerusalem, IS: Hebrew University Press, 1987. Laqueur, Walter. The History of Zionism. London, UK: Tauris Parke, 2003.

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Levin, Dov. A Short History of the Jews in Lithuania. New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2000. Lowenstein, Steven. German-Jewish History in Modern Times. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1998. Maser, Werner. Hitler’s Letters and Notes. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1974. Morais, Henry. Eminent Israelites of the Nineteenth Century. AnnArbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2006. Mosse, Werner. Revolution and Evolution, 1848 in German-Jewish History. Tuebingen, GER: Mohr Siebeck, 1981. Poliakov, Léon. The History of Anti-Semitism. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003. Pridham, Geoffrey. Documents on Nazism 1919-1945. New York, NY: Viking Press, 1974. Robinson, Ritchie. The ‘Jewish Question’ in German Literature: 1749-1939. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999. Rübsaat, Hubert. Germans No More: Accounts of Jewish Everyday Life, 1933-1938. New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2006. Segev, Tom. One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate. Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000. Selfa, Lance. The Struggle for Palestine. New York, NY: Haymarket Books, 2002. Schwersenz, Y. Pioneer Underground in Nazi Germany: Tel Aviv, 1969. Teitel, Ruti G. Transitional Justice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2000. The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, Declaration of Israel’s Independence: 1948. 20 Jun 2003. Online. 15 Oct 2007. <http:// >. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Jewish Communities of Prewar Germany: Holocaust Encyclopedia. 25 Oct 2007. Online. 11 Oct 2007. <>. Verhey, Jeffrey. The Spirit of 1914: Militarism, Myth and Mobilization in Germany. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000. “Call to Armed Self-defense." Jutrznia 28 Mar 1942

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"The Statement by the Reichsvertretung." Juedische Rundschau 24 Sep 1935 “The Last Battle in the Great Tragedy,” Biuletyn Informacyjny, April 29, 1943 Zionism and Israel Information Center, The Passfield White Paper: 1930. 23 Jan 2004. Online. 22 Oct 2007. <>.

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