Emancipation and assimilation in the German-Jewish discourse of the 1930s

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Examines the intellectual reaction of German Jewry to the beginning of the Nazi anti-Jewish policies and their escalation in 1935-37 as expressed in the German Jewish press. All the camps of German Jewry - liberal, Zionist, and Orthodox - felt that the era of the "old emancipation" had come to an end and that some new formula for Jewish coexistence with German society was on the agenda. Many writers felt that the path of assimilation that had been taken by many German Jews since Mendelssohn was erroneous. Orthodox and Zionist Jews condemned assimilation; liberals defended some form of "positive assimilation". The deteriorating situation of the Jews in Germany after 1934 led to a gradual blurring of the division between the major Jewish camps. The division that came to the fore was between a radical minority, which rejected any form of assimilation, and a moderate majority, which detested a return to ghetto life and favored a number of moderate models of assimilation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-189
Number of pages25
JournalLeo Baeck Institute Yearbook
StatePublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

A shorter Hebrew version appeared in "היהודים בהווה - כינוס ופיזור" (תשסט) 317-334

RAMBI publications

  • Jews -- Germany -- History -- 1800-2000
  • Jews -- Germany -- History -- 1933-1939
  • Jews -- Cultural assimilation -- Germany
  • Zionism -- Germany
  • Jews -- Emancipation


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