Document 11 A Jewish man commits suicide in protest over exclusion from the German nation

Fritz Rosenfelder was a businessman from Stuttgart, a manufacturing city in south-western Germany with a 1933 population of about 450,000, of whom about 4,500 were Jews. An avid gymnast, Rosenfelder learned that because he was a Jew he would be expelled from his sports club. In response he shot himself to death, leaving the following note. He was 31 years old. Some 5,000 German Jews are estimated to have committed suicide between 1933 and 1945.

[5 April 1933]

Dear Friends,

Here is my final farewell! A German Jew cannot bear to live knowing that the movement to which nationalist Germany looks for salvation regards him as a traitor to the Fatherland! I leave without hatred or resentment ... But because I do not see any way for me to take what I regard as suitable action, I shall try, by ending my life voluntarily, to shake up my Christian friends. You will be able to see by this step I am taking how things look to us German Jews. How much more would I have preferred to give my life for my Fatherland!

Do not be sad, but try to enlighten and help the truth to victory.

(Zalzer, 1964: 160)

Document 12 A German Jewish leader describes a ‘return to Judaism’

Eva Reichmann (1897-1998) was a director of the largest German Jewish organisation, the Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith (commonly known as the Centralverein or CV). The organisation was founded in 1893 in order to promote the full integration of Jews into German civic, social, and cultural life. In 1939 she fled to Great Britain, where she became a leader of the German Jewish refugee community. Following the Second World War she worked for German-Jewish reconciliation. She wrote the following observations in 1934.

People are exploring the boundaries of their existence as Germans and Jews, and many of them ... are feeling something like this:

‘The era of emancipation is at an end. Our emotional security has been shattered. Perhaps [our sense of security] actually made us insensate, too self-confident and satisfied. True, hostility to Jews was never absent, but we hardly allowed it to affect us. We saw historical developments from too one-sided a perspective to believe in any really earth-shaking convulsions. It is hard to imagine ... that equality for German Jews could ever be reinstated as it was before. But if it does not return, then we shall be forever excluded from the nation that we made our own with indescribable devotion and about which we feel, painfully, the same way today. In this state of inner uprootedness ... one inner foothold remains for us - our Jewishness. As we were rising in the surrounding society, we neglected our Jewishness all too much. Who among us continued to be familiar with our holy books? Who knew Jewish history? Who continued to keep our beautiful, gracious, ancient customs? Who bore his Jewishness, even when he knew about it, as anything more than an irrevocable, tired fate? Who experienced it any more as ... a creative force?'

[T]his path to inner contemplation and collectedness, this path of return to Jewishness, [is one] that we affirm and in which we see one of the great blessings of our time.

(Reichmann, 1974: 50)

Document 13 A Zionist explains how his movement can help German Jews

Chaim Arlosoroff wrote this article for Germany’s leading Zionist newspaper, Jüdische Rundschau, in support of the negotiations that eventually led to the Haavara Agreement.

I shall not join the theoretical argument over whether Palestine is the solution to the situation of German Jews ... But we must not ignore the fact that, unlike other programmes, Palestine is not a temporary solution or an asylum for the night. What we are doing in Palestine carries the stamp of permanence, and it is being carried out in an atmosphere of self-help and self-determination, which no other country in the world can give us. Thus our accomplishments depend largely upon planning and organisation. In my opinion, such planning needs to be spread over several years, let’s say a programme of three or four years ...

The central problem facing German Jewry ... is that of converting the emigrants’ assets into cash. As long as we avoid this problem we are leaving many people, whose assets exceed [in value] the amount that can be removed from Germany according to present currency laws, without a chance to escape. According to a cautious estimate, during recent months 40,000 individuals and families have applied to the Palestine Office in Berlin. Even if only a portion of them end up emigrating to Palestine, the number shows clearly how acute the issue of emigration is. It is folly not to see the problem or to think that it can be solved without agreement with the German government ... Germany will not strain its foreign currency situation in order to make things easier for the Jews ... [But] it appears that there is a possibility of reaching an agreement involving exchanging the emigrants’ property for German exports in Palestine ... [This would be] a solution that would satisfy the interests of all participants; it would represent real progress on the road to dealing constructively with the problem of the Jews in Germany.

(Jüdische Rundschau, 23 May 1933)

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