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Jews in Germany after 1945: Citizens or "Fellow" Citizens

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The articles published here first appeared in 1998 and 1999 in "TRIBÜNE: Zeitschrift zum Verständnis des Judentums", a German-language quarterly journal dedicated to fostering an understanding of Judaism, on the occasion of the 60th year anniversary of Reich Pogrom Night on Nov. 9, 1938. About 500,000 Jews lived in Germany at the onset of Nazi terror. Only 12,000 remained after the liberation of the concentration camps in May 1945.

Survey responses have always estimated the number of Jews living in the Federal Republic of Germany as much too high. While the number of Jews living in Germany remained constant at 30,000 for decades, the respondents of surveys constantly placed this number at between 100,000 and 1,000,000. German Unification itself did little to change the number of Jews in Germany, as there were only about 350 members of the small Jewish communities in the former East Germany. It was first the commencement of Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union beginning in 1990 that served to revive and transform the Jewish community in Germany with its disproportionately top-heavy demographic scale. Almost 100,000 Jews live in Germany today.

For a long time, Jews living in Germany refused to define themselves as 'German Jews,' and insisted instead on their proverbial 'sitting upon packed luggage.' A growing trust in German democracy, connections to the cities in which they live, and the example set by Ignatz Bubis, the late and former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, who declared himself a 'German citizen of Jewish belief,' lead many to accept Germany as their new home. Unfortunately, ongoing anti-Semitic agitation, as well as the ill-considered and fundamentally exclusionary description of Jews as 'Jewish fellow citizens,' does shake the Jewish community in its new-found trust. This is why, in one of his last interviews with TRIBÜNE, Bubis responded to the condition of acceptance and discrimination with the words, 'Minor disturbances are to be overcome.'
Jewish life in Germany and abroad is accompanied by right-wing extremism and anti-Semitic troublemaking especially on Jewish days of commemoration. Although German society and politics is going to great lengths in coming to terms with the Nazi past, Jewish history, the many-faceted cultural and social developments of Jewish communities in post-war Germany, and even the present situation for Jews living in Germany, remains a book of seven seals. Nevertheless, Jewish life in 'the former land of the perpetrators' is an intimate part of the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, founded more than 50 years ago.

That the judgment of Germany has undergone transformation in spite its Nazi past and the persistence of right-wing extremism in every-day life is the result of the honest efforts of German institutions and the general public in responsibly and thoroughly coming to terms with this past. As Paul Spiegel, the new president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, emphasized in an interview with TRIBÜNE, the most obvious sign of Jewish trust in the Germany is the increasing number of Jews living here, which will soon reach 120,000 with the influx of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. Even into the late 1970s, Jews living abroad, especially in Israel, could hardly muster understanding for those choosing to settle in Germany. The address of the former Israeli ambassador to Germany, Avi Primor, at the presentation of the German edition of the present book in November 1999, was an indication of Germany's gradually changing image even in Israel.

Contained in this anthology are poignant essays and articles from renowned authors which characterize Jewish life in Germany after the Holocaust as an aspect of democratic society. At the center of this book are the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, their wounds and identity problems, as well as yesterday's and today's anti-Semitism. Jewish youth, religion, social work and Eastern European immigrants are also central themes. Finally, a number of exemplary Jewish communities in eastern and western Germany are portrayed.

Our aim is to help non-Jews, not only in Germany, but all around the world, understand the sensitivities and hopes of Jews in Germany at the dawn of the 21st century, more than a half a century after the Holocaust.

We extend our thanks the Public Relations Office of the Federal Republic of Germany (Berlin), as well as the ZEIT-Foundation Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius (Hamburg), DaimlerChrysler (Stuttgart) and especially Volkswagen (Wolfsburg), whose generous support made this English translation possible.

10 Chancellor Gerhard Schröder Words of Greeting
13 Otto R. Romberg/Susanne Urban-Fahr Editorial
15 Avi Primor Preface

I New Beginning After the Shoah
20 Ignatz Bubis He Who Bilds a Home, Intends to Stay
30 Paul Spiegel Soon 120,000 Jews in Germany
34 Gerhard Schröder Fifty Years Central Council
38 Hanno Loewy Unanswered Questions
48 Michael Brenner Epilogue or Preface?
57 Robert Guttmann Without Beginning, Without End

II Past and Present
66 Wolfgang Benz Reactions to the Holocaust
76 Kirsten Serup-Bilfeldt Why Little Ochs Had to Die
81 Heiner Lichtenstein Nazi Trials
89 Ulrich Renz The Right to Citizenship
93 Rainer Erb “Good” and “Bad” Jews
98 Henryk M. Broder The Ignominious Intellectual
102 Alphons Silbermann What Does “Auschwitz” Mean Today

III East and West
110 Andreas Nachama East and West
119 Hanna Struck Jews in Mecklenburg & Pornerania
129 Lothar Mertens Optimistic Expectations
135 Ursula Homann Jews in the State of Hesse
144 Roberto Fabian The Challenge of Inheritance
155 Ludger Heid Jewish Communities in the Ruhr
163 Herzs Krymalowski Developing Potential
171 Christophe Baginski Ignorance or Goodwill?

IV Religion and Social Life
176 Moritz Neumann Secular or Religious Community?
185 Benjamin Bloch Zedaka - Charity and Social Justice
195 Dalia Moneta Displaced People
207 Rachel Heuberger Jewish Youth in Germany
217 Willi Jasper/Bernhard Vogt Integration and Self-Assertion
228 Elena Solomonski Acceptance or Emancipation?

V Culture
240 Leibl Rosenberg Jewish Culture in Germany Today
257 Cilly Kugelmann Jewish Museums in Germany
255 Susanne Urban-Fahr Jewish Press - Jews in the Press
266 Anneliese Rabun Architectural Form and Expression




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Bibliographic Information

Jews in Germany after 1945: Citizens or "Fellow" Citizens. Tribüne Verlag. 1999:  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/object-ger151