Jewish Question

Jewish Question

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Jewish Question'
Start a new discussion about 'Jewish Question'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Jewish question encompasses the issues and resolutions surrounding the historically unequal civil, legal and national statuses between minority Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 and non-Jews, particularly in Europe. The first issues discussed and debated by societies, politicians and writers in western
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 and central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 began with the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 and the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. These included issues of legal and economic Jewish disabilities
Disabilities (Jewish)
Disabilities were legal restrictions and limitations placed on Jews in the Middle Ages. They included provisions requiring Jews to wear specific and identifying clothing such as the Jewish hat and the yellow badge, restricting Jews to certain cities and towns or in certain parts of towns , and...

, equality, Jewish emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

 and Jewish Enlightenment. Issues including assimilation
Jewish assimilation
Jewish assimilation refers to the cultural assimilation and social integration of Jews in their surrounding culture. Assimilation became legally possible in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment.-Background:Judaism forbids the worship of other gods...

 within the Diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

 and Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 continued into the twentieth century. The term became closely associated with periods of increased antisemitism in the 1880s, as well as the struggle to establish a Jewish state
Jewish state
A homeland for the Jewish people was an idea that rose to the fore in the 19th century in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and Jewish assimilation. Jewish emancipation in Europe paved the way for two ideological solutions to the Jewish Question: cultural assimilation, as envisaged by Moses...

.

History of "The Jewish Question"


The term "Jewish Question" was first used in Great Britain from around 1750. According to Holocaust scholar Lucy Dawidowicz
Lucy Dawidowicz
Lucy Schildkret Dawidowicz was an American historian and an author of books on modern Jewish history, in particular books on the Holocaust.-Life:...

, the term "Jewish Question", as introduced in western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, was a neutral expression for the negative attitude toward the apparent and persistent singularity of the Jews as a people against the background of the rising political nationalisms and new nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

s. Dawidowicz writes that "the histories of Jewish emancipation and of European antisemitism are replete with proffered 'solutions to the Jewish question.'" The question was next discussed in France ("la question juive") after the French Revolution in 1789, before arriving in Germany via Bruno Bauer's treatise "Die Judenfrage" - The Jewish Question.

From that point hundreds of other tractates, pamphlets, newspaper articles and books were written on the subject, with many offering "solutions" including resettlement, deportation and assimilation of the Jewish population. Similarly, hundreds of pieces of literature were written opposing these "solutions" and have offered solutions such as re-integration and education.

This debate however, could not decide whether the problem of the Jewish Question had more to do with the problems posed by the German Jews' opponents or vice versa: the problem posed by the existence of the German Jews to their opponents.

From around 1860 the notion took on an increasingly antisemitic tendency: Jews were described under this title as a stumbling block to the identity and cohesion of the German nation and as enemies within the Germans' own country. Antisemites such as Wilhelm Marr, Karl Eugen Dühring, Theodor Fritsch, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Paul de Lagarde and others declared it a racial problem unsolvable through integration, in order to make their demands for the "de-jewifying" of the press, education, state and economy, culture plausible, along with their demands for the condemnation of inter-marriage between Jews and non-Jews. They also used this definition to oust the Jews out of their supposedly more socially dominating positions.

By far the most infamous use of this expression was by the Nazis in the early- and mid- twentieth century, culminating in the implementation of their "Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

 to the Jewish question" during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Early usage


An early use of the expression "Jewish question" appeared during the Jew Bill of 1753
Jew Bill of 1753
The Jewish Naturalization Act 1753 was an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of Great Britain, which received royal assent on 7 July 1753 but was repealed in 1754 due to widespread opposition to its provisions....

 debates in England. According to Otto Dov Kulka of Hebrew University, the term became widespread in the 19th century when it was used in discussions about Jewish emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

 in Germany (Judenfrage).

Bruno Bauer - The Jewish Question


In his book The Jewish Question
The Jewish Question
The Jewish Question is an 1843 book by German historian and theologian Bruno Bauer, written and published in German ....

, published in 1843, Bauer
Bruno Bauer
Bruno Bauer was a German philosopher and historian. As a student of GWF Hegel, Bauer was a radical Rationalist in philosophy, politics and Biblical criticism...

 argued that Jews can achieve political emancipation only if they relinquish their particular religious consciousness, since political emancipation requires a secular state
Secular state
A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential...

, which he assumes does not leave any "space" for social identities such as religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

. According to Bauer, such religious demands are incompatible with the idea of the "Rights of Man
Rights of Man
Rights of Man , a book by Thomas Paine, posits that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard its people, their natural rights, and their national interests. Using these points as a base it defends the French Revolution against Edmund Burke's attack in...

." True political emancipation, for Bauer, requires the abolition of religion.

Karl Marx - "On the Jewish Question"


Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 replied to Bauer in his 1844 essay "On the Jewish Question
On the Jewish Question
On the Jewish Question is a work by Karl Marx, written in 1843, and first published in Paris in 1844 under the German title Zur Judenfrage in the Deutsch–Französische Jahrbücher. It was one of Marx's first attempts to deal with categories that would later be called the materialist conception of...

". Marx contradicted Bauer's view, that the nature of the Jewish religion prevent Judaism's assimilation. Instead he focused on the specific social and economic role of the Jewish group in Europe which, according to him, was lost when capitalism, the material basis for Judaism, assimilated the European societies as a whole.

Marx uses Bauer's essay as an occasion for his own analysis of liberal rights. Marx argues that Bauer is mistaken in his assumption that in a "secular state
Secular state
A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential...

", religion will no longer play a prominent role in social life, and, as an example refers to the pervasiveness of religion in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, which, unlike Prussia, had no state religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

. In Marx's analysis, the "secular state" is not opposed to religion, but rather actually presupposes it. The removal of religious or property qualifications for citizens does not mean the abolition of religion or property, but only introduces a way of regarding individuals in abstraction from them.
On this note Marx moves beyond the question of religious freedom to his real concern with Bauer's analysis of "political emancipation." Marx concludes that while individuals can be 'spiritually' and 'politically' free in a secular state, they can still be bound to material constraints on freedom by economic inequality, an assumption that would later form the basis of his critiques of capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

.

After Marx


Werner Sombart
Werner Sombart
Werner Sombart was a German economist and sociologist, the head of the “Youngest Historical School” and one of the leading Continental European social scientists during the first quarter of the 20th century....

 praised Jews for their capitalism and presented the 17–18th century court Jew
Court Jew
Court Jew is a term, typically applied to the Early Modern period, for historical Jewish bankers who handled the finances of, or lent money to, European royalty and nobility....

s as integrated and a model for integration. By the turn of the 20th century, the debate was still widely discussed and raised to prominence by the Dreyfus Affair
Dreyfus Affair
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent...

 in France. Within the religious and political elite, some continued to favor assimilation and political engagement in Europe while others, such as Theodore Herzl, proposed the advancement of a separate Jewish state
Jewish state
A homeland for the Jewish people was an idea that rose to the fore in the 19th century in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and Jewish assimilation. Jewish emancipation in Europe paved the way for two ideological solutions to the Jewish Question: cultural assimilation, as envisaged by Moses...

 and the Zionist cause.
Between 1880 and 1920, millions of other Jews sought their own solution for the pogroms of eastern Europe and emigrated to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and western Europe.

The Final Solution


In Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, the term Jewish Question (in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

: Judenfrage) referred to the sense that the existence of Jews in Germany posed a problem for the state. In 1933 two Nazi theorists, Dr. Johann von Leers and Dr. Achim Gercke, both proposed that the Jewish Question could be solved most humanely by resettling Jews in Madagascar or elsewhere in Africa or South America. Both intellectuals discussed the pros and cons of supporting the German Zionists as well, but von Leers asserted that establishing a Jewish homeland in British Palestine would create humanitarian and political problems for the region. Upon achieving power in 1933, Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and the Nazi state began to implement increasingly radical measures aimed at segregating and ultimately removing the Jewish people from Germany and (eventually) all of Europe. The Haavara Agreement
Haavara Agreement
The Haavara Agreement was signed on 25 August 1933 after three months of talks by the Zionist Federation of Germany , the Anglo-Palestine Bank and the economic authorities of Nazi Germany...

 was signed, allowing 60,000 German Jews of the 522,000 residing in Germany in 1933 to emigrate to Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 by 1939. The next stage was persecution of Jews and the stripping of Jews of their citizenship through the Nuremberg Laws
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

. Later, during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, it became state-sponsored internment in concentration camps and finally, the systematic extermination of the Jewish people (The Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

), which took place as the so-called Final Solution to the Jewish Question.

See also

  • Armenian Question
    Armenian Question
    The term "Armenian Question" as used in European history, became common place among diplomatic circles and in the popular press after the Congress of Berlin; that in like Eastern Question, refers to powers of Europe's involvement to the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire beginning with the...

    , a similar topic about Armenians
    Armenians
    Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

  • Ulrich Fleischhauer
    Ulrich Fleischhauer
    thumb|Ulrich Fleischhauer Ulrich Fleischhauer was a leading antisemitic publisher of books and news articles reporting on an alleged Judeo-Masonic conspiracy theory and supposed "nefarious plots" by clandestine Jewish interests to dominate the world.His career was at first grounded in the Imperial...

  • Useful Jew
    Useful Jew
    The term useful Jew was used in various historical contexts, typically describing a Jewish person useful in implementing an official authorities' policy, sometimes by oppressing other Jews....


Further reading