Volume 1  –  document 235

Pariser Tageszeitung, 23 June 1936: article about conditions for the German Jews shortly before the Olympic Games in Berlin1‘Ein Paradies für Erpresser’, Pariser Tageszeitung, 23 June 1936, p. 2. This article has been translated from German. The Pariser Tageszeitung was the successor newspaper to the Pariser Tageblatt. It was published from June 1936 to Feb. 1940 in Paris. Georg Bernhard was editor-in-chief from 1936 to 1938.

A paradise for blackmailers
The ordeal of the German Jews continues

London, 22 June. Over the last few months, there has been little about the situation of the Jews in Germany in the foreign press. The evident reason for this is that in light of the upcoming Olympic Games the press in Germany was directed to refrain from reporting much on the anti-Jewish movement within the Party and the anti-Jewish measures taken by the authorities. The following exposition by one of the special reporters of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency indicates, however, that the ordeal of the some 480,000 Jews still living in Germany2The actual number of Jews by faith was estimated at 409,000 at this time: see Doc. 240, 24 July 1936. under the regime of the Nuremberg Laws has not abated and has even escalated in many respects, and that a new anti-Jewish campaign is feared in the wake of the Olympic Games. This portrayal is based on thorough observations over an extended time period.

Lately even less than usual has been trickling out of the country regarding actual conditions for the Jews in Germany. This is partly due to the fact that, with respect to the upcoming Olympic Games, larger campaigns that would catch foreign attention have been avoided. Furthermore, the net cast by the Gestapo is closing in, which has made it more difficult to pass along any news. Nonetheless, while travelling through Germany it is still possible to make a few observations that are not widely known. First of all, the zealousness of the subsidiary organs of the Party has not abated, especially in regard to the Jewish question. Every regional chief rules over this issue as he wishes, and the economic existence of several thousand Jews depends less on the regulations issued by the Reich Ministry of Economics than on the fanaticism of the hundreds and hundreds of subordinate leaders and their subordinate leaders.

In the shadow of the Nuremberg Laws
In nearly all medium-sized and small towns, the general situation of the Jews still living there has worsened. The shadow of the Nuremberg Laws is an enormous burden hanging over the whole of Germany, but in particular over small and medium-sized towns. With these laws, and especially the one concerning race defilement, Germany has become a classic country for blackmailers. The nature of the things involved, as well as a certain coyness about airing the intimacies of sexual life in public, has thus far prevented a detailed discussion of the matter.

Only a very small proportion of the resulting judicial convictions have been given a few lines in press reports in Germany and other countries. From these reports, it can be ascertained that there has been a volley of prison sentences. But no one speaks of all the tragedies in the realm of the most secret things in human life, which remain hidden in the much greater number of cases that have not been made public. Nor does anyone speak of the ensuing economic ruin of those involved or of the destruction of human relationships, which, for reasons that cannot always be simply dismissed with a wave of the hand, have not always been considered legitimate.

The impoverishment of Jewish intellectuals
Economic conditions for the Jews naturally differ depending on location and profession. In general, their situation is similar to that of their professional colleagues, but it is much worse in many respects. In the legal profession, which at one time offered good prospects for Jews, the overall situation is bad. One single number says it all: in Berlin the number of ordinary court cases, which was about 64,000 in 1932, shrank to just 14,000 in 1935! For the most part the Jewish lawyers today have virtually no cases. There are no more Jewish civil servants or Jewish notaries. Migration among Jewish doctors is particularly high because they, in contrast to others such as lawyers, still have opportunities at their disposal, despite all the impediments to advancement in the world. In some specialist areas, a certain shortage of Jewish doctors has already set in.

Across the broad spectrum of artistic and literary activity, the existing Jewish organizations, the newspapers, and the Culture League of German Jews naturally cannot provide enough work and sustenance for all those capable and in need. From now on, it must be expected that migration will increase among these professions.

Growing desire for emigration
But, for someone who has not been in Germany for a while and now has the opportunity to once again observe the general state of mind of the Jewish community, there is a profound difference between what one could surmise before the issuance of the Nuremberg Laws and the agitation that was unleashed among the German Jews preceding its enactment: the desire to emigrate has grown to an extraordinary extent. Previously the somewhat quieter periods between the individual waves of radicalism immediately prompted a corresponding optimism within Jewish circles, but now it is generally believed that the will of the National Socialist Movement to annihilate German Jewry and, if it had the power, all the Jews in the world continues unabated, and that this is only toned down where the internal domestic situation and the dictates of foreign policy make limitations seem unavoidable.

Today it has become clear to the majority of the German Jews that National Socialism will only permit a small portion of German Jewry, completely proletarianized and stripped of all its rights, to live in Germany, provided that economic conditions in the country or international intervention do not force a different course. It is therefore a disastrous mistake to think that Jewish emigration from Germany has already come to an end. Rather, what is true, and what the world needs to confront, whether it wants to or not, is that when a new wave of intensification commences, the number of emigrations will undoubtedly increase beyond that of 1933 and 1934.

The situation in Upper Silesia
There is a problem in Upper Silesia. The Geneva Convention [on Upper Silesia] itself was concluded for a period of only fifteen years. As a result of the negotiations at the General Assembly of the League of Nations in 1933 prompted by the petition from Bernheim, Germany was forced to acknowledge that the Jews in German Upper Silesia are entitled to rights as a minority.3See Doc. 46, 24 May 1933. The state of affairs that emerged out of this acknowledgement is so entirely different from that in the rest of Germany that the approximately 20,000 Jews in Upper Silesia anxiously wonder what legal status will prevail after 15 June 1937.4See Doc. 292, 11 August 1937. The entire set of Aryan legislation has not been introduced in Upper Silesia. There are still Jewish judges, civil servants, and notaries, and the Nuremberg Laws do not apply. In short, a kind of ‘nature reserve’ has been created, which, according to the statements coming from the dominant German side, should be eliminated as soon as possible. But this will not be so easy, given the acquired rights to which the Jews of Upper Silesia are entitled, especially because Germany has a much greater interest than Poland in preserving the protection afforded to minorities in general in this territory.

The terrible number of suicides
Lastly, a psychological aspect still needs mentioning. For a fourth year now, the German Jews have been subject to a series of exceptional laws that compare unfavourably with those of the Middle Ages. The profound indignities that continue to be inflicted upon them have also left their mark on those actually resolved to hold out in Germany as long as it is at all possible. They have made a conscious decision to stay at the front. But the links to the area behind the front and to the rear echelons have largely disappeared. The vast majority of the Jews living in Germany have no idea about what is happening in the world other than the impressions conveyed in the newspapers, which are strongly censored, as we well know. But the Jewish newspapers too, whose sphere of influence has become quite limited because of the repeated intervention of the Ministry of Propaganda, cannot even hint to readers that, despite everything, there is still movement within the entire civilized world on the issue of Germany’s Jewish legislation. It is only possible for a small minority to take trips outside the country. This present lack of a connection with the outside world exacerbates the feeling of despair that has overcome many of the Jews in Germany. The horrible number of suicides, for which statistics cannot even be provided, speaks eloquently and irrefutably of this.5On the problem of suicides, see Doc. 36, 25 April 1933, and Doc. 41, 9 May 1933.

This document is part of:
German Reich 1933–1937 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2019)