2 - Early Stages, 1933-1938.pdf

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Center for Jewish Studies
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Doris Bergen

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EARL Y STAGES, 1933-1938 KRISTALLNACHT, THE KINDER-TRANSPORT AND BENCHES FOR JEWS E UROPE IN THE 1920 S •Europe was in a state of confusion •Russia -- people who had some social standing, found themselves on the move •Over a million Russian left Russia for Western Europe •Intellectuals didn’t expect the Civil War to be so barbaric •Intellectuals were left without mean to support themselves •Many settled in Berlin -- seemed like a Mecca for intellectuals • Spent all their getting warm in coffee shops • Knew how to bring peace to Russia •Among these writers were Russian-Jewish writers/artists -- discovered that German- Jews didn’t dress differently, didn’t speak Yiddish •German-Jews looked at the Russian-Jews with disgust (Ostjuden) •Didn’t want anything to do with them -- they represent their origins The Ostjuden were looked down upon, but had nowhere else to go • D OVID B ERGELSON , 1884-1952 •Dovid Bergelson was one of these Jewish writers •Lived in Ukraine during the Revolution and Civil War -- wave of pogroms against Jews during these events Was a recognized authority among Yiddish-speaking Jews •Witnessed acts of violence against Jews • •Moved to Berlin, 1921-1932, then moved back to the Soviet Union and became one of the most prominent Soviet-Jewish writers •Biro Bidzhan -- this is the areas where Jews could build their socialist state (rather than Zion) •Huge support •3000 miles away from the centers •He was sent here to write a propaganda piece •Was arrested in 1948 and shot in 1952 A MONG R EFUGEES •Set in Romanisches Haus in Berlin The protagonist introduces himself as a Jewish terrorist -- a radical with a mission • •The protagonist’s mission -- to kill a leader of pogroms in Ukraine •He suggests to the writer give him a gun -- •“Writers, I thought, are the conscience of the nation. They are its nerves: they present their nation to the world. People read a writer’s works because they want to find out how his nation lived in his time” •Writers have the potential to change the world and a moral authority to eradicate the evil •A writer’s responsibility -- they have the potential to change the world EARL Y STAGES, 1933-1938 KRISTALLNACHT, THE KINDER-TRANSPORT AND BENCHES FOR JEWS •Writers have the potential, but not necessarily the information •The story is created for other writers for comfort •The terrorist hangs himself in the end •Suicide becomes a solution •The refugee perceived as “crazy” •Without the protection of the state, refugees loss their human identity Summary: reflects on many anxieties that many Jewish refugees were experiencing in • other parts. Refugees because of violence or other reasons are usually traumatized by the actual move -- being without an economy and being stateless •Citizens have access to the legal system and able to return to the country •The ideas of suicide and faceless are very prominent themes in literature during the years between the end of WWI and Hitler’s rise G ERMANY , 1933-1938 •1933-1938 -- period of persecution toward German Jews •“Social Death” -- first used to talk about enslaved African-American, the notion that enslaved people were socially dead •A sense of isolation, marginalization, needed having the rights accrued to humanity (legally defined as not deserving rights) •The language of subhuman provides an easy explanation to a difficult problem It is a process -- what was inhumane in 1933, was not the case in 1938 • •The process after 1933 brought the two groups (the more visible and the less) were brought together in one group with the same fate •1933 -- 500,000 Jews in Germany (<1% of the population) •Ostjuden were far less numerous •1935 -- Nuremberg Laws •Passed by Hitler’s government in 1935 •Offered a definition of who counted as a Jew in this society (by the religion of your grandparents) •Nazi ideology was concerned with biology, so why such high concern for grandparent’s religion •Meant a person couldn’t decide if they wanted to convert •Proven by (christian) baptismal certificates -- in a society that didn’t have a lot of documentation were the record for your birth •Deemed non-Aryan
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