3 - Prewar Conditions .pdf

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Department
Center for Jewish Studies
Course
CJS200H1
Professor
Doris Bergen
Semester
Fall

Description
WHAT SEEMED TRAGIC BEFORE THE WAR M ORDECHAI G EBIRTIG •Born and died in Krakow •“It Burns” (Es Brent) was written as a response to the Kristallnacht and other pogroms E S BRENT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M9tz7iLqyw •Written in 1936, though relates to Kristallnacht •Photographs used in montage could be used as a propaganda against the supposed Jewish threat •One student took pictures of the violence -- his camera was taken away and developed 5 years ago! •Targeted synagogues that suggested power •Framed the destruction of the synagogues in a certain way because not many people agreed with the pogrom C ONTINUITY AND ESCAPE •Some argue that the holocaust was part of a long line of Jewish persecution (continuation), others believe earlier pogroms couldn’t lead to the holocaust (rupture) •This had a different significance for people living at the time •1938, Vienna -- wave of violence as part of the Anschluss •Could believe this was yet another pogrom -- responses: emigrate, community leaders to plead with authorities, don’t pay attention to it, payoff violent people, hide, return to roots •Could believe this was not related to a pogrom -- response: emigrate, suicide (no hope), in most cases you know what to do because its new (nothing in the past is relevant) •The ideas of continuity and rupture are important to how people acted •Looking back might weaken you instead of looking forward -- torn between past and present M IXED M ESSAGES •This is something else that complicated the situation -- especially for German Jews •Ex) Professor Mamlok -- fired and then rehired •People didn’t know how to asses the situation •The Nazi regime contributed to the mixed messages for Jews -- they hadn’t yet determined what there plan for the Jews was •Introduced exceptions -- Front-line veteran exceptions •The regime zigzagged in many measures •Kristallnacht involved destruction of 100s of synagogues and Jewish homes and business -- some Nazi officials worried about the level of destruction WHAT SEEMED TRAGIC BEFORE THE WAR •Great deal of upset in Germany with the amount of physical destruction that would cause an increase in insurance rates -- the Nazi solution was that Jews will pay •Created another mixed messaged -- forced to collect money to pay a huge amount of money for the destruction of their property, people could interpret this as Nazis just wanting their money •In biblical times there was no question as to who led the Jews -- God or the prophets •In the 20 century, many Jews had departed from the comfort of religion and embraced the Enlightenment -- who could they blame now? •In Es Brent the poet wants people to be active, not to be passive •Zionist calls for Jewish unity, for the organization of Jewish resistance, for Jews to get rid of all their differences -- unite and fight! •To allusion to the creation of state or biblical times •Understood as a call to arms, but resistance to violence •Poetry is a wonderful way to address their audience quickly -- also a way to bring a very sophisticated message to readers and intellectuals Y ANKEV G LADSTEIN Yiddish writers in the 1930s were struggling with the ideas of continuity and rupture • •To Bergelson the writer is the one who unites and calls for others, yet Yankev Gladstein believed the opposite •Gladstein was the founder of the literary movement Inzikh -- the world exists only to the extent it touches •Wrote sophisticated poetry (difficult to understand) •Believed that the sound of a word is as important as the meaning of a word •This will have built-in limited appeal •Do we have a right as Yiddish intellectuals not to say anything, to think about abstract matters? Maybe our people need our help •In Es Bernt, he blames the Jews for not putting the fire out •Gladstein believes that Jewish intellectuals are no longer wanted in the world “G OODNIGHT W ORLD ” •In his poem “Goodnight World,” Gladstein blames the non-Jewish world -- he is breaking the non-Jewish ties to the world •European civilization will free Jews from all the disadvantages, but Gladstein writes that the modern Jew can no longer count on the promises of the European Enlightenment -- cannot count on European civilization at all •Because of the conversion and adoption, Jews begin to worship another God •He doesn’t go back to traditional religion observance (he never experienced) -- Jews will have to build new civilizations that will stand up to this new world In the first line “good night, wide world” he is alluding to a lullaby (to put to sleep) -- •lullabies soothes because it gives a sense of security WHAT SEEMED TRAGIC BEFORE THE WAR • What comes next is a shock: “big stinking world” -- this signifies that it is no longer good • Wanted soothing, but got disturbing -- the truth is not we are not part of the European civilization before the world rejects them • He takes action and encourages others to do so -- aspect of being human • Written i
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