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In recent German-Jewish historiography, local perspectives seem to be in vogue. A look at the annual bibliographies in the Leo Baeck Institute Year Book confirms this assumption, and a brief study of projects announced in the Arbeitsinformationen published by the Germania Judaica Library in Cologne shows that there are many more to come. In the beginning of this new enthusiasm for local Jewish history, the majority of the authors—many of them no experts in Jewish history—focused on the destruction of Jewish life in Germany. 1 The past few years, however, have witnessed a growing scholarly interest accompanied by a shift to the historical periods before the Nazis’ rise to power, mainly back to the nineteenth century. Here, some comprehensive monographies have been published and more are on their way. 2 Their authors can often demonstrate convincingly how much German-Jewish historiography could profit from some of the theoretical concepts that have been developed by research on the bourgeoisie over the years. Although this approach certainly promises to broaden our knowledge about the mechanisms of embourgeoisement and integration of German Jewry, its frame of reference is likely to be German history—that is, the history of the German Bürgertum. Yet studies on “Jewish” aspects of German-Jewish history, like associational life, welfare, or Zionism, tend to take precisely those phenomena—embourgeoisement and integration—more or less for granted. Reinhard Rürup, Michael A. Meyer, and others have stressed the importance of taking both contexts of German-Jewish history into consideration, and David Sorkin has asked us to look [End Page 104] “beyond representative figures and representative institutions” in order to avoid a simplified view on “assimilation”: “The key question,” he says, “is whether such embourgeoisement/secularisation distanced German Jews from Judaism and/or Jewish identification.” 3

A local perspective, in my eyes, offers one of many possible approaches to continue Sorkin’s “agenda for research”: the “thick description” of one given community might offer some insights into the interrelation of internal and external aspects of German-Jewish life, and it might shed some light on how the perception of social realities is shaped by the particular local experience. Furthermore, it is likely to contribute to our understanding of the notion of “dissimilation,” as proposed by Shulamit Volkov, to describe the complex process that drew “assimilated” Jews back to Judaism “despite themselves.” 4 But whereas Volkov has stressed the importance of antisemitism and continued immigration of East European Jews as main factors of that process, the local example I discuss in this article might point in quite the opposite direction. I will focus on the internal history of the Jewish community of Königsberg against the background of the integration reached in the East Prussian capital during the Second Empire. In the first section below, therefore, I will outline the specific characteristics of integration in Königsberg, and in the second section I will discuss different aspects of the internal development of the community, focusing on its various religious and political conflicts and on its associational life. Of course, the analysis of one local—and to the author all-too-familiar—world always implies the danger of overestimating one’s own results. The real value of a single local example will become apparent only when more studies enable us to put things into—maybe an eventually new—perspective. 5

An Almost Perfect World: Jews and Gentiles in Königsberg

When trying to approach Jewish life in Königsberg before World War I by way of memoirs or articles in the German-Jewish press, the image of an almost perfect world emerges, where the provincial capital in the far German East appears to have been a remote island of tolerance and liberalism, hardly ever touched by the dark waves of reaction or antisemitism surging through other parts of the Empire. Examples of this picture are plentiful, but no one expressed the local self-perception better than the city’s mayor, speaking on the occasion of the inauguration of the new synagogue in 1896: [End Page 105]

It is a savage time we happen to live in today. Long rotten but deeply rooted ideas dare to come to daylight again. . . . Thus, this day appears to me like the morning sun announcing better times. . . . Here in Königsberg, adherents to all religions and persuasions live next to each other and live together in peace and harmony. To this, the local Jewish population has contributed to no small extent. . . . Thus I have to acknowledge with appreciation and gratefulness the active and devoted work of our Israelite fellow citizens, not only for the communal administration but in general for every public concern. And many a good and noble deed would have remained undone or only half done if not for the support in both word and deed of our Jewish fellow citizens. And how rarely do they ask for outside help themselves! . . . It is not that I would think there is no poverty amongst them. But stronger than anywhere else, among them the bonds of family and friendship do work, great and admirable is their love for their spouses and children. . . . Receptive to any progress of humankind, glowing for the arts and sciences, filled with true and genuine humanity, at the same time obedient to the laws of the state and faithful to its king, this is how the same Jew who once was burnt now stands before my eyes, and not mine alone. This is how the same Jew will appear to anyone who wants to be just, and whose inherent rights only blind fanatics would want to cut. 6

The Jews “who once were burnt” showed themselves deeply impressed by the mayor’s appraisal of their success within a city that considered itself to be explicitly distinct from the Reich. Not only was their participation in communal work and public life being honored but—and even more important—their personal respectability, their family life according to bourgeois standards, and their group solidarity were all recognized. At least in their hometown, the dream of emancipation, so it seemed, had been fulfilled—and they had “deserved” it. Small wonder, then, that this speech was repeated and reprinted at various occasions over the following decades, and especially in the far less harmonious times after World War I. 7

In 1896, however, the Jews of Königsberg had many reasons to believe that this celebratory speech indeed reflected their own reality. As the mayor indicated, integration was measured first and foremost by visible participation in all aspects of public life, and the value of this participation was obvious, among other ways, in the city’s economy. The import-export trade of agricultural products with the tsarist empire formed the core of Königsberg’s economic life, and even the developing industries were strongly dependent on it. The important role played here by Jewish merchants and trade-agents has been described more than once, and all of them more or less agree with this summation by the Königsberg merchant Siegmund Wolff: [End Page 106]

Without the activities of the Russian-Jewish trade-agents, the Königsberg trade would never have been possible to this extent. Due to their personal connections with Russia, during the months of the respective season, some 400 to 500 wagonloads of unsold grain . . . arrived here daily and were sold by trade-agents to the local exporter. . . . The Königsberg traders thus enjoyed the big advantage of being able to select the merchandise according to their need at the stock market and pay for it only when actually possessing it. No other city in the world could claim this advantage in purchasing for its own. 8

Perhaps even more important, at least on a symbolic level, than the hundreds of trade-agents with few connections to the city itself was the role played by the well-to-do merchants, who combined economic success with high social standing in Königsberg. For them, even a Russian background could not lessen their public prestige among Jews and Gentiles alike. Thus, someone like Salomon Feinberg, owner of one of the leading firms in Königsberg, was famous for the invitations to his home where he and his wife entertained the local “literary and artistic circles.” This “outstanding representative of true Jewish spirit” was also a member of the community board, for which—given his foreign citizenship—a special permit by the provincial authorities had to be obtained. 9 The important economic role of the merchants became apparent during the waves of expulsions of Russian Jews in the 1880s, which threatened and partly destroyed not only the East European community in Königsberg but the city’s competitive position on the market as well. Repeatedly the local Chamber of Commerce stressed the importance of the Jewish traders for the economic well-being of the East Prussian capital; it tried to obtain the cancelation of expulsion orders and, later, new residence permits for the better-off among those expelled. 10 Jack Wertheimer is certainly right to attribute this willingness to help to basically economic reasoning. But, at least for the historical record, it should be stated that the only voice protesting against those measures on purely humanistic grounds came from Königsberg as well: that of university professor and member of the Reichstag Julius Müller, who openly denounced the expulsions as antisemitic. 11

Even apart from those dramatic manifestations of Jewish-Gentile interrelation in business, there were objective reasons as well for the Jewish population to consider themselves an integrated part of the local economic life, even though they still formed a discernible group with a specific professional and social profile. Due to the particular structure of their hometown—which was characterized by a concentration on commerce and on processing and textile industries as well as serving as [End Page 107] administrative and welfare capital for the surrounding province—their professional preferences differed far less from those of their non-Jewish neighbors than in other parts of the country. Thus, not only traders and merchants but also members of the free professions and especially pensioners were highly overrepresented in the East Prussian capital among Jews and Gentiles alike. 12

The close connection between the economic particularities and the development of a certain political culture in the East Prussian capital has been concisely described by Jacob Toury, who identified the factors that contributed to a specific brand of Königsbergian liberalism. Backed by a university dominated by Kant’s teachings, which influenced a whole generation of Prussian high state officials in the local administration, the commercial traditions of the city and especially an intense connection with England and Anglo-Saxon liberalism prepared the ground for a liberal movement strongly based on merchants and members of the free professions, which had its best-known appearance on the national stage during the Revolution of 1848. 13 At that time, prominent members of the Jewish community were fighting on the front line, whereas in the years to come a great number of lesser-known dignitaries would dedicate their energy to the more mundane problems of communal politics. When, after the heyday of liberalism in the middle of the nineteenth century, the political pendulum swung in the opposite direction, local politics remained dominated by the liberal parties and thus became a forum for Jewish citizens to channel their commitment to public concerns. In Königsberg, their participation in local politics harked back to one of the oldest traditions in Germany, starting in 1809, when Samuel Wulff Friedländer became city councillor. The exact number of his many successors in the city council and in the various commissions remains unknown for the period of the Second Empire, but we do know that all chairmen of the Jewish community board between 1854 and 1914 served simultaneously in one of the municipal authorities. 14 On a symbolic level, their work was publicly acknowledged by various honors bestowed upon some of the most prominent Jewish citizens, who were appointed Stadtälteste (Honorary Elders of the City) or Ehrenbürger (Honorary Citizens), or in two cases even had streets named after them. 15 Furthermore, at suitable occasions such as birthdays or funerals, the city would pay tribute to the Jewish dignitaries by calling them “home-loving Königsberg citizen(s)” and “exemplary Jew(s),” eulogies proudly quoted in the local and the Jewish press (where the names of non-Jewish representatives participating in the various celebrations of the Jewish community were also enumerated). Undoubtly, the climax of this “harmonious [End Page 108] relationship” was reached when everybody of reputation, ranging from the provincial governor Graf Bismarck to several Christian priests, participated in the inauguration of the new synagogue in 1896. 16

In the more substantial field of daily politics, the relationship between the city and its Jewish community indeed appears to have been free from mutual conflicts. Especially when the religious needs of the minority were at stake, the municipal administration took great care in protecting them. Thus, when the community complained about various noises that disturbed the services—like carpet-beating or cackling chickens—these were immediately ordered to stop. And when the Königsberg Adass Isroel congregation asked the administration for permission to install an eruv after the demolition of the city fortifications in 1906, their plea was met without any—recorded—problems. 17 This was not the case, it should be noted, when “ethnic” (as opposed to religious) separations were in question, but here—as for example in the city’s refusal to let the Jüdischer Turnverein use a municipal gymnasium—local administration appeared to be a forum for inner-Jewish quarrels between Zionists and non-Zionists, the latter influencing the city council’s decisions. 18

The only real conflict that we know about and that probably did have antisemitic content happened in the year 1904, when the wife of a new mayor refused to employ a Jewish nurse in a recently founded daycare center for working-class children that had been initiated and financed to a great extent by Jewish citizens. The nurse, who had been recommended by all experts involved, was now told by the mayor’s wife that her presence would keep “the proletarian circles” from sending their children. The issue itself and especially the reason given caused great indignation among the Jewish population, who could only excuse their First Lady’s behavior by her unfamiliarity with the “Königsberg way” (Königsberger Verhältnisse). Among the local working class, it was stated, antisemitism was “completely unknown,” and if it could be found in Königsberg anywhere at all, then it was in “the so-called higher circles, and only there.” 19

Which social groups this ominous term—“so-called higher circles”—actually referred to is exemplified most clearly by one scandal that stirred up the societal peace in the East Prussian capital in 1894: a government official had felt insulted by a Jewish board member of the most popular social club, the Börsengarten, which in consequence was boycotted officially by all members of the governmental administration, the garrison, and the student fraternities for 10 years. “All cultured circles [gebildete Kreise],” on the other hand, supported the Börsenverein in its protest against this measure and aligned themselves with the Jewish [End Page 109] board member. 20 Even after reconciliation, a “certain animosity” between higher state officials and the officers’ corps, on the one side, and the liberal business circles, on the other, continued to be palpable in Königsberg. This “old problem of the societal development” of the city, as one chronicler calls it, can be traced back to the eighteenth century, marking the local lines of social separation, as the Börsengarten scandal showed, to a far greater extent than religious/ethnic affiliations. 21 This assumption is corroborated by a look at the lists of board members of the local associations, which were clearly divided along the lines of this “animosity.” Nevertheless, among the approximately 100 associations that have been counted in Königsberg before World War I, the great majority had a distinctive liberal-progressive profile, accepting Jews as members and even as chairmen, like Hugo Haase’s brother-in-law Max Lichtenstein of the leftist-liberal Verein Waldeck. 22 Jewish participation seems to have been even more widespread in women’s associations, recalled Rahel Wolff, one of the most active women in Jewish and non-Jewish organizations: “We may say that Jewesses here in Königsberg participated in non-denominational associations to an especially high degree, that they are held in high regard and amity, and that frictionless harmony can be stated as a pleasant feature of this participation.” 23 Unfortunately, it is not possible to quantify this impression of exceptionally high Jewish membership rates in Königsberg. Instead, we have to rely on the numerous accounts in memoirs and reports, which all draw the same picture of a comparatively open societal life in the Prussian East, where Jews and non-Jews together pursued their personal interests in politics, culture, or sports in a great variety of organizations. 24

This openness, however, must not be interpreted in the sense of close private contacts or of a complete absence of antisemitic prejudices, as we can learn from memoirs and personal recollections. Even in liberal Königsberg, private contacts between Jews and Gentiles were generally limited to business meetings and to their social counterparts—official invitations and formal Kaffeekränzchen, or, for the younger generation, to the public schools. As has been frequently described, “private life” mainly took place in the frame of one’s own extended family or within a circle of other Jewish families, with the exception of a small group of Christian and Jewish music-loving families that met regularly. 25 Although we do have some famous examples of close individual friendships, their being mentioned time and again only seems to underscore their singular status. In these cases, it should be noted, a strongly “assimilationist” attitude was not required, and in one of them a friendship was cultivated even in the Jewish public sphere: the protestant theologian Max Löhr, [End Page 110] close friend of Rabbi Felix Perles, regularly attended synagoge on the High Holidays. 26 But even if some Jewish and Christian families or individuals did keep closer contact than was the average in the liberal circles of Königsberg, this did not necessarily mean that the Christians were free of anti-Jewish feelings: when Hella Riebensahm teased her best friend Hannah Arendt with some antisemitic remark, she was reprimanded by her mother with the words: “You just don’t say these things!” Hella remembers her mother, who herself was a personal friend of Martha Arendt, often summing up her attitude toward “the Jews” by saying: “As a group, I cannot stand them, but of course I always exempt the individual.” 27 Others were not as explicit about their hidden feelings and tried to make up for their “secret sin by especially polite behavior,” as Ludwig Goldstein would later admit. 28

“Polite behavior” like this probably spared the majority of Jews antisemitic experiences in their hometown, where a romantically old-fashioned form of liberalism had remained the credo of the Bürgertum. It went without saying that to be liberal meant standing up for Jews where public manifestations were concerned—even if this meant confrontation with national pillars like the military or the nobility or with antisemitic tendencies within the liberal world itself. When the candidacy of Max Lichtenstein, the “champion of leftist liberalism in East Prussia,” was impeded by a political intrigue within the Freisinnige Volkspartei in 1913, the party suffered a considerable loss of local votes in the next elections. 29

Still, and apart from segregation on the private level, there were some obvious manifestations of antisemitism even in liberal Königsberg. The notorious exclusion of Jews from the higher ranks of the civil service and of the army affected the lives of many young Jewish males, in particular so far as the possibility of a university career was concerned—and one must not forget that all three of these social spheres were quite present in the city’s day-to-day life. One was well aware of those discriminations as well as of the blatant antisemitism in the East Prussian countryside, but they could still be interpreted as something alien to the real genius loci, as the Börsengarten scandal had proven so gloriously. The Jews in Königsberg, one is inclined to conclude, perceived the factual and extended integration in their hometown as a close-to-ideal fulfillment of their dream of emancipation; it was threatened, if at all, only from outside, and the small, persistent flaws would be overcome in an even better future. Thus, they mixed local experience and collective hopes into a feeling of avant-garde that was publicly celebrated time and again in pre-World War I Königsberg. 30 [End Page 111]

Inside the Idyll: Variations on Jewish Identity

With the background of this idyll in mind, we now turn to the internal life of a Jewish community that had seen its most glorious days at the turn of the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. In 1871, Königsberg still ranked fifth in large city communities, but during the Second Empire it declined in importance as well as in relative size: while the absolute numbers of Jews rose from 3,836 in 1871 to 4,565 in 1910, their share of the total population in Königsberg fell from 3.4 to 1.8 percent. This development was far from being a smooth one: during the expulsions of the 1880s, the community had suffered a severe blow that reduced its population by more than one-fifth in only five years. But despite those drastic governmental measures and the immigration controls that were to follow, emigrants from across the border, particularly from the Baltic region and Bielorussia, continued to settle in Königsberg until 1914, albeit in far smaller numbers. Still, the impact that these East European Jews had on the internal life of the community should not be underestimated—a fact that becomes most visible when we look at the religious development of Königsberg Jewry.

In a community once famous for its zealous reform onslaught, a kind of religious truce had prevailed since Rabbi Jacob Zwi Mecklenburg took up office in 1830. Mecklenburg, one of the “last remaining rabbis who had been born in pre-emancipatory times” according to Mordechai Breuer, 31 strictly opposed general reforms and conceded only cautious moderations aiming at a greater “respectability” of the religious service, as laid down in a new Synagogenordnung of 1838, drafted by his friend Johann Jacoby. 32 But while organs and German prayer books were introduced in other communities in the 1850s, Mecklenburg served Königsberg’s Orthodox members as a reliable bulwark against the tide of religious innovations. 33 With the moderate reform preacher Joseph Levin Saalschütz at his side, Mecklenburg was able to integrate the different Orthodox and East European groups into a community that by 1860 appears to have been comparatively more conservative than at the beginning of the century.

To this, the immigrants from the East probably contributed to quite an extent, even though they led a rather autonomous religious life and made use only of some of the religious institutions of the main community, like the mikvah or the Shehitah (ritual slaughter) supervision. Thus, the reasons to set up separate prayer houses were not primarily religious ones but had their roots in the “psychological constitution” of the immigrants, as one observer put it. 34 They preferred to stay among themselves and to live in the “atmosphere of a Russian-Jewish community, [End Page 112] which on German soil developed a life of its own whose uniqueness was inimitable.” 35

This system of “peaceful coexistence” in Königsberg suffered a first blow when Mecklenburg’s successor, Isaac Bamberger, approved the long-contested organ, the installation of which had been agreed upon in 1871 by the narrow majority of one vote, while well-known members of the community like Johann Jacoby had argued against it “for the sake of unity.” 36 As a result, the members of the German Orthodox group Adass Isroel decided to pray separately, but they did not leave the main community as they had done in other cities after this had been made possible in 1876. Their “patient stay for the sake of peace” 37 was due in part, so it seems, to the careful and integrative policies of Bamberger, graduate of the Breslau seminar, who was able to slow down the reform impetus of the liberal majority in the various committees of the Jewish community. In order to soothe the religious conflicts, the rabbi supported the idea of coexistence by separation—that is, by building a new synagogue. 38 The old building, he argued, could then be used by all Orthodox members. Bamberger could not foresee that the old synagogue itself would become a new object of quarrel within the community, involving financial interests as well as power politics and especially aggravating the relationship between the various Russian and German Orthodox groups. 39 Despite those new wounds, he succeeded in maintaining the confidence and respect of all community members, especially by skillfully avoiding serious controversies with the Adass Isroel rabbi Esra Munk. 40 Only after Bamberger’s death in 1896 did a new round of conflicts start that focused on the supervision of the Shehitah. The new rabbi, Hermann Vogelstein, son of a leading figure of liberal Judaism in Germany, was apparently motivated by the wish to establish a strong position in his new office. He immediately entered into a long quarrel with Munk that led Adass Isroel to finally leave the main community after four years of negotiating, exchanging “open letters,” and publishing mutual accusations in the Jewish press. Although the harsh attacks most certainly had their roots in personal animosities, the intransigent position of the main community, which refused to finance an Orthodox Shehitah, did not meet with much sympathy even in liberal Jewish public opinion. 41

We have only rough estimates of the size of the traditionalist and the liberal factions within Königsberg Jewry. With 340 men owning seats in the three Russian prayer houses and another 100 men in the Adass Isroel synagogue, the total number of Orthodox seats amounts to 440, or 25 percent of all available synagogue seats in Königsberg in 1907. 42 The relative strength of Orthodoxy was obviously due to the great number of [End Page 113] immigrants from Russia, who continued to shape the internal life of the community despite the expulsions and migration restrictions. Even though they did not leave the main community, they gave indirect support to Adass Isroel by buying kosher meat under its supervision or by sending their children to its religious school. 43

Nevertheless, the intensity of the religious controversies cannot be explained by percentages alone or by the impact that certain personalities might have had on the course of the debate. Whereas the followers of the different Orthodox groups in general took an active part in the concerns of their community, it should not be forgotten that the active adherents to the concept of liberal Judaism were far fewer in number than is being implied by the figures mentioned above. Liberal Judaism in Königsberg, like anywhere else, had to fight against the growing indifference toward religious issues in its own ranks. Even the long-disputed organ failed to produce “the expected or at least pretended effect of filling the synagogue, of gaining back the indifferent,” as Adass Isroel stated gloatingly. 44 And the many vain attempts—which, in the years that followed, were made by Vogelstein—to raise the attractiveness of the reformed service finally led even that enthusiastic young rabbi to some resignation. Vogelstein’s remark during a renewed dispute on the introduction of a female choir sheds light on the dilemma faced by the supporters of religious reform: he “does not believe that by the participation of women in the choir the attendance rate in the synagogal service will become any worse than it is already now.” 45

This decrease in religious observance, however, should not simply be equated with a general lack of interest in “Jewish concerns.” In the decade before World War I, the controversy about the ethnic definition of Judaism seems to have raised much more attention in the Königsberg community than its well-known religious conflicts. Here, for the majority of more or less “secular” Jews, the core of their self-definition was at stake, and consequently many of them were mobilized to meet the challenges imposed by a new wave of antisemitism on the one hand and by the young Zionist movement on the other. Again, local peculiarities would characterize the various activities and conflicts arising from this new debate.

First of all, it will be no surprise that nationalist-Jewish ideas had reached the East Prussian capital at a very early stage, given the intimate contacts of the Russian-Jewish colony with its home country. 46 So long as those concepts were discussed at internal meetings of their few fervent adherents in Königsberg, this did not affect the local German-Jewish establishment, which in turn—and not untypically—regarded the incipient movement as something “for the Russian Jews.” Only when some [End Page 114] young German-Jewish students in 1904 founded a separate group, the Verein Jüdischer Studenten (VJSt)—as they had done before in other cities—and asked the Executive Board for support was the Jewish community forced to take an official stand. We know little about the reaction of the general Jewish public in Königsberg, but the attitudes of the community dignitaries seem to express ambivalent feelings. On the one hand, many of them had experienced academic antisemitism themselves and therefore regarded the fight against discrimination, which the young Zionists in public skillfully declared to be their first and foremost goal, with sympathy. 47 On the other hand, the VJSt was the first organization for German Jews in an area striving for full integration, and voluntary separation thus was feared to be counterproductive. As a result, while a minority of board members bluntly rejected the whole idea of a Jewish student organization, the majority decided to remain “neutral.” This meant that the community would not support the VJSt financially but would send a representative to the Antrittskommers in 1905; in 1908, board chairman Samuel Magnus gave a welcome speech to the participants of the Kartelltag of all nationalist-Jewish student organizations—where he did not hesitate to praise the favorable situation of German Jewry in general and of Königsberg Jewry in particular. 48 Apart from the community’s official “neutralism,” some of its dignitaries actively supported the VJSt in the first years, among them quite a few dedicated liberals such as Max Arendt and Rabbi Vogelstein. 49

Although academic discrimination in Germany was probably the driving motive behind this initial liberal support, the general attitude of the Jewish establishment in Königsberg toward any joint Jewish effort against antisemitism had been rather hesitant in the prior decades. 50 The founding of the Centralverein Deutscher Staatsbürger Jüdischen Glaubens in 1893, for example, was not welcomed very warmly by Königsberg Jewry. Even four years later, the Centralverein, whose great attraction for German Jews has always been interpreted as a sign of the deep longing for positive self-assurance, counted only 16 members in Königsberg—fewer than in towns like Hildesheim or Inowraclaw. 51 It was only in 1906 that an Ortsgruppe (local branch) was founded with 160 members, preceded by yet another dispute about the necessity of defense activities in liberal Königsberg, where once again it was the reference to academic antisemitism that finally convinced the majority of the audience to join. 52

Perhaps, however, it was not so much a deeper understanding of the antisemitic threat that really moved the founders of this new Ortsgruppe as it was the growing local tensions between the liberal establishment and the small Zionist movement. The city parliament’s decision to deny [End Page 115] the Jüdischer Turnverein the use of a municipal gymnasium finally led to the withdrawal of liberal sympathy for the students: the “honorable elder” Vogelstein left the VJSt, and Max Lichtenstein publicly broke with it. Given the general attention paid to this affair by the German-Jewish public, it can almost be interpreted as a Zionist “victory,” especially in view of the fact that the VJSt had fewer than 20 members at the time. 53 Whether or not their opponents now felt the need to consolidate their activities within the framework of the Centralverein remains an object of speculation. Certainly, though, the founding two years later of yet another new local branch—of the strictly anti-Zionist Vereinigung für das Liberale Judentum—has to be seen in this context. 54 The growing conflict between Liberals and Zionists is generally traced back to the young and more radical generation that rallied to German Zionism and replaced the old leadership of academic dignitaries before the outbreak of World War I. On the local level, this process was repeated by the “twin stars” Arthur Pelz and Walter Stein, former VJSt leaders who now headed the Zionist Ortsgruppe in Königsberg. 55 Their Bundesbruder Kurt Blumenfeld had initiated the radicalization of the Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland when he became its general secretary in 1909 and postulated his idea of a “palestino-centric Zionism” as part of the personal life of every member. Perhaps the strong impression that some of the old “pre-assimilation” Russian Zionists had had on young Blumenfeld in Königsberg inspired and reinforced his later convictions. Given this background and the “almost proverbial tight coherence of the Königsberg group,” 56 he could surely count on his old friends from East Prussia who supported his idea of “palestino-centric Zionism,” as laid down in the famous Poznán resolution of 1912, as “the kind of Zionism that we had always felt.” 57

On the level of community politics, the mounting tensions seem to have augmented general participation in the many public discussions, which in turn led to rising membership numbers in all contending groups from 1910 onward. Thus, the VJSt could boast of 45 followers in 1913 while the local Zionist branch claimed 150 supporters. 58 The Vereinigung für das Liberale Judentum doubled its membership within three years, reaching 170 in 1913, and the Centralverein in the same year clearly was the leading political formation with 357 inscribed followers. 59

The groups’ internal power struggles on “ethnic” or political issues gained new momentum when the old religious antagonists became actively involved. A first step in that direction was taken with the founding of the Gemeindeverein in 1910, which aimed at mobilizing the passive majority within the Jewish community and establishing a more democratic voting system for the next elections of the community [End Page 116] council. Despite its integrative appeal, the Gemeindeverein soon developed into another tool for party politics: when the Vereinigung für das Liberale Judentum started an election campaign in 1911 by refusing to form the customary all-embracing list with candidates from all political groups, its various opponents then jointly supported the Gemeindeverein, thus allowing the Zionists to present themselves as defenders of Orthodox and East European interests against the liberal onslaught. The whole issue raised “enormous excitation among the Jewish citizens” and led to an unusually high participation of 70 percent in the elections, which were won by the Gemeindeverein gaining a lead over the Liberals by more than 100 votes. 60 Even though the whole affair fit well into the newly propagated policy of “conquering the communities” and thus reinforced Zionist self-confidence all over Germany, it can hardly be called a Zionist victory in the strict sense of the word; the majority of the electorate was presumably convinced by the well-known personalities heading the Gemeindeverein’s list rather than by the nationalist-Jewish ideas of some other members. 61 But the mere fact of having to deal with a Zionist (albeit a moderate one), the university professor Rudolf Cohn, as chairman of the community council was sufficient to serve as a victorious symbol to some and as a sign of imminent doom to others. More proof of the mounting hostility between the various groups can be seen in the heated local discussions that followed the publication in October 1912 of the liberal “Guidelines,” a summary of the dogmas of liberal Judaism that Vogelstein participated in drafting. When the Gemeindeverein organized a public discussion on “how to react to the Guidelines,” the evening ended with a fervent argument between the Zionist Hugo Hoppe and Vogelstein that finally led to the latter’s protest by walking out, along with some of the liberal board and council members. 62 The same constellation—Zionists defending Orthodox concerns on the one hand and rabbinical walk-outs on the other—would later characterize the long and “agonizing” (per Cohn) discussions of the new commission for prayer book reform that kept the flame of internal dispute in the Königsberg community alive even in wartime. 63

An analysis of the relationship between Zionists and Liberals on the local stage of Königsberg clearly corroborates Yehuda Eloni’s assumption that this very conflict had existed long before it finally erupted on a nation-wide scale between 1910 and 1912. 64 Given the information available on Königsberg, it is rather difficult to blame either party for the deteriorating relationship; it seems more appropriate to speak of a gradual escalation in which both groups alternately took the initiative. The Königsberg example also sheds more light on the importance of “personal compatibility”: it would certainly be interesting to examine [End Page 117] the extent to which Blumenfeld’s often-described radical attitudes and even harshness were in turn shaped by his early clashes with a no-less-intransigent and eloquent opponent like Vogelstein. 65 Last but not least, a look at the level of private encounter of the two rivals gives rise to a much more differentiated picture than the official statements and organizational policies usually imply. There are quite a few examples of personal friendships between opposing protagonists, like that between the chairman of the city council, Max Arendt, and Blumenfeld, or between the local incarnation of liberalism, Max Lichtenstein, and the Zionist leader Arthur Pelz. Their political differences did not interfere with their private relationship, and the same can be said of the family life of the many Königsberg clans that had members of all parties in their midst—like the Adass Isroel families Lewin and Marx or the offspring of liberal or conservative dignitaries like Lesser Hirsch, Julius Lazar, and Julius Hermann. 66 Presumably, the real impact of public declarations, activities, and arguments on the day-to-day life of the community and on its individual members was far less dramatic than publicized opinions and many retrospective accounts would suggest.

If judged by mere numbers, another and far more extended social sphere existed where Jewish men and especially Jewish women dedicated a fair amount of time and money to their community’s concerns: the wide array of Jewish associations that made it possible to participate in Jewish social life without entering into discussions about religious or ethnic identities. Despite the fact that, in many cases, opponents were members of the same social or cultural organizations, they managed to remain on neutral ground. In the Verein für jüdische Geschichte und Kultur, for example, it was possible for a liberal like Max Arendt to sit next to the old Russian Zionist Jacob Towbin and to Adass Isroel member Salomon Schereschewsky and listen to a lecture given by Rabbi Perles’ mother, Rosalie, on the lives and exploits of “our grandmothers.” 67 One can also speculate that the strong presence of women contributed to a factual atmosphere; political bickering was delegated to the purely male world of community committees and their “parties.”

The importance of the quiet and quite unspectacular participation in the communities’ Vereinsleben (of the “associational Judaism,” as Derek Penslar has called it) for the maintenance of internal group cohesion has long been recognized. Its ambivalent function—offering a “parallel sociability” within social forms typical for the majority society while being distinctly Jewish—has repeatedly been interpreted as pivotal for the process of embourgeoisement and integration. 68 Although these general assumptions seem to apply to the Königsberg community as [End Page 118] well, a closer look at the local variation of “associational Judaism” still leads to slight modifications of the overall picture.

The existence of 24 Jewish associations in pre-World War I Königsberg is not, perhaps, as surprising as are their membership numbers, especially when compared to other communities. A survey of the largest local Jewish associations, published by Jacob Thon in 1906, reveals that in no other German city was the level of organization in the various Vereine so high as in Königsberg. 69 Eleven of these associations, mostly founded in the last decade of the Wilhelminian Empire, either had a specific “political” character—like the local branches of the various movements of German Jewry discussed above—or served mainly societal or educational purposes—like the Verein ehemaliger Zöglinge der Koschschen Waisen-Erziehungsanstalt or the Verein für jüdische Geschichte und Literatur. However, the majority of the associations—13 of them—were clearly and primordially concerned with welfare in the broadest sense. 70 If we add the regular contributors to permanent institutions, like the orphanage, to the members of these associations, we arrive at a number of 3,747 Jews who in one way or another supported Jewish welfare activities in Königsberg in 1904, when the community in 1905 totaled 4,415 men, women, and children. Taken together, their annual contribution amounted to 30,000 marks, but since the older Vereine, especially, owned considerable property due to private donations dating from the 1850s and 1860s, the per-capita assets of the richest local associations were far higher than in other cities. 71 Thus, during the Empire, a stagnating Jewish population in Königsberg enjoyed the fruits of earlier generations’ philanthropic commitment while trying to distribute the means at its disposal according to the standards of a modern welfare administration. 72 The combination of old traditions of charity and new forms of social aid that eventually led to a growing differentiation and specialization can be deducted from the founding dates of the various associations, starting with the Hevrah Kadishah in 1704 and ending with the local branch of supporters of the Gartenbauschule Ahlem in 1905. So far as membership numbers are concerned, three features deserve special mention. First, the more traditional or religiously rooted associations had by far the largest membership. Thus, the Hevrah Kadishah and its female counterpart, the Frauenverein für Krankenpflege und Beerdigung, together assembled more than 1,000 men and women in 1904, when the community had about 1,300 adults on its tax roll. Second, whereas the Hevrah during the Second Empire maintained its position as the largest local Jewish organization, its old reform-oriented rival, the Wohltätige Gesellschaft, saw its membership [End Page 119] decline to 250 in 1911. 73 By that time, the second-largest organization, with 570 members, was the Bikkur Holim—an organization that enabled Russian Jews to come to Königsberg for medical care, thus differing in character from many other German-Jewish philanthropic endeavors engaged mainly in the swift transport of emigrating East European Jews through Germany. 74 And last but not least, the impressive amount of female participation calls for attention. The membership of the three traditional welfare associations dedicated to women and supported almost exclusively by women amounted to more than 1,400 in 1911, which means that even if double and multifold memberships are deducted, then at least every second adult woman was a member of at least one of them. For the women leading those Vereine and for women active in other organizations like the Hakhnasat Orhim, welfare work in the community seemed to be the most fitting expression of a sense of group solidarity or “secular Jewish identity.” 75 Given the rather traditional character of many of the large associations, at least in the case of Königsberg, one is inclined to presume that this modern Jewish identity was more religiously induced than the term “secular” would usually imply.

Whatever individual motivation there might have been, the fact remains that—while the size of the community remained essentially the same between 1885 and 1914—more and more men and women filled the membership lists of more and more Jewish associations. 76 Of course, multiple memberships were common, and the active work in these organizations was accomplished by a much smaller circle of people. 77 Nevertheless, given the voluntary act of inscribing one’s name on any association’s list, it seems justified to interpret membership as a public expression of a certain sense of belonging, an identification with things “Jewish,” which in Königsberg appears to have been remarkably strong.

Pluralism and Plurality—Conclusions

Before taking this visible deviation from a German-Jewish norm in order to formulate any far-reaching new theories, we should first look for rather unspectacular, more fundamental factors that might account for the local phenomena described above. First and foremost, the influence of geography was critical to the internal development of the Jewish community in Königsberg. The proximity of the border to the tsarist empire and the existence of a numerically and economically strong Russian-Jewish colony in the East Prussian capital certainly shared in the [End Page 120] course taken by religious and “political” conflicts within Königsberg Jewry. And even the conspicuous tendency shown by Jewish men and women alike to express commitment to their community by being organized in all kinds of associations can be attributed not only to an adaptation to the habits of the surrounding society but also to East European Jewish traditions.

One might argue, for example, that the interpretation of such results might be distorted by the frame of reference being used, namely by the idea of a certain urban German-Jewish “normality” derived from communities like those of Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, or Hamburg, which toward the end of the Second Empire were considerably larger than that of Königsberg. A rather conservative profile, a relatively strong Zionist movement, and a close inner cohesion are features in general attributed to smaller communities, and Königsberg with its 4,500 listed members held an intermediate position. A kind of cozy provinciality, to which the city’s peripheral location has to be added, marked the internal Jewish life, which has been portrayed—with some retrospective idealization—by Rabbi Reinhold Lewin in the 1920s:

Once proud to head the Prussian communities along with Berlin and Breslau, by now surpassed in size and importance by many in Germany, [the Königsberg community] has always retained a true and accurate knowledge of itself. Its members, not infrequently kept together by their childhood memories, are not so dissipated in numbers as to loosen their human relationship . . . from Jew to Jew. Until the war, there were some experts who knew by name every person entering the hall at some festivity, and who were able to outline his origin, wealth, and life course. . . . More than one person who had elsewhere distanced himself from anything Jewish, when entering our community was included in the thoughts, concerns, and tasks of Judaism by the force of some network invisibly spun. 78

The results derived from local community history thus seem to be rather limited. Only to particular issues might it be feasible to add valuable information concerning certain chapters of German-Jewish history, as could be demonstrated in the case of Zionism and its relationship to the Centralverein; there, indeed, local pecularities could have influenced the development on a larger (national) scale. A broader perspective, however, can be achieved by combining the specific shape of the Königsberg Jewish world with its relation to the surrounding Königsberg society, as discussed in the first part of this article.

In the East Prussian capital, a brand of pre-1848 liberalism had been preserved, at least as a societal style of life and behavior that only in [End Page 121] retrospect appears to have been not much more than an old-fashioned remnant of former times. But to the contemporaries, Jews and Gentiles alike, it appeared to be a spearhead of eternal progress of mankind (or at least of the German nation). It was in this ambience of pronounced tolerance and of relatively little overt antisemitism that Königsberg Jewry developed its rich and varied internal life. Such a life was, so far as religion was concerned, even more conservative than in the previous decades and was based on a high percentage of participation. In addition, it was able to integrate a large Russian-Jewish segment by granting a high degree of autonomy over the various prayer houses. Thus, contrary to earlier assumptions, the wide range of possibilities open to Jews in their urban surroundings was not at all paralleled by a corresponding increase in indifference toward Jewish concerns. On a personal level, this is reflected by many cases of multiple membership not only in Jewish associations but in non-Jewish ones as well. The Jewish activist elite thus constituted an important part of the Königsberg liberal elite, with men like Max Lichtenstein and women like Rahel Wolff representing the commitment of many citizens. All of this certainly corroborates the findings of David Sorkin and many others that the process of embourgeoisement or secularization “did not lead inevitably to the loss of belief and identification, but instead resulted in a complex pattern of integration which could also include the creation of new forms of identity and solidarity.” 79

The local example of Königsberg invites us to go one step further: given the explicit feelings of security and self-affirmation of Königsberg Jewry, on the one hand, and the degree of intensity and variety of the community’s internal life, on the other, one might even speculate—keeping all of the above-mentioned factors in mind—that it was precisely the open atmosphere in their hometown that encouraged men and women to give public expression to their identity as Jews. In other words, not only immigration from the East and antisemitism 80 but also a certain kind of liberalism may have had a “dissimilatory” effect on a minority that took its own integration for granted. Regarding Königsberg society, which was as close to real pluralism as a Prussian city could get, this high degree of pluralism enlarged the possibilities for plurality even for a minority group. Although this sounds encouraging for some modern debates, the Königsberg example contains a bitter warning as well: the fragility of liberal attitudes became all too apparent when their economic base dwindled away in the crises following World War I, eroding with striking rapidity the ground on which the minority had been able to integrate and to stay Jewish at the same time.

Stefanie Schüler-Springorum

Stefanie Schüler-Springorum wrote her doctoral dissertation on the Jewish community in Königsberg, East Prussia, 1871–1945. She has published on German-Jewish history and Jewish resistance, and is the co-author of the exhibition “Jewish History in Berlin” (1995). Her current work is a habilitation project about the Condor Legion in Spain.

Footnotes

The title of this article is taken from the collection of essays edited by Jonathan Frankel and Steven J. Zipperstein, Assimilation and Community: The Jews in Ninetheenth-Century Europe (Cambridge, Engl., 1992), to which the interpretations presented here owe many inspiring ideas. I would like to dedicate this article to the memory of my childhood friend Dietrich Tschirch (1960–1993).

1. For a critique of these works, see Monika Richarz, “Luftaufnahme—oder die Schwierigkeiten der Heimatforscher mit der jüdischen Geschichte,” Babylon 8 (1991): 27–33.

2. Interestingly enough—given its highly praised intellectual and cultural life—the period of the Weimar Republic has not yet attracted as many local researchers. Instead, this phase is usually treated either as an aftermath of the Second Empire or as a prelude to the Third, but seldom as a phase of German-Jewish history in its own right. See also Moshe Zimmermann, Die deutschen Juden 1914–1945 (München, 1997), 79. For exceptions, see Roland Flade, Juden in Würzburg, 1918–1933 (Würzburg, 1985); Ina Lorenz, Identität und Assimilation: Hamburgs Juden in der Weimarer Republik (Hamburg, 1989); Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, Die jüdische Minderheit in Königsberg, 1871–1945 (Göttingen, 1996), 197–295; and Gabriel Alexander, “Die jüdische Bevölkerung Berlins in den ersten Jahrzehnten des 20. Jahrhunderts,” in Jüdische Geschichte in Berlin, Reinhard Rürup, ed. (Berlin, 1995). For aspects of the cultural life of various Jewish communities, see Michael Brenner, The Renaissance of Jewish Culture in Weimar Germany (New Haven., Conn., 1995).

3. David Sorkin, “Religious Reforms and Secular Trends in German-Jewish Life: An Agenda for Research,” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book [hereafter LBIYB] 40 (1995): 184, 178–79. See also Reinhard Rürup, “An Appraisal of German-Jewish Historiography,” LBIYB 35 (1990): xv–xxiv, and Michael A. Meyer, “Jews as Jews versus Jews as Germans: Two Historical Perspectives,” LBIYB 36 (1991): xv–xxii.

4. See Shulamit Volkov, Jüdisches Leben und Antisemitismus im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (München, 1990), 166–80.

5. Most recently, Till van Rahden has discussed some of his material on the Breslau community in the broader context of the debate on multiculturalism. His findings regarding the integration of Jews into the local society corrobate some of my assumptions derived from the Königsberg example; see Till van Rahden, “Mingling, Marrying and Distancing: Jewish Integration in Wilhelminian Breslau and Its Erosion in Early Weimar Germany,” in Jews in the Weimar Republic, Wolfgang Benz, ed. (Tübingen, 1998), 193–217.

6. Quoted from the reprint of the full text of the speech in Joseph Rosenthal, Die gottesdienstlichen Einrichtungen in der Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Königsberg i. Pr. Festschrift zur 25. Wiederkehr des Tages der Einweihung der Neuen Gemeindesynagoge (Königsberg, 1921), 26–28.

7. See, for example, ibid., and Siegfried Holz, “Vom Anteil der Juden an der städtischen Verwaltung in Königsberg,” Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 2, no. 12 (1925).

8. Siegmund Wolff, “Die Bedeutung der Juden für den Königsberger Handel,” Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 2, no. 6 (1925). See also Kolef Daugilacky, Die Bedeutung des russisch-jüdischen Zwischenhandels für den Königsberger Handel, Diss., Univ. of Königsberg, 1922.

9. Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums (hereafter AZJ) 57, no. 19 (1893); see also Synagogengemeinde Königsberg to DIGB, Nov. 11, 1889, Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (hereafter CAHJP), Kn II, A III 6, p. 69.

10. See, for example, Vorsteheramt der Königsberger Kaufmannschaft to Bismarck, July 5, 1885, Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz (hereafter GSTAPK), Rep 77, Tit. 1176, no. 2a, vol. 6, pp. 13–15; Oberpräsident to Minister of the Interior, Sept. 2 and 9, 1885, ibid., pp. 72–74, 111–12; and Berichte des Vorsteheramtes der Kaufmannschaft—Handel, Industrie und Schiffahrt von Königsberg in den Jahren 1882–1914 (Königsberg, 1883–1915).

11. Quoted in Herbert Neubach, Die Ausweisungen von Polen und Juden aus Preussen 1885/86. Ein Beitrag zu Bismarcks Polenpolitik und zur Geschichte des deutsch-polnischen Verhältnisses (Wiesbaden, 1967), 97. See also Jack Wertheimer, Unwelcome Strangers: East European Jews in Imperial Germany (New York, 1987), 31–35, and, for a detailed description of the events in Königsberg, see Schüler-Springorum, Die jüdische Minderheit, 174–86.

12. For a discussion of the economic structure of the Jewish community, see Schüler-Springorum, Die jüdische Minderheit, 46–58.

13. See Jacob Toury, “Jüdische Bürgerrechtskämpfer im Vormärzlichen Königsberg,” Jahrbuch für die Geschichte Mittel-und Ostdeutschlands 32 (1983): 175–216.

14. In Königsberg, the municipal authorities consisted of 102 Stadtverordnete and 18 Stadträte until 1905. For 1870, 12 Stadtverordnete can be identified as members of the Jewish community. Dignitaries like Ludwig Leo (1873–1902) or Benno Michelly (1876–1904) served as Stadträte for almost 30 years. See Fritz Gause, Geschichte der Stadt Königsberg in Preussen, vol. 2 (Köln, 1968), 338, 638; Königsberger Adressbuch für 1870 (Königsberg, 1870); Verwaltungsbericht der Stadt Königsberg für 1907 (Königsberg, 1908); and Holz, “Vom Anteil der Juden.”

15. Michelly Strasse was close to the synagogue, and Leo Strasse was located in the distinguished suburb of Amalienau. See Herbert M. Mühlpfort, “Welche Mitbürger hat Königsberg öffentlich geehrt?” Jahrbuch der Albertus Universität 14 (1964): 77.

16. For an astute description of the inauguration, see Ludwig Goldstein, Heimatgebunden: Aus dem Leben eines alten Königsbergers (Königsberg, ca. 1936–40 [unpublished ms. in GSTAPK, XX HA, Handschrift 7]). For an example of coverage in the local and Jewish press, see the description of the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the Hevrah Kadishah in Königsberger Hartungsche Zeitung, Nov. 28, 1904; AZJ 68, no. 51 (1904); and Israelitisches Familienblatt (hereafter IFB) 8, no. 52 (1904). For quotations from the speech of the city mayor at the funeral service for Samuel Magnus, city councillor and chairman of the Jewish community, see AZJ 72, no. 11 (1908). For a general discussion of Jewish participation in local politics, see Peter Pulzer, Jews and the German State: The Political History of a Minority, 1848–1933 (Oxford, 1992), 131–38.

17. See Synagogengemeinde Königsberg to Polizeipräsident, June 14, 1908, CAHJP, Kn II, B II 6, p. 278, and IFB 11, no. 43 (1908) (on carpet-beating); Polizeipräsident to Synagogengemeinde, Mar. 6, 1913, CAHJP, Kn II, A I 5, p. 223 (on cackling chickens); and Gause, Geschichte der Stadt Königsberg, 649 (on eruv).

18. The chairman of the city council, Max Arendt, was a fervent anti-Zionist and brought his authority to bear during the debate. See AZJ 70, no. 7 (1906); IFB 9, no. 5 (1906); and Kurt Blumenfeld, Erlebte Judenfrage (Stuttgart, 1962), 45.

19. See IFB 7, nos. 24 and 27 (1904).

20. Paul Rosenstein, Narben bleiben zurück (München, 1954); see also the file of the Prussian Ministry of the Interiors on the “Börsengartenaffair” in GSTAPK, Rep. 77, II, 1065, no. 5.

21. Gause, Geschichte der Stadt Königsberg, 636.

22. See ibid., 587–604, 690, 750–51, and Königsberger Adressbuch für 1870.

23. Rahel Wolff, “Die jüdische Frau im öffentlichen Leben Königsbergs,” Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 2, no. 9 (1925). For the development of the feminist movement in Königsberg, see Pauline Bohn, Entstehen und Werden der Frauenbewegung in Königsberg (Königsberg, 1924); for the generally high degree of Jewish participation in women’s association in Germany, see Marion Kaplan, The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family, and Identity in Imperial Germany (New York, 1991), 206, 218–19.

24. Maybe the best—certainly the most vivid—account of the local associational life is found in the memoir of Aron Liebeck, who in the 1870s was carefully planning his social advancement; he was a member of a Turnverein, a Kegelverein, the Dramatischer Leseverein, and the Verein der Liederfreunde (Liebeck, Mein Leben [Königsberg, 1928; unpublished ms. in Germania Judaica Library]). See also Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, ‘“Denken, Wirken, Schaffen’: Das erfolgreiche Leben des Aron Liebeck,” in Bürger, Juden, Deutsche: Zur Geschichte von Vielfalt und Grenzen in Deutschland, Andreas Gotzmann, Rainer Liedtke, and Till van Rahden, eds. (Tübingen, forthcoming).

25. See Schüler-Springorum, Die jüdische Minderheit, 74–93, and the famous article by Gershom Scholem, “Zur Sozialpsychologie der Juden in Deutschland, 1900–1930,” in Die Krise des Liberalismus zwischen den Weltkriegen, Rudolf v. Thadden, ed. (Göttingen, 1978), 256–77. For a gender analysis of the private life of Jewish families, see Marion Kaplan, “Freizeit-Arbeit: Geschlechterräume im deutsch-jüdischen Bürgertum, 1870–1914,” in Bürgerinnen und Bürger: Geschlechterverhältnisse im 19. Jahrhundert, Ute Frevert, ed. (Göttingen, 1988), 157–74.

26. See Fritz S. Perles, “Felix Perles, 1874–1933,” LBIYB 26 (1981): 170, and Perles’ own tribute to his friend in Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 6, no. 9 (1929). The second “famous friendship” was that between the Russian merchant and community board member Salomon Feinberg and the writer Felix Dahn; see AZJ 57, no. 19 (1893), and the article by Gerhard Birnbaum, “Felix Dahn,” Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 4, no. 3 (1927).

27. Hella Jaensch, née Riebensahm, in an interview with Ingela Lundgreen, undated audiocassette (by courtesy of Hella Jaensch, Frankfurt am Main).

28. Goldstein, Heimatgebunden, 646. Goldstein, son of a Jewish father and a Christian mother, had lived as a confirmed atheist and East Prussian liberal up to 1933; only in his memoir written during the time of Nazi persecution did he confess his hidden anti-Jewish feelings. For his complicated psychological situation and a general evaluation of his recollections, see Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, Jüdisch-Bürgerliches Leben in Königsberg, 1880–1945: Unter besonderer Berücksichtigung von Selbstzeugnissen (M.A. thesis, University of Göttingen, 1987), 89–100.

29. Ernst Hamburger, Juden im öffentlichen Leben Deutschlands: Regierungsmitglieder, Beamte und Parlamentarier in der monarchischen Zeit, 1848–1918 (Tübingen, 1968), 376. For a detailed account of the affair, see Hugo Hoppe, “Der Fall Lichtenstein: Antisemitismus in der Fortschrittlichen Volkspartei,” in Jüdische Rundschau, Sept. 5, 1913, pp. 374–76.

30. For a typical and eloquent interpretation of reality shaped by local experience, see Liebeck, Mein Leben, 474–79. For an astute perception of the inherent dangers of provincial antisemitism, see Isaac Bamberger, Vertrauliche Einladung des Verbandes der Synagogengemeinden Ostpreussens zum Verbandstag am 8. März 1893, CAHJP, Kn II, A III 6, pp. 164–65.

31. Mordechai Breuer, Jüdische Orthodoxie im Deutschen Reich, 1871–1918: Sozialgeschichte einer religiösen Minderheit (Frankfurt am Main, 1986), 366, fn. 40; see also Steven M. Lowenstein, The Mechanics of Change: Essays in the Social History of German Jewry (Atlanta, Ga., 1992), 96, 110–17.

32. The moderate changes were easily accepted in the community, where only the idea of a “religious lecture in German appropriate for the level of intelligence of the audience” stirred some controversy, especially since the concept of the lecture was to be handed in to the board to prevent the promotion of thoughts “against the laws of Judaism”; see Joseph Rosenthal, “Eine neue Synagogenordnung vom Jahre 1838,” Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 2, no. 4 (1925).

33. For the general development of religious reform in German communities, see Michael A. Meyer, Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism (New York, 1988), 47–61, 183–84.

34. Jacob Bähr, “Gottesdienstliche Einrichtungen der ostjüdischen Kolonie in Königsberg,” Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 4, no. 8 (1927).

35. Emanuel Schereschewsky, “Erinnerungen an Königsberg i.Pr.,” in UDIM, Zeitung der Rabbinerkonferenz in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, vol. 3 (1972): 124.

36. Vorstand der Religionsgemeinschaft Adass Isroel, Zum Austritt aus der Königsberger Synagogengemeinde (Königsberg, 1900), 4, 13; Isaac Bamberger, “Gutachten über die Einführung einer Orgel,” Apr. 1, 1869, CAHJP, Kn II, E II 14, p. 17.

37. Petition zur Überlassung der Gemeindesynagoge, Feb. 1893, CAHJP, Kn II, K 6, p. 76; see also Hermann Wolkowski, “Aufgaben der konservativen Synagogengemeinde,” Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 2, no. 6 (1925).

38. See his speech on Yom Kippur 1879, reprinted in Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 3, no. 8 (1926), and Rosenthal, Einrichtungen, 16.

39. For different views on the conflict, see Petition zur Überlassung der Gemeindesynagoge, Feb. 1893, p. 76; the Executive Board to Asher Aron, May 18, 1893, CAHJP, Kn II, K 6, p. 83; Rosenthal, Die gottesdienstlichen Einrichtungen, 36–37; Ephraim Piczenik, “Chronik der Alten Synagoge,” Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 4, no. 4 (1927).

40. See Max Feinstein, “Isaac Bamberger,” Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 5, no. 1 (1928), and, for example, Bamberger’s compromise on the supervision of the Shehitah, Feb. 23, 1865, in CAHJP, Kn II, A I 5, p. 202.

41. See Vorstand der Religionsgemeinschaft Adass Isroel, Zum Austritt (containing also articles published in the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums), the reply of the Executive Board in Bericht über die Verhältnisse der Synagogengemeinde zu Königsberg/Pr. in den Jahren, 1893–1900 (Königsberg, 1900), 8–15, and the answer by Esra Munk, Offener Brief im Auftrage des Vorstands der Adass Isroel in Königsberg i.Pr. gerichtet an den Vorstand der Synagogengemeinde daselbst (Königsberg, 1900), which contains the letters exchanged between him and Vogelstein. Immediately after Vogelstein had left for Breslau in 1920, Adass Isroel joined the main community again.

42. See Aufstellung der Betvereinigungen 1907, CAHJP, Kn II, K 6, p. 426.

43. Of all children who received religious instruction in Königsberg, one-fourth frequented the Adass Isroel school; see Yoram K. Jacoby, Jüdisches Leben in Königsberg/Pr. im 20. Jahrhundert (Würzburg, 1983), 145–46, tables 5 and 6. During the Second Empire, between 10 and 20 percent of the Jewish population in Germany is estimated to have been Orthodox; see Breuer, Jüdische Orthodoxie im Deutschen Reich, 1871–1918, p. 6.

44. Vorstand der Religionsgemeinschaft Adass Isroel, Zum Austritt, p. 6.

45. Protokoll der Sitzung der Kultuskommission, July 3, 1910, CAHJP, Kn II, B II 6, pp. 246–47.

46. See Schüler-Springorum, Die jüdische Minderheit, 143–44.

47. VJSt Königsberg to Vorstand der Synagogengemeinde, Apr. 5, 1904, CAHJP, Kn II, H 16, pp. 209–11; see also the statutes of the VJSt Königsberg in Central Zionist Archives (hereafter CZA), A 231/4/10. The internal discourse, though, was far more radical; see, for example, the manuscript of a speech by William Perlis, Apr. 26, 1904, CZA, A 231/4/10. For a general description of the atmosphere in the Königsberg VJSt, see the essays in Rückblick und Besinnung: Aufsätze gesammelt aus Anlass des 50. Jahrestages der Gründung der Verbindung Jüdischer Studenten Maccabäa im KJV (Königsberg) (n.p. [Israel], 1954).

48. See the manuscript of the speech by Magnus, Jan. 2, 1908, CAHJP, Kn II, H 16, p. 478. For the attitude of the Executive Board, see the disapproving comment by Hirsch, Apr. 23, 1904, CAHJP, Kn II, H 16, p. 216, and the official answer to the VJSt plea for a donation, June 17, 1906, CAHJP, Kn II, H 16, p. 391; and the Bericht über das Sommersemester 1905, CZA, A 231/1/4.

49. See the Semesterberichte 1904 and the Monatsberichte for June 1904 and April 1905, in CZA A/231/1/4 and 5; IFB 7, no. 19 (1904).

50. See, for example, the board members’ comments and the official letter protesting against Paul Nathan’s Comité zur Abwehr antisemitischer Angriffe, Apr. 12, 1894, CAHJP, Kn II, A II 3, pp. 126–27, and Jacob Borut, “The Rise of Jewish Defence Agitation in Germany, 1890–1895: A Pre-History of the CV?” LBIYB 36 (1991): 59–96.

51. See the membership list of the Centralverein for the year 1897, CAHJP, TD 1165.

52. See AZJ 70, no. 55 (1906). For a synthesis of the different interpretations of the historical role of the Centralverein and of its conflict with the Zionists in Germany, see Shulamit Volkov, Die Juden in Deutschland, 1780–1918 (München, 1994), 64, 122–29.

53. See n. 18 above. Similiar struggles were reported from Berlin (1900) and Hannover (1904); see Georg Eisen, “Zionism, Nationalism, and the Emergence of the Jüdische Turnerschaft,” LBIYB 28 (1983): 255. When Kurt Blumenfeld came to Königsberg in 1906, the recruitment of six Lithuanian Jews had just saved the VJSt from breaking down; one year later, it counted 24 members. See Blumenfeld, Erlebte Judenfrage, 43, 48, and the membership lists of the VJSt for 1905 to 1910, CZA, A 231/1/6.

54. See Handbuch der Jüdischen Gemeindeverwaltungen (Berlin, 1913) and the article on its chairman Isidor Fabian in Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 6, no. 9 (1929).

55. David Schlossberg, “Der gesellschaftliche Rahmen,” in Rückblick und Besinnung, 17; see also his speech on the late Arthur Pelz in Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 5, no. 10 (1928).

56. Schlossberg, “Der gesellschaftliche Rahmen,” 19.

57. Arthur Pelz as quoted by Yehuda Eloni, Zionismus in Deutschland: Von den Anfängen bis 1914 (Gerlingen, 1987), 278. See also Blumenfeld’s own account of the VJSt in Königsberg: “Verein jüdischer Studenten Königsberg: Aus Erinnerungen, die mit dem Sommersemester 1906 beginnen,” in Rückblick und Besinnung, 4–13, and the illuminating interpretation by Jochanan Ginat, “Kurt Blumenfeld und der deutsche Zionismus,” in Kurt Blumenfeld: Im Kampf um den Zionismus. Briefe aus fünf Jahrzehnten, Jochanan Ginat and Miriam Sambursky, eds. (Stuttgart, 1976), 10.

58. The real number of sympathizers was probably higher, since one year earlier 400 people or 8.7 percent of the community members in Königsberg were listed as paying the Shekel—a fairly high proportion given the average of 1.8 percent for the big cities in Germany; see Eloni, Zionismus in Deutschland, 122–23, and Handbuch der Jüdischen Gemeindeverwaltungen (Berlin, 1913). In 1916, 100 Königsberg citizens were subscribers of the Jüdische Rundschau; see Feldrundbrief des VJSt, Feb. 1918, in CZA, A 231/11/5.

59. See Handbuch der Jüdischen Gemeindeverwaltungen (Berlin, 1911, 1913).

60. Gemeindeverein candidates received between 348 and 421 votes, as opposed to those of the Liberals with 255 to 279 votes; see Walter Stein, “Der Wahlsieg in Königsberg,” Jüdische Rundschau, Mar. 8, 1912, p. 81.

61. Ibid. See also the interpretation by Eloni, Zionismus in Deutschland, 502, and by Jehuda Reinharz, Fatherland or Promised Land: The Dilemma of the German Jew (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1970), 189–99.

62. See AZJ 77, no. 22 (1913), and Jacoby, Jüdisches Leben in Königsberg, 49–50. The Königsberg Executive Board later supported, in part, the declaration of the community boards of Frankfurt and Berlin against the Orthodox protest against the “Guidelines”; see Rachel Heuberger,” Orthodoxy versus Reform: The Case of Rabbi Nehemiah Anton Nobel of Frankfurt a. Main,” LBIYB 37 (1992): 55.

63. See the minutes of the commission meetings from 1916 to 1918 in CAHJP, Kn II, E II 8; for some examples of the nerve-racking atmosphere, see Schüler-Springorum, Die jüdische Minderheit, 156–57.

64. See Eloni, Zionismus in Deutschland, 202, and the divergent views on the development of this conflict by Jehuda Reinharz, “Advocacy and History: The Case of the Centralverein and the Zionists,” LBIYB 33 (1988): 113–22, and by Marjorie Lamberti, “The Centralverein and the Zionists: Setting the Historical Record Straight,” ibid., 123–28.

65. Reinharz, Fatherland or Promised Land, 174. For a critical assessment of Blumenfeld’s personality, see Marjorie Lamberti, “From Coexistence to Conflict: Zionism and the Jewish Community in Germany 1897–1914,” LBIYB 27 (1982): 53–86.

66. See Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World (Yale, 1982), 8; Erwin Lichtenstein, Bericht an meine Familie: Ein Leben zwischen Danzig und Israel (Darmstadt, 1985), 12; and the various examples of family relations as derived from interviews in Schüler-Springorum, Die jüdische Minderheit, 158–60.

67. This lecture was held on Feb. 24, 1904, and later reprinted in Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 7, no. 1 (1930). For the names of the Verein’s board members, see the Jahrbücher des Vereins für Jüdische Geschichte und Literatur (Berlin, 1899–1914).

68. Derek J. Penslar, “Philanthropy, the ‘Social Question’ and Jewish Identity in Imperial Germany,” LBIYB 38 (1993): 58; Sorkin, “Religious Reforms and Secular Trends in German-Jewish Life,” 182–83. See also Volkov, Die Juden in Deutschland, 92–93, and Pulzer, Jews and the German State, 13.

69. If the number of community members is divided by the number of those who belonged to associations, the figure for Königsberg is 1.1, as compared to 2.2 for Frankfurt, 2.4 for Berlin, and 2.9 for Breslau; see Jacob Thon, Die jüdischen Gemeinden und Vereine in Deutschland (Berlin, 1906), 59.

70. See Jacoby, Jüdisches Leben in Königsberg, 143–44.

71. See Bericht über die Verhältnisse der Synagogen-Gemeinde zu Königsberg i. Pr. in den Jahren 1899 bis 1905 (Königsberg, 1906), 20–21. Jacob Thon calculated that the budget of all Jewish associations in Germany reached a per-capita average (of community members) of 11 marks, whereas the figure for Königsberg amounted to 25 marks (Die jüdischen Gemeinden, 62).

72. For a more detailed description of the welfare administration and its clients, see Schüler-Springorum, Die jüdische Minderheit, 112–15.

73. See Auflistung der Wohlfahrtsvereine und-einrichtungen der Synagogengemeinde Königsberg pro 1911, in CAHJP, Kn II, A II 7, p. 28/2. A similiar role of the Hevrah has now been corroborated for Breslau in the 1920s; see Andreas Reinke, Judentum und Wohlfahrtspflege: Das jüdische Krankenhaus in Breslau, 1744–1944 (Hannover, 1998), 294. Reinke kindly informed me that this role probably held true in Breslau during the Second Empire, as well.

74. See Auflistung der Wohlfahrtsvereine pro 1911 and the report on its activities in Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 2, no. 1 (1925). The Bikkur was financed by individual members and firms active in the import-export trade with Russia who donated a certain percentage of their profits.

75. In 1911, the female Hevrah had 560 members, the Weiblicher Verein für israelitische Armenpflege had 495, and the Frauenverein zur Unterstützung israelitischer Witwen und Waisen had 369; see Auflistung der Wohlfahrtsvereine pro 1911. Among the 254 members of the Frauenverein in 1873, there were 11 men; see Verwaltungsbericht des Frauenverein zur Unterstützung israelitischer Witwen und Waisen für das Jahr 1873/1874, in CAHJP, Kn II, H 8, p. 13. For the ideological background of female welfare work in Imperial Germany, see Marion Kaplan, The Making of the Jewish Middle Class, 192–95, Claudia Prestel, “Weibliche Rollenzuweisung in jüdischen Organisationen,” LBI Bulletin 85 (1990): 51–80, and Sabine Knappe, “The Role of Womens’ Associations in the Jewish Community: The Example of the Israelitisch-humanitärer Frauenverein in Hamburg at the Turn of the Century,” LBIYB 39 (1994): 153–78.

76. Thus, in 1888 the local welfare associations counted between 117 and 342 members, whereas in 1911 their number oscillated between 96 and 608; see AZJ 52 (1888): 825, and Jacoby, Jüdisches Leben in Königsberg, 143.

77. For Berlin, Derek Penslar has been able to give exact figures for what he fittingly calls a Jewish “activist elite”; see Penslar, “Philanthropy,” 58.

78. Reinhold Lewin, “Zum Geleit,” Königsberger Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt 1, no. 1 (1924).

79. Sorkin, “Religious Reforms and Secular Trends,” 184. See also Volkov, Die Juden in Deutschland, 56; Pulzer, Jews and the German State, 4–14; and the summary of this discussion on a European scale by Jonathan Frankel, “Assimilation and the Jews in Nineteenth-Century Europe: Towards a New Historiography?” in Frankel and Zipperstein, eds., Assimilation and Community, 1–37.

80. The pivotal role of antisemitism is once again being stressed in order to explain the development of a new and secular Jewish identity in the late-nineteenth century; see, as a most recent example, Steven M. Lowenstein’s chapter “Ideologie und Identität” in the third volume of the Leo Baeck Institute’s comprehensive Deutsch-Jüdische Geschichte in der Neuzeit: Umstrittene Integration, 1871–1918, by Steven M. Lowenstein, Paul Mendes-Flohr, Peter Pulzer, and Monika Richarz, edited by Michael A. Meyer and Michael Brenner (München, 1997), 301.

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1527-2028
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1999-06-01
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