In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews 173 fonn. Still, this is a work that merits attention. It should be read not only by scholars interested in Heidegger as man and/or philosopher, but also by those who, like Lang, have found themselves researching something about which they expected to find a great deal, yet discovered instead a curious, and seemingly deliberate, silence. Ellen M. Umansky Judaic Studies Fairfield University Quakers and Nazis: Inner Light in Outer Darkness, by Hans A. Schmitt. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997. 296 pp. $29.95. After the widespread allegations of Gennan "eliminationist antisemitism" in the first halfofthis century, it is a reliefto tum to the story ofpersons who never can be accused ofholding such views-the Quakers. The history ofthis small but significant group of Gennan non-confonnists has not previously been written either in Gennan or in English, so Professor Schmitt's carefully researched account is much to be welcomed, all the more since we have had to wait for so long. He makes extensive use both ofthe few surviving Quaker records in Gennany and of the reminiscences of surviving members, as well as of the large number of Gestapo records which portray the close surveillance devoted by the Nazi authorities to this small sect. In addition, he has made excellent use of Quaker archives in London and Philadelphia and convincingly establishes his case that this was a tiny but heroic handful of men and women who preferred to light a small candle rather than curse the surrounding darkness of Nazi Gennany. The Society ofFriends managed to establish a small following in Europe in its early years, but emigration or rejection led to its disappearance by the mid-nineteenth .century. The Quakers first returned to Gennany in 1919, when the British and American Friends defied the wishes of their governments and went over to Berlin and Vienna to establish a humanitarian relief program, principally by setting up feeding stations for the starving children of those cities. The "Quakerspeisung" was so well organized that by 1921 more than one million individuals were being fed in 1,640 centers, assisted by 40,000 local helpers. As the food crisis ebbed, the Quakers turned to their other principal and more spiritual concern, the cultivation ofgroups ofspiritual seekers along the familiar pattern ofsilent meetings and pursuit ofthe "inner light." The first national Yearly Meeting was held in 1925, and a headquarters building was purchased in the north Gennan spa resort ofBad Pynnont. But the Quaker faith is highly demanding ofcommitment, conscience, and conviction. It requires a readiness to suffer and a courageous witness. As a result, 174 SHOFAR Fall 1999 Vol. 18, No. I no large-scale membership drive was attempted. By 1933 only some 150 members were declared Friends, though probably twice as many were interested observers. With the rise of Hitler, Quakers, as pacifists, were immediately suspect, and the evidence shows that from early on the Gestapo continually scrutinized their activities. The Friends were, however, to demonstrate that, even in this difficult and isolated setting, they were prepared to carry out their commitment to reconciliation and relief of suffering. Very quickly they became involved in trying to assist the Nazis' chief victims, the Jews. Inparticular, the Quakerhelp was directed to those "non-aryans" who no longer had connections to any Jewish or Christian organizations. (A particularly poignant case is described in Yad Vashem Studies, Vol. XI, pp. 91-130.) This work was principally undertaken by the team of British Friends in Berlin under Corder Catchpool. He fully shared the Quaker commitment to the need to relieve suffering, but at the same time was convinced that his duty called him to attempt reconciliation, even with Nazis. He also shared a common Quaker view that if only he could meet with the top Nazi leadership, he could convince them ofthe need for peace and toleration. But by 1938 such naive illusions had to be abandoned. Frantic attempts were made to raise funds in Britain for daily sustenance ofthe Nazis' victims, or to gain sponsorships affidavits for emigration to the U.S.A. The results were limited in scope, but German Friends did what they could to alleviate distress. Being so few...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 173-175
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.