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"Nothing Can Be More Misleading Than To Apply Such A Concept To The Discussion Between Germans And Jews During The Last 200 Years." Gershom Scholem. Analysis

2845 words - 11 pages

“I deny that there has been such a German-Jewish dialogue in any genuine sense whatsoever, i.e. as a historical phenomenon. It takes two to have a dialogue, who listen to each other, who are prepared to perceive the other as what he is and represents and to respond to him. Nothing can be more misleading than to apply such a concept to the discussion between Germans and Jews during the last 200 years.”Gershom ScholemDiscuss this in relation to the texts and issues that you have studiedNatalie Conn3024022The age of emancipation in Germany began in 1871 with the famous treatise by the Prussian state councilor Christian Wilhelm Dohm. It ended only with the constitution of the German Reich of 1871, which definitively declared the equal status of the Jews of Germany before the law. The age of emancipation simultaneously marked the epoch of the rise of bourgeois society in Germany, and both processes were interwoven. Many German-Jewish theorists claim there was a Judeo-German Symbiosis, which is the illusory interaction or exchange between German and Jewish cultures once the Jews of Germany were emancipated. Underneath this image of a symbiosis, there was another much darker image surfacing on top of it. This was the picture of a growing tension between the Jews and the Germans and furthermore, a failed relationship that would merely end up in devastating conflict. Gershom Scholem, in his writings emphasised the latter idea of an illusionary symbiosis. This is portrayed very powerful in the essay quote. Scholem discusses in great depth the “German-Jewish symbiosis” and strongly concluded it was then, less a social reality in the living-together of Jews and Non-Jews than it was a cultural phenomenon within the Jewish group itself. It must also be emphasised that right from the beginning that he portrays his views very strongly and does not accept that there may have been individual German-Jewish friendships. As a result of this, his ideas have become questionable and debatable.As a result of emancipation, the occupational limitations on Jews were eliminated but the change in Jewish vocational patterns ran an entirely different course than the one that the emancipators had pictured. They had aimed for a steady adaptation to the general occupational distribution; “but it soon turned out, in view of growing economic liberalism, that this notion was as antiquated as it was unrealistic.” (Jewish life in Germany pp 10) The majority of Jews stuck to trading, they knew the methods of trade and promotion, had connections beyond their home regions and knew the wares in various branches of trade. It strikes one again and again in the memoirs of so many German Jews such as Bernhard Kahn (Jewish life in Germany pp 279) and Wolfgang Roth (Jewish life In Germany pp 315) how quickly new economics needs and opportunities were recognized and put into use, and how ready the entrepreneur was to constantly modernize and reorient his business....

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