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Zeitschrift der Germanisten Rumäniens, 13.-14. Jg., 1-2 (25-26) /2004, 1-2- (27-28) /2005, S. 128-142

 

 

Ghettoöffentlichkeit – Jüdischer Kulturbund Berlin between National Socialist Regulations and Self-Assertion


Corina Petrescu

 

   After Adolf Hitler became Germany’s Chancellor, Jews saw themselves pushed outside the general public sphere and into a narrow universe, which the authorities defined for them. This space was at the same time public and private. It was public because anyone labeled by the establishment as Jewish could participate within its limits in various activities; and it was private because non-Jewish participation was not allowed and Jews could not trespass its borders. Inside this Ghettoöffentlichkeit[1] the Jewish community in Germany had to come to terms with its new social position and redefine its own identity. It proceeded to do so in the same manner in which its members had debated any social, economical or political change over the course of centuries: it engaged in public discussions. The diverse Jewish press which existed until 1938 constitutes proof of this inner Jewish dialogue and favors the consideration of this sphere as a pseudo-public-space in which a discussion room was opened for Jews. Inside this space the Jüdischer Kulturbund, the Cultural Association, occupied a special place. The focus of this article is the Jüdischer Kulturbund Berlin. Its existence and importance alone are analyzed as a pseudo-public space of inner Jewish dialogue. While I am aware of the differences between this association and its counterparts in other German cities and, especially, in rural areas, I will not extend my analysis to include these aspects.

   Until the time of the large emigration in the mid-1930s, the Kulturbund afforded employment for a number of artists who had been removed from their regular positions due to the Law for Civil Service.[2] These jobs provided the artists with an important creative outlet, an opportunity to continue in their work and gain experience vital after their emigration. It also eased their financial worries by allowing them to earn some of the money necessary for this emigration. To audiences it offered the illusion of normalcy, which had ceased to surround them but was very much needed in those troubled times. Although a form of escapism, it nevertheless soothed the pains and worries of people who still needed to feel they were dignified human beings and not everything the Ministry of Propaganda or the Führer of the Third German Reich had declared them to be. In all its forms, the Kulturbund was the way in which German Jewry understood to express itself within the new German state. In the header of the first number of its newsletter, Monatsblätter, under the title Fanget an! its initiator, Kurt Singer, acknowledged that the enterprise was meant as a flight from reality into the magical world of theater and music and allowed no doubt about the circumstances under which such an action was taking place: in the context of the Jews’ separation from the general public, at a time when self-help was all that was left for the Jews, as their identity as Jews in Germany was becoming more and more problematic. Therefore, he emphasized that the work of the Kulturbund was conceived as an expression of both the Judaic faith and the German culture that people embraced, although to different degrees: “[…] unsere Arbeit und unsere Idee, [d]ie aber heißt, die aber will und schließt in sich ein: Bekenntnis zum Judentum, gesteigert durch das Bewußtsein, deutschem Kulturgut der Jahrhunderte verhaftet und verbunden zu sein.”[3] Simultaneously, the organization saw in its action a manner of distancing itself from the new German state, which it did not understand. In a letter to Fritz Wisten, Julius Bab wrote about both of these goals of the Kulturbund:

Die Herrschaften wollen ja im Grunde nichts anderes als eine neue Ghettobildung – und darauf läuft leider und notgedrungen das Unternehmen ja heran. [...] Wir denken natürlich an ein Theater von sehr hoher Qualität, das sich bald genug auch die Beachtung der nichtjüdischen Kreise erobern soll.[4]

   Such statements prove the degree to which German Jewry had internalized the cultural principles of the country in which it had lived for so many generations. It also explains the high number of Jews who in 1933 were taken by surprise and could not conceive of the fact that Hitler would last in power more than any of the other ephemeral Weimar governments. In this

(…) haben die Juden auf die Bedrohung durch den Nationalsozialismus kaum anders reagiert als die Mehrheit der deutschen Hitlergegner. Sie erkannten als Betroffene die heraufziehende Gefahr oft früher und klarer, aber sie teilten als Kommunisten, Sozialdemokraten, Gewerkschafter, Liberale, Konservative unterschiedlicher Prägung die Vorstellungen, Irrtümer und Illusionen ihrer Partei oder Gruppe. Als Geschäftsleute, als Akademiker oder Beamte waren sie ebenso standhaft oder kleinmütig wie ihre nichtjüdischen Berufskollegen, sie trafen sich mit anderen gleichaltrigen Deutschen in ihrer Skepsis oder in den verschiedenartigsten Erwartungen.[5]

  Another reason for their attitude could have been the long historical tradition of prejudice and discrimination to which the Jewish population had become accustomed. While 1933 marked the onset of the process that reversed Emancipation, it was not the beginning of Antisemitism in Germany. Yet the Jewish community had persisted in its existence over the centuries and did not see why it would not also survive Hitler. George Clare has illustrated this thinking:

We knew about his anti-Semitic tirades, of course; we knew about the 1933 anti-Jewish boycott, but … having used anti-Semitism to help him achieve power, like so many demagogues before him, did Hitler have any choice but to allow his storm-troopers their field-day? Had we not been there before? What about Lueger’s anti-Semitic speeches? They had sounded just like Hitler’s … Had one Jew ever been physically harmed under Lueger? Hitler was a rabble-rouser, just like the young Lueger. Would he, now that he had achieved his ambition, behave any differently? In any case, Germany’s powerful and traditional conservative forces were bound to make him toe the line. How servilely Hitler bows before the ramrod old field marshal. How disdainfully that old soldier looks down on that little man – the Bohemian lance-corporal, he calls him privately … The sound and the fury of the early days could not last for ever. Even Hitler would have to mellow in the end.[6]

   In his article in the first number of the Monatsblätter Arthur Eloesser identified the roots of this connection in the love for the German language, “zu ihrer Größe und Rauheit, zu ihrer Innerlichkeit und Lieblichkeit,” that filled the speakers, as this was the only language they could refer to as mother tongue. Through language came the union with the German Geistesgut, which had enlightened and shaped the Jewish population in its “geistig-seelichen Aufbau” and which they could not renounce simply upon request of the new authorities. On the contrary, they felt it to be their duty to keep the faith in their old beliefs.[7] Julius Bab repeated the same idea in his contribution to the newsletter, when he wrote about the “doppelte Wurzel des [jüdischen] Daseins” in Germany, Jewish by religious fate and German by intellectual becoming and life style, and the impossibility to overcome this duality for as long as one lived.[8] Kultur as weapon against National Socialist defamations, this was the goal of the association. “Ein Jahrhundert lang” wrote Moritz Goldstein

haben wir die Teilnahme am europäischen Geist als ein bequemes Recht genossen. Jetzt sind wir in eine Lage geraten, wo Heroismus dazu gehört, um weiter teilzunehmen. Es hängt von uns ab, von unserer Zähigkeit, von unserer Empfänglichkeit, von unserer seelischen Kraft, von unserer Zuversicht, von unserem Schwung und unserer Leidenschaft, ob wir weiter daran teilnehmen können. Wir werden weiter daran teilnehmen. Mag das, was man uns aufzwingt, als Ghetto gemeint sein: der Geist wird darin herrschen. Darauf allein kommt es an.[9]

   The first three years in the existence of the Kulturbund, 1933-1936, mirrored these beliefs to the highest degree as its leaders, Leo Baeck, Chief Rabbi of Berlin, Julius Bab, theater critic, Joseph Rosenstock, conductor, Kurt Baumann, producer, Werner Levie, Dutch-born economist and journalist, and Kurt Singer, physician, opera director, and choral conductor, were all products of the assimilation period. Hence, despite the emphasis laid on Jews and Jewishness, the association was far from being completely Jewish and the program of its performances confirmed it. On October 1st 1933 the theater department opened with Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Nathan der Weise; on November 14th of the same year the first opera production saw the curtain rising on Mozart’s La Noce de Figaro. The second season included among others Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, Beethoven’s Fidelio, and Strauss’ Fledermaus; the third Sophocles’ Antigone next to Rossini’s Barber from Seville and Bizet’s Carmen.[10] Yet the Zionists did not approve of such preferences. To them the Kulturbund publicized the image of a German-Jewish coexistence, which in the political climate of 1933 and onwards was more doubtful than ever. They asked for more Jewish culture, but without being able to define this concept narrowly.[11] While the discussions went on and on, the organization structured its program in accordance with the principles contained in its name: Kulturbund deutscher Juden.[12]

   Given all these considerations, the play Nathan der Weise was probably the most appropriate choice for the opening of an all-Jewish theater. Nathan, the main protagonist, was a Jew who advocated the idea that before belonging to any religious denomination any human being was defined by its humanity and hence possessed all the rights bestowed upon him by this condition: “Sind Christ und Jude eher Christ und Jude,/ Als Mensch (…).”[13] This message of the 18th century reflected an enlightened Germany where assimilated Jews and Christians had lived and created culture together. In 1933 Berlin, although the majority of the city’s Jews continued to be assimilated, they were beginning to lose their rights on the basis of their Jewishness. The members of the directorial board were aware not only of this reality, but also of the fact that the community which they served did not constitute a whole. They did not expect these differences to disappear merely because the German authorities had pushed all Jews together and outside the general public view. Lessing’s play, with its Jewish theme and German author, was seen as the only one work capable of bringing the new situation of the Jews into perspective. Even before the premiere, the Jüdische Rundschau had demanded that the production reflect the contemporary situation of the Jews, instead of an illusionary world of times long gone. Objections to the choice of the play were not uttered as long as the production was not intended as a political statement in favor of the assimilationist camp. The editors paid less attention to the content of the play, which was well known, but to the attitude of the producers,[14] despite Kurt Singers assurance that the Kulturbund practiced art and not politics.[15]

   Nonetheless this assurance was deceitful as politics played a role in determining the cultural seasons of the organization. To quote Rebecca Rovit, “in light of the laws against Jewish artists and the censorship of their work, it was vital not only to feature Jewish playwrights, but also to stage the dramatic content in such a way as to foster a Jewish experience among spectators.”[16] Thus, the staged Nathan was more Jewish than Lessing had ever intended it to be: Nathan appeared onstage humming Hassidic songs and his first words were a Hebrew blessing. His religiosity was emphasized both by his murmur of Hebrew and the praying in which he engaged in his home, which displayed a visible kneeler and a menorah. In the dialogue with the templar which focused on ancestry, “reckt sich Nathans Gestalt in stolzer Würde, als ob durch ihn das ganze jüdische Volk den Adel seiner Abstammung verteidigte” when the templar remarked rather deridingly “Nicht zwar, als ob ich den geringsten Zweifel/ In Euern Stammbaum setzte. Gott behüte!/ Ihr könnt ihn Blatt vor Blatt bis Abraham/ Hinauf belegen …” The ending of the play also disregarded Lessing’s directions, as it did not show Nathan and the rest of the characters embracing reconciliatory, but positioned the Jew outside the stage in exclusion.[17] Nevertheless this liberty allowed the producers to draw attention to the contemporary fate of German Jewry, which seemed more important to them than considerations on staging accuracy. The reviewer of the Jüdische Zeitung Chemnitz subscribed to this point of view when he commented after the performance in Dresden:

wir wollen unsern jüdischen Nathan haben, den Nathan von heute und hier und den haben wir bekommen, - einmalig, unwiederholbar, unübertrefflich.[18]

   Despite this enthusiasm, there were also voices that rejected the modifications undertaken in the Kulturbund production. Lutz Weltmann, the art critic of the Israelitisches Familienblatt, wrote on October 11, 1933, that he would have preferred the original Lessing play to this adaptation which inserted unnecessary Jewish tones. While he found especially the leading actor, Kurt Katsch, convincing,[19] he believed that the performance failed to touch the majority of the public. The artists and the audiences might have been Jewish, but that with which they could identify was not Jewish art, either in the sense of works written by Jews or dealing specifically with Jewish topics, but German and international art:

Auf diese Gemeinschaft wirkte nicht nur die Ring-Erzählung des ‘Nathan’, die ja von ihrer Wahrheit dadurch nichts eingebüßt hat, daß das Judentum heute kaum je als Religionsgemeinschaft, sondern als Rasse angesehen wird. Nicht nur wirkte auf sie jener Grundsatz der Duldung, die Lessing predigte und die sich im ‘Nathan’ auf alle Formen menschlichen Zusammenlebens erstreckt, wenn man nach dem Sinne, nicht nach dem Buchstaben fragt. Gewiß: Wenn Recha Saladin fragt, ob nur das Blut den Vater mache, und wenn Nathan erzählt, wie er nach seinem Unglück dem Christentum Rache schwur, und dennoch nachher zum Klosterbruder sagt, er könne nie bereuen, was er dem Christenkinde Recha Gutes getan … - wer von den Zuschauern verspürte da nicht sein eignes Hinundhergeworfenwerden in dieser Zeit? Und dennoch: - Wer aus dem ‘Nathan’ nur das jüdische ‘Zeitstück’ in sich aufnimmt, tut dem Dichter ebenso Unrecht, wie derjenige, der es als überholt ablehnt.[20]

   The CV-Zeitung, who acclaimed the performance in general and welcomed the activities of the Kulturbund, also disapproved of Karl Loewenberg’s directions with respect to Nathan’s isolation at the end of the play:

Sollte diese Nuance wirklich dem Lebensgefühl des weisen Nathan, seiner heiteren, fest in Gott ruhenden Resignation entsprechen, die er sich unter den furchtbarsten Schicksalsschlägen bewahrt hat?[21]

   These reactions illustrated “die Tatsache, daß jüdische Künstler vor jüdischen Menschen spielen, keineswegs ein jüdisches Erlebnis war.“[22] Although the Zionist despised this approach, it reflected the reality of Jewish life in Germany and, as Rovit suggests, “an all-Jewish performance of Nathan der Weise may have been a plea for tolerance, but it may also have been a calculated attempt to please all the segments of the prospective audience, which included Nazi officials[23] and Zionist Jews.”[24] As time went by and the discussions became more ardent, the leadership of the association had to cope both with accusations of lack of direction and demands for more Jewish contents.[25] Hence, in March 1934 Kurt Singer explained for the Israelitisches Familienblatt:

Was echt und wahr ist und edel und menschlich, was geistig und moralisch als Idee und Wort, als Klang und Szene von jüdischen Menschen deutscher Sprache zu deutsch-redenden jüdischen Hörern dringt und künstlerisch geformt ihre Seelen spannt und entspannt – das gehört zu unserem Aufgabenkreis.[26]

   If this statement held true at the time of its utterance, hardly two years later the Kulturbund had to revise its position. From 1933 until 1935 the Kulturbund Berlin had thrived and prospered as its performances had been well received and appreciated by the public who attended them. Furthermore the model of Berlin had been followed by other cities with Jewish inhabitants and sister organizations had sprung out in Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich, as well as in smaller centers. However the existence of the organization had continued to be ambivalent as its purpose, although independent of the will of its organizers, was not only that of offering employment to Jewish artists and a cultural life to Jewish audiences, but also of isolating this part of the population from the manifestations of the general German public. It had its contribution in rendering the Jews invisible in the context of German life, of building indiscernible ghetto walls around the Jewish community.[27] The instance, which made this tendency visible, was the forced unification of all local associations into a central organization in April 1935: Reichsverband der Jüdischen Kulturbünde in Deutschland. As Matthias Harder has argued, this unification concealed different reasons for its Jewish leaders and the National Socialist authorities. For the former it denoted several considerations: it expressed the wish to be more effective in their activities and also reach out to the provinces, which had no means of forming their own organization, but also to escape the maze of bureaucracy in which each Gestapo section had power of decision over its own circumscription and dealt with the Kulturbund as it liked. They saw the Reichsverband as a form of centralization that would persist in taking into account the regional cultural differences of the member institutions. For the National Socialist decision makers the new organization mirrored the change of the regime with respect to its Jewish policies: as Jews became more and more identified with the arch-enemy of the Reich, the supervision of those who had not yet left the country also had to be intensified. Centralizing the associations was only one way of tightening the knot and sharpening the surveillance.[28] The rules underlying the existence of the Reichsverband, which had been drawn up by Reinhard Heydrich, left no doubt about these intentions.[29]

   In 1936 the Reichsverband organized a conference in which the association’s future cultural orientation was to be determined. Following the demands of the Zionists and under pressure from the authorities it was decided that the programs of the Kulturbund had promoted too little authentic Jewish culture and had displayed a repertoire that had been too international. From the point of view of the former contesters such a fact prevented the population from knowing and identifying with their real origins, while the latter claimed that unless they acknowledged their own heritage and thus comprehended their misplacement within German society, Jews would persist in their illusion that they were Germans and not leave the country. Since at this point in time emigration was the most important issues on their Jewish agenda the authorities did not welcome such instances and, therefore, demanded a stronger emphasis on Jewishness in all the activities of the organization. To force this into being, as of 1937 all German-born composers, with the exception of Händel, who was deemed a traitor for his preference of biblical topics and his affinity with England, could no longer be performed, as the authorities saw something unworthy in the contact between the music, which they claimed to be German and belong exclusively to them, and Jewish performers and listeners.[30] Likewise, literary works of German authors became taboo and, if an artist made comments against the regime his/her works could not be performed afterwards. The case of the Jewish-American writer Ossip Dymov who criticized the situation of German-Jews in a New York rally was exemplary for this kind of censorship.[31]

   The discussions called into existence by these regulations were the old debates between the different factions of the Jewish community, which had occupied the front pages of Jewish journals since before Hitler’s rise, but had flourished especially afterwards. Yet, the government’s new regulation encouraged the Zionists in their request for more Jewish art on the stages of the Kulturbund and a systematic training of the population in Jewish though, culture, and life style. Plays from the international repertoire besides their “allgemein menschliche Tendenzen” also had to concord with “jüdische[s] Empfinden,“ „jüdische[r] Ethik und Tradition,“ „es muss in einer Beziehung zur jüdischen Lebensanschauung stehen,” while purely Jewish topics were define as:

der Stoff muß erstens der Tendenz des jüdischen Theaters als solchem entsprechen, er muß zweitens bildend und erziehend auf die jüdischen Künstler und Zuschauer wirken und in der Richtung der Entwicklung der eigenen nationalen Kunst laufen.[32]

   This turn of the authorities towards the Zionists should not surprise. During the years when the regime was still searching for a solution to its Jewish problem, emigration, especially to Palestine, was seen as the best way to remove the Jews from German society. The Zionists with their call for a Jewish culture, their drive to move to Palestine, and their camps training people for jobs, which would prove useful in the process of settling the country, were well received by the National Socialist leadership. Hans Hinkel even went so far as to talk about Zionism in terms of “jüdisches Volkstum” and approve of it as long as it led to removing the Jewish population from Germany.[33] However, the call for a Jewish national culture on the part of the Germans had little to do with concern for the development of a national identity - as was the case with the Zionists - but rather with finding new ways of isolating Jews from society and repeating the fact that they were no longer welcomed in it. If, as leading National Socialists envisioned it, the Kulturbund was to promote massive emigration from Germany and thus make the Reich judenrein, then it would have to do so by awakening in its members longings for their own country by promoting their specific culture.

   The Kulturbund in Berlin tried to comply with this requirement. After the conference, some plays by East-European Jewish authors were performed, a Hebrew and a Yiddish expert were added to the office of the association, and Singer made the promise to educate artists in Jewishness. The results were by far not the ones expected by the Zionists, and by August 1937 one had to admit that the public was not willing to respond to all the attempts that had been made to make it more Jewish. People did not understand the East-European Jewish culture and remained estranged from it, just as they did not cheer for the music of Schönberg, which they failed to appreciate. Artists did not identify with East-European Jewish matters, and neither did the audiences, which were strongly rooted in the post-emancipation German culture. People attending the concerts and recitals of the Kulturbund were members of a generation, which was proud of its assimilation and anchoring in German culture and had no intention of renouncing it. They had been the ones filling the halls of opera houses and theaters during the Second Kaiser Reich and the Weimar Republic. They did not understand the East-European Jewish art, and they did not even care to do so.

   The degree of change which the organization had undergone in the years since its creation was epitomized by Singer’s emotive declamation during the conference when he presented as the dream performance the staging of a one-act-play by Chaim Nachman Bialik first in German and then in Hebrew. He said:

Dann ist angebahnt, was Weg und Absicht eines Jahrzehnts sein könnte: der im westlich-europäischen Kulturkreis verankerte Jude des Deutschlands von 1936 wird hingeführt zu dem Ursprung aller wirklichen eigentümlichen und originalen Kultur, zur Sprache und damit erst zum tiefsten Bewusstsein seines volkhaften Seins.[34]

   It completely ignored the fact that the majority of Jews in Germany had no avareness of themselves as Jews and they were not in the least interested in developing one, they did not speak Hebrew and did not care to acquire that knowledge. From this point of view Singer’s prophecy was merely self-deceit, which in his case went so far as that he came to see all those who did not join his efforts ino making the Kulturbund a prestigious organization as traitors and even try to prevent artists from leaving the country. In a letter to William Steinberg he explicitly asked the conductor not to offer jobs in Palestine to his musicians, because by leaving Germany they destroyed his orchestra.[35] In his enthusiasm he subscribed not only to the myth of the Third Reich enduring for a thousand years, but imagined that equally the Kulturbund was going to last as long as Germany existed. He believed that National Socialist authorities posed no danger to Jews as long as the prescribed rules were followed without questioning. Likewise, Fritz Wisten delivered his utopian view of the situation in a speech in which he almost denied the real conditions of Jewish existence in National Socialist Germany:

Dass wir keine Notwohnung bezogen haben, weil wir anderswo nicht spielen dürfen, sondern dass wir einen Neubau errichten, in dem wir spielen wollen – unabhängig von der politischen Lage - nicht aus äußerem Zwang, sondern aus innerer Notwendigkeit: weil wir Juden sein wollen, weil wir Juden sein wollen und dadurch unsere Kunst dazu beitragen möchten, ein stolzes Geschlecht freier Juden aufzuziehen![36]

   Joachim Prinz joined him by declaring:

Ich möchte, dass den Schauspielern das Ressentiment genommen wird, dass sie meinen, das Schicksal habe sie aus der großen Welt in unsere kleine Welt geweht, der Sturm hätte sie aus dem großen Leben draußen in unsere engen Gassen hineingestoßen. Ich wünschte sehr, daß jüdische Schauspieler ohne Ressentiment bei uns sein und erkennen würden, daß in unserer engen Welt mit allem Gassenhaften großartige und heilige Dinge leben.[37]

   These reactions can only be understood in the context of the time. Reading through the house-regulations governing the Kulturbund one finds further evidence of this bitter self-deception, which would have been best of mockery under other circumstances:

Wenn wir nicht alle wie ein Mann zusammenstehen, von höchstem Optimismus getragen, dann hat der Kulturbund sein Existenzrecht eingebüsst. Gespräche din Mängel hervorheben und Gutes verschweigen, sind allemal irreführend und schädigen Ansehen und Kraft des Kulturbundes.[38]

   Point 14 of these rules forbade political discussions under penalty of loosing one’s job[39] and stated almost with cinicism the only duties of the association’s members and implicitly of the association itself: “Unsere Pflicht ist: schweigen und arbeiten.”[40] Such a stipulation sheds light on the constantly changing conditions under which the Kulturbund existed. If in 1933 the association could announce: „Der Kulturbund verfolgt den Zweck, die künstlerischen und wissenschaftlichen Interessen der jüdischen Bevolkerung zu pflegen und für die Arbeitsbeschaffung zugunsten jüdischer Künstler und Wissenschaftler nutzbar zu machen“ [41] as the years progressed its position became more and more problematic. The wall surrounding it became ever thicker. On the one hand it isolated German-Jewry from German society and confined its existence to this organization; on the other it erected a barrier within the Jewish community itself, as being Jewish was not enough to admit one to these representations of the Kulturbund. One had to be a member and proudly display the Kulturbund identification card every time one approached the door of the building in the Kommandantenstraße.[42] In 1934 the Kulturbund Berlin numbered 20,000 members and this constituted the highest quota it ever reached. Considering that it represented only 12.5% of the entire Jewish population of the capital, one can easily observe that the majority kept its distance from the association. In 1937 Singer himself deplored:

Es ist allgemein bekannt, daß ein größerer Teil der Juden Berlins sich aus Grundsatz dem Jüdischen Kulturbund fernhält (…).[43]

   Reason for this behavior was the protective anonymity conveyed upon its inhabitants by the metropolis where Jews were harder identifiable as such and escaped stigmatization. Also, people who had attended regular cultural performances before 1933 continued to do so even after Hitler’s nomination as Chancellor and enjoyed the possibility to choose freely which show to attend and where. For them becoming members of the Kulturbund implied not only limiting their freedom of choice, but also stepping freely into a ghetto. This latter point presupposed itself two frightening facts: it excluded them from manifestations of the German scene, and it obliged them to confess to a kind of Jewishness, with which many failed to identify either religiously and, least of all, culturally. If in its opening phase the founding members had outlined three tasks for the organization (quality performances of true art, help for the Jewish artists, and the rebirth of a sense of community among Jews), it had become obvious that the last of these prerogatives was the most difficult to fulfill, despite the fact that one journalist had gone so far as to proclaim involvement in the Kulturbund as a personal and communitarian duty:

Kulturbund ist […] für jeden Juden eine selbstverständliche Pflicht, - einerlei, ob er selbst stark künstlerisch interessiert ist oder nicht, ob ihn die gegenwärtigen Leistungen seines lokalen Kulturbundes bereits voll befriedigen oder noch zu wünschen übrig lassen. Es ist die Pflicht, die des Opfers wert ist, und wenn ein jeder seine Pflicht erfüllt, dann werden Worte und Klänge unsere Tage kommenden Geschlechtern künden von einer Zeit, die sich ihrer Aufgaben bewußt war.[44]

   In the end the result remained unchanged.

   The shot which resonated at the German Embassy in Paris on November 7, 1938 marked the end of this relatively calm and culturally promising period in the existence of the association. After its reopening in the aftermath of so called Kristallnacht, the Kulturbund had become a Zwangsinstitution, which existed primarily because the German authorities had decided that it was to subsist. As Barbara Müller-Wesemann remarked,

[d]er Streit um Inhalte und künstlerische Maßstäbe, um abendländische versus jüdische Kultur hatte an Wichtigkeit verloren. Im Kulturbund zählte vorrangig die Gemeinschaft, mit der sich Künstler, Presse und Zuschauer gleichermassen identifizierten.[45]

   The performance which reopened the association and the context in which it took place prove the accuracy of these observations.

   Although it had been declared closed on November 8, on November 12 the authorities contacted Werner Levie[46] with the request to reopen it. The organization was officially revalidated and had to perform immediately. The controversies among the members of the Kulturbund with respect to this request were not insubstantial, yet the decision to perform prevailed, as one hundred twenty Jews[47] were released from the protective custody of the Gestapo in order for the performance to be possible. Herbert Freeden, who witnessed the disputes, wrote in later years:

Zuerst waren wir stumm vor Verblüffung. Dann erhob sich eine erregte Debatte. Sollen wir uns zu Bütteln der Gestapo machen, zu Handlangern der Pogromisten? Anderseits durften wir an diesem Weg vorbei? Keine Farce war grotesk, wenn man mit ihr auch nur einen Menschen loskaufen könnte.[48]

   Julius Bab[49] concluded the discussions by justifying the necessity of the theater to play:

Im römischen Zirkus kämpften die Gladiatoren um ihr Leben. In unserem Zirkus kämpfen wir für das Leben unserer Kollegen. Befreien: das ist der Sinn aller Cirsenses.[50]

   In the evening of November 22 the curtain rose on Merton Hodge’s Rain and Wind, the play which the actors had rehearsed before the pogrom. Freeden described the performance:

Die Portale des Theaters in der Kommandantenstraße waren weit geöffnet. Das Halbrund des Parketts und Ranges strahlte im alten Glanz. Die Kronen an der Decke leuchteten auf, und Platzanweiserinnen in schmucken Uniformen standen im Foyer und auf den rotten Teppichen, die zu den Logen führten. Zu Hause warteten Frauen auf Nachricht von ihren verschleppten Männern und Söhnen, zu Hause saßen Menschen auf den Trümmern ihrer Existenz – und hier im jüdischen Theater gingen auf Befehl die Lichter wieder an.

Die Routine des Betriebes ließ kaum einen Unterschied gegenüber einer ‘normalen’ Vorstellung erkennen. Geschäftig liefen die Garberobiers hin und her, und vor ihren Spiegeln schminkten sich die Spieler. Trotzdem war etwas da, das die unheimliche Spannung verriet: die Stille in den sonst so lauten Ankleideräumen. Niemand lachte, niemand schimpfte. Hatte jemand etwas zu sagen, so sagte er es im Flüsterton. Nur wenige Besucher waren gekommen, meistens Frauen und alte Leute – und natürlich drei Männer, Aktenmappen unterm Arm, die unabweisliche Delegation der Gestapo.

Schließlich ging der Vorhang auf und das Lampenlicht zeigte den Salon einer schottischen Studentenpension, mit einem Kamin, in dem ein gemütliches Feuer flackerte. Am Anfang zitterten die Stimmen der Schauspieler ein wenig, als die Scheinwerfer ihre Gesichter erhellten, aber bald erfaßte sie die Magie der Bühne, und sie spielten einen Sektrausch nach einer Ballnacht. Das Grammophon schnarrte einen Rumba, sie lachten und tanzten – in ihrer Welt des Scheines und Gaukelspiels, eine Woche nach dem Pogrom.[51]

   This evening synthesized the association’s existence until its end. From this moment on it became a place of escape to a No-Man’s-Land where dreaming and remembering were still possible. The programs distracted the audiences and gave them the opportunity to concentrate on something that did not come howled through the radio. As Walter Jens wrote:

Mußte es, wenn Menschen in einem Land ohne Umwelt überleben wollten, nicht zumindest einen winzigen Focus geben, in den jedenfalls der Versuch unternommen wurde – mehr konnte es nicht sein -, den allgemeinen geistigen Zusammenbruch mit bescheidenen Mitteln zu konzentrieren, sehr traurig und resignativ, aber gleichwohl mit einem winzigen ‚Dennoch’ in einer Zeit, deren Ausweglosigkeit durch ein gemeinsames Partizipieren großer und kleiner Kunst auf den Begriff gebracht und, trotz allen Klamauks und faden Gelächters im Spiel-Haus, bedacht werden konnte?[52]

   The Kulturbund fulfilled this role, especially since on December 6, 1938, Jews were banned from attending any form of entertainment outside the Kulturbund and as of January 1, 1939, all local organizations except the one in Berlin were closed.[53] Within the new purely entertaining role the film bureau turned into the most popular office since it epitomized the public’s desire for distraction. Furthermore, in the course of the years to come this role also change and the organization seemed merely to fulfill an administrative function of carrying out orders.[54] After the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the Kulturbund had to reconsider anew its modus operandi in order to survive.

   This new intensified oppressive atmosphere found resonance in the last performance of the Kulturbund’s theater. Without knowing that this was to be its final act, on August 9 1941, thr Kulturbund staged Ferenc Molnár’s Spiel im Schloss. The review of the show displayed the distinct markers of the times when it was penned down. The cast as well as the critic were named with the mandatory Israel or Sara,[55] and the commentator, Micha Michalowitz, uttered no real criticism. Tendencies of earlier critics to problematize the play or the staging were inexistent, as the analysis included only an overview of the play’s content and laudatory remarks about the entire cast.[56] Given the circumstances nothing else was to be expected. As early as April 1934 the artistic personnel of the Kulturbund had been aware of the dangers threatening them if the Jewish press reacted too critically to their activities. Therefore they appealed to the entire Jewish community for solidarity between the leaders of the organization, the artists, and the press. By pointing out that the association existed on a tight budget, with minimal resources, and many of its members –firstly the most valuable ones – leaving the ensemble and emigrating, although without spelling it out, the letter asked for self-editing on the part of the press, as bad revues could easily have convinced the authorities to close down the establishment.[57] That kind of action would have brought about the end of any Jewish artistic endeavor in the Third Reich. In late summer of 1941 objective artistic criticism was hardly possible anymore.

   It is beyond any question that the National Socialist regime allowed and at times forced the existence of the Kulturbund in order to make use of it in its relations with the international diplomatic world. The founders and members of the organization had no doubt about it either, but to many it was worth it, as with all the limitations separating Jews from Germans it proved “daß Machtlosigkeit nicht Ohnmacht bedeutet und daß Geschlagensein sich mit der rebellischen Würde von Geschlagenen vereinen läßt – und mit der Schande der Schlagenden ohnehin.”[58] Considering that there were no other possibilities, participation in the Kulturbund was a form of survival and self-assertion. Within this pseudo-public space a Jewish dialogue was possible which continued to thematize Jewish concerns. Artists worked within assigned parameters, but they refused to abandon their double roots – German and Jewish – despite the pressure put on them to produce Jewish art. Similarly, the audiences withstood conversion and remained largely indifferent to staged Jewish works. In his life-long attempt to explain the Kulturbund phenomenon, Herbert Freeden has underlined that the importance of this association consisted precisely in this refusal to be cut off from European culture, which indeed would have meant ghetto-ization both at a cultural and intellectual level. Hence,

in ihrer hartnäckigen Weigerung, ihre Bindung mit Europa aufzugeben, ihre geistige Tradition zu verleugen, wurde der Kulturbund für die deutschen Juden zu einer moralischen Kräfte-Reservoir, und, wenn man so will, zu einem Element des ‚geistigen Widerstands,’ aber nicht zu einer schöpferischen Quelle jüdischer Kultur. Kultur kann nicht ‚auf Befehl’ entstehen. (...) [D]er Kulturbund [suchte] einen von den Behörden aufgezwungenen Rahmen mit jüdischen Inhalten zu füllen, während er sich gleichzeitig gegen den Ausschluß aus der europäischen Kultur und gegen die Gefahr einer geistigen Ghettoisierung stemmte.[59]

   Although this form of liberation did not produce overt opposition or physical freedom, for the members who performed or attended the productions of the Kulturbund it brought about a sense of dignity and toughness in their daily ordeal under National Socialism. The association was significant for all those engaging in its activities as a way of preserving their sense of self and heightening their quality of life in times of an acute crisis. It was also impossible for anyone to foresee what would happen in Germany during the years of National Socialism. The basic ideas upon which the regime built its repressive acts had existed from the very beginning of the NSDAP’s entrance on the political stage, but few had taken them seriously enough to anticipate that one would attempt to implement them literarily, and no one could have predicted the Shoah. After the Nurmberg Laws in September 1935, many influential Jews had thought that these measures marked the end of expropriation, since the regulations fulfilled the major requirement of the late 19th and early 20th century anti-Semitic parties: they reversed Emancipation. Pushed in their corner, “they assumed that their exclusion from public influence and key commercial positions was all that was aspired to and that they would be assigned the privileges and prohibitions of a national minority.”[60] The claim that the association bears responsibility for the deaths in gas chambers seems exaggerated as it would be hard to imagine that anyone would cancel or postpone emigration because they wanted to go to the theater one more time. The Kulturbund might have offered people pleasant moments, which swept them away from the worries of everyday life, but it did not numb their senses or destroy their intellect so that they would not see the reality around them for what it was. Those who stayed, did not stay because of the Kulturbund, but because they lacked the money to acquire visas or acquaintances to write affidavits for them.

   The Kulturbund also fulfilled an important social and humanitarian role as it created among its members a sense of belonging.

Im Schutze seiner Mauer konnte sich allmählich ein Gefühl der Zusammengehörigkeit entwickeln, das über die Gewißheit des gemeinsamen Schicksals hinaus den Einzelnen vor der lähmenden Isolation bewahrte und, vom Austausch praktischer Ratschläge bei der Auswanderungsvorbereitungen bis zum tröstenden Zuspruch bei scheinbar unüberwindbaren alltäglichen Problemen, viele seiner Mitglieder zu solidarischem Handeln ermutigte.[61]

   However, to make the claim, as Fred K. Prieberg did, that the Kulturbund’s choice of music and performances constituted the expression of its opposition to the regime or protest against the way in which Jews were treated in Germany[62] seems an overstatement. Inner immigration might be a survival mode but it is not an oppositional stand. Besides, how many of the people in the audiences of Mozart’s Figaro thought about the fact that the opera was the first one to address the issue of individual liberties and perceived it as defiance of the authorities? It is more plausible to say that, while maybe the idea was there on the part of the organizers, the public enjoyed the music and took advantage of a moment of peace and relaxation. If for the Gestapo supervisors Figaro was merely a comedy with excellent music, it is very likely that the audiences saw in it the same thing. The merits of the organization consisted in preserving for the Jewish community in Germany the kind of artistic and cultural life which in the political context of the Third Reich the National Socialists threatened to extinguish. It was an effort to maintain normalcy and to survive.


[1] Saskia Schreuder, Würde im Widerspruch. Jüdische Erzählliteratur im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland 1933-1938, (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2002) 55, footnote 1.

[2] On April 7, 1933, the Reichstag of the new government formed by Adolf Hitler passed the Law Regarding the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service which stated that in order to remain employed during the new regime all civil servants had to be of Aryan descend; anyone who failed to fulfill this racial requirement was to be released from duties. Non-Aryans were considered all those who were “descended from non-Aryan, especially Jewish parents or grandparents, (…) even if only one parent or grandparent [was] of non-Aryan descent, (…) especially (…) if one parent or grandparent was of Jewish faith.” [Paragraph 17 of the Law Regarding the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service cited in Paul Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz (Ed.), The Jew in the Modern World. A Documentary History, (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995) 642].

[3] Kurt Singer, “Fanget an!” Monatsblätter, (1)1933 cited in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), Geschlossene Vorstellung: Der Jüdische Kulturbund in Deutschland, 1933-1941, (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1992) 236.

[4] Julius Bab, letter to Fritz Wisten, May 19th, 1933, cited in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 231.

[5] Kwiet, Konrad und Helmut Eschwege, Selbstbehauptungen und Widerstand. Deutsche Juden im Kampf um Existenz und Menschenwürde, 1933-1945, (Hamburg: Christians Verlag, 1986) 8.

[6] George Clare, Last Waltz in Vienna. The Destruction of a Family 1842-1942, (London: Pan Books edition, 1982) 121-122.

[7] Arthur Eloesser, “Judentum und deutsches Geistesleben,” Monatsblätter, (1)1933 cited in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 239.

[8] Julius Bab, “Jüdisches Schauspiel,” Monatsblätter (1)1933 cited in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 240.

[9] Moritz Goldstein, “Kulturghetto?” Jüdische Rundschau, No. 60, July 28th 1933, 373.

[10] “Aufführungsverzeichnis,” Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 376-402.

[11] For a detailed examination of the discussions see Herbert Freeden, “Drinnen im Exil. Das Theater des Jüdischen Kulturbundes 1933-1941,” Exil. Forschung, Erkenntnisse, XIII (1993), No. 2, 46-51.

[12] When Kurt Singer imagined the creation of this organization he had given it the name Kulturbund deutscher Juden 1933, but Hans Hinkel made it clear from the start that the number 1933 had to disappear, as it constituted a symbol in National Socialist iconography and the Party was not willing to share it with anyone, least of all the Jews. The organization was founded bearing the name Kulturbund deutscher Juden, which in an article in the first issue of Monatsblätter in late October Martin Buber proclaimed programmatic: “Für die deutschjüdische Kultur also ist seinem Namen nach dieser Bund gegründet worden, und zwar nicht als Verein, nicht als Gesellschaft, sondern eben als Bund. ‚Bund’ das bedeutet, daß die Menschen, die dazu gehören, nicht durch ein Interesse, nicht durch einen Zweck allein sondern lebensmässig und unmittelbar verbunden sind“ [Martin Buber, Name verpflichtet, Monatsblätter (1)1933 cited in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 237]. In 1935 when according to the Gestapo a term such as deutsche Juden was deemed an aberration it was removed from the title of the organization in order to be replaced with jüdisch. The name thus became Jüdischer Kulturbund, Berlin e. V.

[13] Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Nathan der Weise in Werke, (München: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1971) 253.

[14] “(…) darum halten wir es für wichtig, gleich zu Beginn darauf hinzuweisen, daß wir auch als Juden nicht in die Vergangenheit, sondern in die Zukunft zu schauen haben; wir wollen uns nicht damit trösten, daß vor 150 Jahren Lessing den ‘Nathan’ schrieb, sondern wir wollen sehen, wie wir mit der heutigen Not der Juden fertig werden. Sollte die Aufführung des ‘Nathan’, die wir als künstlerisches Ereignis begrüßen würden, diesen klar und unklar angedeuteten Nebensinn haben, die deutschen Juden nach alter Melodie in eine Welt der Illusionen einzuspinnen, dann müßten wir uns gegen dieses Beginnen aussprechen” (“Warum ‘Nathan der Weise’?” Jüdische Rundschau, No. 59, July 25, 1933, 365).

[15] Kurt Singer, “Um die Tätigkeit des ‘Kulturbundes’,” Jüdische Rundschau, No. 63, August 8, 1933, 405.

[16] Rebecca Rovit, “Collaboration or Survival, 1933-1938: Reassessing the Role of the Jüdischer Kulturbund,” Theater in the Third Reich, the Prewar Years. Essays on Theater in Nazi Germany. Glen W. Gadberry (Ed.), (Westport, CON and London: Greenwood Press, 1995) 145.

[17]„Nathan der Weise. Die Premiere des ‚Kulturbundes’,“ Jüdische Rundschau, No.79/80, October 4, 1933, 624.

[18] “’Nathan’ in Dresden,“ Jüdische Zeitung Chemnitz, November 17, 1933.

[19] “Kurt Katsch, der Nathan, bedarf keiner Nachsicht. Sein Tonfall hat eine natürliche jüdische Melodie, seine Gesten sind auf eine unaufdringliche Weise jüdisch, er will wirklich stets nie mehr als ein Jude scheinen und ist doch in erster Linie Mensch, den Al-Hafi für gangesreif halt, den der Klosterbruder einen Christen nennt, den Saladin zum Freund haben will. Einige Betonungen, die Lessings Diktion zugunsten des Jüdischen verbiegen, fallen wenig ins Gewicht. Eine Leistung, die durch Sein und Können überzeugt.” (Lutz Weltmann, “Der Jüdische Kulturbund am Werk. Lessings ‘Nathan der Weise’. Die erste Aufführung des Kulturbundes,” in Israelitisches Familienblatt, October 11, 1933)

[20] Lutz Weltmann, Israelitisches Familienblatt, October 11, 1933.

[21] Hugo Lachmanski, “Die Premiere des Kulturbundes. ‘Nathan der Weise’ im Berliner Theater,” CV-Zeitung, No. 38, October 4, 1933.

[22] Cited from Blättern des Jüdischen Frauenbunds by Herbert Freeden, “Jüdischer Kulturbund ohne ‘jüdische’ Kultur,” Akademie der Künste (Hg.) 56-57.

[23] Two Gestapo officials were present at each activity of the Kulturbund and reported to Hinkel’s office.

[24] Rovit 144.

[25] Freeden, “Drinnen im Exil,” 47

[26] Kurt Singer, Israelitisches Familienblatt, March 15, 1934, cited in Freeden, “Jüdischer Kulturbund,” 57.

[27] Lucy Dawidowicz, “Between Freedom and Ghetto: The Jews in Germany, 1933-1938,” The War Against the Jews 1933-1945, (New York: Bantam Books, 1986) 179.

[28] Matthias Harder, “Der Reichsverband Jüdischer Kulturbünde in Deutschland,” Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 246.

[29] This roof organization incorporated all Jewish cultural organization in the Reich, schools and religious communities being the only institutions allowed to exist independent of the Reichsverband whose seat was in Berlin; only Jews or non-Aryans according to the Law for Civil Service could be members, however Aryan spouses of members could also join the organization; performances could only be attended by members, or with special permission from the police section of the region, in the case of Berlin the office of State Commissioner Hinkel; lectures, plays, films etc. had to be approved by the office of Hans Hinkel and once they had received permission they could not be forbidden by the local police section unless regional circumstances required it. However even in such a case the police section had to inform Hinkel’s office in advance; performances could only take place in spaces owned, rented, or administered by Jews, but if this was not possible one could only use the space of an Aryan if the rental agreement profitted the owner; every performance was to be announced to the local police station ten days in advance; every change in organization or among the personnel of a local branch was to be approved by the police section and the Hinkel’ office; tickets for admission to any performances could not be sold publicly and only the Jewish press could advertise for the Reichsverband; the newsletter of the organization was Mitteilungen des Reichsverbandes jüdischer Kulturbünde and its content had to be submitted to the Hinkel’ office for approval before publishing; the leadership of the Reichsverband and the local leaders were responsible for any manifestations (whether verbal or physical), which contravened with the National Socialist ideology of the German state; any failure to comply with the regulations would resulted in the dissolution of the organization. Another stipulation although not expressed as a point on the list of rules was that any tendency towards assimilation on the part of the leaders of organizations comprising the Reichsverband was to be strongly discouraged and reported to Heydrich himself. In order to prevent such a thing it was advised that the board of the regional organizations be constituted from among the Zionist circles of the population [Der Politische Polizeikommandeur an die Politischen Polizeien der Länder, Berlin, August 13, 1935, cited in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 246-247].

[30] After the annexation of Austria the same rule applied also to composers born there.

[31] Freeden, “A Jewish Theatre under the Swastika,” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, I (1956), 152.

[32] Chaim Borodianski, “Das jüdische Theater” in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 279.

[33] Hans Hinkel, "Die judenreine Theaterpolitik im deutschen Reich," Bremer Nachrichten mit Weser Zeitung: Bremer neueste Nachrichten für Norddeutschland, September 9, 1936, 2.

[34] Singer, „Die Arbeit der Jüdischen Kulturbünde – Rückschau und Vorschau“, in: Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 272.

[35] Singer, letter to Kurt Sommerfeld, September 1937, cited in Kurt Sommerfeld, „Kein Bier für den Juden dahinten!“ Premiere und Pogrom. Der jüdiche Kulturbund 1933-1941. Texte und Bilder. E. Geisel und H. M. Broder (Hg.), (Berlin: Siedler Verlag, 1992) 209.

[36] Fritz Wisten, „Das Bildungsproblem des jüdischen Schauspielers” in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 282.

[37] Joachim Prinz, „Die kulturelle Situation der Juden in Deutschland und das jüdische Theater“ in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 278.

[38] Internal regulations of the Kulturbund cited from Ingrid Schmidt, “’In Wirklichkeit ist es so!’ Angestellte und Arbeiter im Jüdischen Kulturbund,“ Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 171.

[39] “Politische Gespräche im Hause sind absolut untersagt und können, wenn sie beobachtet werden, die fristlose Entlassung zur Folge haben.“ Cited in Schmidt 171.

[40] Cited in Schmidt 171.

[41] Satzung des Kulturbundes Deutscher Juden, cited in: Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 221.

[42] The agreement reached on July 6, 1933, between Singer and Hinkel stipulated very precisely the conditions under which the Kulturbund deutscher Juden would be able to function in the Third Reich: all members had to be Jews and only Jews were allowed to attend performances; single-performance tickets could not be sold at the box-office, and admission to all events was done on the basis of season subscriptions; programs had to be approved by the Prussian Theater Commission or a government office named by the Commission at least one month in advance; members paid the same monthly subscription rate, and there were no extra charges for individual events; advertisements or announcements concerning the Kulturbund could only be published in the Jewish press; and, upon joining the organization and paying the subscription each member was to be issued a photo identification card, which would assure admission to performances. In return the authorities promised police protection for members and audiences and no disturbances at any time through any National Socialist forces [Hinkel, letter to Kurt Singer, July 15 1933, cited in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 220].

[43] Kurt Singer, „Der Jüdische Kulturbund wirbt“, cited in: Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 308.

[44] Charles A. R. Hartig, „Der Kulturbund als Aufgabe und Pflicht,“ Monatsblätter Hamburg, September 1st 1936, 5.

[45] Barbara Müller-Wesemann, Theater als geistiger Widerstand: der Jüdische Kultubund in Hamburg 1934-1941, (Stuttgart: M&P Verlag für Wissenschaft und Forschung, 1997) 317, my emphasis.

[46] Kurt Singer was on a trip in the United States in an attempt to obtain financial support from the Jewish community of New York City, so that Werner Levie led the association in his absence. When Singer heard about the riots he returned to Europe, but remained in Amsterdam as he was warned that the Gestapo intended to arrest him if he reentered Germany [Dr. E. G. Loewenthal, “Gemeinschaft der ethischen Idee,” Allgemeine Wochenzeitung der Juden in Deutschland, Düsseldorf, Oktober 14, 1955, cited in Freeden, Jüdisches Theater in Nazideutschland, (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1964) 150].

[47] Werner Levie, “Arbeitsbericht des Jüdischen Kulturbundes in Deutschland e.V. vom 1.10.1938 – 30.6.1939” cited in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 322.

[48] Freeden, “Berlin, November 1938 – Goebbles-Befehl nach der Pogromnacht: Jüdisches Theater mußte weiterspielen,” Tribüne. Zeitschrift zum Verständnis des Judentums, 107(1988), 116.

[49] Freeden talks about “[d]er Dramaturg, ein alter Berliner Theatermann” (116) without naming a name (Freeden, “Berlin 1938,” 116), however according to the Almanac Pult und Bühne from 1938, Julius Bab occupied this function.

[50] Freeden, “Berlin 1938,” 116; my emphasis.

[51] Freeden, “Jüdisches Theater in Nazideutschland,” 148-149.

[52] Walter Jens, “Ein Bund im deutschen Ghetto,” Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 7.

[53] This remaining organization was to be renamed Jüdischer Kulturbund in Deutschland, e.V. and its leaders had to restructure their organization according to new directives from above: it became responsible for all activities involving the Jewish population in Germany and as such it had to encourage and promote emigration; it could sent out branches in different parts of the Reich, which had to have that specification in their names, but only with special permission from local authorities; members could be only Jews and their Aryan spouses, however not all members had the same rights. Three categories were established (“ordentliche Mitglieder” “ausserordentliche Mitglieder“ „aktive Mitglieder“) to differentiate among them; application for membership had to be filed in writing to the management of the organization by September 30 of each year; the board had the authority to exclude every member from the organization for behavior deemed “harmful” which included also not paying one’s membership fee; eight people composed the management group and their nomination had to be approved by the authorities; for special activities it could request the help of other members who were not part of the leading group; the organization was under the direct supervision of the Minister for Enlightenment and Propaganda who had the power to modify its regulations, to ban or dissolve it, and to dispose of its funds, as he considered appropriate. At the same time the organization had to open its books to the authorities every month in order to ensure financial viability, permission was to be obtained for any special expenses or purchases, and employment granted only with approval from the Ministry of Propaganda. Werner Levie, in his quality as new director, had to report on all activities two or three times a week. Another measure along the same lines was the closing down of all Jewish newspapers and publishing houses, and the redirection of all activities in these fields to the Kulturbund, which came to be responsible for every form of cultural manifestation involving the Jewis: music, theater, lectures, film, and publishing [“Gesamtbericht 1.9.1939 – 31.8.1940” cited in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 336-337].

[54] Sylvia Rogge-Gau, Die doppelte Wurzel des Daseins. Julius Bab und der Jüdische Kulturbund Berlin, (Berlin: Metropol, 1999) 155.

[55] In August 1938 the German government passed the Globke Law according to which every Jewish man had to add Israel to his name and every woman Sara so that the identification of Jews would be made easier. This decree would be completed in September 1941 when it also became mandatory for Jews to wear the yellow David Star on their clothes.

[56] “Molnárs ‘Spiel im Schloß’,” Das jüdische Nachrichtenblatt, August 15, 1941.

[57] “Stellungsnahme des künstlerischen Personals” April 28, 1934, cited in Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 244-245.

[58] Jens 7.

[59] Freeden, “Jüdischer Kulturbund,” 65-66.

[60] Freeden, “Jewish Theater under the Swastika,” 142.

[61] Müller-Wesemann 208-209.

[62] Fred K. Prieberg, ”Musik unterm Davidsstern,“ Akademie der Künste (Hg.), 122-124.

 

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