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Jewish Reactions to Nazi Persecution, 1933-1942 - Essay Example

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Jewish Reactions to Nazi Persecution, 1933-1942

She deliberately and openly flouted this rule and continued to work until leaving the country several months later (Catts, p39). Perhaps her limited experiences of persecution and of the Nazis and Gestapo are what enabled her to defy the law that was intended to prevent her from working, in that she had not been made aware through experience of the possible consequences of her actions. Josef Stone and his family left Frankfurt and Germany just a few months after Gertrude Catts (Stone, p38), but those few months were enough to make his experiences of Nazi persecution quite different. Stone recalls how his family and neighbors began to feel insecure and mistrustful (Stone, p36), afraid to show friendliness towards one another in case it was noticed by the Nazis. He describes how he was arrested on Kristallnacht and subsequently released (perhaps because he was only sixteen years old), and how his father was arrested and imprisoned in Dachau two days later. Kristallnacht was a turning point for Jews living in Germany - after this point, says Stone, nobody felt comfortable living in Germany any more.
Many of the documents describe similar experiences, and for most of the narrators, anti-Semitism was experienced on a day-to-day basis. ...
a Rosenthal, for example, mentions that because she did not "look Jewish" (Rosenthal, p67) she was able to escape some anti-Semitic behavior - she was served in German shops where her Jewish-looking mother was refused service. Most of the narrators describe incidents of jeering and name-calling at the hands of Germans, both adult and child. For the narrators of these documents, anti-Semitism was not necessarily physically violent, but touched on many aspects of day-to-day life.
Jewish leaders of the time felt that it was important for the Jewish community to maintain pride in themselves, their faith, and their community (Weltsch, p7). They felt the Jews should support one another, maintain community ties, and above all should openly identify themselves as Jewish, rather than denying their identity to escape persecution and thus "betray[ing] their Judaism" (Weltsch, p7). Robert Weltsch, for example, declared that the "yellow badge", the symbol branded on Jewish-owned stores in 1933, should be taken up as a badge of honor and worn proudly.
Some of the narrators of these documents describe incidents in which they deliberately concealed their Jewishness or kept their distance from the Jewish community in order to escape Nazi persecution. Herta Rosenthal, for example, describes how she used the fact that she did not look Jewish to her and her family's advantage (Rosenthal, p67). By concealing her Jewishness she was able to obtain service in stores which did not serve people who were overtly Jewish, and she also describes how she did not wear the Jewish star during the 1940s, and was able to do things that other Jews could not because of her looks. Josef Stone describes how the atmosphere of insecurity in Frankfurt divided the community and caused people to mistrust and ...Show more


German Jewish experiences of Nazi persecution during the war years seem to be quite variable. In comparing the experiences of Gertrude Catts and Josef Stone, for example, there are clear differences in the attitudes of the narrators, their experiences, and their reactions…
Author : erickkertzmann
Jewish Reactions to Nazi Persecution, 1933-1942 essay example
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