Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith
- (Centralverein deutscher Staatsburger jüdischen Glaubens)Founded in 1893 by Raphael Loewenfeld, director of Berlin's* Schillertheater, the Cen-tralverein aimed to combat anti-Semitism* by underscoring the falsity of its allegations. Prosecuting anti-Semites in the courts and assisting in their defeat at the polls, it also worked to strengthen both Jewish and German consciousness while educating Jews* on ways to act that might preclude antagonists from embarrassing them. The Centralverein preserved these activities throughout the Weimar era and convinced numerous intellectuals and political leaders to sign declarations condemning anti-Semitism. Most German Jews, while not paid members, supported the Centralverein and its activities. Paid membership grew from 45,000 at the end of 1918 to a high of 72,400 in 1924. Shortly before Hitler* assumed power, membership stood at 64,000; this was somewhat more than 10 percent of the total population of Germans of Jewish faith. Only Zionists and some ultra-right-wing Jews spurned the Centralverein s activities.Donald Niewyk has highlighted three features of the Centralverein s work: (1) it confronted anti-Semites, via publications such as the weekly Central-Verein Zeitung, with a rational expression of the truth; (2) it subsidized efforts by antiracist parties, especially the SPD and the Center Party,* to defeat anti-Semites; and (3) it fostered a sense of security and confidence among Jews. In retrospect, this third feature was tragic. Through superb publications, a team of qualified lawyers, and a vast organization, it provided the false hope that truth, if widely disseminated, surely prevails.REFERENCES:Hans Bach, German Jew; Niewyk, Jews in Weimar Germany and So-cialist.
A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. C. Paul Vincent.
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