BERLIN


BERLIN, largest city and capital of Germany.

The Old Community (1295–1573)

Jews are first mentioned in a letter from the Berlin local council of Oct. 28, 1295, forbidding wool merchants to supply Jews with wool yarn. Suzerainty over the Jews belonged to the margrave who from 1317 pledged them to the municipality on varying terms, but received them back in 1363. Their taxes, however, were levied by the municipality in the name of the ruler of the state. The oldest place of Jewish settlement in "Great Jews' Court" (Grosser Judenhof) and "Jews' Street" had some of the characteristics of a Jewish quarter, but a number of wealthier Jews lived outside these areas. Until 1543, when a cemetery was established in Berlin, the Jews buried their dead in the town of Spandau. The Berlin Jews engaged mainly in commerce, handicrafts (insofar as this did not infringe on the privileges of the craft guilds), moneychanging, moneylending, and other pursuits. Few attained affluence. They paid taxes for the right to slaughter animals ritually, to sell meat, to marry, to circumcise their sons, to buy wine, to receive additional Jews as residents of their community, and to bury their dead. During the *Black Death (1349–50), the houses of the Jews were burned down and the Jewish inhabitants were killed or expelled from the town.

From 1354, Jews again settled in Berlin. In 1446 they were arrested with the rest of the Jews in *Brandenburg, and expelled from the electorate after their property had been confiscated. A year later Jews again began to return, and between 1454 and 1475 there were 23 recorded instances of Jews establishing residence in Berlin in the oldest register of inhabitants. A few wealthy Jews were admitted into Brandenburg in 1509. In 1510 the Jews were accused of desecrating the *Host and stealing sacred vessels from a church in a village near Berlin. One hundred and eleven Jews were arrested and subjected to examination, and 51 were sentenced to death; of these 38 were burned at the stake in the new market square together with the real culprit, a Christian, on July 10, 1510. Subsequently, the Jews were expelled from the entire electorate of Brandenburg. All the accused were proved completely innocent at the Diet of Frankfurt in 1539 through the efforts of *Joseph (Joselmann) b. Gershom of Rosheim and *Philipp Melanchthon. The elector Joachim II (1535–71) permitted the Jews to return and settle in the towns in Brandenburg, and Jews were permitted to reside in Berlin in 1543 despite the opposition of the townspeople. In 1571, when the Jews were again expelled from Brandenburg, the Jews of Berlin were expelled "for ever." For the next 100 years, a few individual Jews appeared there at widely scattered intervals. About 1663, the Court Jew Israel Aaron, who was supplier to the army and the electoral court, was permitted to settle in Berlin.

Beginnings of the Modern Community (to 1812)

After the expulsion of the Jews from *Vienna in 1670, the elector issued an edict on May 21, 1671, admitting 50 wealthy Jewish families from Austria into the mark of Brandenburg and the duchy of Crossen (Krosno) for 20 years. They paid a variety of taxes for the protection afforded them but were not permitted to erect a synagogue. The first writ of privileges was issued to Abraham Riess (Abraham b. Model Segal) and Benedict Veit (Baruch b. Menahem Rositz), on Sept. 10, 1671, the date considered to mark the foundation of the new Berlin community. Notwithstanding the opposition of the Christians (and also of Israel Aaron who feared competition) to any increase in the number of Jewish residents in Berlin, the community grew rapidly, and in the course of time the authorities granted letters of protection to a considerable number of Jews. In addition, many unvergleitete Jews (i.e., without residence permits) infiltrated into Brandenburg. The first population census of 1700 showed that there were living in Berlin at that time 70 Jewish vergleitete families with residence permits, 47 families without writs of protection, and a few peddlers and beggars (about 1,000 persons). The refugees from Austria now became a minority, and quarrels and clashes broke out within the community (see below). The Jews of Berlin engaged mainly in commerce. The guilds and merchants were bitterly opposed to them and they were accused of dealing in stolen goods. The Christians demanded the expulsion of the foreign Jews or restriction of their economic activity to dealing in secondhand goods and pawnbroking, not to be conducted in open shops. The government responded only partly to such demands, being interested in the income from the Berlin Jews. It imposed restrictions upon the increase of the Jewish population in the city and issued decrees increasing their taxes, making the community collectively responsible for the payment of protection money (1700), for prohibiting Jews from maintaining open shops, from dealing in stolen goods (1684), and from engaging in retail trade in certain commodities except at fairs (1690). Nevertheless, the number of Jewish stores grew to such an extent that there was at least one in every street. The Jews were subsequently ordered to close down every store opened after 1690, and all other Jews were forbidden to engage in anything but dealing in old clothes and pawnbroking. They could be exempted from these restrictions on payment of 5,000 thalers.

Elector Frederick III, who became King Frederick I of Prussia in 1701, began a systematic exploitation of the Jews by means of various taxes. The protection tax was doubled in 1688; a tax was levied for the mobilization and arming of an infantry regiment; 10,000 ducats were exacted for various misdemeanors; 1,100 ducats for children recognized as vergleitete; 100 thalers annually toward the royal reception in Berlin; 200–300 thalers annually in birth and marriage taxes; and other irregular imposts. Frederick William I (1713–40) limited (in a charter granted to the Jews on May 20, 1714) the number of tolerated Jews to 120 householders, but permitted in certain cases the extension of letters of protection to include the second and third child. The Jews of Berlin were permitted to engage in commerce almost without restriction, and in handicrafts provided that the rights of the guilds were not thereby infringed. By a charter granted in 1730, the number of tolerated Jews was reduced to 100 householders. Only the two oldest sons of the family were allowed to reside in Berlin – the first, if he possessed 1,000 thalers in ready money, on payment of 50 thalers, and the second if he owned and paid double these amounts. Vergleitete Jews might own stores, but were forbidden to trade in drugs and spices (except for tobacco and dyes), in raw skins, and in imported woolen and fiber goods, and were forbidden to operate breweries or distilleries. They were also forbidden to engage in any craft, apart from seal engraving, gold and silver embroidery, and Jewish ritual slaughter. Land ownership by Jews had been prohibited in 1697 and required a special license which could be obtained only with great difficulty. Jews might bequeath their property to their children, but not to other relatives. On Jan. 22, 1737, Jews were forbidden to buy houses in Berlin or to acquire them in any other fashion. In 1755 an equal interest rate was fixed for Jews and Christians.

The Jews in Berlin in the 18th century primarily engaged as commercial bankers and traders in precious metals and stones. Some served as *court Jews. Members of the *Gomperz family were among the wealthiest in Berlin. In the course of time, all trade in money in Berlin was concentrated in Jewish hands. One of the pioneers of Prussian industry was Levi Ilf, who established a ribbon factory in Charlottenburg in 1718. At the same time the royal policy continued of restricting the Jewish population of Berlin, and even decreasing it as far as possible. When in 1737 it became evident that the number of Jewish families in Berlin had risen to 234, a decree was issued limiting the quota to 120 families (953 persons) with an additional 48 families of "communal officers" (243 persons). The remainder (584) were ordered to leave, and 387 did in fact leave. However in 1743 Berlin had a Jewish population of 333 families (1,945 persons).

*Frederick the Great (1740–86) denied residence rights in Berlin to second and third children of Jewish families and wished to limit the total number of protected Jews to 150. However, the revised Generalprivilegium and the royal edict of April 17, 1750, which remained in force until 1812, granted residence rights to 203 "ordinary" families, whose eldest children could inherit that right, and to 63 "extraordinary" families, who might possess it only for the duration of their own lifetime. A specified number of "public servants" was also to be tolerated. However, during his reign, the economic, cultural, and social position of the Jews in Berlin improved. During the Seven Years' War, many Jews became wealthy as purveyors to the army and the mint and the rights enjoyed by the Christian bankers were granted to a number of Jews. In 1763, the Jews in Berlin were granted permission to acquire 70 houses in place of 40. While their role in the retail trade decreased in importance because of the many restrictions imposed, the number of Jewish manufacturers, bankers, and brokers increased. On May 2, 1791, the entire *Itzig family received full civic rights, becoming the first German Jews to whom they were granted. At the same time, the king compelled the Jews to supply a specified quantity of silver annually to the mint at a price below the current one (1763), to pay large sums for new writs of protection (1764), and, in return for various privileges and licenses, to purchase porcelain ware to the value of 300–500 thalers from the royal porcelain factory and sell it abroad.

As a concomitant of economic prosperity, there appeared the first signs of cultural adaptation. Under the influence of Moses *Mendelssohn, several reforms were introduced in the Berlin community, especially in the sphere of education. In 1778 a school, *Juedische Freischule (Ḥinnukh Ne'arim), was founded, which was conducted along modern comprehensive principles and methods. Mendelssohn and David *Friedlaender composed the first German reader for children. The dissemination of general (non-Jewish) knowledge was also one of the aims of the Ḥevrat Doreshei Leshon Ever ("Association of Friends of the Hebrew Language"), founded in 1783, whose organ Ha-Me'assef (see *Me'assefim) began to appear in Berlin in 1788. Mendelssohn's home became a gathering place for scholars, and Berlin became the fount of the Enlightenment movement (*Haskalah) and of the trend toward *assimilation. The salons of Henrietta *Herz, Rachel *Varnhagen, and Dorothea *Schlegel served as rendezvous for both Jews and Christians of the social elite of Berlin. However, progress toward legally recognized civil equality was slow. After the new Exchange building was erected in Berlin in 1805, a joint "corporation" of Christians and Jews was established in which the latter were in the majority and had equal rights. In 1803–04, during the literary controversy over the Jewish question, the government took no action whatever on behalf of the Jews, but after the Prussian defeat by Napoleon the Municipal Act of Nov. 19, 1809, facilitated their attainment of citizen status. Solomon *Veit was elected to the Berlin municipal council and David Friedlaender was appointed a city councilor. The edict of March 11, 1812, finally bestowed Prussian citizenship upon the Jews; all restrictions on their residence rights in the state, as well as the special taxes they had to pay, were now abolished.

Internal Life (17th–18th Centuries)

The fierce controversies that had broken out in the Jewish community during the communal elections in 1689 resulted in governmental intervention in the administrative affairs of the community. Thus the decree of January 24 and the statute of Dec. 7, 1700, included government-approved regulations for the Jewish community. The communal leaders (parnasim), elected for three years, were empowered to impose fines (two-thirds of which went to the state treasury and one-third to the communal charity fund) and to excommunicate members with the consent of the local rabbi and government. The "chief parnas" acted as mediator between the Jews and the state. In 1717, complete anarchy in the conduct of communal affairs became evident; the parnasim were deposed and a fine was imposed on the community amounting to 10,000 thalers, later reduced to 6,500. In 1722 and in 1723 new statutes were promulgated regulating the organizational structure of the community. Apart from the chief parnasim, who were appointed by the king and functioned under the supervision of a Jewish commission, a communal committee of three, four, or five parnasim was set up which would coopt to itself two optimates (tovim) and two alternates (ikkurim) for handling particularly important matters. To decide on matters of extreme importance larger committees were appointed of 15, 18, or 32 members. In 1792 a supervisory committee was created consisting of three members to supervise the fiscal aspect of communal administration. The first rabbi, elected at the time of the erection of the Berlin synagogue in the Heiderentergasse, was Michael Ḥasid (officiated 1714–28). His successors include Jacob Joshua b. Ẓevi Hirsch *Falk of Cracow (1731–34), author of Penei Yehoshu'a, David *Fraenkel (1743–62), author of Korban ha-Edah on the Palestinian Talmud and teacher of Moses Mendelssohn, and Ẓevi Hirsch b. Aryeh Loeb (Hirschel *Levin, 1772–1800), known for his opposition to Haskalah.

From the Edict of Equality to the Accession of the Nazis

The political history of the Jews of Berlin after 1812 becomes increasingly merged with that of the Jews of *Prussia and *Germany as a whole. In the 1848 Revolution the Jews played an active role as fighters on the barricades and members of the civic guard, as orators and journalists, and the like. Despite the edict of 1812 Jews continued to be hampered by a number of restrictions, and formal civic equality was not attained until July 1860. Subsequently, Jews began to enter Berlin's political and social life in increasing numbers, and the Berlin municipality was for a long time a stronghold of liberalism and tolerance. About one-fifth of Berlin's newspapers were owned by Jews. The Berliner Tageblatt and the Vossische Zeitung, whose publishers and editors were Jewish, were read abroad with particular attention, although it was known that they did not express the opinions of circles close to the government. Berlin Jews played a prominent part in literature, the theater, music, and art. Their successes aroused fierce reaction among the more conservative elements and Berlin became a center of antisemitism. The "Berlin Movement" founded by Adolf *Stoecker incited the masses against the Jews by alleging that they were the standard-bearers of capitalism and controlled the press (see *Antisemitic Political Parties and Organizations).

The Jewish population of Berlin numbered 3,292 in 1812; 11,840 in 1852; 108,044 in 1890; and 172,672 in 1925. Thus, within a century it had increased more than fiftyfold. The Jews comprised about 2% of the total population in 1840, 5.02% in 1890, and 4.29% in 1925. The Jews in Berlin comprised 1.4% of German Jewry in 1811–28, 7.03% in 1871, and 30.6% in 1925. Despite the increasing instances of intermarriage, renunciation of Judaism, and conversion to Christianity, and the decline in the Jewish birthrate, the Jewish population of Berlin continued to grow through the arrival of Jews from provincial centers, especially from the province of Posen (Poznan) and from Eastern Europe. As Berlin grew in importance as a commercial and industrial center, Jews played an increasingly important role in the city's economic life, especially as bankers (*Mendelssohn, *Bleichroeder, and others), owners of department stores (*Wertheim, *Tietz, Jandorf), and in the grain and metal trades, the textile and clothing industries, building construction, the manufacture of railway engines and cars, the brewing of beer, and other branches of the economy. Ludwig *Loewe headed a large armaments factory in Berlin. The General Electric Company (AEG) was founded by the Jewish engineer Emil *Rathenau, and both his son Walter *Rathenau and Felix Deutsch were active in it. In 1861 53.17% of the Jews in Berlin engaged in commerce, and 17.3% in industry and the manual trades; by 1910 the percentage of those occupied in commerce had decreased to 41.61%, while 35.16% earned their livelihood in industry and the manual trades.

Internal Life of the Berlin Community (1812–1933)

Following the partitions of Poland-Lithuania, 1772–95, the Berlin community became increasingly influenced by the steady stream of Eastern European Jews (Ostjuden) who first arrived from the Posen district. This influx made up for the losses to the Jewish communities through assimilation and apostasy. Later there was growing immigration from the *Pale of Settlement. From the second half of the 19th century the increasing colony of Russian, mainly Jewish, students exerted a powerful cultural influence in Berlin. The organizational structure of the Jewish community was undermined after the emancipation of the Jews in 1812. The old regulations were abolished by the 1812 edict and no new regulations were instituted. For some time the community was not allowed to collect dues and faced disintegration. A statute issued in July 1837 permitted the renewal of normal communal life, and from then on the Berlin community was administered by a committee of seven members and three alternates and a council of 21 members and ten alternates. The first elections to the council took place in February 1854, and the community's first constitution was ratified in August 1860. During this period, the community was thrown into a ferment as a result of the aspiration of David Friedlaender and others for extreme liturgical reforms. The *Reform program was temporarily restrained by a decree of Dec. 9, 1823, which laid down that all divine worship was to take place in the local synagogue and according to accepted custom without any innovations in the language, ritual, prayers, and liturgy.

In 1819, the *Verein fuer Kultur und Wissenschaft des Judentums ("Society for Jewish Culture and Learning"), was founded in Berlin by Leopold *Zunz, I.M. *Jost, and Eduard *Gans, with Heinrich *Heine among its members (see *Germany). In the meanwhile, far-reaching changes had been introduced in education. The Ḥinnukh Ne'arim school was closed at the end of 1825 for lack of funds, and was replaced in 1826 by a new school for boys, founded by the community; Zunz was principal of this school until 1830. In 1835 the community founded a school for girls. There were also several Jewish private schools in Berlin, such as that of H.M. Bock (founded in 1807), whose principals were Jost (1816–35) and Sigismund *Stern (1835–45). R. Meir b. Simḥah Weyl, who charted a conservative course in education, opened a teachers' seminary in 1825. From 1840 to 1850 a teachers' seminary functioned under the direction of Zunz. A teachers' training institute was established in 1859 under the rectorship of Aaron *Horowitz.

In 1844 Michael Jehiel *Sachs was invited to be the third dayyan and preacher of the community. Although a Conservative, he was not opposed to moderate reform. In the wake of the foundation of the second Kulturverein ("cultural association"; 1840), Aaron *Bernstein founded the Reform Society in 1845, and later the Reform Congregation, which introduced far-flung liturgical reforms, especially during the rabbinate of Samuel *Holdheim (1847–60). At first, divine worship was held both on Saturdays and Sundays and later only on Sundays. The Reform Congregation was unsuccessful in its attempt to secede from the official community, but the latter was obliged to give very substantial financial support to the Reform Congregation since many of its members were among the largest taxpayers. The Berlin community was again violently shaken when many of its members pressed for the introduction of an organ and modification of the liturgy in the New Synagogue. The appointment of Abraham *Geiger as rabbi of the Berlin community (officiated 1870–74) met with strong opposition from Orthodox circles, and in 1869 Azriel (Israel) *Hildesheimer and his adherents left the main community and established the Adass Yisroel congregation, which received official recognition in 1885. Abraham Geiger had stipulated as a condition of his appointment that an institute for Jewish research be established in Berlin, and in 1872 the *Hochschule fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums was opened there. A year later, Hildesheimer opened a rabbinical seminary for Orthodox Judaism (*Rabbinerseminar fuer das orthodoxe Judentum). Between 1880 and 1930, eight large synagogues were erected by the Berlin community, among them that in the Fasanenstrasse which was one of the most magnificent synagogues in the world. In all, the community owned 16 synagogues, seven of them Orthodox and the remainder Liberal and Reformist. Thirty rabbis served in Berlin after Abraham Geiger (12 Orthodox and the remainder liberal). In addition, most religious groups which were supported by the community had their own rabbis.

Berlin was the center of the national German-Jewish organizations, such as the *Deutsch-Israelitischer Gemeindebund (founded in 1869), Verband der deutschen Juden (1904), the *B'nai *B'rith (1883), *Central-Verein deutscher Staatsbuerger juedischen Glaubens (1893), *Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden (1901), Zentralwohlfartsstelle der deutschen Juden (1917), and others. Likewise, Jewish newspapers and periodicals were published in Berlin, including the communal organ, whose circulation reached 60,000 copies. The Berlin communal institutions and their activities in every field served as a model for Jewish communities throughout the world. The annual communal budget in the 1930s was about 10,000,000 marks (as against 5,000,000 marks in 1914). About 70,000 Jews in Berlin paid dues to the community.

For about 80 years the Liberals were predominant in the Berlin community. But Liberals and Orthodox worked together in full harmony in the central organizations in which, at least for a certain period, the Zionists also participated. The *Ḥibbat Zion movement met with but a lukewarm reception in Berlin, especially among the Orthodox, and the opposition to political Zionism was particularly keen. The Berlin rabbi S. *Maybaum was among the leaders of the "*Protest Rabbis," and the Central-Verein and the *Vereinigung fuer das liberale Judentum launched a concerted effort against the Zionistische Vereinigung fuer Deutschland and its organ, the *Juedische Rundschau. When the procedure for communal elections was changed after World War I, four representatives of the *Juedische Volkspartei (a coalition of Zionists, *Mizrachi, and the Verband der ostjuedischen Organizationen) and one of the *Po'alei Zion were elected in 1920 to the representative council (Repraesentantenversammlung), which consisted of 21 members; two Zionists sat on the communal committee (Gemeindevorstand). In the 1926 election, a coalition of the Juedische Volkspartei, the Conservatives, and the Mittelpartei won a majority. For three years, the Zionist Georg Kareski headed the communal committee. However, in the elections of November 1930, 24 Liberals were elected to the representative council, 14 from the Juedische Volkspartei, and three from among the small parties; seven Liberals, three Zionists, and one Conservative sat on the communal committee. Max Naumann and his faction were the spearhead of the extremist anti-Zionist faction which rejected all cooperation with non-German Jews and demanded that the Zionists be deprived of their German citizenship and permitted to reside in Germany only as aliens. In 1922, at the initiative of the Berlin community, the Preussischer Landesverband juedischer Gemeinden was founded, comprising 655 communities, not including the Orthodox communities which formed their own association. A great boon to the Berlin community was the government support which was granted for the first time during the inflation of late 1923, without which it could not have survived. In later years, the government subsidy to the community was insufficient.

After the murders of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa *Luxemburg in January 1919, antisemitic propaganda in Berlin increased. The Kapp Putsch (March 1920) had blatant anti-Jewish undertones. Walter Rathenau, the German foreign minister, was assassinated by antisemitic nationalists on June 24, 1922. On Nov. 5, 1923, antisemites attacked the Jews living in Grenadierstrasse and Dragonerstrasse, which were centers of Jewish residence. In 1926, after the appointment of Joseph *Goebbels as Gauleiter in Berlin, anti-Jewish rabble-rousing increased. On the eve of the Jewish New Year (Sept. 12, 1931), Jews returning from synagogue in Kurfuerstendam were assaulted by gangs of Nazis, organized by Count Wolff Heinrich von Halldorf (later chief of police in the Third Reich).

[Joseph Meisl]

1933–39

At the time the Nazis came to power, Berlin's organized Jewish community numbered about 172,000 persons. In the preceding years as the Nazi movement was growing in influence, the rate of Jewish affiliation had increased. With Hitler's ascent to power on January 30, 1933, street demonstrations were immediate and made Jews feel deeply uncomfortable. In 1933 the Nazi boycott (April 1) affected Jewish shop owners; April 7th legislation against non-Aryans led to dismissal of Jewish professionals and civil servants, including physicians and professors; while "aryanization" of Jewish firms and the dismissal of their Jewish employees was carried out by the exertion of steady economic pressure. The response of the community was mixed. There was a wave of suicides but also an attempt by the community to respond to deteriorating conditions. Economic assistance was provided to those in need; new vocations were found for youth, legal counseling and housing advice was provided. In response to the April 1st boycott of Jewish businesses, Robert Weltsch wrote an editorial in the Judische Rundschau called "Wear the Yellow Badge with Pride." Synagogue attendance increased, as did Zionist activities. Still the community did not formally encourage emigration. It thought of Germany as the land of its fathers and its children, a perspective that was to dramatically change. Eight new Jewish elementary schools were founded in 1933. Jewish officials – "Jewishness" was soon defined to refer to one's parents and grandparents and not one's own identity – not affected by these early measures were eventually ousted under the provisions of the *Nuremberg Laws (1935). During this early period, such incidents as the murder of a Jewish physician, Dr. Philippsthal (spring 1933), and the suicide of Rudolf S. Mosse after mistreatment in prison (fall 1933), the first such instances of their kind, caused great consternation among the Jews. In these initial years, when the members of the Jewish community were being methodically deprived of their economic standing and civil rights, Jewish religious and cultural life in Berlin underwent a tremendous upsurge. Jewish children, most of them excluded from the public schools, attended schools set up and maintained by the Jewish community or private schools. In addition to the eight Jewish elementary schools that were maintained at one period to meet the community needs, the famous college for Jewish studies, the *Hochschule fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums, was sustained to train leadership and its program greatly expanded. Jews were later forbidden to attend theaters and public places of entertainment. The Juedischer Kulturbund ("Jewish Cultural Society") was established. In the summer of 1935 yellow benches for the segregation of Jews were set up in parks and inscribed nur fuer Juden ("only for Jews"). Signs inscribed Juden unerwuenscht ("Jews not wanted") were displayed in public places. The economic condition of Jews in Berlin deteriorated rapidly. By 1935 welfare assistance was a significant responsibility of the community. Signs discriminating against Jews were removed for the duration of the Olympic Games held in Berlin (summer 1936). Antisemitic propaganda was reduced only to return with a vengeance once the Games were over and the tourists had returned to their native lands. Throughout this period from 1933 to 1938, raids and arrests became frequent occurrences and were accelerated in 1938. Until November 1938 Jewish newspapers and books were published on an unprecedented scale. Notable among the newspapers was the Berliner juedisches Gemeindeblatt, a voluminous weekly published by the community. Zionist work was in full swing, especially that of He-Ḥalutz, and in February 1936, a German Zionist convention was held in Berlin (the last to meet there), still reflecting in its composition the vigorous party life of German Zionists. From March 28, 1938, the Jewish community was deprived of its status as a recognized public corporate body. The Berlin community was made a "private" organization, denied the right to collect dues from the community, and renamed the Juedische Kultusvereinigung Berlin ("Jewish Religious Society").

In June 1938, mass arrests of Jews took place on the charge that they were "asocial," e.g., had a criminal record, including traffic violations, and they were imprisoned in the *Sachsenhausen concentration camp. On November 9–10, *Kristallnacht marked a turning point in the affairs of Berlin Jewry: synagogues were burned down, Jewish shops destroyed, Jewish institutions were raided and closed, including libraries and museums, and Jewish manuscripts and documents were destroyed. In the wake of *Kristallnacht, 1,200 Jewish businesses were put up for Aryanization and 10,000 Jews from Berlin and other places were arrested and imprisoned in Sachsenhausen. The "Bannmeile" was decreed, which restricted Jews to an area within a certain radius from their place of residence; banished them from most of the main thoroughfares, and the area in which government offices were located; and evicted Jews from their apartments, a step which had begun earlier, but was now accelerated. Jewish newspapers had to cease publication. The only paper was the new Das juedische Narchrichtenblatt which was required to publish Gestapo directives to the Jews. Meetings of bodies of the Jewish community were no longer permitted, and the Jewish community's executive council had to conduct its affairs from then on without consulting any representative group. Religious services, when resumed, were now restricted to three synagogues (on Levetzow, Luetzow, and Kaiser Streets) and a few small halls. The pace of Aryanization accelerated as did the rate of emigration. Most of Berlin's rabbis left Berlin before Kristallnacht: the last three rabbis to stay were Felix Singerman (died in Riga in 1942), Martin Salomonski (died in Auschwitz in 1944), and the most prominent of all, Leo *Baeck, who was offered the opportunity to leave but decided to stay with his flock and was sent to Theresienstadt camp in early 1943. As the Germans arrived in his home, Baeck asked for half an hour, during which time he posted a letter to his daughter in England and with an unyielding sense of honor paid his gas and electric bills. At the end of January 1939, the Gestapo established a Zentralstelle fuer juedische Auswanderung ("Central Bureau for Jewish Emigration") in Berlin. The Berlin community, presided over by Heinrich *Stahl, was the largest and most dynamic German-Jewish community, and was incorporated along with the Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden into the Nazi-imposed Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland – the change in name from German Jews to Jews in Germany was essential, not incidental – established on July 4, 1939. After its incorporation into the Reichsvereinigung, the Berlin community maintained its autonomous function for some time.

1939–45

After the outbreak of war, some 82,000 Jews were living in Berlin – about half having left between 1933 and 1939. The living conditions and situation of the Jews worsened. Emigration was still permitted and even encouraged, and existing organizations and institutions (the Kulturbund, Jewish schools) were able to continue functioning. However, Jews were drafted for forced labor at wages far below the prevailing rate and with no social benefits, but this at least provided them with a minimum income and delayed their deportation. Many were employed in armament industries, which also slowed their deportation. On Jan. 31, 1940, a special Arbeitsamt fuer Judenarbeiter ("Labor Exchange for Jew-Workers") was set up. In the spring of 1940 Stahl was removed from his post in the Reichsvereinigung by the Nazi authorities and replaced by Moritz Henschel, a former attorney. In September 1941, a drastic turn for the worse came about. First the Judenstern ("Jewish star," i.e., yellow *badge) was introduced. Two weeks later, on the Day of Atonement, in the middle of a sermon by Rabbi Leo Baeck, the president of the community was summoned to the Gestapo and told that the community would have to prepare for a partial evacuation from the city, that large apartments still occupied by Jews would have to be cleared, that many additional parts of the city would now be out of bounds to Jews, and that the Levetzowstrasse synagogue would be turned into a Sammellager ("assembly camp") for 1,000 persons. In due course more such assembly camps were added. Legal emigration was prohibited on October 23. The last transport of legal emigrants left Berlin on October 18 for Lisbon. In the preceding months (May–October), 1,342 emigrants had been permitted to leave. Between October 23 and the end of the year only 62 persons managed to leave, and in 1942 only nine Jews were permitted to go abroad. To make Berlin *judenrein, deportations began. There were five major phases in the process of deportation, the destination of Berlin's Jews reflecting the changes in German policy from forced emigration to resettlement in the East and then to murder by gassing: (a) between fall 1941 and January 1942 the deportees were sent to Riga, Minsk, Kovno, and Lodz, sometimes directly to the killing fields; (b) those deported in spring 1942 were sent to Lublin (Trawniki); (c) between summer 1942 and February 1943 their destination was Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Riga, and Tallinn (Rasiku); (d) Auschwitz was the destination of the deportees of March–April 1943; (e) those deported from spring 1943 until the end of the war were sent to Bergen-Belsen, Ravensbrueck, Sachsenhausen, and Auschwitz. Altogether there were 63 Osttransporte carrying some 35,000 victims to death camps in the east, and 117 Alterstransporte, transporting some 15,000 (mainly older) persons to Theresienstadt. It is believed that about 95% of the first and 90% of the second group perished. (For lists of transport numbers, dates, numbers of deportees and destinations, see bibliography, Sellenthin, 84–85.) All through 1942 the deportations were kept up, although community employees and persons employed on forced labor were still excluded. In November and December 1942, the infamous commissar Alois Brunner (see Adolf *Eichmann) from Vienna was employed in Berlin and was responsible for organizing the picking up of the candidates for deportation in their homes, distinguishing himself by his extraordinary cruelty. Eventually, the deportations came to include groups of community employees, and from the fall of 1942, only those Jewish laborers who were employed in vital war production were still safe from deportation. At the beginning of 1943, the Gestapo persuaded the military administration to relinquish these workers, which resulted on February 27–28 in the socalled "Fabrikaktion" – marked by exceptional cruelty – in which all the workers were taken straight from the factories and deported from Berlin. Those Jews arrested in this "action" who had gentile wives were taken to a special camp for onward deportation, but when their wives carried out violent street demonstrations, the Gestapo yielded and set their husbands free. Even at that late date, the Nazis were seemingly responsive to public opinion. On May 13, 1942, an anti-Jewish exhibition, Soviet Paradise, was opened in Berlin, and was attacked by a group of Jewish communists, led by Herbert *Baum. The group was caught and hardly any of them survived. The Germans imposed collective – and disproportionate – reprisal. Two hundred and fifty Jews – 50 for each German who had been killed in the attack – were shot, and another 250 were sent to Sachsenhausen and perished there. The community offices were closed down on June 10, 1943, and six days later the "full" Jews among the members of its executive council were deported to Theresienstadt. The remaining Jews were looked after by the Neue Reichsvereinigung, which took up its seat in the Berlin Jewish Hospital, which together with the Jewish cemetery were the two Jewish institutions that continued to function throughtout the war. While the deportations went on, many Jews tried to stay on illegally, a very difficult undertaking, owing to the need for frequent change of hideouts and the lack of ration cards; many were caught and deported. The "illegals" were given temporary help on an organized basis, by groups of people who were of mixed parentage (Mischlinge) and as such were not liable for deportation themselves; there were also some Germans who at the risk of their lives put their apartments at the disposal of the Jews who were hiding out. One group of Jewish youngsters and their instructor managed to hide in Grunewald for an extended period, spending their time in the study of Zionist subjects. No exact figure is available for the number of "illegal" Jews who survived in Berlin, and estimates vary from 2,000 to 5,000. Berlin became officially "judenrein" ("clean of Jews") on June 16, 1943. On June 30, 1943, there were in fact 6,700, and on March 31, 1945, 5,990 Jews, comprising 4,790 Jews who had non-Jewish spouses, 992 "Geltungsjuden" (persons of mixed parentage, professing Jewish religion), 46 Jews from non-enemy countries, and 162 "full" Jews, most of whom were employed in the Jewish Hospital. The Jewish cemetery had remained in use – several Torah Scrolls were hidden there during the years of the Nazi persecution in a concerted organized activity which encompassed over 500 scrolls to be restituted after the war.

Number of Jews in Berlin  18161945 Number of Jews in Berlin – 1816–1945

Absolute Numbers Percentages
1 Including Jews by "race" – decrease due mainly to emigration but in small measure also due to a mortality rate higher than the birth rate. Emigration figures were actually higher for Berlin Jewry, but were offset by the influx of Jews from the provinces.
2 Decrease due to deportation.
3 Decrease due to final mass deportations.
Dashes denote unavailability of information.
1816 3,373 1.20
1837 5,648 1.98
1855 12,675 2.93
1871 36,326 4.15
1895 94,391 4.48
1905 130,487 4.30
1910 142,289 4.05
1925 172,672 4.30
1933 160,564 3.80
19391 82,788 1.70
Jan. 19422 55,000
Dec. 19422 33,000
Apr. 19433 18,315
1945 9,000

Size of the Jewish Population

The Table: Jewish Population of Berlin shows the decrease in the Jewish population of Berlin between 1925 and 1945. The statistics before 1933 refer to persons designated as members of the Jewish faith, whereas the later figures for the most part also include Jews "by race" (as defined by the Nuremberg Laws):

[Kurt Jakob Ball-Kaduri /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]

Contemporary Period

On July 15, 1945, the Jewish community was officially reconstituted. At first it was headed by Erich Nelhans, a former *Mizrachi leader, and from the fall of 1945 by Hans Erich Fabian, who had returned from Theresienstadt, the only member of the Reichsvereinigung to survive the war. Also active in the leadership of the community were Alfred Schoyer, a member of the Berlin Jewish Community Council before his deportation; Heinz Galinski, who had returned from Bergen-Belsen; and Julius Meyer, a survivor of Auschwitz. At the beginning of 1946, the community had a registered membership of 7,070 people, of whom 4,121 (over 90% of all married members) had non-Jewish spouses, 1,321 had survived the war by hiding, and 1,628 had returned from concentration camps. The Jews were dispersed throughout Berlin, a third of them living in the Soviet sector. The community was assisted by the military government, as well as by the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which initiated its activities in Berlin in the autumn of 1945. Several synagogues were opened, the Jewish Hospital resumed its work (although most of its patients and staff were not Jews), and three homes for the aged and a children's home were established. There was no local rabbi or religious teachers, but American Jewish army chaplains volunteered their services. The general assumption at this time was that the Jews would not be able to reestablish themselves in Berlin (or anywhere else in Germany) and that the community's principal task was to help them to emigrate from the country. The community was thus defined as a "liquidation community" (Liquidationsgemeinde).

In addition to the organized Jewish community, Berlin also became a center for Jewish *Displaced Persons (DPs). Toward the end of 1945 and during the first half of 1946, the main *Beriḥah route from Poland led through Stettin and the Soviet Zone to Berlin, from where it continued through the remaining part of the Soviet Zone and the British Zone to the American Zone. It was a very arduous route, especially during the harsh winter months, and temporary shelter had to be provided in Berlin. A small camp was established in the Wittenau district of the French sector of the city in the autumn of 1945 with a capacity of 200; at the beginning of 1946 a large camp was established at Schlachtensee in the American sector, which could hold 4,000 refugees, and a third camp was established in the summer of 1946 in the Tempelhof district of the American sector. In July 1946, however, the Beriḥah from Poland took on a quasi-legal character and was rerouted through Czechoslovakia and Vienna to the American Zone in Germany and Austria. As a result the refugee population of Berlin became fairly stabilized. By the end of 1946, there were 6,785 DPs in the three Berlin camps. When the Soviet blockade of Berlin was lifted, the Occupation authorities decided to evacuate the DPs, and between July 23 and Aug. 1, 1948, 5,456 Jewish refugees were airlifted from Berlin to various camps in the American Zone.

By this time the Jewish community had reached a measure of consolidation, in spite of the difficult economic and political conditions in the city. Although a few hundred members had emigrated overseas and mortality exceeded the birth rate, the total number of Jews had increased as a result of the influx of Jews returning from abroad. Prominent among the returnees was a group of 500 refugees who had spent the war years in *Shanghai. The welfare services extended by the community were greatly improved; the return of confiscated property, a process which was initiated at this time, also helped raise the standing of the community. In 1946, upon the initiative of Fabian, the community established its own weekly, Der Weg, later to be merged with the Jewish weekly appearing in Duesseldorf. Jewish organizations in the United States arranged for American rabbis to undertake several years' service in Berlin. In 1949 Galinski was elected as chairman of the community council.

The growing tension between the Western and Soviet Occupation authorities also had its effect upon Berlin Jewry. In 1947 Nelhans was arrested by the Soviets on the charge of aiding Soviet military personnel to desert; he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and was not heard of subsequently. Although the city administration was split in two, the Jewish community remained unified until the end of 1952, when its own split became inevitable. In the following years, the situation of the Jews and the community in West Berlin was greatly improved as a result of the rising economic prosperity in West Germany (which also affected West Berlin) and the return of confiscated property and the indemnification of victims of Nazi persecution. The Berlin City Senate showed great concern for the rehabilitation of the community and its individual members; Joachim Lipschitz, the senator for internal affairs (who was the son of a Jewish father and a Christian mother), in particular did his utmost to help the development of the community. Four synagogues were operating in Berlin. In 1959, the City of Berlin erected a large Jewish community center on Fasanenstrasse at the site on which one of Berlin's most magnificent synagogues had stood until 1938. In 1954 the Zionist Organization and the Israel Appeal renewed their activities in Berlin. A Jewish women's organization, a B'nai B'rith lodge, a Jewish students' organization, and a youth organization as well as several organizations dedicated to the fostering of interfaith relations were established.

In 1954 the community had a membership of about 5,000 and by January 1970 this figure had risen to 5,577. The demographic composition of the community was marked by relatively high average age (4,080 were above the age of 41), a low birthrate, and a great number of mixed marriages.

EAST BERLIN

In 1946 the number of Jews in the Soviet sector was 2,442, while in 1966 it was estimated at 850 (according to figures given by the community's president, Max Schenk). Although there was officially no restriction on religious practice and the authorities supported the community (the great synagogue on Rykestrasse was reconstructed), the prevailing anti-religious atmosphere of a communist state had a detrimental effect upon the community. By 1990 the number of community members had fallen to 200.

[Chaim Yahil]

SINCE 1989. After the German reunification of 1989, the Jewish communities of former West and East Berlin merged in 1990. The community maintains six synagogues, an elementary school, and other educational institutions. Since 1995 the magnificent building of the former synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse has housed the Centrum Judaicum, which serves as a museum and a center of documentation and research. Jewish cultural institutions and initiatives are manifold and an integral part of Berlin's cultural life. A Jewish museum was opened in 2002 and has since been among the museums drawing the largest numbers of visitors in Germany. The number of community members has risen from 6,411 in 1989 to 11,167 in 2003, with many coming from the former Soviet Union.

[Stefan Rohrbacher (2nd ed.)]

Hebrew Printing in Berlin

The first Hebrew printer in Berlin was the court preacher and professor D.E. Jablonsky, as Jews could not obtain the necessary license; nevertheless, the manager J.L. Neumark, and most of the setters and proofreaders were Jews. The first book published by them was the Book of Psalms (1697), followed by the complete Bible (1699), and other scholarly and liturgical works. An application by Rabbi Mirels for permission to print the Talmud in Berlin was refused by Frederick I, king of Prussia; the permission to publish Maimonides' Code was not taken up, as this was just being printed in Amsterdam by J. *Athias. But a Talmud edition was issued by Gottschalk and Jablonski, in partnership with a Frankfurt on the Oder printer, 1715–22. Among other printers to be mentioned are Baruch Buchbinder (Radoner) of Vilna (1708–17), who printed a number of important works such as the Tzena Urena and works by the Shabbatean Nehemiah *Ḥayon (1713), a Mishnah with Rashi and Jacob Ḥagiz's commentary (1716–17), and a Ḥoshen Mishpat (1717). Nathan, son of the aforementioned J.L. Neumark, was active 1719–27, while his son-in-law Aaron b. Moses Rofe of Lissa built up an important press, 1733–62, publishing a series of well-known rabbinic works, above all the second Berlin Talmud edition 1734–39. Aaron's press was continued for a while by his grandson Moses b. Mordecai. An annual Lu'aḥ began to appear probably from 1725 but not later than 1738. Of some importance was the press of Isaac b. Jacob Speyer (1764–70), a son-in-law of the Berlin rabbi David Fraenkel, who printed notable rabbinic works – Steinschneider calls it "the highlight of Hebrew printing in Berlin"; and that of Mordecai Landsberg, also from 1764. The prolific writer and editor Isaac *Satanow took over Landsberg's press in 1772 and issued a considerable number of books, particularly his own (until 1804). In 1784 David Friedlaender and his friends founded the Verlag der juedischen Freischule, managed by A. *Wolfsohn-Halle, who bought the Landsberg press and obtained a license to print and sell books. Pupils of the society were taught the craft of printing and a number of books were published from 1796 with the imprint "Orientalische Druckerei." During these years Berlin became the center for the printing of Enlightenment literature, notably the writings of M. Mendelssohn, N.H. Wessely, D. Friedlaender, etc. Mendelssohn's edition of the Pentateuch appeared here in 1783.

In 1830 the Landsberg press was bought by Isaac Levent. In that year the printer Trevitsch and son moved to Berlin from Frankfurt on the Oder. In 1834, the year of his death, David Friedlaender founded his own press and published a number of important books; the scholar D. *Cassel worked there as a proofreader. In 1836 the apostate Julius Sittenfeld set up a printing house which published the complete Talmud (1862–68), Maimonides' Code (1862), and other works. In the late 19th and early 20th century H. Itzkowski and Siegfried, Arthur and Erich Scholem were active as general, Jewish, and also Hebrew publishers and printers in Berlin. In 1930 a Pentateuch was printed for the *Soncino-Gesellschaft by the "Officina Serpentis" with a new Hebrew type cut for this occasion.

[Abraham Meir Habermann]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

J. Meisl (ed.), Pinkas Kehillat Berlin 17231854Protokollbuch der juedischen Gemeinde Berlin (Heb. and Ger., 1962); idem, in: Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 1 (1946), 80–140; H.G. Sellenthin, Geschichte der Juden in Berlin (1959); Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 68–73; E.L. Landshuth, Toledot Anshei Shem (1884); P. von Gebhardt (ed.), Das aelteste Buergerbuch 14531700 (1927); L. Geiger, Geschichte der Juden in Berlin (1871); D. Kaufmann, Die letzte Vertreibung der Juden aus Wien (1889), 206–21; L. Davidsohn, Beitraege zur Sozialund Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Berliner Juden vor der Emanzipation (1920); M. Stern, Beitraege zur Geschichte der juedischen Gemeinde zu Berlin, 6 vols. (1926–34); Gemeindeblatt der juedischen Gemeinde zu Berlin (1911–38); Juedisches Jahrbuch fuer Gross-Berlin (1926–28) and Juedisches Jahrbuch (1929–33); D. Friedlaender, Akten-Stuecke, die Reform der juedischen Kolonien in den Preussischen Staaten betreffend (1793); I. Freund, Die Emanzipation der Juden in Preussen, 2 vols. (1912); S. Stern, Der preussische Staat und die Juden, 2 vols. (1925, repr. 1962); W. Heise, Die Juden in der Mark Brandenburg bis zum Jahre 1571 (1932); H. Rachel, Das Berliner Wirtschaftsleben im Zeitalter des Fruehkapitalismus (1931); H. Rachel et al., Berliner Gross-kaufleute und Kapitalisten, 3 vols. (1934–39); J. Jacobsohn (ed.), Die Judenbuergerbuecher der Stadt Berlin, 18091851 (1962); M. Sinasohn (ed.), Adas Jisroel, Berlin (1966); H. Seeliger, in: YLBI, 3 (1958), 159–68; I. Eisenstein-Barzilay, in: PAAJR, 25 (1956), 1–37; 29 (1960–61), 17–54; idem, in: Essays on Jewish Life and Thought (1959), 183–97; Barzilay, in: PAAJR, 29 (1960–61), 17–54; idem, in: JSOS, 21 (1959), 165–92; E. Hurwicz, in: YLBI, 12 (1967), 85–102. HOLOCAUST PERIOD: P. Littauer, My Experiences During the Persecution of the Jews in Berlin and Brussels, 193944 (1945); Irgun Olej Merkas Europa, Die letzten Tage des deutschen, Judentums (1943); Ball-Kaduri, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 3 (1959), 261–81; 5 (1963), 271–316; H. Gaertner, in: YLBI, 1 (1956), 123–42; F. Friedlaender, ibid., 3 (1958), 187–201; S. Shiratzki, ibid., 5 (1960), 299–307. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Nachtrichtenblatt der juedischen Gemeinde von Gross-Berlin D.D.R. (1961); A. Brass, Aufbau (March 12, 1971); idem, Geschehnisse auf dem Friedhof Berlin-Weissensee in den Jahren 193645; B. Scheiger, in: S. Jersch-Wenzel (ed.), Von Zuwanderern zu Einheimischen (1990), 153–488; W. Gruner, Judenverfolgung in Berlin (1992); B. Meyer, in: H. Simon (ed.), Juden in Berlin 19381945 (2000); A. Nachama (ed.), Juden in Berlin (2001). HEBREW PRINTING: H.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Arim Augsburg… (1935), 87ff.; R.N. Rabinowitz, Ma'amar al Hadpasat ha-Talmud (1952), 108f., 152f.; Steinschneider, in: ZGJD, 1 (1887), 377ff.; 2 (1888), 200ff.; 3 (1889), 84ff., 262ff.; A.M. Habermann, Ha-Sefer ha-Ivri be-Hitpatteḥuto (1968), index.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.