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1. Prewar Life in Europe

Attitudes of German Jews toward their homeland

Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky explains his Berlin congregation's love for Germany in the 1920s

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"So a Jew, Baeck said, maybe he doesn't have, to the same degree, this fierce, national love of the fatherland with all these Deutschland, Deutschland über alles. But he loves the home.

By home, I don't mean the home he lives in, the house, but the country, the climate, the environment and all of this.

And Germany's a beautiful country too. Certain parts are more beautiful than others. But to someone who's at home makes no difference whether it has forest or trees or lakes or oceans or whatnot. So, that's one reason.

Then, I think that's a psychological reason. Then, in this country you find, naturally this country was made out of immigrants of some forty Old World nations, so the people live a little bit more in an enclave here. The Jews amongst Jews, the Irish still stick together, the Catholics stick together, the Amish and Dutch, British and WASP and this and that. Which is good. I think it's a safety valve for all of us, the plurality.

Yet, the Jew also feels he is not part of the majority. He always feels different in this country. Which all of this is very naturally.

In Germany, you wouldn't believe it he didn't feel different.

That's a peculiar part; maybe you can say he talked himself into it. He didn't want to. It was wishful thinking, yes and no. Yes and no. For generations and generations he was accepted and he felt accepted."

Swarsensky Interview, Tape 9, Side 1
Transcript page 142 (PDF, 846 KB)

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