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The ‘Jewish Question’ in German Literature 1749–1939Emancipation and its Discontents$
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Ritchie Robertson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248889

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248889.001.0001

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(p.233) 4 Assimilation
The ‘Jewish Question’ in German Literature 1749–1939

Ritchie Robertson

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Jewish responses to the evident failure of their hopes for integration, including the ‘self-hatred’ with which some internalized antisemitic stereotypes and the defiant ‘hyperacculturation’ in which others sought to be more German than the Germans. The Jewish subculture was kept going both by internal solidarity and by more or less subtle mechanisms of exclusion. Particular pessimism about assimilation is expressed in 1911 by Friedrich Blach, who shows his yearning for this ideal by adopting the unusual self-description ‘a Jewish German’. He says that Jews are typically in one of two situations, both unfavorable for assimilation. If a Jew lives in a city, he mixes mostly with other Jews and does not learn German ways. If he lives in a small town, he is dependent on non-Jews, but is liable to be embittered by repeated rebuffs.

Keywords:   integration, antisemitic stereotypes, hyperacculturation, exclusion, Jewish subculture, assimilation, Friedrich Blach, Jewish German

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