The Jews of Eastern Europe [Excerpt]
OF THE ten and a half million Jews who live in Europe some nine million are to be found in the eastern half of the continent, in the cities and on the plains between the River Inn and the Ural Mountains. During the last four years the policies of the Nazi dictatorship in Germany have cast a shadow over the lives of all these Jewish millions. So far they have been unwilling to believe that anti-Semitism in the starkly brutal form which it has assumed in Germany will spread abroad. Yet the fact remains that a great and highly civilized European nation has excommunicated half a million people merely because they adhere to the Jewish religion or belong to the so-called Jewish "race," and thus has given other lands a dangerous example of positive anti-Semitism.
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Except in Russia . . . the situation today of the Jews of Eastern Europe must be painted in sombre colors. Almost everywhere the liberal and humane ideals of the nineteenth century are under attack, and as they weaken the anti-Jewish trend becomes more pronounced. The Jew is being pressed back with varying degrees of violence into his mediæval state of servitude. The most tragic victim of this social process is the assimilated, cultivated Jew. The orthodox masses of Galicia, Bessarabia and Ruthenia are less conscious of what is happening except when there is some special outbreak of terror. They still live the religious, often mystic, life of their ancestors -- a life of fear and privation, cut off from contact with the world around them, confident in Jehovah's wisdom and relying on his protection. The waves of anti-Semitism now rising in Eastern Europe are as incapable of destroying these Jewish masses as were the systematic persecutions they underwent in past centuries. [Full Article]Read the full article on ForeignAffairs.com