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Debate in the Parliament of the Duchy of Nassau on a Motion for the Complete Emancipation of the Jews in the Duchy (1846)

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Mr. Deputy Zais: The honorable petitioner proceeds from the principle: "Same burdens, same rights." This principle is not entirely applicable in our case. The Jews are a people of foreign origin, with their own laws, customs, and their own religion. Their position, which they therefore occupy among us, is one of protection, and this relationship has existed historically for almost 2000 years. If they are going to be drawn into the same burdens, then it is nothing more than just, because they enjoy all those blessings of the law [Rechtswohlthaten], whose expenses can only be paid with the aid of taxes. The advantages we grant them are therefore to be viewed as a privilege on our part, but they cannot be claimed as a right, and we are only required to confer this favor to the extent that we regard it as compatible with the interests of the state. Whether complete civil and national equality for the Jews serves the welfare of the country is something I should want to doubt for as long as their own laws and institutions completely separate them as a foreign people from us, for as long as they do not move the Sabbath to Sunday, the Sabbath that prevents them from establishing an equal business relationship between Christians and Jews.

[ . . . ]

Mr. Deputy Cratz: I cannot agree with the gentleman petitioning the motion concerning that which he says about the position of the Jews in general, in that they, especially in our country, are surely treated with all consideration and forbearance, and therefore I agree to his motion only to the extent that – as the honorable member who first spoke about this subject expressed himself – they, for the moment, attempt to bring their practices and religious arrangement closer to those of the Christians and in line with their institutions; so that this would have to proceed first from them before a complete emancipation could take place.

Mr. Deputy Hergenhahn: I only want to remark that I will also vote for additional discussion on the motion. It cannot be disputed that the Christian principles of humanity and brotherly love had not been observed vis-à-vis the Jews for a long time. This was the dark time when Jews where viewed by Christians as a cursed people for all eternity, where Christians believed they were called upon to avenge our Savior and, in glaring contradiction to his teaching, punish the guilt of the Jews’ ancestors. It also cannot be disputed that the long-standing oppression of the Israelites put up numerous obstacles to the spiritual [intellectual] and moral development of a large number of them. In this respect we have some injustice to redress. From the reports of the gentleman government commissioner we gather that a lot has already been done in this respect. It is a question of what still needs to be done, and this question is important enough to merit a conscientious, comprehensive investigation.

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