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Martin Lövinson Recalls Jewish Emancipation and Enthusiasm for the German Wars of Unification (early 1870s)

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The song, of which thousands of copies were sold at the beginning of the war for the benefit of the wounded, has impressed itself on my mind, as has the “Watch on the Rhine,” which so accurately depicts the attitude of an entire people, although I do not mean to compare the two songs in their poetic power.

We Jews were also especially affected by the change in the internal situation. Due to the law of 1869 on the equality of religions in all of Germany, the barriers that had been erected before the Jews by the laws prohibiting their admission to office had now fallen. One did not expect that society and the practice of the authorities would maintain these barriers for a long time to come, and would erect new ones. There had been Jewish officers in the war of 1866; in the French war, numerous Jews achieved a similar recognition of their devotion to duty and their courage. Two cousins of my mother, Moritz and Albert Marcuse, sons of the oldest brother of my grandmother, returned from the field with the Iron Cross, the former as a captain in the medical corps, the latter as a lieutenant. Now there were Jewish judges and civil servants, whereas formerly even an appointment as a lawyer had scarcely been attainable for a Jewish civil servant even after years of unpaid civil service. Thus, in our circles, too, the joy and hope were almost beyond description. Not that every Jew now longed for a government position, but the fact that the feeling of a basic disfranchisement, of helotry, seemed to have been taken from us lifted our spirits and spurred us on to accomplishments in the service of our fatherland, from that time on also in the areas of peaceful development.

Source of English translation: Monika Richarz, ed., Jewish Life in Germany: Memoirs from Three Centuries, trans. Stella P. Rosenfeld and Sidney Rosenfeld. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991, pp. 110-17.

Original German text printed in Martin Lövinson, Geschichte meines Lebens [The Story of My Life], Part 1, Die goldene Jugendzeit [The Jewish Golden Age]. Berlin, 1924. Original German text reprinted in Monika Richarz, ed., Jüdisches Leben in Deutschland. Selbstzeugnisse zur Sozialgeschichte 1780-1871 [Jewish Life in Germany. Personal Memories of Social History 1780-1871, 3 vols. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1976, vol. 1, pp. 248-56.

"Published by Indiana University Press. Further reproduction is prohibited."

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