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Walther Rathenau, "Hear, O Israel!" (1897)

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What, then, must happen? An event without historical precedent: the conscious self-education of a race to assimilate to outside demands. Assimilation not in the sense of Darwin's "mimicry," adopting the color of their surroundings, but assimilation in the sense that tribal qualities – regardless of whether they are good or bad – that are demonstrably hateful to fellow Germans [Landesgenossen] are cast off and replaced by more suitable ones. If it were possible for this metamorphosis to simultaneously improve the overall balance sheet of moral values, then that would be a happy accomplishment. The goal of the processes should not be imitation Germans, but Jews who are German by nature and education. At first, it is necessary for an intermediate condition to develop, which, recognized by both sides, represents a line of separation and connection between Germandom and typical Jewry [Stockjudentum]: a Jewish patriciate, not of property, but of intellectual and physical culture. Through its roots, this estate will continuously draw up new nourishment from below, and in time it will absorb all the material that is digestible and capable of transformation.

Source: Walther Rathenau, “Höre Israel!” ["Hear, O Israel"], in Die Zukunft [The Future] 5 (1897), pp. 454-62.

Original German text reprinted in Jürgen Schutte and Peter Sprengel, Die Berliner Moderne 1885-1914 [Berlin Modernity, 1885-1914]. Stuttgart, 1987, pp. 172-77.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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