GHDI logo

Memorandum from the Ministry of State of the Duchy of Nassau (1822)

page 2 of 4    print version    return to list previous document      next document

in directing their children's education toward anything other than commerce, since (after all) neither real estate, nor the operation of a farm or useful business, nor the exceptional morality and education of the remaining children, apart from one of the lucky ones, can supply a residence permit. 3. Those [children] who do not possess a residence permit, who also want to live, will and must become morally bad, because every incentive for them ceases, therefore they will: 4. have to attach themselves to the families possessing a residence permit, who thereby become a privileged caste of Jews and receive a Jewish commercial monopoly. So, instead of extracting business taxes from many, the state will only extract from a few normal families,* [those] who do not have a residence permit, instead of paying taxes to the state, will serve the interests of these monopolists, or, as their [these monopolists'] seeming servants, pursue their own interests on the side, while serving their masters. The trading spirit will thus, instead of being suppressed, become all the more vividly awakened, and consequently the existence of families with permanent residence permits, as well as those without them – whose formation one cannot prevent – will have a doubly pernicious effect on morality and civic life. Therefore, instead of 5. improving, both the normal families and those without resident permits will become worse members of the state. The intention of weaning Jews gradually from commerce and haggling, of bringing them closer to other citizens in morals and business, in farming and industry, must therefore be necessarily misguided. 6. If, in place of a departing family head, another should receive a residence permit, then it has to be asked who, by right, is the first to be appointed thereto. Is it the child of the departed, his firstborn, or can another, long neglected one have hopes? Should the man who marries a widow, receives her business, helps raise her children, keeps her children out of poverty, be counted under the fixed and limited number of those with residence permits, or should he increase their number by one? Without legislative regulation, the government will be flooded with petitions, everyone will want to justify an exception to the rule, and where is the legal criterion according to which one should act if things should not proceed arbitrarily? Thus, complications will be piled on complications, and the result will be that the Jews will not make forward strides in culture and humanity, but will rather take steps backward. But what system will better lead toward the goal of improvements for the Jews? This question is best answered in the negative. Religious pressure, persecution, neglect, contempt, oppression, refusing every natural right, compulsion to do things that can only depend on free will, etc. – all these have never accomplished any good and will not accomplish any good among the Jews. It is undeniable that, since there has been an end to their previous total seclusion, the contempt [inflicted on] them through body taxes** and other acts of discrimination, since they have been made to incur political and civic burdens, since they have, in short, been more amalgamated to the state, albeit only passively, the Jews have made marked progress in morals and customs, in judgment and conduct.

*In this context, "normal family" refers to the limited number of families holding permanent residence permits – ed.
**The body tax or "Leibzoll" was a tax of the old regime levied on Jews who temporarily came into a city in which they were not permitted to reside – ed.

first page < previous   |   next > last page