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

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Basically, the evil caused by Jews is vastly exaggerated, and the good they do never mentioned. The Jew presumably seeks his advantage, is not delicate about his choice of methods, which some Christians, however, do not manage any better, but should he therefore be deprived of any human right as a result? His religion does not bid him to practice any deception; all enlightened, right-thinking Jews unanimously assure [us] that this is mere slander. Basically, a teaching like that could not even remain secret; it would have long since become world famous instead of being unproven everywhere to date. But what is settled and certain is that commerce would not be what it is without the commerce of the Jews. The Jew is active, tireless, moderate, frugal, and indefatigable. He is satisfied with a slight advantage. He sounds out all the sales and purchasing channels. Without the Jews, agriculture would be in a bad state. The Jew is the soul of the cattle trade. A market on a day when the Jews have a holiday is worth nothing. The Jew pays the farmer more for his cattle than the butcher or the Christian tradesman, he buys everything and at any time; he lends money against security, delivers things to the home of the farmer that the latter would otherwise spend a long time looking for. Admittedly, some simpleton is [occasionally] cheated, but not infrequently the farmer is wilier than the Jew and cheats him with a defective animal that he cannot otherwise dispose of. There would be usurers and swindlers even if no Jews existed at all. Instances of usury and swindling can only be controlled by certain laws or better human education, and this is what is necessary for Jews and Christians. Truly, Christians make it just as little a matter of conscience when they cheat a Jew as when a Jew cheats a Christian. It is only a Jew, as they say, and yet one wants to condemn the Jew when he repays in kind, whenever he can. Iliacos intra muros peccatur et extra.

Source: “Die Reception der Juden” [“The Reception of the Jews”], report on the status of the Jews in the Duchy of Nassau, records of the Ministry of State, “Die staatsbürgerlichen Verhältnisse der Juden im Herzogtum betr.” [“Concerning the Citizenship Status of the Jews in the Duchy of Nassau”], author unknown, 1822. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Abt. 210 Nr. 2777 Bl. 65-68.

Original German text reprinted in Anton Doll, Hans-Josef Schmidt, and Manfred Wilmanns, eds., Der Weg zur Gleichberechtigung der Juden, Dokumentation zur Geschichte der jüdischen Bevölkerung in Rheinland-Pfalz und im Saarland von 1800 bis 1945 [The Path to Equality for the Jews, Documentation on the History of the Jewish Population in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland from 1800 to 1945], vol. 2, Koblenz 1979, Veröffentlichung der Landesarchivverwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz [Publications of the Administration of the State Archives of Rhineland-Palatinate] 13, pp. 199-202.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

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