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Report by the Prussian District Government in Koblenz on the Jewish Population (1820)

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[ . . . ] Without productive effort and genuine activity, feeding themselves only by spying and lurking, they constitute, as has been correctly asserted, a caste of small shopkeepers, junk dealers, and stockbrokers – held together by theocratic despotism, duty, belief, language, and inclination – which, as a closed society, has an even more pernicious influence. No wonder, therefore, that commercial capital almost everywhere is found primarily in their hands, that they set the exchange price, and that, especially when it comes to major money transactions, no Christian merchant can compete with them. The general belief in their immorality has even entered the language. Jewish is the predicate for a dirty, contemptuous deed; he is a Jew, it is said by the Christian, who practices usury or common haggling. [ . . . ] Laudable or praiseworthy actions (of the Israelites) [ . . . ] constitute [ . . . ] only isolated symptoms, exceptions, which as such only confirm the rule and therefore prove nothing. Those Jews, however, who move away from the positive regulations of their religion, who do not visit the synagogues, who put themselves on an equal footing with Christians in the enjoyment of meals, are far more dangerous and more damaging to the state than the true adherents of Judaism themselves.

That the lower stage of culture in which [the Jews] find themselves, that their ugly character traits and their pernicious influence on the nations in which they live might have developed under the pressure and persecutions of fanaticism – and not from the spirit of their religion and its accompanying institutions – is disproved both by the present and the past.

In Poland, but also in Spain, they enjoyed the greatest privileges; [ . . . ] only their entire energy and activity was dedicated exclusively to commerce, [ . . . ] soon all money transactions played into their hands, they became the financiers of the great and left it up to the Christians to cultivate their fields under the harshest conditions.

In Germany, too, the Jews, even in earlier times, did not experience such terrible treatment as their representatives [ . . . ] so insistently accuse the Christians; for the most part, rather, they enjoyed that consideration that corresponded with their circumstances and the demands of humaneness; instances of mistreatment here and there were partly the result of the deeply turbulent era, partly of the raw eruptions of the irritable crowd, which, although provoked by the intrigues and deceit of the Christian-haters, were nonetheless met with strict disciplinary action. Later, when the period of philanthropy in our fatherland began, where humanity was viewed as a duty, [ . . . ] most everything affording the enjoyment of human rights occurred for the Jews in most states. The Jews are free people, like the Christians, are regulated by the same laws, can practice their religion unhindered, dispose of their property among the living, as in case of death, and, like everyone else, participate in public educational institutions.

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