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

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On the left bank of the Rhine they have [ . . . ] acquired full citizenship; only here, too, as in all other parts of Germany, not a single step toward improvement has emanated from the Jewish people as a whole.

The granting of citizenship has not reshaped them into citizens. Freedom of trade did not lead them into the practice of noble handicrafts. Permission to purchase landed estates did not encourage them to farm, in that they viewed the acquisition of demesnes simply as a commercial matter [ . . . ] ; and thus they have remained – when under the pressure of restrictive laws and in the possession of all liberties – everywhere the same dirty hagglers whose pernicious influence produced a bitterness against them that, from time to time, turned into riots, which, like the recent ones in Würzburg, Frankfurt, and several other cities, threatened their lives and property.

If the [ . . . ] peculiarity of the Jews [ . . . ] rests [ . . . ] only on the most intimate interweaving of their civic and religious constitution, then their immutability [ . . . ] vis-à-vis all other nations is surely to be sought in this circumstance. How should a people be won over to civil society as long as it has its own calendar, a special Sabbath [ . . . ] and, moreover, celebrates many [ . . . ] religious festivals, whose very effectiveness is certainly crippled by the regulations of the religion itself. How can it come into approximate contact with Christians when its law prohibits the enjoyment of foods that constitute ordinary fare in the households of Christian families [ . . . ] ; and, aside from that, how should it associate with the Christians in cheerful public spirit [ . . . ] for the common good, since its religion obligates it to the opposite, a religion that maintains itself in the hope and longing for a distant land and perceives in all other nations impure goyim – born to servility – whose temples it should destroy, whose idols it should smash, and whose names it should blot out?

All attempts to fuse the Jews with the Christians into a civic association, therefore, are bound to fail as long as their moral teaching and their religious opinions are given no other direction. Both are thoroughly incompatible with the well-being and tendency of Christian states; and so we agree completely with those who want to grant the Jews only human rights but not societal rights – up to the point where they have truly renounced the nation-hating principles of the ritual law and rabbinism and have proven themselves to be loyal, honest fellow citizens – and consequently view them as foreigners, as a merely tolerated people. [ . . . ]

Source: Bericht der Regierung Koblenz an den Oberpräsidenten des Großherzogtums Niederrhein, Staatsminister Karl H. Ludwig Freiherrn von Ingersleben, über die bürgerlichen Verhältnisse der Juden. – 25 Januar 1820 [Report by the Koblenz Government to the Supreme President of the Grand Duchy of the Lower Rhine, State Minister Karl H. Ludwig Baron von Ingersleben, on the Civic Condition of the Jewish Population.– January 25, 1820 ], Koblenz. LHA Koblenz Best. 403. Nr. 15227, S. 145-218. – excerpt.

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 Landesarchiv-verwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz [Publications of the Administration of the State Archives of Rhineland-Palatinate] 13, pp. 82-86.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

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