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

In 1822, the Duchy of Nassau issued the following memorandum on the subject of residence and marriage rights for the Jewish population. Though describing in some detail the distinctiveness of Jews from non-Jews, the authors aimed to diffuse hostile prejudices and rejected any forcible "improvement" of the Jews. The memorandum addresses developments from the previous three decades and recommends that Nassau's Jews be given greater rights.

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Assuming that one cannot exterminate the Jews living in the Duchy, not chase them away, not forcibly convert them to Christianity, not prevent them from living and earning their bread without stealing, the question remains, all indictment and defense of the same aside, as to what should be done with them. Earlier maxims held that they should be viewed merely as a tolerated sect that one allowed to exist and work in a state of separation from all civic relations, in return for which they merely paid the state protection money, without incurring either political or civic burdens. Nor did the state even worry about their internal affairs, which were organized by their rabbis. They were excluded from bourgeois occupations, they could not acquire real estate without special permission, learn or practice a trade; trading in dry goods and spices was denied them in most places, and only trading in cattle, pelts, fur goods, butchering, etc., was open to them. This situation ceased in recent times. Jews were made to bear the burdens of state, they had to submit to conscription, pay property and business taxes, become subject to civic burdens, in short, bear all the burdens of citizens of the state and locality without being admitted to the rights of a citizen of the state and locality. Trades and businesses aside from those mentioned above were denied to them, and they were only allowed to acquire real estate. Later, there was a desire to force them to become farmers. They were supposed to acquire enough farmland so that they might cultivate it exclusively with Jewish farmhands and live off of it. This was too great a leap to be practicable. Later, it was only the eldest son of a protected Jew who was supposed to receive a residence and marriage permit, not the others. Special qualifications, wealth, good behavior, none of this helped, and with only a few exceptions was there any reflection about this among the remaining children. If the first [situation], whereby the Jew had to bear every burden without gaining any rights, was unjust, then the second and third [situations] entailed major inconveniences, and if the only possible aim of all these measures could have been to wean the Jews away from commerce, to bring them closer to other citizens by running a farm or useful businesses, in brief, to improve them morally and make them less damaging to the state, then this aim was completely missed, as experience has already shown. Whether the same [aim] can be achieved according to the new rule – not to increase the number of existing families of Jews, but to grant a residence and marriage permit to a new family head in place of a departing one – may certainly be doubted for the following reasons: 1. The increase in Jews will not be prevented thereby, and, in fact, by making marriage more difficult it will dramatically promote immorality. Instead of legitimate children, there will be no lack of illegitimate children. Instead of family fathers, there will be libertines, instead of well bred children; there will be those who grow up wild! Naturam furca expellas, tenem usque redibit. 2. Families in possession of a residence permit will have no interest

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