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

The report by the Prussian district government in Koblenz from January 25, 1820, establishes normative criteria for the granting of equal citizenship rights, including adherence to a particular faith, gainful employment, and the practice of certain cultural traditions. The author's hostile account abounds with anti-Jewish prejudices and includes accusations of unproductive profiteering, bribery, anti-nationalism, and religious fanaticism, etc., thus trying to show why Jews should be denied citizenship rights.

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§ 1 [ . . . ] ad 1. In our administrative district [ . . . ] the legislation of the Jews is sharply divided into two parts: A) into one on the left and B) one on the right bank of the Rhine.

ad A). The French Revolution [ . . . ] produced splendid results for the Jews, in that they acquired full citizenship according to the prevailing principle of equality. [ . . . ] This equality of rights, however far removed from causing the Jews to merge with the rest of the citizens, could not even lead them to strive to come closer. Now as ever a nation of their own, completely isolated by religious customs, ways of thinking and acting, their effect on the whole of society has become greater and more unfavorable as they have become less receptive to the advantages afforded to them by the Revolution and its accompanying spirit. The sickness was, in the meantime, [ . . . ] very quickly recognized, quite rightly did one seek the malady in religion and try to take hold of it by the root, to influence it with as much cleansing and ennobling power as possible. [ . . . ]

§ 2-20. ad B) [ . . . ] Until recent times the Jews were [ . . . ] everywhere viewed as people merely to be tolerated.
[ . . . ] From the concept of toleration it follows that the Jews cannot enjoy any complete citizenship, but rather those native to a place may only enjoy certain indigenous civil rights, sometimes more restricted, sometimes less so, depending on whether they have a residence and marriage permit, i.e., are provided with letter of protection or not.
[ . . . ] Since Jews without these permits may neither marry nor engage in commerce on their own account, they are obliged to enter into the service of those who have them. Following strict principles, if they are neither in the care of their parents nor in the service of a Jew with a permit, they should be viewed as vagabonds and transported over the border. Since no other state is obliged to admit them, however, it became all the more necessary in recent times to deviate again from that strict norm, and, as already mentioned, to enlist the Jews into military service, so that there is now a class of indigenous Jews who, when they are not able to enter into the service of Jews for reasons of age or illness, may be allowed to reside in the country without marrying or engaging in commerce. As far as the foreign Jews are concerned, it deserves above all to be mentioned that they were subject to the same body tax* that was just abolished by the Nassau Ordinance of August 13, 1806. Their admittance into sovereign protection depended on the state governments. Their permission granted them the same rights as the other Jews with residence permits, yet among Jewish men it was dependent upon the possession of assets of 1500 guilders, and among Jewish women upon the possession of assets of 1000 guilders. Both the one and the other also had to pay 15 ducats reception fees. [ . . . ]

* 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.

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