The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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14 February 1933

Event held by the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, entitled "The Future of the German Jews"

In the early 1930s, the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith (Central-Verein Deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens, or CV) was the largest organization of Jews in Germany, with more than 60,000 members. It was founded in 1893 to combat antisemitism and to defend and promote the rights of German Jews.

When Adolf Hitler was appointed Reich chancellor on 30 January, the executive committee of the CV released a statement not only expressing its misgivings and skepticism regarding the new government, but also its confidence in Reich President Hindenburg. There is an almost imploring tone in the committee‘s assertion that "Nevertheless, we are convinced that no one will dare to violate our constitutional rights."

Two weeks later, the association‘s local chapter in Krefeld invited its members to an event entitled "The Future of the German Jews." Julius Brodnitz (1866–1936) and Arthur Sandelowsky (1892–1946)—two high-ranking CV representatives—took part. The organizers of the event may well have been motivated by a number of antisemitic incidents in and around Krefeld: On 31 January stones were thrown through the windows of a Jewish shop and a private house in the neighboring town of Viersen. Five days later, shots were fired at the home of a Jewish family in the same town, and, during the night of 5 February, three windows were smashed in the Krefeld synagogue.

The CV-Zeitung, the association‘s main publication, reported on the overcrowded event in its 23 February issue. Julius Brodnitz and Arthur Sandelowsky stressed that "there is not the slightest reason to depart from our association‘s basic principles. Our deep inner bond with both German culture and Judaism should help us overcome all the difficulties besetting us." Responding, no doubt, to its readers‘ mood, the newspaper acknowledged that the two speakers—who received "thunderous applause"—had contributed to dispelling "a certain embitterment and despondency that was threatening to take hold in the face of the current situation."

Two weeks after the event, SA troops searched the CV‘s office in Berlin and temporarily detained several people, marking the beginning of a campaign of surveillance, censorship and repression against the Central Association in Germany.

Aubrey Pomerance

Categorie(s): associations | captivity
Invitation issued by the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith to an event on 14 February 1933 entitled "The Future of German Jews," Krefeld, February 1933
Leo Baeck Institute, Arthur Bluhm Collection, AR 1884

Julius Brodnitz

The lawyer Dr. Julius Brodnitz was one of the leading representatives of German Jewry during the Weimar Republic and the first years of Nazi rule. He joined the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith already in 1894. Six years later he became a board member and served as President of the Association from 1920 until his death after a car accident in 1936.
His memoirs, written in 1926, are held at the archives of the Jewish Museum Berlin.

Julius Brodnitz, photo by Herbert Sonnenfeld, Berlin, ca. 1935
Purchased with funds provided by Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin