Westjuden: Germany and German Jews through East European Eyes

  • John D. Klier
Part of the Studies in Russia and East Europe book series (SREE)


An enormous literature has been devoted to the so-called Ostjuden, the traditionalist East European Jews who increasingly moved into the heartland of the German Reich in the period after 1871.2 A highly visible target for German antisemites, their presence also produced feelings of extreme ambivalence among ‘native’, acculturated German Jews. To the latter, the Ostjuden, easily identified by their garb, Yiddish speech, religious organization and practice, and ‘immigrant’ trades, called into question their own status and position as an integral part of German society. The Ostjuden existed to be pitied, assisted, scorned and very occasionally romanticized. The simplest way for German Jews to explain away the embarrassment caused by their co-religionists was to point to the backward social and economic conditions and obscurantism of the Russian Empire (or, alternatively, Old Poland), whose environment had produced the degenerative state of the Ostjuden.


Jewish Community Reform Movement Jewish Life Jewish Question Habsburg Monarchy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    See, most recently, Steven E. Aschheim, Brothers and Strangers: The East European Jew in German and German Jewish Consciousness,1800–1923, Madison, WI, 1982.Google Scholar
  2. 2a.
    Jack Wertheimer, Unwelcome Strangers: East European Jews in Imperial Germany, New York, 1987.Google Scholar
  3. 2b.
    See also Trude Maurer, Ostjuden in Deutschland, 1918–1933, Hamburg, 1986. Aschheim notes that the term itself is anachronistic before the early twentieth century.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    For this topic, see Alexander Orbach, New Voices of Russian Jewry: A Study of the Russian-Jewish Press of Odessa in the Era of the Great Reforms, 1860–1871 Leiden, 1980.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Solomon Maimon, An Autobiography, ed. and trans. Moses Hadas, New York, 1967.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Quoted in Iu.I. Gessen, Evrei v Rossii, St Petersburg, 1906, p. 447.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    G.R. Derzhavin, Sochineniia, 9 vols, St Petersburg, 1864–83, VII, pp. 295, 301, 304.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Nevakhovich, The Lament of the Daughter of Judea St Petersburg, 1803, pp. 18–31.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    David E. Fishman, Russia’s First Modern Jews: The Jews of Shklov, New York, 1995, pp. 30–7.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    John D. Klier, Russia Gathers Her Jews: The Origins of the Jewish Question in Russia, 1772–1825, DeKalb, IL, 1986, pp. 116–43.Google Scholar
  11. 21.
    Israel Zinberg, A History of Jewish Literature. Vol. XI: The Haskalah Movement in Russia, ed. and trans. Bernard Martin, Cincinnati, OH and New York, 1978, pp. 21–34.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    P. Merek, ‘Iz istorii evreiskoi intelligentsii’Evreiskii vestnik, 1928, pp. 124–42.Google Scholar
  13. 26.
    Steven J. Zipperstein,The Jews of Odessa: A Cultural History, 1794–1881, Stanford, CA, 1985, pp. 86–8.Google Scholar
  14. 28.
    John D. Klier,Imperial Russia’s Jewish Question, 1855–1881, Cambridge, 1995, pp. 26–8.Google Scholar
  15. 32.
    Dan Miron, A Traveller Disguised: A Study of the Rise of Modern Yiddish Fiction in the Nineteenth Century New York, 1973, pp. 65–6.Google Scholar
  16. 34.
    Michael A. Meyer, The Origins of the Modern Jew: Jewish Identity and European Culture in Germany, 1749–1824, Detroit, MI, 1967, pp. 70–4, 85–114.Google Scholar
  17. 35.
    For a good overview, see Michael A. Meyer, Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism, New York and Oxford, 1988.Google Scholar
  18. 46.
    See Kievlianin 25 September 1882, and Novoe vremia 17 April 1882.Google Scholar
  19. 47.
    Wilhelm Marr, Der Sieg des Judenthums über das Germanenthum vom nicht-confessionellen Standpunkt aus betrachtet,Bern, 1879.Google Scholar
  20. 57.
    For the full Treitschke-Graetz controversy, see Jehuda Reinharz, Fatherland or Promised Land: The Dilemma of the German Jew, 1893–1914 Ann Arbor, MI, 1975, pp. 16–23. This work as a whole examines the German-Jewish response to the rise of the antisemitic movement.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • John D. Klier

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations