SICSA
The Felix Posen Bibliographic Project on Antisemitism
The following essay, by Prof. Otto Dov Kulka, is based on the introduction to:
Rena R. Auerbach, ed.:  "The 'Jewish Question' in German Speaking Countries, 1848-1914, A Bibliography," (1994)


The term "Jewish Question" appears for the first time during the great `Jew Bill' controversy on the naturalization of the Jews in England in 1753-54. But it was not until a century later, within the broad and heated public discussion regarding Jewish emancipation - particularly in the German-speaking countries - that the term emerged as a key token in discourse, expanding to encompass virtually all aspects of Jewish existence in modern society. The theological world view based on religious antagonism, that had fixed and circumscribed the place and status of the Jew in Christian society throughout the course of previous centuries, had by that time lost its claim to exclusive validity. Increasingly, the continued existence of the Jews as a separate community came to be viewed as a secular question demanding a secular solution.

Alongside the conservative Christian position, openly opposed to any change in the time-honored traditional legal and social status of the Jews, new perspectives had entered the arena of discourse, proposing a "solution to the Jewish Question" by means of assimilation and emancipation. However, this development was accompanied by a mounting wave of opposition to the civil emancipation and social integration of the Jews - based now on secular rather than religious motives. Within the matrix of this melange of anti-Jewish attitudes, fueled and shaped by social, national or racist sentiments, the old traditional antagonism reared its head in a new guise: the form of modern antisemitism. Even the most extreme manifestation of modern antisemitism, the genocidal Nazi enterprise aimed at the physical annihilation of European Jewry, made use of the term "final solution to the Jewish Question."

Parallel with the widespread use of the expression "the Jewish Question" in polemical writings on Jewish emancipation and antisemitism, this signifier has, since the end of the nineteenth century, also served to characterize modern Jewish political and social thought, occupying a central discursive function in their own discussions about the identity, place and role of the Jews in the modern world.

Thus, it should be evident that throughout the stormy history of the Jewish people in recent centuries, hardly any domain has been left untouched, directly or indirectly, by the crucial concept of the `Jewish Question'. The standard bibliography by Volkmar Eichstaedt on the history of the Judenfrage is also based on such a broad perception of the term. Although the book appeared in 1938 in Nazi Germany, Eichstaedt's comprehensive approach justified its reprinting in England in 1969. His bibliography covers the years 1750-1848, focusing on Jewish emancipation and its opponents.

The aim of the present work by Rena Auerbach... is to continue the bibliography begun by Eichstaedt down to 1914, supplementing and extending it in certain areas. The principal thematic foci during this period are the process of struggle for achievement of full emancipation, the rise of modern antisemitism and the beginnings of the Jewish national movement.

Otto D. Kulka - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, January 1994

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