Commentary Magazine


German Culture and the Jews

“Jews have not assimilated into ‘the German people,’ but into a certain layer of it, the newly emerged middle class.” This sentence from my doctoral dissertation, written almost half a century ago, has been quoted by my fellow scholars from time to time, and others have come up with similar conclusions on the basis of their own observations. My own purpose in quoting the sentence now, however, is to qualify it, for I have since come to believe, after further inquiry into the historical process known as assimilation, that notwithstanding the experience of certain individuals, the entry of Jewry as a collective into the body of German society, a process which began in the later 18th and early 19th century, did not mean real integration into any stratum or section of it. Rather, it meant the creation of a separate subgroup, which happened to conform to the German middle class in certain of its characteristics.

Negatively speaking, German Jewry, like the German middle class, belonged neither to the landed aristocracy, nor to the peasantry, nor for that matter to the proletariat. Its economic function corresponded to that of the middle class, but it was not identical with it. Jews were not distributed across the whole range of middle-class professions and occupations, but remained concentrated instead in certain specific pursuits, so that even economically they were a conspicuous subgroup. The most convincing proof of Jewish separateness, however, was the habit Jews had of marrying only among themselves. Some intermarriage with members of the surrounding society did take place, but those who intermarried almost always dropped out of the Jewish community, while it was only in exceptional cases that the non-Jewish partner became integrated into Jewish society. As far as actual and active kinship was concerned, Jews remained almost exclusively bound to their own kind—a fact that more conspicuously than any other set them apart from the population at large.

It is true that German Jews did absorb the basic elements of culture from the surrounding society, and this within a relatively brief transition period lasting no more than two or three generations. By the mid-19th century, owing mainly to having attended German schools, German Jews had acquired the basic elements of what the Germans call Bildung (education); that is, they were conversant with, and affected by, the same elements of German culture that had shaped the minds of their counterparts in German society. One could see this as a kind of assimilation, perhaps, but only in a special sense. For despite the fact that German Jews were exposed to the same cultural experience as the rest of the German middle class, even within this limited sphere they did not exhibit identical or even similar patterns of behavior. Jewish cultural behavior continued to reflect the distinctive and distinguishable circumstances of German Jewry as a whole.

The major difference, when it came to cultural behavior, was quantitative. Jews were more intensely involved in the cultivation of their Bildung than were their Gentile counterparts. They were more avid readers of literature, they frequented theaters and concert halls in numbers far disproportionate to their presence in the population, and they were similarly over represented in most other cultural activities. While there are no statistical data to bear out this contention, it has been remarked upon so often by those involved in cultural matters as to be beyond dispute. The unusual responsiveness of the Jewish audience—and particularly its female contingent—was already evident in connection with the figure of Goethe, and was remarked upon by Friedrich Wilhelm Riemer, a close friend of the poet:

The educated among them [the Jews] were on the whole more obliging and steady in the veneration of his person as well as his writings than many of his co-religionists. They do reveal in general more pleasing attention and flattering participation than a natural German, and their quick power of concentration, their penetrating intellect, their peculiar wit render them a more sensitive audience than what is regrettably to be found among the genuine and original Germans, who are often dull and slow to comprehend.

Riemer went on to single out the women among Goethe’s admirers in particular for “possess[ing] these talents at times in even more amiable form” and to name a number of cultivated Jewish matrons of the period who constituted a kind of private audience for the poet’s work. Goethe, he wrote, could “always be assured of a certain response” from these women. A name Riemer does not mention but whom we know to have been one of the first and foremost promoters of the Goethe cult in Germany was the writer and feminist Rahel Varnhagen, who was probably more passionate and sophisticated in her response than most of her contemporaries.

It should be borne in mind that the group described by Riemer belonged to the upper layer of German Jewry, and that the women in this group, who comprised the first post-ghetto generation, formed a kind of leisure class. Social life in these circles was concentrated in salons and entailed primarily the cultivation of spiritual values via conversation, among other things about literary subjects. It would be questionable, of course, to judge the reading habits of other sections of German Jewry by this leisure class. Yet there is ample evidence that even Jewish families of modest means formed the habit of reading German literature regularly, once they had been introduced to its universe of discourse through secular schooling. Autobiographies of German Jews of the 19th century bear this out abundantly. Preference was given to the German classics—Wieland, Schiller, Goethe, Heine—but there are also many references to by-now forgotten authors of historical novels and works in other literary genres.

Even more than reading, a recurrent theme in these same autobiographies is theatergoing. One German Jew, Adolf Asch, is especially vivid on this subject. Describing his life in Posen in the early 1900’s, Asch tells how both Jewish bachelors and Jewish family groups had fixed days of the week for attending the theater and seldom diverged from this routine. Occupying the best seats in the house, they would use the occasion to meet with friends and relatives (thereby revealing, incidentally, that though they comprised an important sector of the audience, Jews were still a group apart). And what was true of Posen was presumably true of other cities with substantial Jewish populations. When the Ring theater of Vienna burned down in 1881, the percentage of Jewish victims was so high that the city’s Jewish community was plunged into mourning. (The major Jewish newspaper, the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums, remarked upon the “disproportionate contingent of Jews in the theater, rather than in the pubs.”)

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Still more striking than the zeal of Jewish theatergoing was the preponderance of Jews at musical events, as is shown in the paradoxical relationship that existed between Richard Wagner and the Jewish public throughout the composer’s career. The Jews were among Wagner’s earliest supporters. He relates in his autobiography how once—in the course of preparing to conduct a concert in Breslau in the year 1863—he looked around the concert hall and suddenly noticed that all the seats in the front part of the house were occupied by Jews. At a luncheon in his honor the following day, Wagner tells us, the same thing happened: the company consisted once again entirely of Jews.

At the time of these incidents, of course, Wagner’s anti-Semitic pamphlet, Das Judentum in der Musik (“Jewry in Music”), was not yet known to the general public, having been published anonymously in an obscure periodical in 1850. When Wagner saw fit to republish it nineteen years later under his own name, the Jews were quick to respond. One of the first reactions was an anonymous letter from Breslau “written on behalf of 7,000 Jews” from that city, and containing “abuses and threats,” as the composer’s wife Cosima Wagner noted in her diary. It is not hard to guess what these “threats” consisted of—a Jewish boycott of the works of the composer who had shown himself to be a reviler of the Jewish mentality and character.

What is most interesting about the “threats” is the fact that the composer and his entourage took them so seriously, fearing that the Jews, at least in places where they were numerically strong, might have the power—simply by staying away—to prevent the success of a given Wagnerian production. These fears extended even to Paris, where an imminent production of the opera Rienzi was thought to be in jeopardy because of Jewish anger over the pamphlet. Most of all, the Wagnerians were apprehensive about what might happen in Berlin, where, after a long struggle, Lohengrin was about to be staged, and a Jewish boycott would be disastrous. In the event, these fears proved groundless. On the morning after the premiere, Wagner received a telegram from his fellow musician Karl Tausig (a Jew himself but also a devoted Wagnerian), which read: “Lohengrin tremendous success—all Jews reconciled.” Obviously, Jewish coldness toward Wagner and his music was not of very long duration. Though one performance of Lohengrin (in Breslau) was actually postponed because of fear of possible Jewish protests, the uproar soon subsided and relations between the composer and his audience went back to normal.

If the turmoil subsided as quickly as it did, this was in part because the end of the 1860’s in Germany, when the Wagnerian scandal erupted, was a very hopeful period for German Jewry. The same year Wagner’s pamphlet was reissued—1869—also marked the completion of the formal emancipation of the Jews in Germany’s northern states, led by Prussia. So out of tune was Wagner’s pamphlet with the prevailing trend that the Jews could afford—or so they thought—to overlook the ill-timed nastiness of an artist whose work was only then beginning to win general recognition. In any case, the pamphlet episode reveals dramatically the extent of Jewish participation in the musical life of Germany at that time.

This participation continued unhampered for some time to come, despite the change in Jewish fortunes which took place a decade later with the emergence of political anti-Semitism. It is significant that when leaders of the new movement requested his signature on a petition to have Jewish emancipation rescinded, Wagner was careful to turn them down. True to form, the composer found some complicated ideological justification for his refusal, but there is no reason to doubt the judgment of his associate and fellow musician Hans von Bülow (the first husband of Cosima Wagner), who accused Wagner of compromising his principles so as not to antagonize his Jewish audience. Von Bülow himself did sign the petition, though with full awareness of its possible consequences once his action became publicly known: “I shall have to face a certain proscription by the press as well as a reduction in my income,” he wrote, “at least 50 percent of it. It is a fact confirmed in all my journeys that Shem and Hebron yield the most understanding and generous audience for concerts; more than that: that the participation of the non-Semites is dependent on them.”

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Whether Jews participated to the same degree in other cultural pursuits as they did in music (and to a lesser extent the theater) is a question worth asking. It is possible that attendance at concerts and plays held certain special attractions. Jews who wished to be accepted socially, for instance, but who felt inhibited about entering the circle of Gentile society, might have found sitting in a mixed audience in the theater or concert hall a convenient way of demonstrating their membership in the larger society. On the other hand, the impulse to identify with the larger society would not necessarily have required this kind of public demonstration for its fulfillment. A sense of belonging to the world outside could also be nurtured by becoming conversant with German literature, and thereby being initiated into the nation’s spiritual life. As we have seen, the groundwork for this had already been laid as far back as the first decades of the 19th century, when attendance at German (or at least German-language) schools was made obligatory for Jews.

Indeed, the decisive turning point in the cultural makeup of Germany’s Jewish community can be traced back specifically to the moment when traditional Jewish educational institutions—the heder and the yeshiva—were replaced by secularly oriented modern schools. Once that revolutionary step had been taken—and it met with surprisingly little resistance—Jewish parents were not content with mere elementary-school education, but made every effort to send their children to secondary schools and later even to the university as well. By 1890, the percentage of Jewish children attending secondary schools in the larger cities was three times as high as that of other religious denominations (and in some places even four). In the decades that followed, these comparative percentages continued to shift in favor of the Jews. Since more advanced schooling must have resulted in a greater receptivity to German cultural values, and a greater capacity to absorb them, we are justified in assuming a corresponding increase in the relative percentages of Jews in the reading public as well.

The historical and sociological reasons for Jewish preeminence in matters of culture need not concern us here. Certainly the traditional Jewish aptitude for study—transferred now from the religious to the secular realm—may have played a role, though this factor, obvious as it seems, cannot have been the decisive one. While it might explain the peculiar Jewish addiction to intellectual pursuits, it would have no bearing on music, for instance, for which there was no precedent in the life of traditional Jewish society. Similarly, the urge to identify with the larger German environment can be only a partial explanation. It may serve to elucidate the peculiar Jewish gift for passive absorption of cultural values, but it does not tell us why Jews also excelled as active producers of culture, revealing creative skills far disproportionate to their numerical strength in fields like science, painting, and sculpture—for which they had had no prior training in ghetto times. To explain this phenomenon, we can only assume the existence among the Jews of some sort of generalized endowment for cultural creativity which they must have carried with them when they left the ghetto and which then found both a stimulus and an outlet in the larger society.

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From the moment the Jews of Germany made their transition from mere passive appreciators to active creators in their own right, the issue of the Jewish contribution to German culture became a subject of passionate controversy. The controversy concerned both the extent and the quality of this contribution, though it was obviously easier to count the number of cultural producers than to assess the relative merits of what they had produced.

In fact, an attempt at just this kind of count was once undertaken. In 1933 a group of leading figures within German Jewry conceived the idea of publishing a collection of essays summarizing the achievements of German Jews in every area of German artistic life. As the editor, Siegmund Katznelson, explained in his preface, the work was intended as a piece of scholarship. Its purpose was to state the bare facts of the matter in order to counter “exaggerated notions in either direction” that had gained currency on this subject. To this end, both “overestimations and underestimations” of the Jewish share in the various fields under scrutiny were to be avoided. As it happens, the contributors did a good job of obeying these guidelines, and the volume—entitled Juden im deutschen Kulturbereich (“Jews within German Culture”)—remains a useful source to this day.

Scholarship aside, however, the book was obviously also a response to the political circumstances surrounding its publication in 1933. As Robert Weltsch pointed out in his introduction to the second edition (published in 1959), it was meant as a weapon to defend Jewish honor against the relentless slander and discrimination that had by now become official Nazi policy. This intention was not lost on the authorities. They confiscated the volume and forbade its distribution on the grounds, first, that it conveyed the impression that “all of German culture until the National Socialist revolution had been sustained by the Jews alone”; and, second, that it gave an entirely false picture of “the actual destructive activity of the Jews within German culture.”

The reasons given by the Nazis for banning the book are of some interest here, for they reveal the utter discrepancy between the tendency of Jews to justify their presence in Germany by citing their cultural contributions and the Nazis’ loathing for those very contributions (the term “destructive”—in German zersetzend—was a central epithet of anti-Semitic propaganda). In the clash between these opposing judgments may be seen the culmination of a long-standing conflict whose catastrophic potential was now on the point of being revealed. Intimations of this clash—and hence also the seeds of the catastrophe—can be traced historically to an earlier phase, prior to the outbreak of political anti-Semitism in the late 1870’s when integration seemed to be progressing steadily.

Once the new generation of Jews had been initiated into the reigning culture, it was to be expected that the gifted among them would go beyond mere passive absorption to become original creators in their own right. Jewish cultural activity could now proceed along two or three different courses. It could use the newly won cultural elements to reshape the Jewish cultural tradition, adding a new layer made up of some sort of synthesis of Jewish content and German methods of expression. This was the path taken by those who dedicated themselves to the development of Jewish lore in the broader sense of the term, including not just the scholarly Wissenschaft des Judentums group but also those engaged in the reinterpretation of the various branches of Jewish tradition, whether in the Orthodox or the Reform camp.

But this type of undertaking, though qualitatively and quantitatively no mean achievement, remained an internal Jewish affair of which German society scarcely took notice. At the other extreme was the possibility of entering wholeheartedly into the German cultural tradition and ignoring the question of Jewish background altogether. This was the path taken by all those so-called “Germans-of-Jewish origin,” whether novelists, poets, or composers, some of whom were baptized, and others not. Perceiving themselves as fully integrated into the German cultural tradition, they wished their Jewish background to be treated as a more or less regrettable accident.

There was theoretically a third avenue—although, at least in the first generation of integration, it was almost entirely avoided. Jewish novelists could have depicted contemporary Jewish society as they saw it, or perhaps the Jewish past as they had learned about it through the study of history. Jewish composers could have taken the melodies of the synagogue or the Jewish home and made them the nucleus of their compositions. Jewish poets could have derived their inspiration from the long Jewish poetic tradition, giving it a new lease on life via a new linguistic garb.

Why was this potentiality not realized, or realized only in the most rudimentary form, as for instance in Heine’s Rabbi of Bacharach? The answer is that such an endeavor ran counter to the very idea of integration, at least as that idea was understood by its early proponents. To anything Jewish, indeed to the very word “Jew” itself, there clung a taint of deprecation, fed by the continuing spectacle of Jewish social inferiority. The prerequisite for integration into German society was therefore the more or less explicit condition that Jews shed their typical characteristics, both internal and external.

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As we learn from the history of literature, drama, and the other arts, not all classes in society have always been regarded as equally suitable for artistic portrayal. There was a time when both literature and the stage were the exclusive domain of the aristocracy, and the other social classes, though politically enfranchised, had still to be granted what might be called their artistic citizenship. Jews, though they shared the political rights of the middle class in Germany, never achieved this. Jewish spokesmen in 19th-century Germany used to complain that though the German Jews had been emancipated, Judaism had not been, meaning that the Jewish religion was never really placed on an equal footing with the various Christian denominations. We in turn may modify this complaint to say that the Jews of Germany may have been emancipated, but Jewishness itself had not been. Jewish characters, for example, were not deemed fit to appear on the stage except as objects of ridicule.

For this reason, writers who wished to deal with Jewish themes in a sympathetic way would often disguise what they were doing in some other, more neutral garb. When Michael Beer, the gifted brother of the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer, wrote an interesting play about the suffering of a figure he called the Pariah, the critics correctly understood that he was depicting the lot of the despised and rejected Jew. Why then did Beer resort to subterfuge? The novelist and biographer Berthold Auerbach had the answer: the appearance of a Jew on stage would have undermined the tragic atmosphere necessary for the drama’s effectiveness. When Auerbach himself wished to write a novel about his transformation from a devoted yeshiva pupil into a free-thinking university student, he projected the religious crisis onto the life of a Catholic seminarian. A forthright yeshiva setting, with all the attendant Jewish paraphernalia, would have alienated the reading public.

This strategy of mimicry worked very well at times. It is not true, as is often maintained, that Jewish writers like Heinrich Heine or Ludwig Borne were rejected by the Germans because of their Jewish origins. On the contrary, both these writers had a large and admiring public and appreciative critics for most of their active years. So did Auerbach himself, for that matter—the public esteemed him almost as a national hero for his portrayals of the lives of German peasants. The composers Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer, too, not to mention many other now forgotten lesser musicians “of Jewish origin,” were fully accepted and occasionally even admired as practitioners of their trade. To be sure, whenever one of these Jewish writers or artists took an unpopular position, his opponents were quick to resort to anti-Jewish innuendos, and to attribute his shortcomings to the fact of his origins. The reason a man like Auerbach was almost never attacked as a Jew was that he was temperamentally easygoing, and—though a lifelong democrat—rather lenient when it came to criticizing political or social inequities.

Because he antagonized no one, Auerbach’s Jewishness, though he willingly acknowledged it, was not turned against him. Borne and Heine, on the other hand, possessing strong convictions on social, political, and cultural issues, and even stronger language for expressing them, were repeatedly made objects of resentment and public condemnation. On such occasions, though they had both been baptized, their Jewishness was always remembered. If they deserve to be called “Germany’s stepchildren”—in the words of Solomon Liptzin—it is because they were never allowed to misbehave, as one’s own children are once in a while.

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It was on occasions of Jewish “misbehavior,” or what onlookers construed as such, that the imperfect nature of Jewish integration in Germany became apparent. Sometimes, it is true, no particular occasion was required for the Jews to be called to account—their critics simply responded to inner promptings rather than to any stimulus from the Jews themselves. One such instance was the aforementioned pamphlet by Richard Wagner, possibly the most elaborate assault ever made on the Jewish contribution to culture, and the one most fraught with consequences.

Wagner wrote Jewry in Music in 1850, following his escape from Dresden, where he had taken part in the ill-fated revolution of 1848-49. He was living in Zurich at the time, in a kind of temporary retirement, reviewing his artistic career to that point, and looking ahead toward an altogether unknown future. He had been intimately associated in the past with the two most successful German Jewish composers, Mendelssohn, who had died three years earlier, and Meyerbeer, who was very much alive and prospering and who had been one of his principal benefactors. Now, however, Wagner found himself growing increasingly esstranged from Meyerbeer’s work, and even contemptuous of it, to the point where he wished to dissociate himself entirely from his former mentor. The diatribe against the Jews was the method he chose to accomplish this.

Lest his break with Meyerbeer be construed as merely personal, Wagner evolved an entire theory around the composer’s work, attributing its shortcomings to something peculiarly inherent in the Jewish tradition and character. As already noted, Wagner chose to publish his diatribe first under a pseudonym. By the time he reissued it nineteen years later, he was well on his way to worldwide celebrity, though still frustrated in his insatiable ambitions. He still blamed the Jews for this, and in his second edition added some new names to the original list of those who, lacking the capacity to appreciate what Wagner had created, were conspiring to destroy it. (Those Jews who had converted to the Wagner creed, and there were not a few of them, were miraculously exempted from the pernicious effects of their cultural inheritance.)

What is significant about Wagner’s attack is the fact that the arguments it contained, though expressed in his own strikingly arbitrary fashion, were by no means all of his own devising. Included in the brew were also many ingredients taken from such anti-Jewish predecessors as Karl Marx and Bruno Bauer, as well as others drawn from the stockpile of traditional anti-Jewish stereotypes of unknown origin. That these were available to be drawn upon is incontestable evidence that the components of anti-Semitism, both the old-fashioned and modern variety, were still present in Germany during the liberal era, though perhaps in dormant form. Both in its earlier and later versions, Wagner’s attack on the Jews was not taken all that seriously by the general public. Yet the fact that it was mounted at all shows that the license which had been granted to the Jews to participate in German cultural life was still not final, and could be revoked at any time.

To say this is not necessarily to understand why it should have been so. Given the persistence of stereotypes in general, and of anti-Semitic ones in particular, we could attribute the deprecation of Jewish artistic performance to this one factor alone. Yet historical objectivity compels us to ask whether there was anything in the artistic work produced by Jews which did actually conform to the charges repeatedly made against it.

Some of these charges, of course, could be dismissed out of hand, as when one of Wagner’s disciples, echoing his master’s argument, maintained that one could discern the Jewish ingredient in the work of Meyerbeer and other Jewish musicians “with frightening clarity,” in the same way one could taste the spices used in Jewish cooking. Statements like these are so obviously stereotypical that they cannot be taken seriously. But can we also dismiss so easily the observations of a man like Emil Devrient, one of the great actors of the period, and the historian of the German theater, when he said there really was a difference between Jewish and other styles of acting? Devrient, speaking about five of his Jewish colleagues in the theater, pointed out that all five were so alike in their tone of voice and mannerisms that they could have been taken for brothers, and then went on to ask why it was that Jews, otherwise known for their tenderness and sensitivity, did not use the stage as a vehicle for expressing true emotion, but always undercut their emotion through irony.

Devrient was not prejudiced against Jews, and must have been basing his judgment on something tangible when he made these comments. After all, Heine too was a specialist in the use of irony for purposes of undercutting sentiment, and this very quality in his work has often been cited as one evidence of his special Jewish genius. And indeed it is obvious that there are certain qualities which may be called characteristically Jewish, and which would crop up in the work of Jewish artists even after they had assimilated into a non-Jewish culture. To say otherwise, simply because anti-Semites have also remarked upon this fact for their own purposes, would be preposterous.

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What was pernicious about the anti-Semites—in Germany as elsewhere—was not so much their factual observations, which may or may not have been accurate, but the judgment they made of what they had observed, pronouncing any quality or characteristic that was of Jewish origin to be bad, or at least strange and foreign—in any case not worthy of being tolerated in a work that aspired to represent the German cultural heritage. The truth is that all during the liberal era in Germany this particular evaluation of Judaism did not just represent the view of a relatively small number of vociferous critics like Wagner; it was also shared by active supporters of the cause of Jewish integration like the writer Gustav Freytag, and—it is safe to say—by the general public as well. Moreover, the German Jews themselves, though struggling against the inclination to do so, often adopted the same deadly judgment of their own tradition and mentality.

This state of affairs is best demonstrated by the tremendous importance attached during this period to the issue of Jewish accents and intonations in speech and music. Wagner made this issue one of the main motifs of his attack, going so far as to assert that no Jew would ever be capable of speaking German, or for that matter any other European language, without betraying his foreign origins. Exaggerated though this assertion was, it had some basis in reality. Given the special linguistic circumstances of their past, the Jews might very well have retained certain residual expressions, usages, and intonations, just like any other group possessing a background of a distinctive dialect. But while other groups could express themselves somewhat oddly and elicit no more than amused toleration, the Jewish way of speaking was condemned and ridiculed, to the point where a special verb came into being in German slang—mauscheln (from the Jewish name, Moshe)—to describe how Jews talked. The term, needless to say, was not merely descriptive but conveyed ridicule and contempt at the same time. That the Jews themselves succumbed to this evaluation is evident in the tremendous effort they made both individually and institutionally (in the field of education, for instance) to eradicate all traces of foreign dialect from their speech.

The verb mauscheln (or, in its noun form, Gemauschel) soon took on broader connotations, becoming a kind of shorthand method for discrediting the artistic creation or performance of any Jew one happened to dislike. Jews themselves used it to dissociate themselves from other Jews, thus providing the anti-Semites with a kind of alibi for their activities. Wagner, for instance, always a master at twisting arguments, contended in the epilogue to his pamphlet that his Jewish friends were among the first to be repelled by examples of Gemauschel in the work of their co-religionists. Hans von Bülow resorted to this tactic even more explicitly, continually seeking corroboration for his negative feelings about Jews from other Jews. Thus, von Bülow pointed out that even the great Ferdinand Lasalle, the German Socialist leader, was repelled by instances of Gemauschel in Jewish speech patterns, and the Jewish musicians Karl Tausig and Hermann Levi were similarly repelled when this lethal entity made its appearance in the context of music.

Indeed, so far did Levi’s revulsion against the tastelessness of certain Jewish composers go, according to von Bülow, that he was heard to say on one occasion that if he had to conduct a certain Mauschel-opera one more time, he would join the German league of anti-Semites. Given what we know of Hermann Levi and his involvement with the Wagner circle, the story is all too believable, and simply one more piece of evidence that the Jewish contribution to German culture was acceptable during the liberal era so long as it did not consist of anything Jewish. In the course of time, the ironies implicit in this state of affairs would become open sores, signaling the precarious situation of German Jewry long before explicit attacks on them by the Nazis became the official policy of the state.

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