Statement by the Central Committee of German Jewry (1933)

In late 1933, following a wave of anti-Jewish boycotts and decrees, the Central Committee of German Jewry issued this statement, urging Jews to consider carefully before emigrating:

“There is great distress in German Jewry. We German Jews bore our share in the general distress in Germany. We contributed our contingent to the great army of people who were without work and without income, and seemed to be excluded from meaningful life. New distress has overtaken us. Jewish people are torn away from their work; the sense and basis of their lives have been destroyed… The task of the community of the German Jews is great today. Need stands at the doors of our people, and their strength threatens to break. It is only from us, from the strength of the community, that relief can come.

We are faced with new tasks of unknown magnitude. It is not enough to give bread to those who do not know how they are to survive the next few days. Of course, it is our first task to make sure that none of our people goes hungry or lacks a roof over his head. Of course, we must make sure that the institutions remain that we have built for our children, for our old and our sick, as we have done in the past. They are more necessary than ever today, even though difficulties may force us to reduce considerably the demands we have made in the past concerning facilities in these institutions.

But all that is not enough. We will not, and may not, consider that we have done enough if we offer charity to our brothers and sisters and provide for their simplest needs. Our duty is to help them to find a new basis for their existence, work with which they may make a living, which gives them once more a task and sense to their lives! It would, of course, be pointless if our people were to rush into various occupations that appeal to them in some way, without much thought. It will be the task of those responsible to investigate carefully where there is room and opportunity for the work of Jewish people, and then to offer them the opportunity to prepare themselves for this work.

Great demands will be made on the ability of our people to readjust, to find their way into new kinds of work and new circumstances. But much must also be demanded of the willingness to make sacrifices of those who are saved the need to change their lives. Those who are lucky enough to have work and an income must help those who have lost everything. Anyone who is still able to give must sacrifice the maximum! The greatest possible demands must be made on everybody! Whoever evades this duty is an enemy of the community. Every sacrifice must be made, every sacrifice in aid for those who are now in need, but also every sacrifice in contribution to our communities, on whom innumerable persons now depend. Shame on those whose lack of willingness for sacrifice, whose criminal evasion of taxes forces our communities to dismiss officials or employees! We must not be the cause of making one of our own people lose his job or his bread!

The tasks that await us can only be carried out in unity and cooperation. All our differences of opinion, everything that divides us, must be put aside. The major organizations and social institutions of German Jewry have made the first move in this direction. They have united for joint effort in the Central Committee of the German Jews for Relief and Reconstruction. All special interests and personal wishes are silent there. The people who work together there labour only with one great common aim before them: The Aid organization of the German Jews! This central organization will see to it that everything is done that must be done. It will see to it that there will be neither duplication nor competition but joint effort. The various organizations and offices will place their financial means at the disposal of the central organization…

German Jews, show that you are able to rise to the magnitude of your task! Do not imagine that the problems of German Jewry can be solved without the greatest of sacrifices, by means of undirected emigration. There is no honour in leaving Germany in order to live untroubled on your income abroad, free of the fate of your brothers in Germany. It will not help anybody to go abroad aimlessly, with no prospect of making a living, but only increase the numbers there who are without work and means… Don’t leave Germany senselessly! Do your duty here! Don’t push people off blindly to an uncertain fate. Let nobody fail in his duty in this hour of trial! Let everybody contribute according to his ability, and in his own place, to the task of helping others! The hour of German Jewry has arrived, the hour of responsibility, the hour of trial. Let German Jewry prove itself capable of facing this hour.”