Plausibility Check: The Germanization of Eastern European Jews en masse after a Central Powers WWI victory?

Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
The poverty of the Ostjuden is a thing of the past by now, though. AFAIK most US Jews were poor when they came here from Eastern Europe but are now one of the wealthiest groups in the US. The same should happen to Ostjuden in this scenario. After all, they are, on average, very smart and talented and thus they should gradually be able to lift themselves out of poverty and into the middle-class or higher if they will have the necessary opportunities to do so.
True. Although not to be crass, probably some of the very poorest (i.e. not even enough money to emigrate) Ostjuden died during World War 2.


How ironic considering that the Jews were already the most Germanized people in Eastern Europe other than the Germans themselves! If Germans could only see this, and if the Ostjuden would have refrained from doing stupid things such as supporting Communists, then one would hope that Germany would experience a gradual rise in toleration for Jews like the US experienced during the 20th century in real life.
Yes, you are right. If both those conditions would have been met I can see assimilation working out. A German WW1 victory might actually lead to that.

Whether or not WWII occurs in this scenario doesn't matter as long as Germany will win it--and it would probably have an excellent chance to do so in this scenario. After all, Germany in this scenario is going to be a status quo power rather than rabidly expansionist (considering that its WWI victory would have already secured a lot of puppet states for it--thus ensuring that Germany will be satisfied and content for a very long time) and thus is probably going to be less likely to provoke large-scale British and American ire and anger.
Probably, although it could be argued that the British especially the previous generations of British had little to no interest to allowing such a big Germany come into being in the first place, even if that Germany would become a status quo power as you suggest I am not sure the British would just sit there and accept it. Perhaps they would though, if they are defeated in WW1...

Another thing I've been thinking of: Do you think the Germans would have won, or at least secured a white peace with the West where they control the territories they won at Brest-Litovsk without US intervention in World War 1?

Yeah, I mean, Germany could get ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe to help administer its Eastern European puppet states. That said, though, a wider base of support would probably be a good idea--and Eastern European cities and towns were full of essentially German-speaking Jews. (Yiddish is essentially German with Hebrew letters. Surely having Jews learn the Latin alphabet if they have not done so already is not too much to ask for!)
Agreed, this seems like a solid and convincing point.


Yeah, that does seem like a good idea--both because it would help facilitate Germanization in Eastern Europe and because it is going to give Jews an attractive option. Basically, Germany would essentially be telling the Jews something like this: "Work with us and you'll live very well. Don't work with us, and we could encourage anti-Semitism among Eastern European locals to shift Eastern European anger against us and towards you! Make your choice!"

Also, such a move on Germany's part might reduce revolutionary activity and as well as reduce support for things such as Communism among Eastern European Jews--which would certainly be a great thing considering that Communism was and is a malignant cancer! :(
This could work actually. I almost feel moved now in a way, the world you describe seem to have a lot speaking in its advantage... :p


Yeah, this probably isn't that surprising. My guess is that a large number of Slavs ended up being Germanized in the centuries after the Ostsiedlung--hence the possibility of Germans with Slavic last names. Of course, this Germanization probably occurred before mass literacy became a reality; after mass literacy became a reality, Germanizing Eastern Europeans (other than the Jews) would have probably become much harder since the Eastern European peoples would have already developed a national consciousness of their own by that point in time.
Probably in some cases, although I think it might often be a more recent phenomenon (1600-1700s). There was a lot of back and forth of geographic Prussia between the various Germanic kingdoms or states and Poland, with it only "finally" becoming part of Brandenburg in the mid 1600s if I'm not mistaken.

Otherwise agreed, more or less. It probably would have been easier to assimilate the aristocracy also in some ways: Europe east of the Elbe was historically very feudal, with serfdom being abolished very late. The ties between for example a Polish lord and his peasants do not seem to have been that intimate and friendly.
 
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Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
BTW, if Eastern Europe will ever break away from German rule in this scenario (possible if Germany experiences a significant liberalization and Russia gives up its revanchist ambitions towards Eastern Europe--thus making Eastern Europeans less fearful of a break with Germany), do you see Eastern European Jews moving en masse to Germany together with the Eastern European Germans?
Probably, I can imagine it being similar to what happened to the Baltic Germans in the aftermath of WW1.
 
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Dec 2017
801
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Actually, I'm not Romanian. Rather, I am an Israeli-American of Russian and Jewish descent. I'm a dual US-Israeli citizen, was born in Israel, lived in the US for the last 18 years, and had parents who were born in Russia (then the Soviet Union, now Russia).

Also, Yes, if I was a Jew living in Eastern Europe in the early 20th century following a German WWI victory, being Germanized doesn't sound too bad--especially if I will already know Yiddish. After all, Germany is a great country and it would have avoided the rabid anti-Semitism that characterized the Nazis if it would have won WWI.
If you are a Russian, then you may speak some Russian. If a Jew from Russia, then you may speak some Ashkenazi. I don't speak Ashkenazi. Do you speak Russian nativelyl? I can. Despite I am not a Russian. Shall we?
 
Apr 2019
171
Europe
it would have avoided the rabid anti-Semitism that characterized the Nazis if it would have won WWI.
I really don't think so.

To be honest, Nazism became so popular among Germans only because it appealed to views that had already been well-established and ingrained in your average German's psyche long before anyone first heard about Hitler. I think it has been described by Modris Eksteins, Daniel Goldhagen, Theodore Kaufman and others. David Solomon also mentions it in his lecture on Jewish History:


^^^ The excerpt quoted below starts at 0:55:50 and ends at 0:57:10 of the video:

"(...) The Shoah is not an isolated event. The project to exterminate the Jews of Germany happens here [pointing at the timeline of history], and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. And so people say - so why did Jews keep going back to Germany? Why did Jews keep going back? And I say - look at your own generation. Only half a century after the Holocaust, and what is the largest growing Jewish community in the world outside of Israel? It's Germany. And yet surely the lesson of this entire wall [pointing at the timeline of history] is that Jews should not be living in Germany. (...)"

Blaming World War I is the politically correct whitewashing that is quite popular today. But read Modris Eksteins, "Rites of Spring" - Germans were already fanatical in 1914.
 
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Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
I really don't think so.

To be honest, Nazism became so popular among Germans only because it appealed to views that had already been well-established and ingrained in your average German's psyche long before anyone first heard about Hitler. I think it has been described by Modris Eksteins, Daniel Goldhagen, Theodore Kaufman and others. David Solomon also mentions it in his lecture on Jewish History:


^^^ The excerpt quoted below starts at 0:55:50 and ends at 0:57:10 of the video:

"(...) The Shoah is not an isolated event. The project to exterminate the Jews of Germany happens here [pointing at the timeline of history], and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. And so people say - so why did Jews keep going back to Germany? Why did Jews keep going back? And I say - look at your own generation. Only half a century after the Holocaust, and what is the largest growing Jewish community in the world outside of Israel? It's Germany. And yet surely the lesson of this entire wall [pointing at the timeline of history] is that Jews should not be living in Germany. (...)"

Blaming World War I is the politically correct whitewashing that is quite popular today. But read Modris Eksteins, "Rites of Spring" - Germans were already fanatical in 1914.
Right, so a bunch of politically motivated leftist Jewish-American historians who are the second generation after the Holocaust peddle a moralizing narrative where the Germans are perpetually the bad guy, selling it mainly to an American audience. Quelle surprise. I hate this psycho-analysis masquerading at history, with the historian playing "doctor" to understand "what's wrong". It's ahistorical, and undermines the ability of the historian to feel empathy with his subject. It is one thing to have certain convictions or biases and be honest with them (I for one absolutely loathe horse nomads of all kinds, as I repeatedly point out), but this dishonest political moralizing that is pretending to be a historical search for the truth rubs me the wrong way. If they feel the Germans are guilty and think that Germans and Germany is barbaric, say it and don't hide behind this veneer of false objectivity. Honest and upfront hatreds are much better than weasely ones. Personally, I think the Germans should be cut some slack. Having to - understandably - answer for the Holocaust in perpetuity is enough punishment, you don't have to pull down their entire history (essentially saying they don't deserve to exist as a people) while you're at it.

Anyway, if I am to try to take what they say seriously... I've heard this narrative before, and I'm still not convinced. You are right that there was anti-semitism among much of the Prussian conservative elite and no doubt among many other Germans as well, but anti-semitism =/= wanting to put all Jews into camps and kill them. Another question is also how different was Prussian anti-semitism from their aversion to Catholics for example? Perhaps there were other political factors at play, such as the fact that Germany was in 1914 still a kind of federation on paper. If you look at diplomatic cables between Berlin and the various local embassies in the constituent länder it becomes quite clear that many of the Prussian Junckers felt threatened and backed into a corner. There was serious fear that Germany might break up as a nation among some. You and I think this is hyperbole and nonsense, but it wasn't necessarily so to the understandably paranoid conservative leadership at the time. Anyway, I think equating Kaiserreich anti-semitism with what the Nazis did is just plain wrong.

Take one example: Kaiser Wilhelm IIs best buddy Philip of Eulenburg. He was a wholehearted conservative, he was anti-semitic (in the pseudocharming, gentlemanly 19th century kind of way) and very homosexual. One of his principle lovers was a viennese Rothschild scion I believe.

To take another contrasting example: The Dreyfus affair in France. There was nothing like that which I am aware of in Wilhelm IIs Germany, despite it being more conservative and arguably more anti-semitic. The closest similarity was the Harden-Eulenburg affair implicating the same man I mentioned earlier, but it was a scandal for the conservative establishment and doesn't seem to have had much to do with Jews one way or another the way I've understood it. Why not, if the Germans always had this latent and germinating desire, like a 500 year old bowel movent going back to Martin Luther to exterminate the Jews?

This whole German sonderweg idea is overplayed I think. You only need to change something really basic, let's say Wilhelm II's dad Friedrich III doesn't die after a couple of months on the throne. What then? He was demonstrably not anti-Jewish, and wanted to implement something similar to the British parliamentary system in Germany. John Röhl has an essay on pre WW1 German anti-semitism in his book "The Kaiser and his Court" from the 90s. It is quite enlightening, and nuances the picture you are painting by a lot.
 
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Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,217
Welsh Marches
I really don't think so.

To be honest, Nazism became so popular among Germans only because it appealed to views that had already been well-established and ingrained in your average German's psyche long before anyone first heard about Hitler. I think it has been described by Modris Eksteins, Daniel Goldhagen, Theodore Kaufman and others. David Solomon also mentions it in his lecture on Jewish History:


^^^ The excerpt quoted below starts at 0:55:50 and ends at 0:57:10 of the video:

"(...) The Shoah is not an isolated event. The project to exterminate the Jews of Germany happens here [pointing at the timeline of history], and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. And so people say - so why did Jews keep going back to Germany? Why did Jews keep going back? And I say - look at your own generation. Only half a century after the Holocaust, and what is the largest growing Jewish community in the world outside of Israel? It's Germany. And yet surely the lesson of this entire wall [pointing at the timeline of history] is that Jews should not be living in Germany. (...)"

Blaming World War I is the politically correct whitewashing that is quite popular today. But read Modris Eksteins, "Rites of Spring" - Germans were already fanatical in 1914.
"well-established and ingrained in your average German's psyche", "Germans were already fanatical in 1914" -

These are ridiculous generlaizations, there were anti-Semitic currents in Germany while many others disapproved of such attitudes, and Jews were able to integrate very well into German society prior to the Nazi era. Those anti-Semitic currents were actually no stronger than in France, which provides a good basis for comparison.
 

deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
14,640
Europix
If you are a Russian, then you may speak some Russian. If a Jew from Russia, then you may speak some Ashkenazi. I don't speak Ashkenazi. Do you speak Russian nativelyl? I can. Despite I am not a Russian. Shall we?
In what way is all that of any relevance to the discussion ???
 
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deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
14,640
Europix
Would it have been plausible to Germanize Eastern European Jews (specifically the Jews in Germany's new Eastern European puppet states) en masse after a Central Powers World War I victory?

The idea came to me by reading about how the French were able to turn Algerian Jews into Frenchmen after they conquered Algeria (to the point that almost all Algerian Jews emigrated after Algeria acquired independence--probably mostly to France). Also, another inspiration for this idea is that Yiddish is essentially German with Hebrew letters--which in turn suggests that it would be easier to transform Eastern European Jews into Germans (even if they will still have a different religion than the overwhelming majority of Germans) than it would be to turn other Eastern Europeans (such as Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Balts, Finns, and Caucasians) into Germans.

Anyway, does this idea sound plausible? If so, how exactly should a victorious Germany have aimed to successfully accomplish the Germanization of Eastern European Jews en masse after a Central Powers victory in World War I?
If by "Germanization" You mean making Germans out of them, no.

If by "Germanization" You mean very well integrated Jews into the German state, German culture, yes. In RL, at the end of 19th, early 20th, in countries like Germany, Austria, Hungary, a lot of Jews were already very well integrated. It's also one of the reason so many were caught by the brown wave later: they simply couldn't believe that they are not considered Germans, a lot of them simply didn't run away in time.

Like American Jews today: very Americans, very "Americanized", but Jews, nevertheless.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
If by "Germanization" You mean making Germans out of them, no.

If by "Germanization" You mean very well integrated Jews into the German state, German culture, yes. In RL, at the end of 19th, early 20th, in countries like Germany, Austria, Hungary, a lot of Jews were already very well integrated. It's also one of the reason so many were caught by the brown wave later: they simply couldn't believe that they are not considered Germans, a lot of them simply didn't run away in time.

Like American Jews today: very Americans, very "Americanized", but Jews, nevertheless.
Would the same have also been true for Eastern European Jews, though? Would they have become Germanized (as per your second definition here)?