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An 1806 French print depicts Napoleon Bonaparte emancipating the Jews.

Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late eighteenth century and the early twentieth century. Jewish emancipation followed the Age of Enlightenment and the concurrent Jewish enlightenment and grew by the abolition of discriminatory laws applied specifically against Jews in their various countries. Prior to the emancipation most Jews were practically locked away from the rest of the society; thus, emancipation was a major goal of European Jews of that time and internally stressed integration and broader education. This led to active participation and recognition of Jews within wider European civil society, as well as emigration to countries offering better opportunities, especially in Britain and the Americas. Later, European Jews turned to revolutionary movements, especially when faced with oppressive regimes such as the Russian Empire or specifically Jewish political movements such as Zionism, when faced with continuing anti-Semitism.

Contents

Background

Jews were subject to a wide range of restrictions throughout most of European history. Since the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215, Jews had been required to wear special clothing, such as the Judenhut and the yellow badge to distinguish them from Christians. The practice of their religion was often restricted, and they had to swear special oaths (see Oath More Judaico). Jews were not allowed to vote, and were also formally forbidden from even entering some countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Spain.

During this time, the rabbi was the most influential member of the Jewish community. In addition to being a religious scholar and clergy, a rabbi also acted as a civil judge in cases in which both parties were Jews. Together with the community elders, rabbis also had other important administrative powers. The rabbinate was the highest aim of many Jewish boys, and the study of the Torah (first five books of the Bible) and the Talmud was the means of obtaining that coveted position.

Jewish involvement in gentile society began during the Age of Enlightenment. Haskalah, the Jewish movement supporting the adoption of enlightenment values, advocated an expansion of Jewish rights within European society. Haskalah followers advocated "coming out of the ghetto," not just physically but also mentally and spiritually. In 1791, France became the first European country to emancipate its Jewish population. By 1796, France, Britain, and the Netherlands had granted the Jews equal rights with gentiles. Napoleon also freed the Jews in areas he conquered (see Napoleon and the Jews). However, it was not until the revolutionary atmosphere of the mid-19th century that Jewish political movements would begin to persuade governments in Central and Eastern Europe to grant equal rights to Jews.

Emancipation movements

Early stages of Jewish emancipation movements were simply part of the general popular uprising to achieve freedom and rights for minorities. The question of equal rights for Jews was tied with demands for constitutions and civil rights. Jewish statesmen and intellectuals like Heinrich Heine, Johann Jacoby, Gabriel Riesser, Berr Isaac Berr, and Lionel Nathan Rothschild busied themselves with the general movement towards liberty and political freedom, rather than Jews specifically.

However, in the face of persistent anti-Jewish incidents and blood libels such as the Damascus affair of 1840, and the failure of many states to emancipate the Jews, Jewish organizations formed in order to push for the emancipation and protection of Jews. The Board of Deputies of British Jews under Moses Montefiore, the Central consistory of Paris, and the Alliance Israelite Universelle all began working to assure the freedom of Jews.

Jewish emancipation, implemented under Napolónic rule in French occupied and annexed states, experienced a hefty setback in many member states of the German Confederation following the decisions of the Congress of Vienna. In the final revision of the decisions of the Congress on the rights of the Jews, the emissary of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, Johann Smidt - unauthorised and unconsented by the other parties - altered the text from "The confessors of Jewish faith are preserved the rights already conceded to them in the confederal states", by replacing a single word, which ensued serious consequences, into: "The confessors of Jewish faith are preserved the rights already conceded to them by the confederal states."[1] A number of German states used the altered text version as legal grounds to reverse the Napoléonic emancipation of their Jewish citizen. The Prussian emissary Wilhelm von Humboldt and the Austrian Metternich promoted for the preservation of Jewish emancipation, as maintained by their own countries, however, in vain.

During the Revolutions of 1848, Jewish emancipation was granted by the Basic Rights of the Frankfurt Parliament (Paragraph 13), stating that civil rights were not to be conditional on religious faith. However, only some German states introduced the Frankfurt parliamentary decision as state law, such as Hamburg, others were reluctant. A number of important German states, such as Prussia (1812), Württemberg (1828), Electoral Hesse (1833), and Hanover (1842) had already earlier emancipated their Jews as citizens. However, some early emancipated Jewish communities experienced persisting or new practical, though not legal, discrimination against those Jews aiming at careers in public service and education. The Jews in some German states had neither been emancipated under Napoléonic influence, nor later. Those few states, who had refrained Jewish emancipation, where forced to do so, by an act of the North German Federation on 3 July 1869 or when they acceded united Germany in 1870. The emancipation of all Jewish Germans was reversed by Nazi Germany from 1933 on.

Dates of emancipation

In some countries, emancipation came with a single act. In others, limited rights were granted first in the hope of "changing" the Jews "for the better."[2]

Years when legal equality was granted to Jews
Year Country
1791 France
1791 United States of America
1796 Netherlands
1808 Grand Duchy of Hesse
1808 Kingdom of Westphalia[3]
1811 Grand Duchy of Frankfurt[4]
1812 Mecklenburg-Schwerin[5]
1812 Kingdom of Prussia[6]
1824 Brazil[7]
1828 Kingdom of Württemberg
1830 Greece
1832 Canada
1833 Electorate of Hesse
1839 Ottoman Empire
1842 Kingdom of Hanover
1849 Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg[8]
1849 Denmark[9]
1858 United Kingdom
1861 Italy
1862 Grand Duchy of Baden
1863 Danish Duchy of Holstein[10]
1864 Free City of Frankfurt
1867 Habsburg Empire
1869 North German Confederation
1871 Germany[11]
1874 Switzerland
1878 Bulgaria
1878 Serbia
1910 Spain
1917 Russian Empire
1923 Romania

Bibliography

  • David Feuerwerker. L'Emancipation des Juifs en France. De l'Ancien Régime à la fin du Second Empire. Albin Michel: Paris, 1976 ISBN 2-226-00316-9
  • Heinrich Graetz, Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart: 11 vols., Leipzig: Leiner, 1900, vol. 11: 'Geschichte der Juden vom Beginn der Mendelssohnschen Zeit (1750) bis in die neueste Zeit (1848)', reprint of the edition of last hand; Berlin: arani, 1998, ISBN 3-7605-8673-2.

References

  1. ^ In the German original: "Es werden den Bekennern des jüdischen Glaubens die denselben in [von, respectively] den einzelnen Bundesstaaten bereits eingeräumten Rechte erhalten." Cf. Heinrich Graetz, Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart: 11 vols., Leipzig: Leiner, 1900, vol. 11: 'Geschichte der Juden vom Beginn der Mendelssohnschen Zeit (1750) bis in die neueste Zeit (1848)', p. 317. Emphasis not in the original. Reprint of the edition last time revised by the author himself: Berlin: arani, 1998, ISBN 3-7605-8673-2.
  2. ^ Beyond the Pale exhibition (friends-partners.org)
  3. ^ However, reversed by the Westphalian successor states in 1815. Cf. for introduction and reversion Heinrich Graetz, Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart: 11 vols., Leipzig: Leiner, 1900, vol. 11: 'Geschichte der Juden vom Beginn der Mendelssohnschen Zeit (1750) bis in die neueste Zeit (1848)', p. 287. Reprint of the edition of last hand: Berlin: arani, 1998, ISBN 3-7605-8673-2.
  4. ^ Reversed at the dissolution of the grand duchy in 1815.
  5. ^ On February 22, cf. Heinrich Graetz, Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart: 11 vols., Leipzig: Leiner, 1900, vol. 11: 'Geschichte der Juden vom Beginn der Mendelssohnschen Zeit (1750) bis in die neueste Zeit (1848)', p. 297. Reprint of the edition of last hand: Berlin: arani, 1998, ISBN 3-7605-8673-2.
  6. ^ On March 11, cf. Heinrich Graetz, Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart: 11 vols., Leipzig: Leiner, 1900, vol. 11: 'Geschichte der Juden vom Beginn der Mendelssohnschen Zeit (1750) bis in die neueste Zeit (1848)', pp. 297seq. Reprint of the edition of last hand: Berlin: arani, 1998, ISBN 3-7605-8673-2.
  7. ^ Since 1810 jews already had partially freedom of religion, that was completely guaranteed in 1890 after the proclamation of the Republic
  8. ^ By introduction of the basic freedoms as decided by the National Assembly, adopted for Hamburg's law on February 21, 1849.
  9. ^ By the Constitution of Denmark of June 5, 1849.
  10. ^ By law on the Affairs of the Jews in the Duchy of Holstein on July 14, 1863.
  11. ^ For the status of Jews in the states, which united in 1871 to constitute Germany see the respective regulations of the principalities and states that preceded the 1871 unification of Germany.

See also

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