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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: December 2009

Introduction

Summary

SPOT THE JEWISH CONNECTION!

Any assessment of past encounters between antisemitism and anti-antisemitism will obviously depend on a sound understanding of what people did and did not mean when they talked about antisemitism. What exactly were they taking issue with when they professed their opposition to it? What did people actually mean when they said that they encountered very little or a great deal of antisemitism, that they considered it a threat or a negligible nuisance? Is it likely, for that matter, always to be obvious to us when people were referring to antisemitism or ‘the Jews’? How Imperial German Social Democrats did and did not speak about antisemitism and ‘the Jewish Question’ will therefore be a central issue throughout this book. As will soon become evident, their habits and assumptions when speaking (or choosing to remain silent) about antisemitism differed in a number of fairly substantial ways from ours. To help drive this point home, I want to begin by presenting two short texts and asking my readers to try and spot their ‘Jewish connection’. Do these texts refer to either antisemitism and/or matters Jewish and, if so, how? All will be revealed – for the first text in the course of the introduction and for the second text in the final chapter.

[Our opponents] held their party congress in Kassel from 8 to 10 October. The deliberations began with a toast to the Kaiser and a Bismarck commemoration. In the debate that followed the report of the Fraktion [parliamentary party] on parliamentary activities, Werner reprimanded the stance of those members of the Fraktion that had voted against the naval bill while Bindewald defended this course.[…]