Publié le 02/12/2021

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CENTRAL ASSOCIATION OF GERMAN CITIZENS OF JEWISHFAITH (Centralverein deutscher Staatsbu¨rger ju¨dischen Glaubens). Foundedin 1893 by Raphael Loewenfeld, director of Berlin's* Schillertheater, the Centralvereinaimed to combat anti-Semitism* by underscoring the falsity of itsallegations. Prosecuting anti-Semites in the courts and assisting in their defeatat the polls, it also worked to strengthen both Jewish and German consciousnesswhile educating Jews* on ways to act that might preclude antagonists fromembarrassing them. The Centralverein preserved these activities throughout theWeimar era and convinced numerous intellectuals and political leaders to signdeclarations condemning anti-Semitism. Most German Jews, while not paidmembers, supported the Centralverein and its activities. Paid membership grewfrom 45,000 at the end of 1918 to a high of 72,400 in 1924. Shortly beforeHitler* assumed power, membership stood at 64,000; this was somewhat morethan 10 percent of the total population of Germans of Jewish faith. Only Zionistsand some ultra–right-wing Jews spurned the Centralverein's activities.Donald Niewyk has highlighted three features of the Centralverein's work:(1) it confronted anti-Semites, via publications such as the weekly Central-Verein Zeitung, with a rational expression of the truth; (2) it subsidized effortsby antiracist parties, especially the SPD and the Center Party,* to defeat anti-Semites; and (3) it fostered a sense of security and confidence among Jews. Inretrospect, this third feature was tragic. Through superb publications, a team ofqualified lawyers, and a vast organization, it provided the false hope that truth,if widely disseminated, surely prevails.

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