Jewish question was a wide-ranging debate in 19th- and
20th-century European society pertaining to the appropriate status and
Jews in society. The debate was similar to other
so-called "national questions" and dealt with the civil, legal,
national and political status of
Jews as a minority within society,
Europe in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The debate started within societies, politicians and writers in
western and central
Europe influenced by the
Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment and
the ideals of the French Revolution. The issues included the legal and
economic Jewish disabilities (e.g. Jewish quotas and segregation),
Jewish emancipation and Jewish Enlightenment.
The expression has been used by antisemitic movements from the 1880s
onwards, culminating in the
Nazi phrase "the
Final Solution to the
Jewish Question". Similarly, the expression was used by proponents for
and opponents of the establishment of an autonomous
Jewish homeland or
a sovereign Jewish state.
More recently, white nationalists, alt-righters, and neo-Nazis have
used the initialism JQ to refer to the Jewish question.
1 History of "The Jewish Question"
2 Current Background of "The Jewish Question"
Bruno Bauer – The Jewish Question
Karl Marx – On the Jewish Question
5 After Marx
6 The Final Solution
7 See also
8 Further reading
10 External links
History of "The Jewish Question"
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Further information: History of the
Jews in Europe
The term "Jewish Question" was first used in Great Britain in around
1750 when the expression "Jewish question" appeared during the Jew
Bill of 1753 debates in England. According to Holocaust scholar
Lucy Dawidowicz, the term "Jewish Question," as introduced in western
Europe, was a neutral expression for the negative attitude toward the
apparent and persistent singularity of the
Jews as a people against
the background of the rising political nationalisms and new
nation-states. Dawidowicz writes that "the histories of Jewish
emancipation and of European antisemitism are replete with proffered
'solutions to the Jewish question.'"
The question was next discussed in France ("la question juive") after
French Revolution in 1789.
It has arrived in Germany in 1843 via Bruno Bauer's treatise "Die
Judenfrage" – The Jewish Question. He argued that
Jews can achieve
political emancipation only if they let go their religious
consciousness as he proposed that political emancipation required a
According to Otto Dov Kulka of Hebrew University, the term became
widespread in the nineteenth century when it was used in discussions
Jewish emancipation in Germany (Judenfrage). In the 19th
century hundreds of tractates, pamphlets, newspaper articles and books
were written on the subject, with many offering solutions including
resettlement, deportation and assimilation of the Jewish population.
Similarly, hundreds of pieces of literature were written opposing
these solutions and have offered solutions such as re-integration and
education. This debate however, could not decide whether the problem
of the Jewish Question had more to do with the problems posed by the
German Jews' opponents or vice versa: the problem posed by the
existence of the German
Jews to their opponents.
From around 1860 the notion took on an increasingly antisemitic
Jews were described under this title as a stumbling block to
the identity and cohesion of the German nation and as enemies within
the Germans' own country. Antisemites such as Wilhelm Marr, Karl Eugen
Dühring, Theodor Fritsch, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Paul de
Lagarde and others declared it a racial problem unsolvable through
integration, in order to make their demands for the "de-jewifying" of
the press, education, culture, state and economy, plausible, along
with their demands for the condemnation of inter-marriage between Jews
and non-Jews. They also used this definition to oust the
Jews out of
their supposedly socially dominant positions.
By far the most infamous use of this expression was by the Nazis in
the early- and mid- twentieth century, culminating in the
implementation of their "
Final Solution to the Jewish question" during
World War II.
Current Background of "The Jewish Question"
A dominant anti-Semitic conspiracy theory is that Jewish people have
undue influence over the media, banking and politics. Based on this
conspiracy theory certain groups and activists discuss the “Jewish
Question” and propose to "address" it. They often refer to it as the
Bruno Bauer – The Jewish Question
In his book The Jewish Question, published in 1843, Bauer argued that
Jews can achieve political emancipation only if they relinquish their
particular religious consciousness, since political emancipation
requires a secular state, which he assumes does not leave any "space"
for social identities such as religion. According to Bauer, such
religious demands are incompatible with the idea of the "Rights of
Man." True political emancipation, for Bauer, requires the abolition
Karl Marx – On the Jewish Question
Karl Marx replied to Bauer in his 1844 essay On the Jewish Question.
Marx contradicted Bauer's view that the nature of the Jewish religion
prevented Judaism's assimilation. Instead he focused on the specific
social and economic role of the Jewish group in
according to him, was lost when capitalism, the material basis for
Judaism, assimilated the European societies as a whole.
Marx uses Bauer's essay as an occasion for his own analysis of liberal
rights. Marx argues that Bauer is mistaken in his assumption that in a
"secular state", religion will no longer play a prominent role in
social life, and, as an example refers to the pervasiveness of
religion in the United States, which, unlike Prussia, had no state
religion. In Marx's analysis, the "secular state" is not opposed to
religion, but rather actually requires it. The removal of religious or
property qualifications for citizens does not mean the abolition of
religion or property, but only introduces a way of regarding
individuals in abstraction from them. On this note Marx moves
beyond the question of religious freedom to his real concern with
Bauer's analysis of "political emancipation." Marx concludes that
while individuals can be 'spiritually' and 'politically' free in a
secular state, they can still be bound to material constraints on
freedom by economic inequality, an assumption that would later form
the basis of his critiques of capitalism.
Werner Sombart praised
Jews for their capitalism and presented the
seventeenth–eighteenth century court
Jews as integrated and a model
for integration. By the turn of the twentieth century, the debate
was still widely discussed and raised to prominence by the Dreyfus
Affair in France. Within the religious and political elite, some
continued to favor assimilation and political engagement in
Europe while others, such as Theodore Herzl, proposed
the advancement of a separate
Jewish state and the
Between 1880 and 1920, millions of other
Jews sought their own
solution for the pogroms of eastern
Europe by emigration to other
places, such as the
United States and western Europe.
The Final Solution
Nazi Germany, the term Jewish Question (in German: Judenfrage)
referred to the sense that the existence of
Jews in Germany posed a
problem for the state. In 1933 two
Nazi theorists, Johann von Leers
and Achim Gercke, both proposed that the Jewish Question could be
solved by resettling
Jews in Madagascar or elsewhere in Africa or
South America. Both intellectuals discussed the pros and cons of
supporting the German Zionists as well, but von Leers asserted that
Jewish homeland in British Palestine would create
humanitarian and political problems for the region. Upon achieving
power in 1933, Hitler and the
Nazi state began to implement
increasingly severe measures aimed at segregating and ultimately
removing the Jewish people from Germany and (eventually) all of
Europe. The next stage was persecution of
Jews and the stripping
Jews of their citizenship through the Nuremberg Laws.
Later, during World War II, it became state-sponsored internment in
concentration camps and finally, the systematic extermination of
the Jewish people (The Holocaust), which took place as the
Final Solution to the Jewish Question.
Nazi propaganda was produced to manipulate the public, most notably
based on writings from people such as Eugen Fischer,
Fritz Lenz and
Erwin Baur in the book Foundations of Human Heredity Teaching and
Racial Hygiene. And in the book Die Freigabe der Vernichtung
lebensunwerten Lebens ("Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of
Karl Binding and
Alfred Hoche or in pseudo scholarship
created by Gerhard Kittel. In occupied France, the collaborationist
regime established its own Institute for studying the Jewish
Lucien Wolf, Notes on the Diplomatic History of the Jewish Question,
Jewish Historical Society of England (1919)
The International Jew
The International Jew – the World's Foremost Problem,
Articles from The Dearborn Independent, (1920)
Elisabeth Roudinesco, Returning to the Jewish Question, London, Polity
Press, December 2013, p. 280
^ Kestenbaum, Sam. "White Nationalists Create New Shorthand for the
'Jewish Question'". The Forward. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
^ a b "Essay based on the introduction to The 'Jewish Question' in
German Speaking Countries, 1848–1914, A Bibliography, in The Felix
Posen Bibliographic Project on
Antisemitism (Jerusalem: Hebrew
University, 1994); retrieved 25 March 2008". Archived from the
original on 25 November 2005.
^ Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945 (New York,
1975), pp. xxi-xxiii.
^ As of 2008 Otto Dov Kulka's works are out of print, but the
following may be useful and is available on microfilm: Reminiscences
of Otto Dov Kulka (Glen Rock, New Jersey: Microfilming Corp. of
America, 1975), ISBN 0-88455-598-4 and 9780884555988, OCLC
^ a b Stig Hornshoj-Moller (1998-10-24). "Hitler's speech to the
Reichstag of January 30, 1939".
The Holocaust History Project.
Archived from the original on March 14, 2008. Retrieved
^ Furet, François. Unanswered Questions:
Nazi Germany and the
Genocide of the Jews. Schocken Books (1989), p. 182;
^ "JQ stands for the 'Jewish Question,' an anti-Semitic conspiracy
theory that Jewish people have undue influence over the media, banking
and politics that must somehow be addressed" (Christopher Mathias,
Jenna Amatulli, Rebecca Klein, 2018, The HuffPost 03/03/2018,
Karl Marx (February 1844). [http://
the Jewish Question"] Check url= value (help). Deutsch-Französische
Jahrbücher. Retrieved 2008-03-25. line feed character in url=
at position 8 (help)
^ Marx 1844:
[T]he political annulment of private property not only fails to
abolish private property but even presupposes it. The state abolishes,
in its own way, distinctions of birth, social rank, education,
occupation, when it declares that birth, social rank, education,
occupation, are non-political distinctions, when it proclaims, without
regard to these distinctions, that every member of the nation is an
equal participant in national sovereignty, when it treats all elements
of the real life of the nation from the standpoint of the state.
Nevertheless, the state allows private property, education,
occupation, to act in their way – i.e., as private property, as
education, as occupation, and to exert the influence of their special
nature. Far from abolishing these real distinctions, the state only
exists on the presupposition of their existence; it feels itself to be
a political state and asserts its universality only in opposition to
these elements of its being.
Werner Sombart (1911) [translated in 2001]. The
Jews and Modern
Capitalism (PDF). Batoche Books. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
Theodor Herzl (1896). Der Judenstaat: Versuch einer modernen Lösung
der Judenfrage (in German). M. Breitenstein's Verlags-Buchhandlung.
^ Dr. Achim Gercke. "Solving the Jewish Question".
^ David M. Crowe. The Holocaust: Roots, History, and Aftermath.
Westview Press, 2008.
^ Adolf Hitler; Wilhelm Frick; Franz Gürtner; Rudolf Hess
(1935-09-15). "Nuremberg Law for the Protection of German Blood and
German Honor". Archived from the original on 2008-03-19. Retrieved
^ Adolf Hitler;
Wilhelm Frick (1935-09-15). "Reich Citizenship Law".
Archived from the original on 2008-03-21. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
^ Doris Bergen (2004–2005). "Germany and the Camp System".
Auschwitz: Inside the
Nazi State. Community Television of Southern
California. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
^ Niewyk, Donald L. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia
University Press, 2000, p.45: "
The Holocaust is commonly defined as
the murder of more than 5,000,000
Jews by the Germans in World War
II." Also see "The Holocaust," Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007: "the
systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women
and children, and millions of others, by
Nazi Germany and its
collaborators during World War II. The Germans called this "the final
solution to the Jewish question."
^ Gord McFee (1999-01-02). "When did Hitler decide on the Final
The Holocaust History Project. Archived from the original
on 2015-06-02. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
^ For some extra depth, the interested reader might read Wannsee
Conference as well.
Israeli Foreign Policy and t