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The Jews

Contrary to the Muslim and Orthodox minorities, the history of the Jews is very ancient in the areas which today form Germany. Indeed, the first Jewish community was noted in Cologne in the year 321.
Their history is the history of an excluded and persecuted people: it is only with the Lumières and especially after the French Revolution and under the pressure of Napoleon that the Jewish community starts to emancipate in German-speaking States and later in the German Nation-State.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a lot of Jews had assimilated and showed as strong a patriotism as that of the Christian majority. However, although a lot of Germans fought in the German army during World War 1, anti-Semitism intensified after the War.
The arrival in power of the national socialists in 1933 stood for the beginning of the 12 most horrible years for the Jews in Germany and in Europe (6 million people died in the Nazi concentration camps). While there were between 500 000 to 600 000 Jews in Germany in 1933, only 15 000 of them survived the Holocaust. The first Jewish communities reformed immediately after the War: 51 in 1945, 16 more in 1946. They were later joined by 200 000 people coming from Western Europe and by refugees escaped from the anti-Semitic Pogroms in Poland. For the great majority of them, the members of these Jewish communities who survived the Holocaust did not intend to stay in Germany but emigrated to the United-States or Israel. In the post-war years, the number of Jews in Germany however stabilized with 26 000 in the FRG and between 400 and 500 in the GDR. (For more information, see the website of the Central Council of Jews.)
After the fall of the Berlin wall, between 1990 and 2004, about 220 000 Jews coming from Eastern Europe immigrated to Germany as Kontingentflüchtlinge (refugees coming from a humanitarian action). Currently, about 106 000 people belong to the 102 communities represented by the Central Council of Jews in Germany. 5 000 people belong to the Union of Progressive Jews, which is divided into 20 communities. About 90 000 people, who are mainly Kontingentflüchtlinge who immigrated to Germany as Jews, do not belong to any community.

D 19 July 2012    AMatthias Koenig AMiriam Schader

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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