Paul Reitter

  • Goethe Save Us

    German by the grace of Goethe: A century ago, this formulation served, for many German Jews, as a kind of motto. Never mind that, like so many progressive reforms in Germany, full emancipation of the Jews had been a top-down affair, pushed through by Otto von Bismarck without much pressure from below. The idea was that the Jews had the liberal tradition in German culture—which Goethe best embodied—to thank for their enfranchisement. And this faith was bolstered by the allied sense that Jews had acquired their Germanness through their mastery of canonical German culture—again best represented