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translated by Irene Newhouse 1995
My copy of the original German document came from Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati OH. They have a print copy of my translation.
The Jews of the Province of Posen and their fates have already often been subject of scholarly examination, and have been so again very recently. It therefore seemed appropriate to us to check these studies with a complete examination, and to ascertain the true reasons for the significant decline in the number of Jews in the province.
Originating in West Germany, where they'd been settled for hundreds of years, had obtained property and homes, and become thoroughly German, they emigrated eastward due to religious persecution. Here they preserved their German language among Slavic peoples. Even if this language has occasional words of Hebrew, Polish, and Russian mixed in, the basic nature of their language has remained German; yes the Jews have preserved the idiom of their previous German homeland to the extent that one can, from their way of speech, recognize the German state and region from which their ancestors came to Poland and Russia. [This is not a generally accepted viewpoint].
As Prussia created the Province of South Prussia in 1793 [Footnote 1: The Netz District already came to Prussian possession in 1772. In the beginning of the 19th century its southern portion was united with the Province of South Prussia, in 1815 the entire district with the Province (Grand Duchy) of Posen], the Jews of this region, which belonged to the Province of Posen, formed a large part of the population, and at any rate, the majority of those who knew the German language, and who generally used it even for everyday speech. The Prussian government thus had a burning interest in learning more about the circumstances of the Jews, & Kammerkalkulator Zimmermann was charged with studying the circumstances. Zimmermann's report stated that the majority of the Jews lived in cities, and the majority had bourgeois occupations, but that Jewish craftsmen were "often the only ones in some places". He said further: "A few of them also raise grain & livestock. This occupation is very common in Siradia & Rawa, but particularly in the villages & districts of Jewish farmers"; he finishes by reporting that Jews are day laborers, craftmen, and drivers. This Zimmermann Report constitutes the guiding thread, according to which Jewish life in South Prussia was regulated legally. However, among the conditions wich were instituted on 4 July 1793 for marriage among Jews, Section 5 states: "that the Jew living in open country... obligate himself to move to a city in which there are already Jews. If the Jew wishing to marry already lives in a city, he must obligate himself never to move to the country". [In short, the Prussian government couldn't handle Jews living in non-stereotypical conditions & therefore passes laws that would force them into stereotypical social positions as soon as possible].
Since then the history of the Jews in the province of Posen is a continuous battle for equal civil rights. Minister von Boss, who generally dealt fairly with Jews and showed them good will, recognized in a comment of 24 January 1794 that "all in all, the Jew in South Prussia is a more cultivated person than the citizen of the small towns & the farmer in the country". In spite of this, all the rights granted the Jewish inhabitants of other provinces were initially expressly withheld from the Jews of the Province of Posen. The Edict of 1812 was purposely not extended to the Jews of the Province of Posen, the conditions that pertained in 1793 when the province was taken over were maintained. It finally became provisional for Jews in the province on 1 July 1833, became permanent by the Law of 28 July 1847, and finally with the Law of 3 July 1869, full equal rights were granted. [The population of Jews in Posen was an order of magnitude greater than in the rest of Prussia, where Jews constituted a minority of at most a few percent. In Posen there were many towns that actually had Jewish majorities. The Prussian government, operating from a theory of government that held that the only stable state had a homogeneous population, was very unsettled at the thought of such a large Jewish population -- so much so that the Tsar of Russia, who participated in the partitions of Poland that gave Posen to Prussia, felt compelled to warn Prussia that any attempt to deport Posen Jews into Russian territory would be considered an act of war].
But all the rights that the Jews of the province of Posen had won for themselves one by one with strenuous effort, were only hesitatingly approved, and realized in fact only after strong resistance. Untiring battles were required to make the promised rights reality, and even today some rights, to which Jews are entitled like all other citizens of Prussia, are not allowed them.
This was all the more risky in Posen, as there a German population had first to be established, and the Jews formed a significant foundation for such a population from the start. But one only recalls this fact in times of need. [HAD - Prussia felt compelled to work toward an ethnic German majority in Posen in consideration of both their theory of stable states, and because of a fear that a Polish majority would continue to agitate for Polish independence].
If there was no danger to a German population, one believed that there was no reason to grant Jews civil rights. However, as soon as the Polish danger grew, then one recalled the important German cultural element & sought to, if not attract it, at least make use of it. [He's talking about Polish nationalism here].
The right to participate in city government was extended only unwillingly, & one sought, where one could, to prevent their joining the governing bodies; but when the danger existed, that Poles could hold the majority, then the Jews, systematically excluded until then, were immediately & without any fanfare brought into city government.
As long as the Poles in the province could be kept down relatively peacefully, one didn't need the help of Jews, and therefore gave them no part in general government. But as soon as there was danger of a Polish uprising, one again called on the Jews & accepted their help in preserving Germanness.
Up to the 3 great wars one did not in reality grant the Jews the equality which they sought. During the wars of 1864, 1866, & 1870, every difference suddenly disappeared. Jews were declared equal, & considered such.
From 1878/9 one employed all efforts to oppress the Jews again & to keep them out of all positions which they had held. As the Polish danger grew, one remembered them again. And so it was no wonder, that in a time in which the settlement policy was in great difficulty, the authorities as well as the Ostmark Union proclaimed that no distinciton based on religion would be tolerated in the Province of Posen, that for the battle against the Poles, all Germans, regardless of religion or creed, would be equal, including Germans of Jewish faith.
The Jews in the Province of Posen know such pronouncements by officials & their Christian fellow-citizens of old. They know that the ingratitude with which the Poles reproach them is a legend, but they also know that the enthusiasm of German officialdom for religious toleration is only operative during crises, and that any rights they happen to have they've won for themselves with hard work.
In the meantime, conditions in Posen have changed significantly. It isn't only that general progress & social development have made great changes, in particular modernization of political & economic institutions has not failed to have great effect on internal affairs in Posen. But for the Jews their incredible emigration from the province appears as a characteristic sign.
The following tables, which are for the most part based on official figures, yield a clear picture of the conditions to be discussed here. The numbers of Jews in each of the 131 cities in the province, since 1793, is given in the tables. In this, the year in which the Jewish population reached its maximum, the peak year, is particularly noted. Then in further workup, the time from the peak year until the census of the year 1905, is contrasted to that of the last 20 years, that is, those years in which the activity of the Settlement Commission has had an effect.
In the large work of this Commission, published 1906, only the years of its own existence are considered, and the data on the situation of members of individual religions presented in such a way as suits its own purposes. This presentation is inadquate for establishing the condition of Jews from the province Posen. The numbers which are found in this most recent period skew the picture, and therefore the author of that work came to incorrect conclusions vis a vis the Jews.
If one considers the result that one obtains from the accompanying tables, one finds the following noteworthy phenomena. The peak years vary considerably for individual cities in the province. While in a few cities the high point had already occurred by the time the province was taken over, was reached in the '20's & '30's in some others, population increase lasted until the '40's in a majority of cities. Thus 37 cities peaked before 1840, 57 between 1840 & 1849, and another 37 peaked between 1850 & 1885. After the year 1885, no city in the province, with the exception of the small border town Schulitz, had a population peak.
The cities on the western boundary of the district of Posen, that is, those that were closest to the Mark Brandenberg, were those whose peaks were achieved in the '40's. The reason was that emigration to reach a better political situation in Brandenburg, especially in Berlin, was easiest from here.
In the '40's, it was primarily in those cities on the eastern edge of Posen, in which Jews, after reaching their high point, began emigrating.
After the '40's, Jews from the district Bromberg, from the city of Posen & its environs & from the southern tip of the province followed, whereby it is noteworthy that: in the years from 1864 to 1870, emigration began in only 2 cities, while in 9 which reached maximum in 1872, emigration first began to be felt at the end of the '70's.
Finally, one concludes that, since 1885, that is, since the beginning of work by the Settlement Commission, with the exception of Schoenlanke (with 2), Kruschwitz (with 29 souls), no city in Posen has had the number of its Jews increase (Schulwitz increased until 1895, but has decreased below the 1885 level in the meantime), that moreover, of the remaining 127 cities (see below for Bnin), no fewer than 123 have had significant decreases in numbers, and besides, in the 3 cities Kopnitz, Schwetzau, Baranow, all the Jews have emigrated.
When one examines the reasons for emigration from individual cities one must distinguish between emigration since the peak year & that since 1885.
In the time since the peak year, no city shows less emigration that 23%, about 1/4 the Jewish population everywhere has emigrated, & decreased the extent of German ethnicity by that amount.
Emigration in 3 cities amounted to 30%, it was 23% in Bromberg, &
26% in Posen particularly.
Up to 40% emigrated in 8 cities
Up to 50% emigrated in 14 cities
Up to 60% emigrated in 11 cities
Up to 70% emigrated in 20 cities
Up to 80% emigrated in 34 cities
Up to 90% emigrated in 24 cities
Up to 100% emigrated in 17 cities
Thus in 106 of 131 cities, more than 50% of the Jews emigrated, and in 57 cities over 75% - a loss that again was borne by the German ethnic group, which could scarcely afford it.
For the period fomr 1885 only 130 cities are considered, since the small city of Bnin had had no Jewish inhabitants since 1840, & for the period 1885 to 1905 the following figures pertain.
4 cities had either an increase in Jewish population or no decrease:
Kruschwitz, Mixstadt, Schoenlanke, & Argenau.
Up to 10% decline was seen in 3 cities
Up to 20% decline was seen in 4 cities
Up to 30% decline was seen in 12 cities
Up to 40% decline was seen in 23 cities
Up to 50% decline was seen in 30 cities
Up to 60% decline was seen in 31 cities
Up to 70% decline was seen in 11 cities
Up to 80% decline was seen in 6 cities
Up to 100% decline was seen in 6 cities
In the period in which the Settlement Commission occupied itself with pushing back the Polish population, the German, albeit German population of Jewish faith, was brought to emigrate, over 25% of the population in 116 of 130 cities & over 50% in 54 cities. - A loss for the German ethnic group that can never be replaced.
Representation in absolute numbers gives an even clearer picture of
the emigration. If one separates the 131 cities into 5 classes, of
which the 1st is cities with < 100 Jewish souls, the 2nd with 100 -200,
the 3rd with 200-500, the 4th with 500-100, & the 5th with > 1000,
then in the 3 periods considered, the following differences are seen in
the 131 cities:
In their peak year, 19 cities (14.5%) were in class 1, in 1885 41 (31%), 1905 61 (46%).
In their peak year, 20 cities (15%) were in class 2, in 1885 30 (23%), 1905 34 (26%).
In their peak year, 43 cities (33%) were in class 3, in 1885 35 (27%), 1905 24 (18%).
In their peak year, 22 cities (17%) were in class 4, in 1885 15 (11%), 1905 10 (8%).
In their peak year, 27 cities (20.5%) were in class 5, in 1885 10 (8%), 1905 3 (2%).
While according to this 27 cities had over 1000 Jews in their peak years, by 1885 there were only 10, & in 1905 only 3 in which this was the case. [Footnote 2: In the year 1905 only Posen, Bromberg, Hohenpfalza; in the peak year Wreschen, Schrimm, Kurnitz, Schwersenz, Rogasen, Samter, Schwerin, Meseritz, Graetz, Lissa, Rawitsch, Krotoschin, Pleschen, Ostrowo, Kempen, Filehne, Czarnikau, Schneidemuehl, Kolmar, Natel, Bromberg, Fordon, Znin, Hohenpfalza, Gnesen, Witkowo]. In contrast, in their peak years, 19 cities had less than 100 Jewish souls, and in 1885 already 41, in 1905 61, so that nearly half of all cities had less than 100 Jews. The Jewish population of 92 cities was over 200 in their peak years, that is, just under half of all cities, and in 1905 only 36 cities had that many, that is, less than a third. The extent of the decrease is obvious from this.
To present the percentages for all 131 cities in the entire period was
impossible to due lack of the original documents; the numbers weren't
even available for all the peak years. The attached table B, however,
gives an overview for the years 1849, 1885, and 1905, that shows even more
clearly than the presentation up to now, the result of emigration in its
frightening extent. This table shows that Jews formed, of the entire
population in the 131 cities,
in 1849 1885 1905
in 2 cities 0 0 over 60%
1 0 0 51%-60%
5 0 0 41%-50%
16 1 0 31%-40%
26 5 0 21%-30%
52 45 5 11%-20%
29 80 126 0%-10%
and that accordingly the decrease progressed continuously, and that the percentage of Jews in the population was pushed back more and more. This compilation also shows that the increase in the number of Jews in the apparently favorable cities, Schoenlanke, Kruschwitz, and Schulitz has no statistical significance, as in these three cities the total population increased by an even greater number.
In the district of Posen there's a certain connection between the individual areas depending on location and ethnic composition, while in Bromberg, where Poles and Germans are more integrated, such differences between regions are less marked. In Posen it's characteristic that the emigration of Jews consistently and uniformly occurred from the west (Kreise Birnbaum, Schwerin, Meseritz, Bomst, Fraustadt, Lissa, Rawitsch), where Germans form the overwhelming majority (173554 Germans and 10795 Poles) and therefore Jews weren't needed in the battle against the Poles.
(Kreis Neutomischel is an exception. Here, on account of hops culture, introduced by Jews, the number of Jews remained high for a relatively long time, even increased, while emigration first began as a consequence of Russian and American competition hops culture became unprofitable).
In the southeast, in contrast, (Kreise Schildberg, Adelnau, Ostrowo), where the Polish population dominated completely (92320 Poles, 16329 Germans), so that the Germans couldn't make headway against the Polish population, emigration was less.
In the east, (Kreise Wreschen, Jarotschin, Schroda, Schrimm, Koschmin, Krotoschin, Pleschen), where Poles were the majority, but not so overwhelmingly (244070 Poles, 58847 Germans) that the Settlement Commission didn't find opportunity to act, the emigration of Jews, on account of pressure from both sides, has been particularly large, especially in recent times.
In the north of the district of Posen (City of Posen, Kreis Posen-Ost, Obornik, Samter, 190212 Poles, 108563 Germans), Jewish emigration is, in contrast, relatively small, because, as occurred especially in the city of Posen, as a consequence of the physical integration [as opposed to social...] of Poles and Germans, the Germans must have wanted the support of Jewish numbers.
As typical examples, the following can be cited:
for the west, the cities Schwerin a. W. and Tirschtiegel
southwest, Mixstadt and Schildberg
east, Schroda and Pleschen north, Obornik and Samter
In the district Bromberg, finally, one cannot distinguish between the regions, only that at the west Prussian and Russian borders, emigration was relatively small. But here also, in the otherwise not unfavorable Polish boundary regions, Kreis Witkowo forms an exception. This Kreis, originally predominantly Polish, formed a particular spearhead for the Settlement Commission. The battle that developed in consequence had the result that, attacked by the Poles and disregarded by the Germans, the Jews found themselves ground up by both sides and were completely forced to emigrate.
In regard to the cities, the results are:
a) comparatively smaller emigration of Jews (23%-60%) since the peak year in 34% of the cities with overwhelmingly Polish population (28) but only 17% of the cities with overwhelmingly German population (8)
b) a particularly large emigration of Jews (81%-100%) since the peak year in 26% of cities with Polish majorities (22) in contrast to 37% German (18)
Of these 82 cities, those in which both nationalities had a majority of 2/3 or greater: 34, that is 41%, had an emigration of 81%-100%.
Of those 49 cities in which neither group had a 2/3 majority, 6, that
is 12% had an emigration of 81%-100% of Jews.
From this one concludes, clearly and obviously, that everywhere in Posen in which there was a strong balance between the two nationalities, in consequence of which Jews could be used in the battle against Poles, they didn't have as strong reasons to emigrate.
With regard to the 4 cities in which there were no longer any Jews in
1905, the population was:
Kopnitz (Kreis Bomst) up to 74% German
Baranow (Kreis Kempen) 91% Polish Schwetzau (Kreis Lissa) 91% German
Bnin (Kreis Schrimm) 88% Polish
It cannot remain unmentioned that consideration of the Jewish population
outside the cities of the province of Posen changes none of the foregoing
conclusions. In 1846 3783 Jews lived in the country, namely 2817
in "Landesgemeinden" [country communities] and 432 in "Gutsbezirken" [regions
of estates], and in 1905 there were only 1124 Jews
in 145 Landesgemeinden and 265 in 32 Gutsbezirken, thus only 1389 Jewish country residents. But in spite of the fundamental dispossession of Jews in the cities, even today there are isolated Jews in the province of Posen, who are agriculturalists either solely or in conjunction with a second occupation.-
Because according to this, emigration of Jews from Posen has been significant, one has reproached them with 'rootlessness'. This criticism is completely unjustified. As long as the province of Posen has been under Prussian jurisdiction, only Jews and Poles have had roots. The Christian German population, with the exception of small landholders; the craftsmen and families of lower official had never chosen Posen as a permanent home. Higher officials and officers resided in Posen only long enough to be reassigned to other provinces as soon as possible. For the more competent, work in Posen was only an opportunity to distinguish onesself as means to a higher position outside the province. The sons of the larger estate owners returned once to Posen, in order to take over a position as 'Landrat' [Justice of the Peace] as a means to a higher position outside Posen. School officials, postal workers, tax collectors, all strove to leave after a short time, to another home. And they generally succeeded. The years in Posen were, to a certain extent, considered to be danger duty, and rewarded accordingly. So it came to pass that no exceptional person ever remained in the province of Posen, and that the outstanding officials and scholars, even if born in the province of Posen, or resident there for an extended period, never remained permanently, or that the province received the fruits of their activity, the results of their knowledge and capabilities. "The Pole observes with ironic astonishment, as people, who have lived scarcely two years in the city (Posen), who speak loftily on the German side, and like officials and professors have no dearer wish than to be posted west, preaching the necessity of a German population with attachment to the region in passionate terms". To the west! And for this reason the Settlement Commission, in its magnum opus on "Twenty Years of German Cultural Work" can ascribe no other reason for the Jewish emigration than the pull of the west. This Commission opines in every place in its comprehensive work, on the Jews, and admits withal that the Jews "must be attributed to the German element of the population"- must be attributed to, not form a part of the German population, but must be added to it. In two places the Commmission gives a reason for Jewish emigration: the pull of the west; but they add four insignificant words to this, that let the basic viewpoint of the Commission become readily apparent. They write, "therefore.... the strong emigration of Germans, especially also of Jews to the west with its more advantageous employment opportunities". Thus, the more advantageous employment opportunities in the west are the only reason this Commission is aware of for the emigration of Jews, or the only one it admits to. In truth there are many reasons to be considered.
Foremost was the long and futile battle for equal civil rights, that drove many Jews to seek a new home. Next there were - as already described - those civil rights already granted Jews in the rest of Prussia were withheld from the Jews of Posen. Thus it occurred that already in the 1820's many talented Jews, for example, from Schwerin a. W. and Tirschtiegel moved to Berlin. In the '40's many emigrated "to the west" to England and America for the same reason, to become "attached to the soil" and to see a generation grow up, in which descendants of the province of Posen achieved great respect and high positions in government and community. It was therefore in a large part the general official government policy toward Jews, that drove many out of their home. [Bold highlights are mine - IN] The government school policy, especially as exercised in the province of Posen, drove a few, and especially young Jews from their home. The majority of Jews have, from ancient times, a deep desire to provide their children with a better and more extensive education, than their parents had. The schools in the province, however, did not provide sufficient opportunities and possibilities for a more extensive education. Whoever could find any means to do so, sent his sons to a city with a Gymnasium; once the son graduated, he was generally lost to the province. Because the province had - and still has today - no university. Here and there there was a good elementary school, but the principal left, there were outstanding Gymnasia, but the directors left for Berlin or headed "west". The schools did not offer a general education, instruction ceased abruptly. Who wanted to go to university, who wanted to live an academic life - and that meant many Jews - had to leave the province. Who wanted to study technology generally did not find enough material in the province. And whoever had artistic inclination, had to leave home forever. The education of girls, however, lay everywhere in gross neglect. According to this, then, many a German of Jewish faith had to turn his back on the province of Posen because of the general or particular state policy, but the economic reasons had no lesser effect on Jewish emigration.
From the beginning, the government directed its efforts toward concentrating Jews in the cities. This led to those Jews who'd made their living on the land, slowly being forced from the land to the city, and that in 1905 only 1389 Jews lived in country villages or on estates. The change in occupational opportunities, inasmuch as they were necessarily connected to raising the economic standard of the province, was of less significant influence. Retail trade decreased, brokering between town and country declined, certain trades were annihilated by the flowering of industry and technology, or at least didn't pay any more. The new streets and modes of transportation, the changed navigation and railroads let cities decay, that had been busy. All of this was of course of considerable influence on employment opportunities. Many a one, who had been able to support himself and his family at a respectable level, saw his level of income suddenly undercut; his income plummet, and he had to seek out another source of support.
As soon as some of the sons had first left the province Posen, once
a member of the family was outside, in better circumstances, with less
oppression and freer development of his talents found a better income,
it didn't take long, and a further part of the family, yes, the entire
family with father and mother, followed the pioneer. Added to this
was the fact that those left behind slowly lost the opportunity for their daughters to marry, or to attain a situation that allowed their independence, so that they could support themselves, when their parents had died. Thousands and thousands of Jews found it necessary to leave the province of Posen. Better employment opportunites had to be sought out, even if not in the sense described in the report of the Settlement Commission, so it was because the means of support had been lost, or were threatened.
Some had other, further reasons for leaving their home. The government had done nothing to make life in the province of Posen bearable. No foundation for art had been laid, nor for beautification and improvement of natural facilities. The forests, the lakes, the hills of the province served only as objects of economic exploitation. No spa of any importance, no district of scenic beauty, had been assisted with artificial facilities. Who wanted a vacation or a cure, had to leave the province. Apart from a few highly anemic underwritings of a few theatrical concerns, the government showed no interest for the beaux arts. It was a private citizen who erected the first monument, a private citizen who funded the first library. Even the foundation of the Academy in Posen, and in recent times by Germans in the individual cities on commission of the goevernment doesn't significantly change the picture. By the way, Jews form a disproportionately very large contingent of the audience.
In these circumstances, it's not surprising that those who wanted a peaceful life turned their backs on the province - in which nothing, absolutely nothing for development of heart and soul, for recreation or diversion, was offered them, and that among them was a certain number of Germans of Jewish faith.
One must consider here also to a certain extent the intolerable social
conditioins that had gradually developed in the province. A caste
sense had grown up on the unhealthy soil of the culturally completely neglected
region, as could scarcely be found to be more intolerable. The Poles
naturally differentiated themselves from the Germans. Among the Germans,
the officers stuck together, and the civil servants as well, yes, even
among the officers and civil servants various rigorously separated categories
formed. Mechants and teachers avoided each other completely.
And among all of this, the Christian Germans separated themselves completely
from the Jews. In the '60's and '70's a certain change had occurred
in this last regard. One had jointly fought 3 wars for the fatherland,
Death had not inquired the religion of the wounded or ill, so some of the
doors in life had opened as well. There were also two governors,
who made great efforts to reduce the amount of separation, invited both
Jews and Christians to their homes, and socialized with Jews in a friendly
and equal manner. Near the end of the '70's this stopped again, and
the individual castes and religions were more strictly separated than ever.
A time came in which the government had to begin to fear for the continued existence of the German ethnic group. The Poles were strengthened, had begun to understand how to unite, and appeared as a unified group compared to the Germans; the Ostmark Union and the Settlement Commission were founded. It was also the time in which the immigration of Jews from the east was prevented as much as possible, and naturalization was denied foreign Jews, not only those from the East.
Although emigration of Jews from Posen, except for the '60's and '70's,
had already been significant, it increased even more under the effects
of the work fo the Settlement Commission. Not that this Commission
consciously oppressed the Jews with openly anti-Semitic measures and contributed
to emigration. But the attitude which governed the Settlement
Commission, the point of view that one had there of Jews, which has already
been adequately characterized above, prevented any free association with
and thereby also any consideration of the Jews. One forgot, that
the Jews already spoke German before the province became German, even if
one recognized and was forced to recognize that the
Jews formed a significant fraction of the German population. One used their help in those parts of the province, in those cities, in which one needed them in the battle with the Poles; but one did not consider the economic needs of these German allies in the slightest, of which a large portion supported itself by trade and crafts. Without voting, organizations of 'Raiffeisenscher' mode were spread over the province. Credit unions for savings and loans, buying and selling co-ops, livestock judging associations, groups for charcoal burners, stock raisers, dairymen, butchers, bakers, hay dealers, sugar beet growers, fowl raisers, egg sellers, orchardists, canneries, millers, and grain growers. Anything that the settler needed or had to sell, he got from the associations or sold it them. Naturally, the Poles weren't left behind and formed their own, even if less for agricultural purposes, so that by the beginning of 1904 there were no fewer than 841 co-operative associations of all sorts in the province of Posen, which had about 118500 members. Added to this was that the 'Lagerhaus Gesellschaft', founded with the assistance of the Settlement Commission was the sole agent of the government for the interim upkeep, that is, the time from land purchase by the Settlement Commission until its sale to a settler, so that the Settlement Commission dealt in no other manner. On top of which was that the remaining about 670 German co-ops were encouraged by the government and given special consideration, and material assistance, and that a mode of business was tolerated in these co-ops as would not have been in a private concern. "Minimal reserve funds, and inventory, short amounts of cash, large debt to the provincial co-op bank, which in turn is supported exclusively by the funds of its member organizations, partly enormous outstanding accounts that were supposed to be invested by the member co-ops, and thus cannot be made fluid, significant deposits and exchange debt, so that the co-ops operated nearly exclusively on borrowed money". It's already been remarked upon many times in the Prussian house of representatives, especially by the representative of Wolff-Lissa in the session of 7 April 1908, that in this way trade and industry in the province of Posen are kept down, as in the past the knight concluded his trade in the products of his estates with merchants, now only the co-ops deal with the settlers. The Polish co-ops are also used by the Poles in a harsh fashion, and they quickly learned the slogan "Don't buy from Jews" from the Germans. So Jewish tradesmen are oppressed by both sides. German and Polish co-ops annihilate small businesses and take the small businessman's nourishment. However, it cannot be denied, that in certain isolated instances in the province clever and unbiased Directors of German co-ops have, on their side, dealt with individual Jewish businessmen for buying or financing. It can even be admitted that in a few spots, as, for example, in Ostrowo, where the Germans are locked in a fierce battle with the overwhelmingly Polish population, the Jews begin to feel solid ground beneath their feet again, and that here their sons begin again to build up new businesses at home next to those of their fathers; yes, that the growth of the industrial population, as, for example in Schoenlanke, paralyses the pressure on trade and crafts. [That is, population growth has caused the economy to grow at such a rate that there's room for Jews in spite of all the disadvantages they suffer from]. But these are disappearing exceptions, that are predicated on personal or local relations or the desperate situation of the Germans. In general and for the most part of the province, the double pressure of the two groups of co-ops is all the stronger, which thus explains the disproportionately great emigration of craftsmen since 1885.
With regard to those Jews in Posen who are not of the artisan class, it's again the actions of the Ostmark Union and the Settlement Commission that lead to their emigration. Although it was officially trumpeted the length and breadth of the province that distinctions of any kind were not to be made among Germans in Posen . Practice completely refutes theory. "In this regard the invidious position of academically trained Jewish residents of the province of Posen is not without significance. At present the civil servants rarely go to a Jewish doctor... Doctors are brought from the outside in towns in which Jewish doctors reside and find their living, with the excuse that it's necessary for the elevation of Germanness to have a Christian doctor in town, and the Jewish doctor's means of existence is thus taken from him. With regards to lawyers... so Jewish lawyers are not requested as Notar [a higher grade of law practice in Germany, not a notary public as we have them here!] in order of seniority, but they must, if they can ever get the appointment, wait many years more than their Christian colleagues". And as with doctors and lawyers, so with all the other professions. Every German, regardless of religion, is happily seen as an ally in the war against the Poles, but when it comes to economic advantage for the Germans, then distinctions are made more sharply than ever on religious grounds. Members of the board of directors of the Ostmark Union have often rationalized that particularly in Posen every such distinction must disappear, but where is this attitude actually put into practice? What can the Union do to strengthen its unbiassed activity? Where are the Jewish lawyers, pharmacists, architects, that it's attracted? Where does the Settlement Commission have Jewish farmers, which there are, settled, where has it hired Jewish gardners, Jewish craftsmen? In addition, the incredible army of civil servants that have passed through the province in the last decades have only sharpened the caste system and heightened the separation between the various sorts of tradesmen to a nearly intolerable degree. So it isn't only the "pull of the west with its improved economic opportunities", that has forced the Jews from the province of Posen from 1885 to 1905, completely different reasons dominated or contributed to the fact that in 116 cities of the province more than 25% and in 54 cities over 50% of the Jews have had to emigrate, and that the rural Jewish population had fallen from 3249 to 1389.
The presentation of the reasons for emigration leads to the means of
its decrease. It's undeniable that the Jews were settled in Posen
before Prussia took over, and that they spoke German. That they form
a part of the German population is no longer denied by even the Settlement
Commission. If the government doesn't want to lose this element its
home, and if it wants its help in the fight against the ever-expanding
Poles, it must change its economic and general policies in Posen.
With regard to economic policy, this isn't hard at all. One simply doesn't subsidize the co-ops at the current level. Especially the monopoly of the German Lagerhaus company in land transfer should be ended, and one shouldn't force the settlers to deal only with it. Then one should support only those co-ops which deal with all German businessmen and craftsmen -regardless of religion- as vendors or officials, and who offer their products directly on the open market, and one should deny support as soon as they exclude Jews from their midst. One should inform the Settlement Commission of this, and work on the Ostmark Union so that they settle Jews as well (even without its help, some Jews are still actively engaged in agriculture), that its help is given to Jewish craftsmen, Jewish businessmen, Jewish doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, and teachers. One should carry over the fine words of equal civil rights regardless of religion into th reality of daily life, one should particularly work on the Ostmark Union, so that its philosemitism isn't expressed only in holiday speeches, but also in reality. This is going to be difficult, as long as the wrong attitude, as recently expressed by its general secretary in his recent work on the city of Gnesen, rules the Union. And as in economic matters, so one should - if one wants to win the battle against the Poles in the province of Posen- in political matters. One should not prevent immigration any longer, and appropriate foreign Jews should be granted naturalization. Above all one should carry over all the rights that today exist only on paper, into the realm of daily life. There were Jewish officers and military doctors already in Posen in the '60's and '70's; one should appoint Jews to these positions again. The first Prussian Jewish gymnasium teacher, the first Jewish salaried 'Stadtrat' [municipal councillor], came from the province of Posen. There were and are everywhere in city government, yes in Kreis and provincial government, Jews in unpaid civil service posts. In the past, small cities had paid mayors who were Jews; the capital of Posen was led by a Jew for years, who governed the city in place of the mayor who'd not been approved; in many cities Jews are and were presidents of the city council. If Jews used to be employed in salaried city municipal posts, if today they work everywhere in unsalaried positions, why does one close the higher levels of government to them? Where an office is connected to representation of the state, or where the state has to pay the office holder, from these positions Jews are nearly universally excluded. Nothing will change in the province of Posen, and the Jewish population will not be maintined as a buffer against the Poles in Posen, until they are granted their civil rights in actuality, and until all distinction based on religion disappears from appointing officers, officials, and judiciary
Table A: Number of Jews in the years 1793-1905. The areas are listed by 'Kreis' & broken down by city. I'm assuming everyone can decipher the city names. The first 28 Kreise are for the Posen half of Posen, the second, of 14, is for the Bromberg 1/2 of Posen.
Table B: Total numbers of residents and % of Jewish residents in the years 1849, 1885, & 1905.
Table C: In the year 1905, these numbers had emigrated: Column 1 is the running number assigned to the city. Col. 2 gives the city name. Col. 3 gives the peak year for the Jewish populatiojn, & the % that have emigrated since then. The 4th col. gives the percentage of the population that has emigrated since 1885. All 131 cities are squeezed onto this page, so the 2nd set of 4 columns has the same meaning as the first. The note at the bottom reads: NB: The % of the emigration is futher increased if one were to include the excess of births over deaths; since 1885 this excess would seem to be small.
Table D: Their peaks were reached: , col. 1 is the year. Col. 2 is the number of cities whose Jewish populations peaked that year, & the last column lists their names.
[One of these days I'll scan the tables and include them]