2 3 4 D O C . 5 6 H O W I B E C A M E A Z I O N I S T
57. “How I Became a Zionist”
[Einstein 1921h]
The interview on which this document is based was conducted before 30 May 1921.
Published 21 June 1921
In: Jüdische Rundschau, 21 June 1921, pp. 351–352.
Until one generation ago, Jews in Germany did not consider themselves as mem-
bers of the Jewish people. They merely considered themselves members of a reli-
gious community, and many still retain this point of view today. They are indeed
far better assimilated than Russian Jews. They have attended mixed schools and
have adapted to the German people and to their cultural life. Yet, in spite of the
official equal rights they enjoy, there is a strong social anti-Semitism. And it is
especially the educated circles who support the anti-Semitic movement. They
have even established a “science” of anti-Semitism, while the intellectuals of Rus-
sia, at least prior to the war, usually were philo-Semitic and frequently made hon-
est attempts to fight the anti-Semitic movement. This is rooted in diverse causes.
To some extent, this phenomenon is due to the fact that Jews exert an influence on
the intellectual life of the German people that far exceeds their numbers in the
population. While, in my opinion, the economic position of the German Jews is
grossly overestimated, Jewish influence on the press, literature, and science in
Germany is indeed very strong and impresses even a superficial observer. Very
many are not anti-Semites, however, and are honest in their argumentations. They
consider Jews to comprise a nationality different from that of the German and,
therefore, feel themselves threatened in their national identity by growing Jewish
influence. While perhaps the percentage of Jews, for example in England, is not
much less significant than in Germany, English Jews certainly do not have the
same influence on English society and culture, even though they have access to
the highest official positions there, and a Jew can be nominated—something that
is unthinkable in Germany—to be Lord Chief Justice or Viceroy of India.
Anti-Semitism frequently is a question of political calculation. Whether or not
somebody admits to his anti-Semitism is often merely a question of which party
he belongs to. A socialist, even if he is a convinced anti-Semite, will not confess
or act on his conviction because it does not fit into the program of his party. For
[p. 351]
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