The Dispute over the Leadership of German Jewry 1933-1938
Until 1933 a multiplicity of institutions and organizations exemplified the German Jewish community. With the establishment of the Third Reich, a marked reorganization was called for. However, internal opposition often prevented the implementation of the required changes. Two central institutions were eventually established: the central Committee for Relief and Rehabilitation and the National Representation of Jews in Germany. In effect, Leo Baeck and Otto Hirsch headed the two central bodies. However, the assimilationists and the independent Orthodox community refused to recognize a central body representing all the Jews. Georg Kareski was another who opposed the central body. He visualized the future plight of Jews and called for mass immigration to Palestine. He was even willing to cooperate with the Gestapo to achieve this aim. The old, well-established, affluent community leaders were not willing to give up or share their power with the younger generation. The wealthy Berlin community comprising one-third of German Jewry believed it should lead the central bodies and opposed any other arrangement. Such factional differences and schisms often overshadowed the crucial basic problems of reacting to antisemitic decrees. The central committees failed in that they did not commit themselves to mass emigration.