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Pogroms and Riots

German Press Responses to Anti-Jewish Violence in Germany and Russia (1881-1882)

Sonja Weinberg

The establishment of universal manhood suffrage and legal equality for Jews in Germany in the 1860s and 1870s gave way to the rise of political anti-Semitism to a degree not witnessed before. In Russia too, as a consequence of the reform era (1855-1881), the «Jewish Question» became one of the most hotly debated topics. In 1881 and 1882 the anti-Semitic climate in Germany and Russia culminated in anti-Jewish pogroms sweeping over parts of Prussia and Southern Russia. This study explores the heated debate which unfolded in 1881 and 1882 in the German press in response to these events. The simultaneity of the pogroms in Russia and Germany offers a unique opportunity to examine the response of German commentators to both domestic and foreign anti-Jewish violence.


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Part II The Conservative Struggle against Liberalism 53


53 Part II The Conservative Struggle against Liberalism The Neue Preussische Zeitung, known as the Kreuzzeitung (a reference to the cross on its masthead) was German conservatism’s most prestigious newspaper. Primarily addressing members of the old Prussian aristocracy and devout Protes- tants, the newspaper derived its influence not least from the ‘Kreuzzeitung group’, whose politically influential members consisted of three main elements: the editor, Baron Wilhelm von Hammerstein-Schwartov, the ‘Old Conserva- tives’ and the party activists. Baron Wilhelm von Hammerstein-Schwartov was a member of the Prussian House of Deputies and of the Reichstag. He had suc- ceeded Benno von Niebelschütz as editor-in-chief in November 1881.148 Two of his closest aides were Baron Eduard von Ungern-Sternberg (co-editor of the Conservative Party newspaper Conservative Correspondenz and the prestigious Konservative Monatsschrift) and Hermann Kropatschek who succeeded Ham- merstein as editor in 1895. The Old Conservatives (also known as ‘High Con- servatives’ or ‘Ultras’) adhered to the old conservative ideals such as the restora- tion of the full rights of the church and a hierarchical socioeconomic order. Many sat in the Prussian House of Deputies and regarded Hammerstein, and the court preacher Adolf Stöcker, as their leaders.149 The party activists were drawn from networks all over Germany, organised in Bürgervereine (citizens associa- tions) in Berlin and conservative Vereine (associations) in the provinces. The Kreuzzeitung group also had the support of important ministers and generals in- cluding the Prussian Minister of the Interior Robert von Puttkamer, the Minister of Cultural and Ecclesiastical...

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