A Supranational Laboratory. Jews and Germans in Minority Diplomacy during the Interwar Period

 

Between 1925 and 1933, Jewish and German minority politicians congregated at the Congress of European Nationalities (ENK). In consultation with further members from other national groups they pushed for adherence to minority laws. In addition to this, they campaigned for the extension of the system to protect minorities – a system established by the Allied and Associated Powers in 1919/1920. This surprising German-Jewish alliance would go on to be forgotten soon after the Second World War. The level of destruction caused to the European Jewish community by the Germans implies any past cooperation had simply “become irrelevant.”[1]

Nevertheless, remembering these combined efforts is significant. The ENK’s pre-diplomatic initiatives offer an insight into the strained political and civil rights constellations of the interwar period. These times were shaped by various supranational organisations trying to influence the European discussion on legal and international relationships. Since the 1920s, both the International Law Organisation (founded in 1873) and the ‘Interparliamentary Union’ (1889) as well as the ‘League of Nations’ (1919) dedicated themselves to issues pertaining to minority laws and approached the League of Nations with memoranda. These organisations, just like the ENK, represented the attempt to further the democratisation of diplomacy. In contrast to the secret negotiations of respected statesmen, a model of open consultation between chosen representatives was prevelant. Finally, the cooperation of the diverse nationalities within the ENK served (at least for a certain period of time) as a counterbalance to the climate of aggressive nationalism that prevailed after the First World War and as a result of the Paris Peace Treaty. As decreed in its first resolution in 1925 – and from its outset – the congress committed itself to programmes dedicated to the persuit of “the reproachment of the people and therefore for peace in Europe.”[2] For this reason, participating parties committed themselves to desist from any claims for the revision of borders.

The German-Jewish cooperation within the ENK was restricted to a very limited circle of people. The Jewish delegates, mainly originating from Eastern Europe, asserted a “zionist- type understanding of the Jews as a nation.”[3] This point of view, however, was rejected by the predominantly assimilated Jews living in Germany, England, France and Hungary. This group, in contrast, regarded the Jewish population to be a religious community and strived for extensive acculturation into the majority society. On the German side, contrarily, it was in particular the liberal-democratic representatives from the Baltic countries that defined the German-Jewish relationship. It was this group who advocated for their integration into their respective states and for their unreserved engagement with political institutions while refusing any form of irredentism. Most notably after the beginning of the 1930s though, their position within the German minorities was weakened in favor of conservative, occasionally even National Socialist powers.

This period of cooperation – central to this paper – therefore occurred mainly between minority fractions within the German and Jewish minority groups. Before highlighting the activities of the Congress of European Nationalities in more detail, a brief outline of the historical conditions surrounding its foundation will be given. This section includes the situation of the national minorities in Eastern Europe at the end of the First World War as well as after the establishment of the minority protection system during the Paris Peace Conference.

 

Minorities and minority protection after the First World War

Between the First and the Second World War, the issue of national minorities in Europe reached a new degree of intensity. Since the end of the three multiethnic empires (which included the Hapsburgs, the Osmanian and the Russian Empire), and after shifts in borders, territory adjustments and the reestablishment of nine states in the East and the Southeast of Europe, the demographic groups which were not part of a titular nation found themselves confronted with discrimination and homogenization efforts. These conditions affected approximately 35 million[4] people. In Poland, for example, almost one third of the entire population consisted of Germans, Jews, Ukrainians and Belarusians.[5] During the Paris Peace Conference in 1919/1920, the Allied and Associated major powers insisted on the creation of a minority protection system. This occurred in opposition to the partly intense resistance typical of the states harboring minorities. Central to this system were the minority treaties[6] signed with Poland on the 28th June 1919, which also served as the foundation for treaties with 13 further states. In detail, the regulations defined were supposed to ensure the protection of life and freedom, independent of a person’s origin, nationality, language or religion. Furthermore, the treaty guaranteed their equal treatment through offical public offices and the right to a profession while preserving their right to the public use of their respective languages and to their own schools and religious, social as well as cultural institutions. The League of Nations, established in 1920, was given the responsibility of monitoring adherance to these treaties.

More than 5.5 million Jews were among the minority population of Eastern Europe. Because they could not rely on the assistance of their home states in cases of conflict, it was these minotiries who had a special interest in the regulations set by international law. Therefore, the Jewries in France and England, the United States, Palestine and the regions of Eastern Europe sent delegates to Paris. The delegates of the United States and the representatives of the Zionist Organisation congregated in the Comité des délégations juives auprés de la conférence de la paix[7], which stayed active even beyond the peace conferences. In doing so, they did not just advocate for “Jews alone”, but also “…for all forms and types of minorities.”[8] They also drafted countless memoranda, aiming to convince “peacemakers”[9] of the importance of their demands and journalistically promoted the signing of the minority treaties.[10]

The Jews originating in the East of Europe that supported minority rights the most were those who believed that the Jews formed not only a religious community, but a modern nation as well. However, this belief was not shared by the majority of the region’s Jews, which represented a heterogeneity similar to that of Southern and South Eastern Europe. Thus, orthodoxy, Jewish socialism and Zionism – the latter distinctly reinforced by the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 – had formed modern political movements or parties. At the same time, two types of Jewish communities had developed, typically denoted as ‘Western European’ and ‘Eastern European’.[11] Members of the former group persued acculturation or assimilation into the majority population. They commonly belonged to the middle class, largely having distanced themselves from the Yiddish language. Furthermore, they identified with the liberal Jewish community seeking reform and perceived themselves as Jews in a solely religious conception (such as in Bohemia and Moravia or in Hungary). In contrast, members of the latter group were hardly acculturated, mostly belonged to the lower middle class or the proletarian class and fostering the Yiddish language. Moreover, they followed orthodoxy, lived predominantly in a traditional Shtetl and formed religious or national Jewish concepts of themselves (e.g. in the Carpathian part of Ukraine or in Poland).

During the pre-war period, this development resulted in a broad range of experiences in terms of legal, economic and social recognition. After the war, however, these experiences widely assimilated themselves, since Jews everywhere were threatened by upcoming nationalism and antisemitism – resulting in pogrom-like violence and various forms of degradation. On the international political scene, it was especially the proponents of national-cultural autonomy as well as the Zionists who demanded protection and rights, and a commonwealth for the Jewish people. As early as the end of the World War, several of these proponents, in their role as delegates of Jewish National Assemblies, had already represented the interests of their communities within the new constituent states.[12] They were convinced that Jewish minority problems could only be solved by supranational institutions since traditional forms of advocacy (Shtadlanut) were not sufficiently addressing their concerns. For this reason, the National Assemblies affiliated themselves with the Comité des délégations juivesat the Paris Peace Conference.

Although the German minorities in the East of Europe looked back at a different history, their experience resulted in an orientation towards the international protection of minorities as well. In general, historic minorities can be distinguished from situational minorities by nature of their proximity and distance from their home state.[13] Historic minorities were those that had lived amongst other nationalities or majority populations for a long time. One example of this type of minority were the German-speaking inhabitants of the Baltic areas, whose first settlements dated back to the 12th century. Generally, it can be stated that because of their proximal distance, the historic German minorities had no aspirations whatsoever in following the German Reich. Instead, they widely stayed loyal to their new states, to which they had been members since 1919.

As a consequence of the First World War, the German Reich lost approximately 13 percent of its territory and ten percent of its entire population.[14] The German population groups which found themselves as minorities due to land seizures, can be denoted as situational or border minorities. The Germans in Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia or in the West and East of Prussia were all examples of these. Their allegiance was completely to the German Reich and their overriding future objective was the revision of borders and the ultimate reconnection to the German Reich.

The German minorities within Europe formed advocacy groups as early as the beginning of the 1920s. This initiative can be traced back mostly to the representatives of the historic minorities.[15] Thus, the Hungarian Rudolf Brandsch (1880-1953) and the Estonian Ewald Ammende (1892-1936) [Illustration 2 and 3] were leading minds behind the planning of these advocacy groups. In October 1922, the committee of German minorities was founded with German minorities from 13 states belonging to it. However, many representatives were convinced that only a supranational organisation would be suitable against the Genevan minority protection system.[16]

A parliament of European minorities

With the constitution of the Congress of European Nationalities[17] (ENK) in October 1925, the attempt to combine forces between the minority movements reached a new level. Fourty-five delegates from 12 countries travelled to Geneva in order to participate in the first convention, which was held in close proximity to the seat of the League of Nations. In their glory days, these annual conventions – taking place between 1925 and 1938 – were visited by delegates from up to 33 countries. A public office, first established in Geneva then in Vienna coordinated all tasks and, at the same time, was instructed to build a larger audience to hear the concerns of the ENK.

Inititally the foreign office in Berlin strongly opposed the idea of a congress due to two specific concerns. On the one hand, the Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann (1878-1929) found the diplomatic climate of the policy of rapprochement with France to be threatened by what he perceived to be its ‘non-official’ interference. Given that the negotiations in Locarno were taking place at the same time as the first ENK, Stresemann saw his aspirations for joining the League of Nations compromised.[18] On the other hand, the “de facto recognition of German minorities to German-side claimed territories in a polish state”[19] was seen to clash with Berlin’s basic entitlement to revision. Later on, however, Stresemann did employ the ENK for his own political gains and after 1927 the Federal Foreign Office, albeit covert, undertook most of the financing of the congress.

 

From the beginning, as a non-statist council, the ENK strived to represent minorities as the debate on rights developed between the states and the League of Nations. Not only were minorities given a voice, the ENK was also eager to fight for their subject status under international law. In his first speech to the delegates, the Slovenian solicitor Josip Wilfan (1887-1955) [Illustration 4], who had been appointed President, emphasised that: “If the minority problem, no matter how different it is in the invidivual states, can exist so that no one else disuptes it, and if the solution, as would be undoubtidly the case – is of vital significance to peace in Europe and the development of the European people, then […] it’s a recommendation for humanity and democracy […], that this problem be resolved through the listening and shaping of those directly affected, and that includes the miniorities themselves.”[20]

In his speech, Wilfan not only alluded to the minorities’ strong self-assertion but he also spoke to a shared experience derived from a similar history. He maintained that ethnic, religious and cultural factors should be shifted to the background in favor of developing a community based on destiny, whose political concerns were all equally worthy of recognition amongst all participants. The resolutions adopted in the first and the following congresses documented the aspiration to advise and correct the actions of the League of Nations, who were reprimanded for being irresolute. With questions regarding the rights to citizenship and voting, economic equality, the linguistic freedom of choice, cultural autonomy and the regulation for the so-called petition process – with which violations against the minority protection treaty could the brought to the attention of the League of Nations – the ENK repeatedly campaigned for changes in favor of the minorities.[21]

While the foundation of the ENK gave the cooperation of the European minority movement a distinct boost, this specifically affected the German and Jewish actors. Germans and Jews “were the largest of all the minorities in the new middle eastern European states and had their homes in nearly all of these states.”[22] Despite this, the Jewish groups originally postponed their commitment to participating in the congress. The rumors circulating around Geneva implying that Germany was covertly subsidising the cooperation so as to install an apparently neutral instrument for its revision politics, initially caused them to doubt the political motives behind the venture.[23] With 25 representatives, however, they later became the second largest delegation after their German counterparts.

Alongside the General Secretary of the Comité des délégations juives Leo Motzkin (1867-1933) [Illustration 5], people such as Jacob Robinson (1889-1977) from Lithuania, Emil Margulies (1877-1943) from Czechoslovakia, Max Laserson (1887-1951) from Latvia and Jakob Grünbaum (1879-1970), originally from Poland, were found among the ranks. All of them had functioned in Jewish national or Zionistic parties and movements. For many reasons, the Congress of Nationalities offered them a much appreciated forum. The congress enhanced their internal sense of self by emphasizing the Comité’s and the Zionists’ belief that Jews should be considered national minorities in the countries of the diaspora. Their acceptance into the ENK implicitly signified a triumph over the beliefs of the French and British Jewish representatives (called the Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Joint Foreign Committee) both of which strongly opposed this perception. Externally, the congress offered the possibility for prevelant Jewish issues and other related topics to be presented. This afforded them both publicity and the recognition of their demands. Jewish minorities at the time were being repressed by the Polish, Romanian and Hungarian governments (experiencing restrictions in access to educational facilities, denial of citizenship or reduced rights on the use of their own language). In light of the League of Nations’ policy to leave these actions unsanctioned in the 1920s, the Jewish delegates considered the ENK to be an important institution for addressing these abuses.[24]

From the start, the Baltic Germans Paul Schiemann (1876-1944) [Illustration 6] and Ewald Ammende maintained a close relationship to the Vice President Leo Motzkin. As both originated from the historical minority fraction of the Jewish population, they looked back together on a shared minority experience. This experience paired with the geographical distance to the German Reich had manifested itself in a pragmatic attitude towards their respective titular nation without them having backed down on their demands for the protection and exercising of cultural characteristics.

At the ENK, they had already partially cooperated with minority fractions from their respective state parliaments. This personal closeness and mutual history was supplemented by a shared program consensus. Both Schiemann and Motzkin advocated to improve understanding that solving the minority question was central to the de-escalation of national rivalries within Europe. To them, the Congress of Nationalities served as a plenary “where representatives from different nations can come together – not in order to fight eachother – but to achieve understanding.”[25] To try to ease the tension between government and minority they referred to the concept of national-cultural autonomy, which had been drafted by the Austro-Marxists Otto Bauer (1881-1938) and Karl Renner (1870-1950) [Illustration 7 and 8] before the First World War. Its objective was to solve the nationality conflicts within the Hapsburg empire. The national minorities demanded the maintenance of cultural and religious institutions such as schools or religious communities, as much self-definition as possible, and financial benefits allocated in the national budget. Conversely, they committed themselves to refraining from irredentist aspirations and to engaging with the respective state with the right level of loyalty and personal identification.[26] In this manner, the concerns and needs of both sides could be accommodated while creating a foundation of mutual appreciation.

One clear issue arising from the German-Jewish cooperation and those with other national groups was the generation of publicity. Although the offices responsible for minority questions – the League of Nations and the governments – were informed of the current situation, it was constantly necessary to raise awareness within the wider public. The ENK intentionally held its annual meetings around a similar time to the conventions of the League of Nations, ensuring that it attract a range of press representatives to Geneva. In 1929, the V Congress decided to put together a collection of reports on the minorities within the ENK. Thus, information material concerning the exact circumstances of each minority group was to be included in session reports, traditionally reserved for topics only relevant to all participants as laid out by statute. The goal was to “provide orientatation for the world’s public around this situation and also […] to start to provide explanations and solutions to some of the most important problems in Europe.”[27] Covering more than 550 pages, 14 nationalities not only described the demographic and legal status quo of their respective countries, but also their individual repression. Jewish representatives contributed with reports on the situation in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Bulgaria.

The main endeavor of the Congress of Nationalities was the reform of the Genevan minority protection system. In order to establish fast and radical sanctioning by the League of Nations in cases of statutory violation, German and Jewish groups worked towards a revision of the petition system up until 1933. The system, established between 1920 and 1923, put the supervision of the minority protection treaties in the hands of the League of Nations.[28] Although this system included a complaints procedure which constituted a profound innovation under international law,[29] in reality, it was a bureaucratic monstrosity suffering countless challenges. It came to light that it offered many “ways in which to restrictively manage the complaints, as well as the chance to not pursue them due to superior political interests.”[30] Since the Council of the League of Nations was ideally interested in solving cases of dispute informally and without diplomatic involvement, complainants could neither further express themselves regarding an issue, nor receive information on the current status of their complaint. Even though the states incriminated were free to submit statements, they often regarded the submission of a complaint to the League of Nations as a sign of disloyalty.[31] Finally, the petition process subverted its own aspiration to assist the minorities with the enforcement of their issues. Instead, it cemented the asymmetrical relation between state and minority.

In 1929, the chance to demand the revision of this complaint process in Geneva presented itself. On the initiative of Germany and Canada, the Council of the League of Nations asked for proposals regarding this matter. In addition to 15 governments, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Union of the League of Nations, the Joint Foreign Committee, the ENK as well as the Comité – which operated under the name Council for the Rights of Jewish Minorities, submitted memorandums with suggestions for process changes.[32] Despite close cooperation between German and Jewish minority representatives, the Jews obviously did not feel as if their status in the ENK’s report had been acknowledged sufficiently. In their paper covering nine topics, they criticised the virulent attacks and discrimination of Jews still occurring in many countries of Eastern Europe. In the memomorandum of the Congress of Nationality, which also demanded profound reforms of the petition system, the exceptional situation of the Jews was not even mentioned.

 

The end of cooperation

Already by the end of the 1920s, particularly after the death of Gustav Stesemann’s in October 1929, German foreign policy was experiencing a shift of focus towards a more confrontational and geographical orientation.[33] This shift to the right, if nothing else, became noticeable to the German minority representatives, where those positions striving for equality were increasingly disadvantaged. In 1931, the Baltic German solicitor Werner Hasselblatt (1890-1958) took over the General Secretariat of the Committee of German Minorities, which in the meantime had been renamed to the Union of German Ethnic Groups in Europe.[34] Soon after his obtaining the function as General Secretary, Hasselblatt realigned the union towards National Socialist nationality politics. Additionally, members of the German Protection Union for Border and Foreign Germanity, founded by the national publicist Max Hildebert Boehm (1891-1968) in 1926, increased their influence within the ENK.[35]

Although the switch to German Reich national politics happened later in 1938[36] and, that year in Stockholm the XIV. and last ‘Congress of Organised National Groups of the European States’ – its full title – took place, the prolific cooperation between German and Jewish minority diplomats had been over long before. A scandal in 1932 had already occurred in which the magazine Nation und Staat, which was aligned closely to the Congress, invited Norbert Gürke (1904-1941), an Austrian expert on international law and a member of the NSDAP, to explain the National Socialist point of view on the minority question. By referring to the Protokolle der Weisen von Zion (The Protocols of the Elders of Zion) Gürke had propagandised the ‘Selection’ of the Jews from the ‘German Nation.’[37] Although Ammende and Schiemann made assurances that the paper’s only purpose was a thorough and critical review of the theses of the Nazis, Leo Motzkin, in particular, was immensely disappointed.[38]

The final break took place after the transfer of power to Hitler in 1933 and the anti-Jewish legislation that was shortly after adopted. Admittedly, the majority of the German Jews did not perceive themselves as a national minority and for that reason, the Comitérarely took action in Germany. In April of 1933, the Comité decided to react to the severe disfranchisements with a press campaign and petitions to the League of Nations; in this context, the Bernheim petition was later submitted to the League of Nations.[39] Furthermore, various international organisations were requested to condemn the politics of the German Reich publicly. With encouragement from Leo Motzkin, this endeavor succeeded at the Congress of the League of Nations, which held a meeting in Montreux in June of 1933. However, public critique of the German Reich’s politics did not take place within the ENK, as the German minority representatives in favor of National Socialism had successfully thwarted the declaration of solidarity of the European minorities for repressed Jews at the IX. Congress in Bern shortly before.

In doing so, they undoubtedly followed the letter and spirit of the statutes of the ENK, which had imposed on itself the obligation not to make any accusations against individual states in order to serve the goal of peaceful understanding.[40] The Jewish delegates, however, could not overcome this formalism, especially since a condemnation of the Soviet Union by name due to the famine in the Ukraine could very well be presented in Bern.[41] When finally a group of German delegates submitted an explanation which warned against the dissimilation theory of Max Hildebert Boehm maintaining that the “Seperation of different types of people, in particular different races or people from different bodies […] is fundamentatlly entitled,”[42] Jewish minority representatives felt vindicated in their doubts on a future cooperation under these circumstances. “One can not, one must not remain silent, this is a question of the right to existence,” Emil Margulies wrote in a newspaper article.[43] “The Jewish Delegation, which represented ‘minorité par excellence,’ left the Congress and was never to return.”[44]

 

What remains?

In 1943, the Jewish ENK representatives Jacob Robinson and Max Laserson analysed the minority protection system, which had fallen apart ever since the termination of the contractual allegiances by Poland in 1934. In their book Were the Minorities Treaties a Failure? they indicated, amongst other points, how after the withdrawal of the Jewish delegates, the situative and border minorities dominated the Congress of Nationalities.[45] Liberal representatives such as Schiemann or Ammende were marginalised more and more. The question does indeed still remain: Was the German-Jewish cooperation within the ENK a failure?

Looking in particular at the last years of the cooperation, the alliance was a fragile one – but this was no exception compared to the other initiatives on the diplomatic scene in the interwar period. At the same time, however, the shared experience of the historical German and Jewish minorities favoured collaboration: What they had in common was the reality of life as a minority in a dominant surrounding society, and the attempt, as loyal citizens, to preserve differences in the pursuit of national and cultural autonomy. They did not strive for border revisions as a means to solving problems, and did not wish to call upon a connational state in cases of discrimination (in the case of the Jews), or sought only to call upon it for conditional reasons (in the case of the Germans – in order to avoid becoming a vehicle of foreign policy.) They were therefore both open in principle to the minority protection system of the League of Nations. On this basis, it was, to a certain extent, possible for the Jewish and at least some of the German actors in the European Congress of Nationalities to overcome, for a brief historical moment, national opposition. A national opposition that would go on to have a profound influence on the first half of the 20th century. As political groups they pursued their own goals, and yet were still able to put aside dividing factors in the interest of universalising their demands for fundamental rights deemed essential by both collectives.

For the representatives of the Comité des délégations juives, it was no small achievement that they won recognition for the national minority of Jews in Eastern Europe through their involvement in the ENK at an international level. This recognition was not  granted to them by the assimilation-oriented Western European Jewish public. The same can be said about the cooperation between Jewish and German minority diplomats. The musings of Robinson and Laserson about the Geneva minority protection system state that: despite the ‘errors and inadequacies’ it was nevertheless a ‘notworthy experiment.’[46]

Endnotes

[1] Motzkin, Gabriel, Nation und Minorität. Zur Geschichte und Wirkung des liberalen Zionismus in der Zwischenkriegzeit, in: Simon-Dubnow-Institut Bulletin I (1999), p. 18–28, here p.18.

[2] Anon., Sitzungsbericht der ersten Konferenz der organisierten nationalen Gruppen in den Staaten Europas im Jahre 1925 zu Genf, n.p., n.d. [1926], p. 43.

[3] Engel, David/Graf, Philipp, Art. Minderheitenrechte, in: Diner, Dan (ed.), Enzyklopädie jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur, vol. 4, Ly–Po, Stuttgart 2013, pp. 189–196, here 192.

[4] Robert Gerwarth (Die Besiegten. Das blutige Erbe des Ersten Weltkriegs, Munich 2017, p. 278) refers to 30 million, Mark Mazower (Hitlers Imperium. Europa unter der Herrschaft des Nationalsozialismus, Munich2010, p. 43) states 36 million. During its foundation, the European Congress of Nationalities estimated 30 million as well. cf. anon., Sitzungsbericht 1925, p. 43. In later publications, 40 million was mostly the estimation. cf. for example: anon., introduction, in: Ammende, Ewald (ed.), Die Nationalitäten in den Staaten Europas. Sammlung von Lageberichten, Vienna/Leipsic 1931, pp. XI–XXIV, here XI.

[5] Cf. Scheuermann, Martin, Minderheitenschutz contra Konfliktverhütung? Die Minderheitenpolitik des Völkerbundes in den zwanziger Jahren, Maribor 2000, p. 88 (numbers from 1921).

[6] Text documented by: Viefhaus, Erwin, Die Minderheitenfrage und die Entstehung der Minderheitenschutzverträge auf der Pariser Friedenskonferenz 1919, Würzburg 1960, p. 231.

[7] Cf Graf, Philipp, Art. Comité des délégations juives, in: Diner, Dan (ed.), Enzyklopädie jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur, vol. 2, Co–Ha, Stuttgart 2012, pp. 13–17.

[8] Motzkin, Leo, Der Genfer Minoritaetenkongress und die juedischen Minderheiten, n.d. [1926], in: Central Zionist Archives Jerusalem, estate of Leo Motzkin, A 126/623-10, p. 1.

[9] Cf. MacMillan, Margaret, Die Friedensmacher. Wie der Versailler Vertrag die Welt veränderte, Berlin 2015.

[10] Cf. Viefhaus, Minderheitenfrage, p. 74ff.; Janowsky, Oscar I., The Jews and Minority Rights (1898–1919), New York 1933, p. 264ff.; Fink, Carol, Defending the Rights of Others. The Great Powers, the Jews, and the International Minority Protection, 1878–1938, Cambridge 2004, p. 193ff. A more sceptic view on the success of the Jewish initiatives is represented by: Engel, David, Perceptions of Power. Poland and World Jewry, in: Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook I (2002), pp. 17–28. According to him, the Americans, the British and the French were mainly interested in calming the relation, between the new found German minority and the majority population in Poland.

[11] Mendelssohn, Ezra, The Jews of East Central Europe Between the World Wars, Bloomington 1983, p. 6ff.

[12] Cf. Silber, Marcos, Art. Nationalräte, in: Diner, Dan (ed.), Enzyklopädie jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur, vol. 4, Ly–Po, Stuttgart 2013, pp. 328–337.

[13] Cf. Diner, Dan, Between Empire and Nation State, in: Bartov, Omer/Weitz, Eric D. (ed.), Shatterzones of Empires. Coexistence and Violence in The German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands, Bloomington/Indianapolis 2013, p. 61–79, here 67.

[14] Cf. Büttner, Ursula, Weimar. Die überforderte Republik 1918–1933, Stuttgart 2008, p. 125.

[15] Cf. Luther, Tammo, Volkstumspolitik des Deutschen Reiches 1933–1938. Die Auslandsdeutschen im Spannungsfeld zwischen Traditionalisten und Nationalsozialisten, Stuttgart 2004, p. 50f.

[16] Cf. Hiden, John, Art. Europäischer Nationalitätenkongress, in: Diner, Dan (ed.), Enzyklopädie jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur, vol. 2, Co–Ha, Stuttgart 2012, p. 285–289, hier 285f.

[17] Cf. Michaelsen, Nationaliäten-Kongreß, p. 76.

[18] Cf. Michaelsen, Nationaliäten-Kongreß, p. 76.

[19] Bamberger-Stemmann, Nationalitätenkongress, p. 80.

[20] Speech Josip Wilfan, in: Sitzungsbericht 1925, p. 13–15, here 15.

[21] See for example the resolution “Die Lage der Nationalitäten und der Völkerbund,” in: Sitzungsbericht des Kongresses der organisierten nationalen Gruppen in den Staaten Europas, Geneva, 29. bis 31. August 1928, Vienna/Leipsic 1928, p. 162f.

[22] Viefhaus, Minderheitenfrage, p. 161.

[23] Núñez, Xosé M., Internationale Politik, Minderheitenfrage und nationale Autonomie: Der Europäische Nationalitätenkongreß (1925–1938), in: Timmermann, Heiner (ed.), Nationalismus und Nationalbewegung in Europa 1914–1945, Berlin 1999, p. 39–70, here 50.

[24] Motzkin, Leo, Völkerbund und Judenpolitik, n.d. [1930], in: Central Zionist Archives Jerusalem, Nachlass Leo Motzkin, A 126/686-265, p. 16.

[25] Speech of Leo Motzkin, in: Sitzungsbericht des Kongresses der organisierten nationalen Gruppen in den Staaten Europas, Geneva 25. bis 27. August 1926, n.p., n.d. [1927], p. 30–33, here 33.

[26] Schiemann, Paul, Die national-kulturelle Autonomie, in: Rigasche Rundschau, 2.2.1924, p. 1–2; Motzkin, Leo, Les Revendications Nationales des Juifs, in: Comité des délégation juives (ed.), Les Droits Nationaux des Juifs en Europe Orientale, Paris 1919, p. 7–30. Motzkin was also guided by the programme adopted at the Third Conference of Russian Zionists held in Helsingfor in 1906, which called for national autonomy, and by the reflections of the Russian-Jewish historian Simon Dubnow. (1860–1941).

[27] Ammende, Ewald, preface, in: Ders. (ed.), Die Nationalitäten in den Staaten Europas. Sammlung von Lageberichten, Vienna/Leipsic 1931, p. IX–XIII, here XIII.

[28] Cf. Scheuermann, Minderheitenschutz, p. 30ff.

[29] Cf. Pritchard, Sarah, Der völkerrechtliche Minderheitenschutz. Historische und neuer Entwicklungen, Berlin 2001, p. 85.

[30] Scheuermann, Minderheitenschutz, p. 38. For the years 1920 to 1934, the author lists about 150 admissible complaints and more than twice as many inadmissible complaints, i.e. rejected complaints. ibid., p. 413, 494.

[31] Cf. Kessler, Wolfgang, Die gescheiterte Integration. Die Minderheitenfrage in Ostmitteleuropa 1919–1939, in: Lemberg, Hans (ed.), Osteuropa zwischen den beiden Weltkrieg (1918–1939). Stärke und Schwäche der neuen Staaten, nationale Minderheiten, Maribor 1997, p. 161–188, here 175.

[32] All petitions were documented in 1929 in issue 11/12 of the journal Nation und Staat.

[33] Cf. Peukert, Detlev, Die Weimarer Republik. Krisenjahre der Klassischen Moderne, Frankfurt on the Main 1987, p. 202.

[34] Cf. Hackmann, Jörg, Werner Hasselblatt (1890–1958). Von der estländischen Kulturautonomie zur nationalsozialistischen Bevölkerungspolitik, in: Pistohlkors, Gert (ed.), Staatliche Einheit und nationale Vielfalt im Baltikum, Munich 2000, p. 175–205, here 188f.

[35] Cf. Nesemann, Frank, Minderheitendiplomatie. Leo Motzkin zwischen Imperien und Nationen, in Diner, Dan (ed.), Synchrone Welten. Zwischenräume jüdischer Geschichte, Göttingen 2005, p. 147–171, here 168.

[36] Cf. Luther, Volkstumspolitik, p. 9.

[37] Cf. Gürke, Norbert, Der Nationalsozialismus, das Grenz- und Auslandsdeutschtum und das Nationalitätenrecht, in: Nation und Staat 6(10) 1932, p. 7–30, here 20.

[38] Cf. Nesemann, Minderheitendiplomatie, p. 166f.

[39] Cf. Graf, Philipp, Die Bernheim-Petition 1933. Jüdische Politik in der Zwischenkriegszeit, Göttingen 2008.

[40] Cf. Hiden, Europäischer Nationalitätenkongress, p. 288.

[41] Cf. Glass, Hildrun, Ende der Gemeinsamkeit. Zur deutsch-jüdischen Kontroverse auf dem Europäischen Nationalitätenkongress 1933, in: Leipziger Beiträge zur jüdischen Geschichte und Kultur 2 (2004), p. 259–282, here 277.

[42] Speech contribution by Hans Otto Roth, in: Sitzungsbericht des Kongresses der organisierten nationalen Gruppen in den Staaten Europas, Bern, 16. bis 19. September 1933, Vienna/Leipsic 1934, p. 25–26, here 26.

[43] Margulies, Emil, Der Kongress der nation. Minderheiten. Ein Rückblick, ein Bericht und ein Abschied, in: Ostjüdische Zeitung, 11. Oktober 1933, p. 3–4.

[44] Arendt, Hannah, Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft, Munich 1986 [1951], p. 427.

[45] Robinson, Jacob a.o., Were the Minorities Treaties a Failure?,  New York 1943, p. 247f.

[46] ibid., p. 265.

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Authors

Marcel Müller
Momme Schwarz

Published on October 23, 2020