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Mendheim et al



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 22nd 03, 06:37 AM
michael adams
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Posts: n/a
Default Mendheim et al

Nick wrote:

OT: This post discusses some issues of German Jewish history and culture,
which have been raised by Jeremy Spinrad and Simon Spivack.

Chapman billy wrote in message news:
. ..
Jerry Spinrad wrote
Mendheim, who was born in approximately 1788 and
died in about 1836, was apparently financially
successful, allowing him to pursue his love for
chess more freely than many others of the period."


Mendheim almost certainly had to have been a man of means.
Here are a few selected quotes from "Jews, Idols, and
Messiahs" by Lionel Kochan (Basil Blackwell 1990 edition).

From page 45 (discussing Berlin circa 1750)
"This made Berlin one of the largest Jewish communities
in all the German lands. It was also one of the
wealthiest. The original settlers of 1671 were required
to be 'people of substance', and in 1674 after the
settlement, twelve of them assured the great elector that
this would remain so: they promised to take action
against 'incapable persons' seeking to secure unlicensed
residential status in Berlin."

From page 49 (re. the Jew's commission, 1750 revision)
"The commission was required to ensure that the number of
licensed Jewish families in Berlin would never exceed
100; that any foreign Jew admitted must possess a capital
of 4,000-6,000 reichthaler".

From page 59 quoting the then indigent Soloman Maimon
"'I would put an end to my misery... because, as all are
aware, no beggar Jew is allowed in this town of royal residence.'"


'...quo nos fata trahunt retrahuntque sequamur'
'...where fate takes us, we must follow.'
--Salomon Maimon (1753-1800) (1791, Geschichte des eigenen Lebens, p. 205)

Dear Mr. Spinrad and Mr. Spivack,

I have not yet come across any additional facts about Mendheim or Isaac Hess.
Yet I am pleased to find other people who may share some of my interests in
German Jewish history and culture.

"Life under the protectorate of this powerful, great, moral, splendidly
administered, firmly governed Germany can only have the most salutary effects
on the Jewish national character....Strange ways of destiny! Through Zionism
it will again be possible for Jews to love this Germany to which our hearts
remained attached despite everything."
--Theodor Herzl (7 October 1898, from his diary)

Jerry Spinrad wrote
Why might there be an attempt to minimize the influence
of Mendheim, and why would he not be a member of the more
exclusive chess club? Perhaps he was simply a difficult
character; why was he conducting the club's coorespondence
games by himself, for example? However, another possibility
gets into one of the thorniest issues I can imagine, the
place of Jews in Germany. In different groups and at different
times in history, Jews were both completely accepted as Germans,
and (famously) treated more inhumanly than most of us can
imagine. Mendheim, as you might have guessed by now, was Jewish.
The best chess players of Berlin, such as Bledow who was
definitely a member of the intellectual elite, may not
have discriminated against Jews (Horwitz, who was one of
the Pleiades who formed around Bledow, was Jewish and a
student of Mendheim's), but I certainly think it is
possible that later Germans might feel more comfortable
with Bledow as the founder of modern German chess rather
than Mendheim. I have no proof of this, which all comes
from my reading of a foreign language, and I would love
to hear other opinions.


"Some (e.g. Daniel Goldhagen in 'Hitler's Willing Executioners') claim to have
discerned an inexorable pattern in German history preordained from Luther's
days to culminate in the Nazi Holocaust. According to this theory, German Jews
were doomed from the outset, their fate as immutable as a law of nature. Such
absolute certainties have eluded me. I have found only a series of ups and
downs and a succession of unforeseeable contingencies, none of which seem to
have been inevitable. Alongside the Germany of anti-Semitism there was a
Germany


Jeezus, fricken Christopher, 'we' already know this - Nickodermus, what to be blunt is your arguement? yawwn!..


of enlightened liberalism, humane concern, civilised rule of law,
good government, social security, and thriving social democracy. Even Hitler's
rise to power in January 1933 was not the result of electoral success (the
Nazis' share of the vote had seriously declined in the fall of 1932). Rather,
Hitler's triumph was the product of backstage machinations by conservative
politicians and industrialists who overcame the hesitations of a senile
president by convincing him (and themselves) that they were 'hiring' Hitler to
restore order and curb the trade unions. Installing Hitler as chancellor was
not the only alternative at the time.

Hindsight is not necessarily the best guide to understanding what really
happened. The past is often as distorted by hindsight as it is clarified by
it. Jean-Francois Lyotard, a wise Frenchman, has said that the Holocaust was
an earthquake that destroyed not only the topography but the seismographs as
well, leaving us to wander dumbfounded in the ruins. Circular, self-fulfilling
arguments are of little help in recovering the topography. Such arguments tend
to deflect backward from the Holocaust to the Middle Ages or the eighteenth
century, when Jews were beginning to trade their 'nationhood' for the pottage
of an illusory emancipation. From there they plunge ahead to a seemingly
preordained end. Accusations of 'self-hatred', so frequently flung at
assimilated German Jews, usually with scarce justification, are also of little
use. In most cases, it was eminently possible to assimilate without hating
oneself or despising one's roots. The history of Jewish assimilation, not
only in Germany, has long been a subversive subject, which the assimilated
have suppressed so as not to draw attention to themselves, and the Zionists,
for equally self-interested reasons, have distorted. Fritz Stern, perhaps
the foremost expert on this subject, has argud that the history of the
assimilated Jews of Germany was much more than the history of a tragedy; it
was also, for a long time, the story of an extraordinary success: 'We must
understand the triumphs in order to understand the tragedy.' We must see the
German Jews in the context of their time and, at the very least, appreciate
their authenticity, the way they saw themselves and others, often with reason.
For long periods, they had cause to believe in their ultimate integration,
as did most Jews elsewhere in Western Europe, in the United States, and even
in czarist Russia. It as touch and go almost to the end.

As we contemplate the story of the German Jews we are seized with a sense of
the transience and precariousness of human achievement. We are moved by the
loses, by their struggle and pain. A line by Cato the Elder that Hannah Arendt,
a quintessential assimilated German Jew, often cited approvingly, comes to mind:
'The victorious cause pleases the gods but the defeated one pleases Cato.'"

--Amos Elon (The Pity of It All, pp. 11-2)

In Mendheim's lifetime (1788?-1836?), Deutschland was still a 'geographical
expression' (to quote Metternich's comment on Italy), not yet the unified
nation-state and ambitious empire that it would become in Bismarck's day.
Mendheim's general standing among other German chess-players might have been
affected by the 'Hep! Hep!' anti-Jewish riots of 1819, when mobs ran wild
through many German towns, looting and demolishing Jewish homes and shops,
while shouting: 'Hep! Hep! Jude verreck!' ('Death to the Jews!').

('Hep' is an acronym for 'Hierosolyma est perdita' (Jerusalem is lost), a
battle-cry of the Christian crusades. 'Verrecken' is a German verb normally
applied only to animals.)


yawwwwn!..


On the other hand, German public opinion (insofar as it can be assessed now)
did not always support the anti-Semites then. Several years before the 'Hep!
Hep!' riots, there was a well-known incident (which later was adapted into
a popular play, 'The Power of Circumstances', by Ludwig Robert) when an
arrogant Prussian aristocrat insulted the family of a young Jew, Hitzig, who
then challenged him to a duel. The Prussian aristocrat declined on the
grounds that it should be beneath his dignity to engage in an 'affair of
honour' with any lowly creature such as a Jew. Thereupon, Hitzig used his
walking stick to thrash the Prussian aristocrat in public.


Jeezus, save me from this nutcase, yawwwn, yawwwn, yawwwwwnnn!..

At his trial for
criminal assault, Hitzig was treated leniantly by the sympathetic judge, who
was backed by a reputedly generally sympathetic public.

Here are some books for further reading:

"Cultures of the Jews: a New History" edited by David Biale is a collection of
scholarly essays and an excellent introduction to Jewish studies in general.

"The Pity of It All: a History of Jews in Germany, 1743-1933" by Amos Elon

"Einstein's German World" by Fritz Stern is a collection of his essays.

In his chapter, 'The Past Distorted: the Goldhagen Controversy', Fritz Stern
denounces Daniel Goldhagen's popular but deeply flawed book, "Hitler's Willing
Executioners". (Stern was a German Jewish refugee who had fled the Nazis.)

"'Hitler's Willing Executioners' and its reception in the United States aroused
instant concern in Germany....just before the German translation was published,
'Die Zeit', Germany's celebrated weekly, which had already given uncommon,
perhaps unwarranted, attention to the book, allotted Goldhagen exceptional
space to respond to what he called 'The Failure of the Critics'. In his
response, Goldhagen attacked all his critics and rejected all their arguments--
with dazzling arrogance. He accused them not only of failing to answer central
questions but even of failing to ask them....But these scholarly critics
include precisely those liberal German historians who for decades have done
the most to analyse and document the nature and atrocities of the Third Reich,
who by meticulous research have established the complicity of so many German
individuals and institutions, including the churches and the Wehrmacht.
Goldhagen *nowhere acknowledges* the immense, courageous labours of these
German historians and writers, wo have presented their people with as stark
and honest a portrait of their past as is possible--and have done so to the
irritation of many 'ordinary Germans' who would prefer not to be reminded of
the uniqueness of that past....

The astounding reception of so polemical and pretentious a book can hardly be
attributed solely to its topic or thesis. Shrill, simplistic explanations of
monstrous crimes obviously command attention, but there is more at work he
the author's ceaseless boast of radical originality was endorsed on the book's
jacket by two well-known scholars, both distinguished in fields *other than
German history*....The American and German publishers touted the book with all
the great promotional power at their command. Perhaps Goldhagen's manipulated,
public-relations-orchestrated success tells us more about the culture of the
present than the book's substance tells us about the horrors of the past."

--Fritz Stern (Einstein's German World, pp. 285-8)

'Scholars of Wisdom have no rest in this world or in the world to come.'
--Talmudic saying

And any true 'Scholar of Wisdom' should not believe that 'vox populi, vox Dei'
would apply to the honest study of history.

'Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht,
Dann bin ich um den Schlaf gebracht.'

'I think of Germany at night
The thought keeps me awake till light.'

--Heinrich Heine (Nachtgedanken)

--Nick


Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn!, jeez, sorry Nickadermic..

  #2  
Old July 22nd 03, 06:52 AM
michael adams
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Mendheim et al

Nick wrote:

OT: This post corrects a few errors in my previous post.

(Nick) wrote in message om...
'...quo nos fata trahunt retrahuntque sequamur'
'...where fate takes us, we must follow.'
--Salomon Maimon (1753-1800) (1791, Geschichte des eigenen Lebens, p. 205)


According to David Biale in 'Cultures of the Jews: a New History', Maimon's
memoir was first published in 1792, but Amos Elon claims that it was in 1791.

"As we contemplate the story of the German Jews we are seized with a sense of
the transience and precariousness of human achievement. We are moved by the
loses, by their struggle and pain. A line by Cato the Elder that Hannah


Sorry for the typo: 'We are moved by the *losers*...'


You sir! now acheive the status of a wet - fart & I'm sure you enjoy
the acknowledgement..










Arendt, a quintessential assimilated German Jew, often cited approvingly,
comes to mind: 'The victorious cause pleases the gods but the defeated one
pleases Cato.'"
--Amos Elon (The Pity of It All, pp. 11-2)
...
Here are some books for further reading:

"Cultures of the Jews: a New History" edited by David Biale is a collection of
scholarly essays and an excellent introduction to Jewish studies in general.

"The Pity of It All: a History of Jews in Germany, 1743-1933" by Amos Elon

"Einstein's German World" by Fritz Stern is a collection of his essays.

In his chapter, 'The Past Distorted: the Goldhagen Controversy', Fritz Stern
denounces Daniel Goldhagen's popular but deeply flawed book, "Hitler's Willing
Executioners". (Stern was a German Jewish refugee who had fled the Nazis.)

"'Hitler's Willing Executioners' and its reception in the United States
aroused instant concern in Germany....just before the German translation was
published, 'Die Zeit', Germany's celebrated weekly, which had already given
uncommon, perhaps unwarranted, attention to the book, allotted Goldhagen
exceptional space to respond to what he called 'The Failure of the Critics'.
In his response, Goldhagen attacked all his critics and rejected all their
arguments--with dazzling arrogance. He accused them not only of failing to
answer central questions but even of failing to ask them....But these
scholarly critics include precisely those liberal German historians who for
decades have done the most to analyse and document the nature and atrocities
of the Third Reich, who by meticulous research have established the
complicity of so many German individuals and institutions, including the
churches and the Wehrmacht. Goldhagen *nowhere acknowledges* the immense,
courageous labours of these German historians and writers, wo have presented


Sorry for the typo: '*who* have presented...'

their people with as stark and honest a portrait of their past as is possible
--and have done so to the irritation of many 'ordinary Germans' who would
prefer not to be reminded of the uniqueness of that past....
--Fritz Stern (Einstein's German World, pp. 285-8)


"Many 'ordinary Germans'" are not the only people in the world 'who would
prefer not to be reminded of' some historical facts or who would like to
silence the scholars who do that 'reminding'.

'Scholars of Wisdom have no rest in this world or in the world to come.'
--Talmudic saying

And any true 'Scholar of Wisdom' should not believe that 'vox populi, vox Dei'
would apply to the honest study of history.


--Nick


 




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