Die Jüdische Rundschau on the Herrnfeld Theatre

The Anti-Semitic Brothers Herrnfeld

Die Jüdische Rundschau on the Herrnfeld Theatre

N.N., Jüdische Rundschau, Aug. 28, 1908

Under this headline in the Berlin weekly “Die Standarte,” we find the following, especially topical observations of the “Flâneur”:

“There is, in Berlin, an association for the repudiation of anti-Semitism, which no doubt has already had some pacific and salubrious effects. At least one notices that things have calmed down somewhat in this area. It has long been considered uncouth to be an anti-Semite; on the contrary, tolerance is quite in fashion now, and even the most feudal Aryans coquettishly strike up relations with their wealthy, albeit eastern, citizens.

This makes it all the more unpleasant that in Berlin, of all places, a most pernicious and unpleasant remnant of the old anti-Semitic hooliganism still holds on tenaciously. I have in mind the Theatre of the Brothers Herrnfeld, which for years has been at pains to defame Judaism and the Jewish character in the crudest manner imaginable, and to present the entirety of German Jews as rubes or vagabonds. It is no secret that such anti-Semitic propaganda plays are the specialty of this theatre; and it is just as well known that the theatre on Kommandantenstrasse attracts an audience made up almost exclusively of pure-blooded Christians. Most of them are no doubt anti-Semites, come to get the oppression of Jews handed to them on a plate. Particularly now, when Berlin is full of holiday-makers from Uckermark and Pomerania, they can have a field day. Night after night, the Herrnfeld Theatre is full of those walking blond giants who have come to watch the gibberish and mindless shenanigans up on stage and will go home and tell everyone how Berlin’s Jews really are not worth the powder and shot.

A particularly unpleasant blow must be mentioned, which can only be shrugged off with that delightful word “swinishness.” The Herrnfeld Theatre’s most recent piece, “That’s What You Get,” is an astounding achievement on this score, breaking all previous records of Mssrs. Laubenberg and Alexander […] The characters are all bums and skirt-chasers, and the marriages are thrown into chaos at daggers drawn; and it is all presented as a “Jewish milieu.” For anyone who is still unconvinced of the Herrnfeld brothers’ bias, one detail in the play is quite illuminating: the only upstanding character in the whole affair is a Christian […] who in the second act gives the Jewish main character a box on the ears.

At this point the friendly reader may object, saying that the sense of this epistle is intended ironically; after all, the Herrnfeld brothers are themselves Jewish and thus incapable of anti-Semitism. Such an objection, however, is based on faulty premises. The Herrnfeld brothers are Christians; they are baptized Jews; and it is only too well known that such renegades sometimes make the most avid opponents of their fathers’ faith. No Jew with even the least spark of love and remembrance for his religion would be capable of dragging it through the mud and ridiculing it as they have. Only someone outside of all society would even think to line his pockets by vandalizing a religion and its people.

As mentioned before, it is truly amazing that Jewish citizens have for so long tolerated such ridicule from those of another faith. Whereby it should be noted that Jewishness and Jewish life can be presented on stage without causing insult. Even a spoof on Jewry can be harmless, self-irony and persiflage being deep-seated features of the Jewish character; and all the delightfully corny jokes (which the excellent Manuel Schnitzer has now collected in two superb volumes) generally involve harmless ribbing of our own character and our own mistakes. But what is so disturbing over on Kommandantenstrasse is the hateful one-sidedness with which Jews as a whole are presented as wretches and cretins. The chairman of the Jewish Community should have a good look at this Sabbath. And should be assured that no anti-Semitic hooligans have ever hurt the Jewish cause more than Mssrs. Armin and Donat Herrnfeld have in their fragrant Temple of the Muses.”

Mr. “Flâneur” no doubt is right, but he forgets to mention the worst thing: that numerous Jews also enjoy this Temple of the Muses and its “divine” amusements, and that the “Judeo-Liberal” press is the most avid patron of this anti-Semitically varnished “swinishness” — to use Mr. Flâneur’s word.

And that is the scandal of the matter!

The author of this article could not be identified. We request that the rightful heirs contact the editors of filmportal.de

(Source: Compact Memory www.compactmemory.de — das Wissenschaftsportal für Jüdische Studien)

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