Re: Restrictions on Jewish marriages & "letters of protection" #germany


MODERATOR REMARKS: My interpretation of these remarks by Werner Zimmt
and Michael Bernet is this: Regulations (as per Zimmt) restricted Jews
in many ways. As per MB, State leaders raised money by issuing Schutzbriefe
(letters of protection) which allowed Jews who paid up to be exempt >from those
regulations. Right? (No nit picking, please.)
I would add that records of the issuance of letters of protection
and of the payments by Jews for same are a very important source
of genealogical information - if you can find them. John Paul Lowens - MOD1

In a message dated 3/13/2005 Werner Zimmt writes:

" Until well into the 19th century Bavaria had laws (or statutes) designed
to limit the number of Jews that could marry. At that time only the eldest
son was allowed to marry, and he had to provide proof of : a minimum income,
a recognizable trade (in the sense of a skill like carpenter), or an estate
that would allow sufficient income."

MB ==State law or not, a Jew needed a Schutzbrief (letter of protection) from
the ruler of the political entity in which he lived. It cost money, and in
general, was available only to one person in each family. It was passed on as an
inheritance but could also be transferred to a brother or a son-in-law. It
was always profitable for the ruler, and by limiting those he issued, the
ruler could pacify the priests and the feudal tenants that they would not be
overrun by Jews. The son often had to await his father's death before he could
assume the Schutzbrief . Even then he was not "free." It was his obligation
to support the survivors in the family and, especially, to provide dowries
for his sisters so that they could finance a husband who could provide for
them and their children.

WZ " I personally believe that that was one reason that many men adopted
family names other than their father's name. That way the State couldn't
prevent them >from marrying."

MB==I don't think that was the reason. As an example, my family formed the
vast majority of Jews in the village. They assumed eight different family names.
Remember that the idea of having the same family name for all cousins was a
totally new concept and not part of Jewish tradition--but the same first
names appeared generation after generation as part of the Jewish tradition.
It was therefore quite desirable for a Suesslein Hirsch in my immediate family
to choose a new family name to distinguish him >from all the other Suesslein
Hirsches in the village.

MB ==One thing the Germans had was a very conscientious bureaucratic system,
especially when it came to tracking down Jews. Birth and other registers were
continuously updated to trace the residence, marriage and offspring of each
Jew--and the issuance of a Schutzbrief . It would have been futile to change
one's name to avoid being traced. Of course, cunning and subterfuge were
necessary and occasionally worked. Not registering the marriage and raising
"illegitimate" children was one way. Another was to acquire a specialized and rare
trade that would permit admission into a town or city. The most common
solution was migration--to Baltic or East European countries, to America, England,
France, South America.

Michael Bernet, New York

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