Why was I told my mother's family were German Jews when they weren't? #austria-czech


jbonline1111@...
 

My family were all originally considered Russian Jews. However, the borders changed frequently.  In his naturalization papers when he arrived, my grandfather listed his country of origin as Russia, but when he actually became a citizen in the early 1930s, it is listed as Poland.  

My mother and father had a running joke as who was a Litvak and who was a Galitizianer, which suggests a rivalry if not snobbery. The last names of several great-grandmothers suggest a Germanic origin. 

As someone else noted, German Jews, no matter where they lived in this country, considered themselves superior to Russian and other Eastern European Jews, partly because they had come to this country earlier.  
--
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC


Eva Lawrence
 

My mother, too, considered that Germans were superior to Poles, but I
really don't think that this was particularly addressed at Polish Jews,
but a general German middle-class attitude. Maybe Polish Jews were
disdained because they spoke Yiddisch rather than Hochdeutsch, but my
own family spoke purest Schwaebisch - and I'm sure were in turn looked
down on by the Berlin crowd who spoke Hochdeutsch. Language in those
days was a sure indicator of class - and not only in Germany.
In England, too, class was judged by the way one spoke. At my English
high school girls were given elocution lessons school to eradicate
their 'Brummie' accent, because a "BBC accent" was indispensable for
anyone who wanted respect or a well-paid job (or husband!). Perhaps many
of the early European settlers in America emigrated partly to escape
this class system.
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.


YaleZuss@...
 

It might be helpful to differentiate between German as a cultural descriptor and German as a political/national one.  The German Empire came into being in 1871; before then, people might identify with one of the smaller political units that merged into the Empire: Prussians, Bavarians, etc.  The Empire didn't include all ethnic or cultural Germans, with pockets of Germans living in other political units, some of them not even near the eventual German state.  Austria-Hungary had a large German component and German was the lingua franca there.  Any of these issues could account for a Jew claiming that (s)he was of "German" origin.
 
Yale Zussman


jack nathanson
 

My mother was born in a town in Buchovina named Seletin. My maternal grandmother was born in a town in Eastern Galicia named Zabie. Until WW1, both Buchovina and Galicia were in the Austrian Empire. The people there had Austrian passports and were educated in German. Even after the Second World War, Holocaust survivors from my family moved to Vienna as they considered themselves Austrian.

Jack Nathanson,
Montreal


Judy Kaufman
 

Thanks, everyone, for the very interesting stories and explanations.  It seems that Jews, I guess like any group, stereotype subgroups and find reasons to look down on the ones to which they don't belong, or to feel looked down upon.

In conversation with a first cousin, I learned that she was always told that our grandfather was Austrian, not German.  He was indeed from a town in the Austrian Empire.  So now I think that my mother turned her father, "Austrian Jew," into "German Jew" and elevated that above a Russian Jew, for reasons that were probably derived more from family dynamics than anything else.
   
--
Judy Kaufman
Irvine, CA
judykaufman7@...

ROSENBLUM (Brest)
LEIDERMAN (Khashchuvatye)
WEINSTEIN (Sokolow-Malopolski)
RASKIN (Chernigor)


Abuwasta Abuwasta
 

I have in my maternal family from Galicia some relatives who left to Germany prior to WW1 and escaped to Palestine or Argentina after Hitler came to power.  They always spoke of themselves as Yekkes and distanced themselves from the Ostjuden(The East European Jews regarded as less civilized). Needless to say that at the beginning it hampered my research before I realized that they were Galitzianers in disguise.

Jacob Rosen

Jerusalem


Lee Jaffe
 

I was told Yekkie was a term given to German Jews in Israel, referring to their penchant for dressing in European style -- wearing suit jackets (jacket = yeket), for instance -- despite the weather and more casual style that other Israelis adopted.  A lot of Israeli literature touches on the differences in different Jewish communities from Euope arriving there.  Amos Oz, Meir Shalev...

Lee Jaffe


michele shari
 

So I always heard of German Jews being referred to as "Yekkies" but never knew the meaning of that. German Jews were always known for being more "rigid" and formal. My paternal side were Hungarian/Romanian, always proud of it and very warm and loving, and my maternal side were Russian but never discussed it and I never heard them speak it. Culture does indeed play a big part in all of this.
Michele Farkas
Boynton Beach, FL (formerly NY)
Researching Stauber/Stober, Fischman, Davidovici, Hershtik & Teszler (Romania/Maramoros), and Farkas, Farcas, Izsak, Weiszhauz/Weisshaus, Rosenfeld, Jakab (Tasnad, Margitta, Vamorspercs)


jonathan goldstine
 

My Dad always told me his father’s family were all German Jews and that part of the family was furious when the area they lived in was given to Poland after WW1. My Dad learned German as his foreign language at school and his older relatives knew German as a second language,

After he passed away, I found that part of the family were Posen Jews. In reading about the Posen Jews, I found out they had quickly identified themselves as Germans after Poznań became Posen and assimilated as Germans. I understand a substantial number of the Posen Jews moved to Berlin to remain in Germany after WW1.

btw, my German Jewish family intermarried with Eastern European Jews. I never grew up hearing German Jews were better than Eastern European Jews, but that they were proud to be Germans and were assimilated into German culture. My Dad encouraged me to learn German as a second language and to visit Germany and Austria.
in terms of emigration timeframe and location. My Posen ancestors emigrated to NYC in the 1850s and lived on the Lower East side before moving to Chicago in the 1860s.
There is a synagogue (now a performance art space) across the street from where they lived on the Lower East side that dates from the 1850s. My daughter and I visited the former synagogue and the neighborhood..it was moving to see.

In terms of Austrian Jews, many of the Jews of Austria-Hungary were assimilated. My Dad’s best friend was a Hungarian Jewish noble..he was very proud of being Hungarian and spoke Hungarian as his native language, I have heard the same thing about the Austrian Jews from Austrian friends with the Austrian Jews speaking German, etc.
--
Jonathan Goldstine


Kenneth Ryesky
 

Judy,

Understand that much of what was considered to be "Germany" in times of not so distant past was territory in (to use the Nazideutsch terminology) Zwischeneuropa, that is, the portion of Europe between heartland Germany and Russia.  Boundaries consistently were changing in real time, depending upon who was victorious in which battle.  For a period of time, there was no such thing as a political entity called Poland, and much of what is now recognized as Poland was politically part of the German states of Prussia (
Preußen) or Austria (Österreich).

 

Though the languages of official documents were subjected to the political vicissitudes of the moment, the languages spoken "on the ground" often persisted.  Accordingly, German was the spoken language in many locales, including those in parts of what is now Bulgaria, Romania, and even the Ukraine.

 

Many city names come in different languages.  Example:  The city in Romania now known as Rădăuți has been officially referred to as Radautz (German), Radóc (Hungarian) Radowce (Polish),  Радівці [Radivtsi] (Ukrainian), ראַדעװיץ[Radevits] (Yiddish), and Radoviçe (Turkish).  As a practical matter for genealogy research, the JewishGen search engine has a town database which gives the variants during the relevant time periods.

 

{More recently, my mother had a first cousin who spent most of his 20-year US Army career enlistment in Germany, where he raised his four sons, each of whom served in the military.  The daughter of one of those sons (she is my 2C1R) had been under the impression that her family origin was German Jewish, though they were solidly from the FSU.}.

--
Ken Ryesky,  Petach Tikva, Israel     kenneth.ryesky@... 

Researching:
RAISKY/REISKY, ARONOV, SHKOLNIK(OV), AEROV; Gomel, Belarus
GERTZIG, BRODSKY; Yelizavetgrad, Ukraine
BRODSKY, VASILESKY; Odessa, Ukraine
IZRAELSON, ARSHENOV; Yevpatoriya, Ukraine (Crimea)


flmillner@...
 

I would guess that the "Russian" Jews were Litvaks, and the "German" Jews were Galitzianers.  Each group held itself as the correct culture, so I bet it was your mother's side that implied they were superior!
Fred Millner,
Trenton, NJ


Adam Turner
 

Probably what others have guessed (that people sometimes felt the need to fudge for the sake of putting on airs) is likeliest to be what happened in this case, but there were also certainly instances where Jews in Galicia were more "German" than Galician. I just learned about one of these cases yesterday: that of the father of the most famous school of economics crankery, Ludwig von Mises. He was born in L'vov in 1881 to a Jewish family that, by the time of his birth, had been elevated by Franz Joseph to the Austrian nobility. The family was highly cosmopolitan; von Mises's father Arthur was educated as an engineer in Switzerland, and he and many other members of his family spent much of their lives in Vienna. So by the time Ludwig was growing up, it seems pretty obvious that his family would have considered itself to have much more in common with the highly Germanized Vienna elite than it did with the typical Galitzianer artisan out in the sticks. 

Adam Turner


Judy Kaufman
 

Thanks, but in my family's case, the ones being identified as "German Jews" were NOT "those already established on the Upper West Side" - they had immigrated to and were living in the Lower East Side just like all the other Eastern European Jews in my family.  That's why I'm confused.
--
Judy Kaufman
Irvine, CA
judykaufman7@...

ROSENBLUM (Brest)
LEIDERMAN (Khashchuvatye)
WEINSTEIN (Sokolow-Malopolski)
RASKIN (Chernigor)


Ellen Slotoroff Zyroff
 

The father of a woman who married into our family claimed that he was of German Jewish descent like his wife. My grandmom and mom perceived right off the bat from his pronunciation of Yiddish that his claim was a pose and that he was a "Galicianer." My research into the documentary evidence all these decades later confirms that my mom was correct. Yes, many German Jews, the group that arrived in the U.S. a generation or two previous to the Jews from further East considered themselves culturally and educationally and behaviorally superior to the Russian/Polish/Ukrainian/Romanian/Galicianer/Bessarabian/Belarus Jews who arrived later and whom they stigmatized. I have not heard that Galician Jews felt superior to Russian Jews, but have inferred that often the opposite was true! Being a Galicianer seems to have have had a stigma attached, with stereotypes abounding! Polish and Ukrainian Jews likewise had choice stereotypes about each other. The Russians mocked the formality, snobbishness, rigidity of mindset of their German Jewish brethren. The ideal of day to day closeness and unity among all Jews seems to have been a theoretical ideal, not the reality.

On Sunday, January 31, 2021, 02:29:57 PM PST, Judy Kaufman <judykaufman7@...> wrote:


Growing up, I was told repeatedly that my mother's family were German Jews and my father's were Russian Jews, with the clear implication always being that German Jews were higher class.   In my genealogical research, I have documented that: my mother's father came from Galicia/Austrian Empire - Sokolow Malopolski in current day Poland; my mother's maternal grandfather came from Brest in current day Belarus; I can't determine where her maternal grandmother came from but all census data says she's from Russia ("Russia Poland" in one case).

My grandfather (b. 1884) from Sokolow Malopolski is listed on all the censuses as born in "Austria"  - did that somehow mutate into being "German"?  Was this common?  Did Galician Jews feel superior to "Russian" Jews?

--
Judy Leiderman Kaufman
Irvine, CA
judykaufman7@...

ROSENBLUM (Brest)
LEIDERMAN (Khashchuvatye)
WEINSTEIN (Sokolow-Malopolski)
RASKIN (Chernigor)

--
ZOLOTOROV (Chernigov, Ukraine; Kiev, Ukraine);
SLOTOROFF (Kiev, Ukraine)
CHARKOVSKY or SHARKOVSKY(Ukraine);
LEVINE (Ukraine and Minsk, Belarus);
GLUSKIN (Ukraine)
LIMON (Berestechko, Volynia, Ukraine)
TESLER (Horochiv, Volynia, Ukraine)
ZYRO (Zabolativ, Ukraine) 
TAU (Zalolativ, Ukraine)
PISTERMAN (Ukraine)
ROTH / ROT (Ataki, Bessarabia, Moldova)
BLAUSTEIN (Chernigov, Ukraine or Minsk, Belarus)


Peter Lebensold
 

The non-fiction work Our Crowd, by Stephen Birmingham (published in the 1960s) remains a fascinating study of such German-Jewish New York families as the Lehmans, the Schiffs, the Loebs, the Warburgs, the Guggenheims, the Strauses, the Goldmans, and the Sachses - including their attitude towards the later Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.  There was certainly no love lost between those already established on the Upper West Side and the "teeming masses" on the Lower East Side!

Peter Lebensold
Toronto


Judy Kaufman
 

Growing up, I was told repeatedly that my mother's family were German Jews and my father's were Russian Jews, with the clear implication always being that German Jews were higher class.   In my genealogical research, I have documented that: my mother's father came from Galicia/Austrian Empire - Sokolow Malopolski in current day Poland; my mother's maternal grandfather came from Brest in current day Belarus; I can't determine where her maternal grandmother came from but all census data says she's from Russia ("Russia Poland" in one case).

My grandfather (b. 1884) from Sokolow Malopolski is listed on all the censuses as born in "Austria"  - did that somehow mutate into being "German"?  Was this common?  Did Galician Jews feel superior to "Russian" Jews?

--
Judy Leiderman Kaufman
Irvine, CA
judykaufman7@...

ROSENBLUM (Brest)
LEIDERMAN (Khashchuvatye)
WEINSTEIN (Sokolow-Malopolski)
RASKIN (Chernigor)