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On the civil improvement of the Jews - Rare and early publication on the granting of equal rights to the Jews. Berlin, 1783

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04.08.2024 07:00pm

Ueber die bürgerliche Verbesserung der Juden von Christian Wilhelm Dohm - On the Civil Improvement of the Jews - Christian Wilhelm von Dohm's groundbreaking essay, Berlin and Stettin 1783 - second edition. Parts one and two in one volume. A separate title page for each part.

An important publication in the spirit of emancipation calling to recognize Jews as citizens with equal rights. The writing of the essay followed a request by Seraf Bar, a Jew from Alsace, from Moshe Mendelssohn to write a testimony about the positive attitudes of the Jews, Mendelssohn replied that it would be better for a non-Jewish thinker to write about it and referred him to Dohm. Following an appeal from Seraf Bar and Mendelssohn, Dohm wrote the essay. Based on the principle that guides European countries to increase their population as much as possible so that in times of war and crisis the large population will stand up to the challenges, the author proposes to give the Jews full equality of rights, to recognize them as citizens of the state, thus actually creating a strong rear. The author claims that all the restrictions on the Jews in the field of commerce, property, and rights harmed the restrictive countries more than it benefited them, Because they give up in advance the power of producers with very large circles, and that the opposite is true, the developed trading talent of the Jew can only be economically beneficial to any country where the Jewish people live. He further claims that the European countries today are suitable to absorb members of other nations and in particular the Jews more than it was done in the past because the structure of the country itself has changed. Regarding the Christian church which has always seen the Jews as prey that can be influenced by force to join the Christian religion, the author writes that the years of history have proven that it is not possible and not worthwhile to try to influence the Jews to convert their religion, since all the attempts made in the past were very little successful. And the Christian church should recognize Judaism as an equal religion among other religions, and "leave the Jews to their own devices" (he adds that the Christian religion in its originality does not know a spirit of persecution, and it preaches love and tolerance). The book actually provides a complete treatise on how it is possible and desirable to integrate the Jews into German society and economy.

It is rare to find books of this kind in Germany, which hated Jews so much for all its years. Sentences like: "It is right and proper that we be as tolerant as possible towards the Jews" (page 142), can hardly be found in books printed in Germany during this period. However, the author agreed with the opinion of King Frederick the Great, that the number of Jews in the population should not be increased too much, and stated that it was necessary to correct many deficiencies in their customs and characteristics. The situation of the Jews in the European countries was so difficult compared to the peoples they lived with that the author of the book states in the introduction: "I would be happy if only after half a century my writing would contribute to the alleviation of the misery of an unhappy people and the formation of new citizens who will benefit all countries".

Author Christian Wilhelm von Dohm [1751-1820] lawyer, diplomat, historian, political writer and Prussian government official. Born in the city of Lemgo in 1751. His father, Vollard Ludwig Wilhelm, who served as the local priest, died when Christian was 7 years old and he was raised mainly by his mother Anne Elizabeth. Between the years 1768-1773 he studied law at the University of Leipzig. In September 1776 he was appointed professor of economics and statistics. In 1779, he was appointed to the Prussian civil service as an archivist and in 1780 he married Anna Henrietta Elisabeth Helving. In 1783 he began working in the Prussian Foreign Ministry, and in 1786 he received a title of nobility from Friedrich Wilhelm II, King of Prussia. Between the years 1808-1810 he served as ambassador of the Kingdom of Westphalia in Dresden. Dohm is best known for the groundbreaking essay before us on the civil improvement of the Jews (Über die bürgerliche Verbesserung der Juden) which he first published in 1781. In this essay he first came up with the idea of emancipation for the Jews which emerged in the following years in many countries.

[2], 5, [6], 210, 376 p. 17 cm. Old cardboard binding. Clean and high-quality pages. Crack along the spine (closed). Good condition.

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48. On the civil improvement of the Jews - Rare and early publication on the granting of equal rights to the Jews. Berlin, 1783