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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pity of The Pity of it All
A highly accomplished & engaging examination of Jews & Germany: a weird love affair that always seems to go wrong. Riveting in parts - the reader is undoubtedly transfixed because of his / her knowledge of the dreadful events Jewish love of Germany was leading to. One gripe: the author is so carried away with the tale of jewish assimilation that he gives no attention...
Published on 1 Feb. 2009 by an amateur fan

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Broad Sweep With Many Faces
Taking beginning of modern German-Jewish history with Moses Mendelssohn, this treatment of the Jewish frustration with German history is a concise and informative view of the difficult, arms- length relationship between Germany and her citizens of the Jewish faith. Having made clear to them that Jews were not regarded as Germans, the story is thus one of those "outside"...
Published on 17 Dec. 2004 by andrew smith


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pity of The Pity of it All, 1 Feb. 2009
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A highly accomplished & engaging examination of Jews & Germany: a weird love affair that always seems to go wrong. Riveting in parts - the reader is undoubtedly transfixed because of his / her knowledge of the dreadful events Jewish love of Germany was leading to. One gripe: the author is so carried away with the tale of jewish assimilation that he gives no attention whatsoever to the renaissance of Jewish orthodoxy in Germany in the latter part of the 19th century (there is no mention at for instance of notable Rabbi, S R Hirsch).
The Pity of It All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743-1933The Pity of It All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743-1933
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top rate history and more, 16 Nov. 2007
By 
oldhasbeen (England) - See all my reviews
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Amos Elon takes on a very large subject, charting the history of Jews in Germany over several hundred years. He successfully combines the big picture, showing the vicissitudes of the German-Jewish experience over the centuries, with mini-biographies of some of the most prominent German Jews, including several composers (Mendelsson, Offenbach, Mahler), Scientists (e.g. Fritz Harber & Einstein), mainstream politicians (notably Walter Rathaus, a key figure in WW1), literary figures (e.g. Heinrich Heine), revolutionaries (Marx, Rosa Luxemburg etc) and many more. It's a very colourful tapestry and very illuminating as well, demolishing quite a few myths on the way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book not to be missed !, 23 July 2013
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excellent history book telling the incredible story of the Jews in Germany, their unique contribution to sciences, literature, arts, music, economy and politics - reaching its peak at the beginning of the twentieth century. The pity of it all: the Jews profoundly loved their homeland which, in return, exterminated them.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Broad Sweep With Many Faces, 17 Dec. 2004
This review is from: The Pity of it All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743-1933 (Hardcover)
Taking beginning of modern German-Jewish history with Moses Mendelssohn, this treatment of the Jewish frustration with German history is a concise and informative view of the difficult, arms- length relationship between Germany and her citizens of the Jewish faith. Having made clear to them that Jews were not regarded as Germans, the story is thus one of those "outside" trying their best to gain addmission. German society was in response, resistant and then a certain governmnet undertook a plan to expell them for good. Poignantly, the book ends with the escape from Berlin of Hannah Arendt, taking exactly the same route that Mendelsohn took all those years before.
Strong on individual details, Mr Elon shows his weaknesses within his strengths; what we are given is little more than a string of (very good) biographies played out against the backcloth of German histroy, but sadly, he makes little attempt to interweave the two. Thus we rattle from Heinrich Heine and 1848 through to Walther Rathenau and modernity, without appreaciating how exactly Germany changed within theis period, and how anti-semitism altered from a social prejudice to a would-be scientific race theory. Although we are treated to a brief summary of the change from Treitschke to count Gobineau, without a real consideration of the quauzi- darwinian notion of race theory, the mid-twentieth century attempt to exclude Jews from the German cultural sphere can not be understood fully. Jews were tolerated earlier, because even out of the ghetto, they could be ostracised. After Gobineau, it was seen that the "Jewish race" (Judaism was seen no longer as a religion) would, unless removed, somehow "undermine" "ayrian Germany." Thus expulsion, culminating in murder, was for the racialists, a necessity.
In the light of this, the collection of biogrpahies, whilst informative, and often enlightening, does not really explain a great deal.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pity of it All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743-1933, 10 Feb. 2013
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R. B. Dreifuss (UK) - See all my reviews
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The most harrowing historical details of lives in Germany for Jews up to 1933.

Why ever did any Jews wish to make Germany their country of residents fails me.

Their treatment over these three hundred years was appalling
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 25 Dec. 2014
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A warning from history if ever there was one, 1 Oct. 2008
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This ought to be required reading for everyone who thinks that they understand 'multiculturalism'. If ever there was a test case for the strategy that says minority groups must adapt themselves to the majority culture, the Jews of Germany are it. And the test case does not appear to vindicate the strategy.

I grew up with the Zionist account of the Jews of Germany -- that their experience proves the folly of assimiliationism. Elon tries hard to present assimilationism as a valid and sensible choice rather than treating it with the benefit of hindsight. He shows just how reasonable it seemed, pointing out that antisemitism in Germany was seen as weaker than in most of the rest of Europe for much of the period he covers. Actually I rather think he tries too hard here. The relationship of the German Jews to Germany rather strikes me as one with an abusive lover, who mixes the violence with just enough affection to keep the victim close by. But treating the German Jews as sensible people making valid choices is a useful way of writing the book, and it shed really interesting light on lots of really interesting characters.

It's hard not to find the German Jews' wish to be accepted as good Germans repugnant. The kind of nationalism that it embodied is out of fashion in most of the west right now, though the opponents of multiculturalism would, I suspect, like to revive it -- even if they don't admit or even know this.

And curiously, it was the German Jews who pioneered Jewish self-hatred -- not in terms of opposition to Zionism, which is the usual basis for the charge these days, but genuine, physical disdain for their own kind. Elon tells this story really well, with lots of wonderful stories and anecdotes.

This is a brilliant exercise in group biography - prosopography, I think. Read it.
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