Journal Article

Anti‐Semitism and Philo‐Semitism among the British and German Elites: Oxford and Heidelberg before the First World War

Thomas Weber

in The English Historical Review

Volume 118, issue 475, pages 86-119
Published in print February 2003 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online February 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/118.475.86
Anti‐Semitism and Philo‐Semitism among the British and German Elites: Oxford and Heidelberg before the First World War

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The article takes the cases of Oxford and Heidelberg universities to compare anti‐Semitism and philo‐Semitism among British and German academic and power elites before the First World War. It discusses whether the view of any qualitative difference between German and British anti‐Semitism is sustainable from a pre‐1914, rather than from a post‐Holocaust perspective. It demonstrates that different approaches to the study of British and German anti‐Semitism have overemphasized differences in the scope of anti‐Semitism in the two countries. The conclusion is that although German anti‐Semitism was more loutish and overt than British anti‐Semitism, anti‐Semitism was much less central to the German experience than hitherto assumed. Despite considerable improvement of the situation of Jews in both countries, Oxford's gentleman's anti‐Semitism with few exceptions kept British Jews out of Britain's oldest university and thus away from political and academic positions of influence. Quantitative and qualitative evidence presented in the article suggests that Heidelberg University and German academia in general was more congenial to Jews than Oxford University. Furthermore, outside the army, Jews in Germany could make careers in public life similar to those in Britain.

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Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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