• Zwischen Integration und Ausgrenzung: Jüdische Zuwanderer aus der ehemaligen Sowjetunion und Deutschland

      Weiss, Karin (Campus Verlag, 2002)
      This article surveys a transformation that affected both East and West Germany, albeit not to the same extent: the migration and settlement of Jewish refugees from the former Soviet Union. Originally agreed by the last GDR People's Chamber in 1990, and limited to a maximum of 2,000 individuals, German legislation was amended in 1991 and removed the numerical restrictions. A decade later, Jewish migration into Germany had reached nearly 100,000. While the German government celebrated the restoration of Jewish communities and Jewish life after the devastation inflicted by the Holocaust, the scope and composition of Jewish migration posed major problems for communities charged with integrating newcomers. In West Germany, existing communities more than doubled in size, often leaving Russian Jews in a majority. In East Germany, where the number of Jewish community members had dwindled to below 500 by 1990, the influx and the policy of dispersion across the region meant that new Russian-only communities were found in Potsdam, Schwerin and elsewhere. What would seem to be revitalisation amounted in reality to massive financial burdens on existing communities and divisive cultural pressures. Most of the newcomers are without earned income, employment and look to organisations for support. These, in turn, cannot collect membership dues from impoverished newcomers. Few Russian Jews have any knowledge of the German language and continue to communicate in Russian; few have any knowledge of Jewish religious or cultural traditions, since these were criminalised in the Soviet Union. Moreover, many of the newcomers are non-Jewish family members, or do not have a Jewish mother and are, therefore, not deemed to be Jewish by the religious authorities and the community leadership. In East Germany, the 4,000 or so Jewish newcomers are too few in number to restore Jewish life as a visible and vibrant social or cultural force.