June ’28 in the Exponent: Made Germany Safe for Jews


Editor Took Activist Role

It’s always easier to evaluate things in hindsight than in real time, but the conclusions drawn by a front-page article in the June 8, 1928 Jewish Exponent badly missed the mark.

Writer Joseph Brainin contributed a lengthy laudatory profile of Georg Bernhard, editor of the Vossische Zeitung, the oldest newspaper in Berlin, Germany. The article examines the impact Bernhard made in combating anti-Semitism in Germany, with the headline — which Brainin didn’t write — proclaiming that the editor had made the country safe for Jews.

Uh, no.

Still, nobody should be too snarky about Bernhard’s contributions.

“It was during [World War I] that Bernhard undertook editorship. … Immediately the attitude of the paper changed. Not only was news of Jewish importance published, but Bernhard launched an aggressive campaign against the anti-Semites. … Bernhard addressed numberless Jewish youth organizations, exhorting them to a militant Judaism, contending in unequivocal terms that anti-Semitism could be vanquished by a strong, proud and self-conscious German Jewry.”

Bernhard left Vossiche Zeitung two years later “to extend his political activities,” according to a JTA article. When Adolf Hitler rose to power, Bernhard was exiled to Paris, became a regular contributor to the Jewish Daily Bulletin and founded and edited the Pariser Tagebett, JTA said.

When France was conquered by Germany, Bernhard escaped to the United States and found asylum in 1941. He died in New York City in 1944 at the age of 69.

Meantime, article author Brainin was no slouch, either, establishing the Seven Arts Feature Syndicate and serving as its editor-in-chief and managing director, according to his 1970 obituary in The New York Times. Later, Brainin was the executive vice president of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.


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