Part II: Bukovina and Czernowitz/ Cernauti/ Czernowtsy/ Chernivtsi 
4. Belonging and Exclusion The Imaginary West in the East 

The acceptance and adoption of German Kultur by the Jews of Bukovina had to do with the hegemonial concepts of the multiethnic Hapsburg state. The internalization of this culture was deeply rooted in the attitudes of human beings and this could be traced back primarily to the fact that many of the Jews of Bukovina were quite sympathetically disposed toward this hegemonial power. The quotes attesting to the Bukovina Jews' patriotism and loyalty to the Kaiser are endless: "The Jews' allegiance to the state is nothing less than proverbial," stated Benno Straucher during one of his speeches in Parliament69. Lydia Harnik, born in 1909 in Sereth and still living in Czernowitz to this day, still feels deep ties to the spirit of old Austria. She wrote in her reminiscences: "My father was a bank executive, my mother an elementary school teacher. Although a Jew, I was raised in the German spirit, in the spirit of German and Austrian classical poetry, [I] grew up in an atmosphere of fervent Austrian patriotism, passionate love of my homeland, and ardent admiration and reverence for our beloved emperor who had become a living legend and a figure of mythic proportions Kaiser Franz Josef ..."70 It was to the Kaiser's great credit that, during his last visit to Czernowitz in 1880, he paid a visit to the synagogue on the Day of Atonement. 

The history of the Jews can certainly not be treated by focusing solely on the deeply rooted German hegemonial culture. It is imperative to not lose sight of the cleft which divided the Jewish population into "blacks" and "whites" that is, the religious traditionalists and the various groups of Chassidim, and those whose acculturation was based on modernism and secularism. From the investigative perspective we have chosen, the orthodox and Chassidic Jews are hardly apparent since they hardly participated in political life. In other perceptual perspectives of the day, it was precisely this group which was the prime object of attention depending upon the motivation of the observer, to offer a literary taste of their exotic nature or in order to portray all Jews as "the others." For example, a Festschrift published in 1899 in Czernowitz celebrating the jubilee of the reign of the Kaiser exclusively depicted orthodox Jews: "On Shabbes or on the High Holidays, they wear long sabbath robes (Igitze), sabbath caps trimmed with fur (Stramel), short breeches, white knee socks and slippers."71 Anthropology, then still in its infancy, also turned its attention to the Jews of Bukovina, advancing, for example, the following bold theory: "Most noticeable in their faces, aside from the large nose and mouth, is the relatively limited height of the lower structures."72 

Of course, the secularly acculturated Jews of Czernowitz saw themselves as being completely different and wanted to avoid any connection with these exotic portrayals and stigmatizations. They were fond of referring to "their" city as "Little Vienna" in proud reference to its cultural life, its Kaffeehauskultur, its architecture and layout, and its newspapers. The German cultural orientation was likewise meant to sever it from its Eastern European, backward, "semi-Asiatic" framework73. The effort to distance themselves from the "backward" East incriminated as it was by negative images had a very real background motivation for the Jews of the Hapsburg Monarchy: even as late as the census of 1846, they were categorized, along with the Magyars, Gypsies and Armenians, among the "Asiatic tribes."74 In the late 19th century, it was solely the orientation upon German hegemonial culture which seemed to offer the possibility of integration into the "western" (Western European) and thus the modern world, and the experience with emancipation seemed to offer empirical confirmation of this. 

In the 19th century, a new form of stigmatization became attached to the German language the concept of the "Ostjude" (Eastern European Jew), which took on various connotations according to the context in which it was used. To an impartial observer, this term was linked to images of orthodox, poor, religious, Yiddish-speaking Jews; for secularized, nationalistic Jews, it evoked romanticized conceptions of a still-genuine Jewish life; for the anti-Semites, however, it brought to mind images which were chiefly aimed at continuing to portray the Jews as "strangers," as migrants, as elements which did not fit in, to stigmatize them as "Asiatics" or as "Orientals."75 If Bukovina Jews whose acculturation had been a process of immersion in German Kultur would have been asked if they felt themselves to be "Ostjuden," the questioner could well have expected to receive indignant reactions76


© 1996 Lichtblau & John, Jewries in Galicia and Bukovina, in Lemberg and Czernowitz
 
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