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The idea of a Jewish nation in the German discourse about emancipation

Nations and Nationalism

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This article compares the German conservative conceptualization of Judaism and Jewish emancipation with that of liberals, from the Vormärz (1830–1848) to the Neue Ära (1858–1861). It argues that both conservatives and liberals understood Judaism not merely as a religion but also as a nationality. Yet while liberals acknowledged the national dimension of Judaism as a secularized culture, and even supported Jewish emancipation, conservatives developed a different concept. Since the 1830s, conservatives accommodated nationalism while investing the Christian State ideal with national meaning. This national‐religious construction was imposed on Judaism, which was similarly interpreted now as a synthesis between religion and nationality. In accordance with this conceptualization, conservatives rejected Jewish emancipation on national ground while advocating for the establishment of a Jewish nation‐state. This thesis diverges from the existing literature, in which the reluctance of conservatism to embrace nationalism until the 1870s stands as the consensual view.