Week 3- Demographics

 

In last week’s blog post, we explored some major events in prior to World War II and five different Jewish population groups in Europe. As I had mentioned last week, I was going to do some further exploration to Jewish life in Europe before the World War II. Besides the materials provided by the Israeli Consulate General in Shanghai, I also went through some articles and information online. Those materials included two articles written by Dr. Arie M. Kacowicz who was the teacher of my International Relation class in Georgetown University, all about Jewish demography in Europe before World War II. These articles were particularly helpful as they give both empirical data and general introductions. I also watched some portions of a documentary of this topic: “Jewish History- Jewish Diaspora”, which also was rather helpful to me. And I will give a general introduction to what I learned this week.

Jews in prewar Europe were majorlyresided in eastern Europe. The largest Jewish groups in Eastern Europe were in Poland, with about 3,250,000 Jews (9.5%); the Soviet Union, with 3,020,000 (3.4%), most of which were merchants in European part of Soviet Union such as Moscow and Leningrad (nowadays St. Petersburg) and farmers in collective farms; and Romania, with 900,000 (4.2%). The total Jewish population in the three Baltic states were about 255,000, as there were 95,600 in Latvia, 155,000 in Lithuania, and 4,560 in Estonia. Here, Jews comprised 4.9%, 7.6%, and 0.4% of each country’s population, respectively, and 5% of the region’s total population. Most of them were worked as technicians and workers in factory and farmers. In western Europe the largest Jewish communities were in Great Britain, with 300,000 Jews (0.65%); France, with 250,000 (0.6%); and the Netherlands, with 156,000 (1.8%). (Many Jews joined in the British and French army in World War I) Additionally, 60,000 Jews (0.7%) lived in Belgium, 4,000 (0.02%) in Spain, and 1,200 (0.02%) in Portugal. Close to 16,000 Jews lived in Scandinavia, including 6,700 (0.11%) in Sweden, 5,700 (0.15%) in Denmark, 1,800 (0.05%) in Finland, and 1,400 (0.05%) in Norway. In southern Europe, Greece had the largest Jewish population, with about 73,000 Jews (1.2%). There were also significant Jewish communities in Yugoslavia (68,000, or 0.49%), Italy (48,000, or 0.11%), and Bulgaria (48,500, or 0.8%). 200 Jews (0.02%) lived in Albania. In prewar central Europe, the largest Jewish community was in Germany, with about 525,000 members (0.75% of the total German population). This was followed by Hungary with 403,000 (5.1%), Czechoslovakia with 360,000 (2.4%), and Austria with 191,000, most of whom resided in the capital city of Vienna (2.8%).

(A more visualized introduction of Jewish demography is shown blew)

(A more visualized introduction of Jewish demography is shown blew)

Before the Nazis took over Germany in 1933, there were a set of richly diverse Jewish culture in Germany, many of which were active and highly developed. Numerous Jewish settlements have been established throughout the entire European continent. The diverse nature of individual Jewish communities in occupations, religious practices, involvement and integration in regional and national life, and other areas made for fertile and various Jewish life across Europe. Jews stood as cultural and political luminaries, and become some significant figure in numerous countries. Many of them joined in the national army, marching alongside non-Jews in World War I as well. Jews could be found in all aspects of life, as farmers, tailors, seamstresses, factory workers, accountants, doctors, teachers, and small-business owners. Some families were wealthy; some were poor. Many children ended their state education early to work in a craft or trade; others looked forward to continuing their education at the university level. So, in conclude, Jewish people have pretty much infused into every aspects of European society and gained new national identities for themselves. Still, whatever their differences, they were the same in one respect: by the 1930s, with the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany, they all became potential victims, and their lives were forever changed. So, next week, I am going to explore the one of the most notorious incidence in history: holocaust.

 

Thank you!

3 thoughts on “Week 3- Demographics

  1. aswilt

    I really love how you sum up your points in your last few sentences. I’m not a big history person (I’m more into the sciences and maths), but your writing really helps immerse me in the content, leaving me wanting to read more. Great job and awesome examinations of the texts!

    Reply
  2. mxagro

    I have been following you blogs for the past weeks and it really is surprising for me to see the amont of details in each aspect of the entire issue. You surely have done a lot of research and spent a lot of time sorting and understanding your research. I enjoy reading your post and I’m already excited for the next one.

    Reply
  3. randyhimself

    I hope you could have add in more about what it means to have a demographics like that. It is great to learn all of that in your post, but it would be more awesome to know more about their lives than just numbers. Keep the good work coming!

    Reply

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