Emancipation of the Jews of Europe

napoleon-jewsJews across the continent were subject to a wide range of restrictions and discriminatory practices, throughout most of European history. They often had to wear special clothing or badges to identify themselves, and were not allowed to fully and freely practice their religion. They were often restricted from working in certain professions and of taking their proper role in society as full citizens. This started to change in the late 1700’s, through to the early 1900’s. Starting in 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte passed a number of measures supporting the position of the Jews in the French Empire. In conquered countries, he abolished laws restricting Jews to ghettos. In 1807, he added Judaism as an official religion of France. Bonaparte also  spread the concept in the lands he conquered across Europe, liberating Jews from their ghettos and establishing relative equality for them. The net effect of his policies significantly changed the position of the Jews in Europe.

Jewish Emancipation
General introduction and chart of year of emancipation of Jews in various European countries

Jewish Emancipation
The Museum of Family History

Definitions and Dialectics
Jewish Virtual Library
Identification of three major periods in the history of emancipation, and detailed histories for various European countries

History of the Jews in France
Detailed history, including sections on emancipation, and French Jews during the Holocaust

History of the Jews in Germany
The evolution of the status of the Jews in various German nation-states through history, through to the period of enlightenment and the Nazis

The Jews in the Age of Emancipation
Describes how the move towards emancipation of the Jews of Europe led to increased assimilation of Jewish people into society; this was a double-edged sword, as the success of many Jews led to increased suspicion and hostility on the part of other citizens

Jewish Emancipation and Enlightenment
My Jewish Learning
As they were granted increased rights and access into society, Jews often had to struggle with how best to fit into society while maintaining their Jewish identity

Jewish Emancipation
Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions

The German-Jewish Epoch of 1743-1933: Tragedy or Success Story?
The American Council for Judaism
The relationship between Germans and Jews was not a relentless progression towards the Holocaust. Rather the Holocaust ended a pattern of gradual Jewish integration into German society, a pattern often interrupted by official scapegoating of the “foreigners,” the Jewish minority in response to German economic or military failure.

Jewish Emancipation in Western Europe
Liberty, equality, fraternity: Was it good for the Jews?
My Jewish Learning
Although the Jews of Europe were officially granted full rights as citizens of their respective countries, this did not always lead to their immediate acceptance by other citizens, nor to the abolishment of strong anti-Semitic sentiments among the general population

Napoleon scholar details Emancipation of European Jews
St. Louis Jewish Light

Napoleon and the Jews
Ben Weider
The International Napoleonic Society
A review of Napoleon’s actions in emancipating the Jews, his motivations and reactions from his contemporaries

Napoleon Bonaparte
Jewish Virtual Library

Napoleon And The Jews
When the Ghetto walls came tumbling down.
For better and for worse, this represented one of the greatest periods of transformation for the Jewish communities in Europe. These new freedoms allowed the Jews to prosper and have tremendous impact on European society, but also led to a wave of secularization, assimilation and even conversion to Christianity.

Jewish Life in Europe Before the Holocaust
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
A comparison of the Jews of eastern Europe, who tended to live more in shtetls and strived to maintain a separate identity, as opposed to the Jewish communities in western Europe, where they were more assimilated



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