Die Irrlehren der

The Eugen Richter Institute champions Progressive and Liberal policies.

Most of all, we want to popularize the unduly forgotten work of Eugen Richter (1838-1906) .

World in Reverse.

Aus den Berliner Wespen,
                  8. Juni 1881

Representative Richter. My reverent listener Stöcker [leader of the
anti-Semitic movement and court preacher], it is written in the
second book of Moses, 20, 16 and in the fifth book of Moses 5, 17:
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neigbor."

From the satirical weekly: Berliner Wespen (Berlin Wasps), June 8, 1881

Condemnation of the anti-Semitic Movement
by the Electors of Berlin

Meeting of the Electors
to the Prussian Diet of the Four Berlin Districts,
Held in the Upper Hall of the Reichshallen on January 12, 1881

Representative Eugen Richter has the final word:

Meine Herren! Everything that the so-called anti-Semites now are striving for, as the goal of their boldest desires, used to be valid law only ten years ago in a small part of Germany: the exclusion of the Jews from public offices, the inability to acquire real estate, exclusion from certain towns and businesses. — All that was valid in a part of Germany, but this part goes by the name of — Mecklenburg! [1]

(Great amusement.)

From olden times, Mecklenburg was the ideal of Junkerdom, but Mecklenburg also had the peculiarity that it had the most emigrants and the most children out of wedlock.

(Applause and great amusement.)

I recall the petition covered with numerous names from inhabitants of Mecklenburg of all denominations that came to the Reichstag in 1867, namely to enforce also in that state the equal civil liberties that were already in force everywhere else. We owe to this proposal the law that was passed by the Reichstag in 1869 and which decreed the equality of all denominations by force of the federal law. [2] In those days even the Mecklenburg Junkers [3] dared not oppose this law, in those days it was understood by itself that even in Mecklenburg civil equality should rule. And those who had objections to make, being doubtful about the power of the Reich to meddle with religious legislation of the states, like Representative Windhorst [4] did at the same time stress explicitly that it was no more admissable to derive different rights for citizens from their religious denominations.

That’s how it was said in those days. What lies between 1869 and today? Firstly, there lies the great national war. [5] Can the reason be found in it for the recent change of opinion?

(Calls: No!)

Of course: No! If the Jews before that time, something I deny, had been foreign to us other Germans, then they were inextricably chained to us by blood and iron! [6]

(Tempestuous applause.)

Did they not stand before the enemy in one line with everybody else, everyone at their posts? Did anyone ask in the hail of bullets: Who is a Jew and who is a Christian and did not everyone to his powers stand up  for the good of the fatherland?

(Vigorous applause.)

Can we reproach the Jews because of that time, is not a great number of them adorned as well by the Iron Cross [7], the common sign of patriotism?

(Vigorous applause.)

Among the Jewish physicians of Berlin, there are 32 who are adorned by the Iron Cross, a proportional number which at least is not lower than that of Christian physicians. And if there were any need for some miniature pictures, I can only say, that of two of our Jewish parliamentary comrades, one has gained on the battlefield the Iron Cross and the Red Eagle Order with Swords [8] in the hail of bullets and the other has lost his son before the enemy as a volunteer with the husars.

And what do we see now as an outrageous phenomenon? Young people [9] who have not even lived through the great time with a political consciousness like we have — because they were still in 6th and 5th grade


— Young people, who have not yet proved what they are worth, force their way to the fore and dare to hurl at the Jewish cavaliers of the Iron Cross and at the fathers who have given their sons to Germany that they do not belong to the German nation?!!

(Longlasting, tempestuous applause. Calls of Boo!)

Where human beings become so petty, it is becoming to remind them of that great time. In those days, the German nation was not only praised as the most valiant, but also as the most ethical, as the most educated, and as the most dexterous. Nowadays the opposite is claimed. Since she cannot compete economically, we raise high tariffs. [10] Her ability of dealing in bills of exchange is disputed so she shall not like small children harm herself with a knife because of inaptitude or recklessness. As if the nation had sunk into dissipation, attacks are mounted on pubs, popular theaters are restricted in their operation, times for pubs are shortened by the police and even a law against alcoholism is brought to the Reichstag. [11] Of course, this seems to me to be directed less against the Jews than against the Christian Full-Germans. [12]

(Great amusement.)

In 1870, the Germans valiantly fought before the enemy, nowadays the belief is you are a valiant German if you clobber the Jews out and then in your meetings among yourselves you tell all kinds of silly stories about them which are not worthy of a German man, not of any grown-up man!

(General applause.)

Nowadays it is seen as the act of an hero if you drink more than the Jews, and as an educated nation you reproach the Jews for sending so many children to higher education. [13] And after you have worked all those valiant deeds, then you sing: ,,Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles!" [14]

(Tempestuous amusement.)

Truly! Our friend Hoffmann von Fallersleben has been saved by a kind fate from experiencing this abuse of his magnificent song. Since, that's something I admit openly, if this is supposed to be German, if this is supposed to be Christian, then I want to be anywhere else in the world but in Christian Germany!

(Vigorous applause.)

If the Germans really cannot stand that every 84th of them is a Jew and they are afraid that exactly this one overpowers the other 83, then this really means to lower Germanness to the dishonor of the German name.

(Very true.)

One day, it will not be the smallest leaf of laurel in the wreath of our Crown Prince [15] that already at the first stirrings of this movement, something that our deceased colleague Wulffsheim [16] overheard with his own ears and which has also been confirmed otherwise as trustworthy he declared to the president of the Jewish corporation of Berlin [17] that this movement is a disgrace for the German nation!

(Tempestuous, long lasting applause.)

Those who are honest admirers of our old heroic Kaiser must be filled with true sorrow that the very time of his glorious rule is polluted by phenomena, such as the Social Democratic excesses and the even uglier movement of the anti-Semites.

(Vigorous applause.)

Both movements can be explained to a certain extent by economic conditions. The depressed business conditions are not viewed as caused by “general causes”, but are blamed on the government. They are not explained by a thirty year period of wars that Europe has been embroiled in, and by the armed peace which sucks at the peoples' marrow, but by specific legal provisions, and in the end it is blamed on specific persons.

Three years ago, it was supposed to be the freetraders who as members of the Cobden Club had sold Germany to England. Now despite of all the new tariffs it is still the same. Now the Jews are to blame who when in the Middle Ages a plague erupted were always said to have poisened the wells and to have put contagious matter on church benches. During the founders’ time there was a competition between Jews and Christians to make money and among the latter very highly placed persons. What distinguished the Jews was that at least they did not try to cloak their establishments in the mantle of patriotism.


It was a Jew, however, Lasker, who at a time when the crash had not yet occurred afterwards it was convenient to reproach the founders attacked the founders behind the government benches and exposed them. Quite a few businessmen now nurture themselves dismally. If it goes well, it is: live and let live. You cannot blame anyone for looking on their competitors with suspicion. But such a confusion and bias engendered by the conditions of the time should not be made the basis of legislation and does not give it the stamp of Christian-German consciousness. It confers honor on the German craftsmen, workers, and businessmen that this movement, which is supposed to be in their interest, did not arise from their circles,

(Vigorous applause.)

just like the corn tariff propaganda did not arise from peasant circles. It arose from young people who do not earn anything at all, but live out of their parents' pockets. Furthermore, from people who in positions of trust as officials obtain their salaries from the public coffers and often cannot have any idea of how a businessman sometimes feels who struggles to earn his daily bread and to pay the obligatory taxes!

(Tempestuous, general applause.)

Such people who call themselves “educated” have put Jew baiting into action. Indeed, here it shows again that superior mental culture if it is not aligned with a culture of the heart and true religiosity — not a religiosity that has God on its lips, but the devil in its heart — often only leads to nothing more than barbarity in a more refined form!


I have certainly always been an energetic opponent of Social Democracy, but one thing I must say: the last Socialist is an honorable character compared to the leaders of this most recent movement


and I can imagine that the leaders of Social Democracy look down on this movement with disdain. Social Democracy has preached hatred and envy, has set passions loose, but only against certain economic and outward conditions. This movement, however, calls for exceptional legislation against human beings as such, against their descent, even against the properties of their bodies.

They don’t desire special legislation, but equality in their sense. Where will this movement lead? When at one time in Altona word was given out: “We only buy from Social Democrats”, Bebel appeared in the Reichstag and disavowed such mingling of political antagonisms with business and social dealings.

These anti-Semites in Berlin campaign against buying from Jews. If only these petty people had some logic left and could proclaim at the same time: Do not sell to Jews! Do not let the products of your Christian-German industriousness go to Jews!

(Great amusement and applause.)

Or do they want to make in this case a profit despite of their Christian Germandom?


To be consistent, they must not cede the products of their Christian-German work to Jews. Yes, I say, if I as a high school teacher felt forced in my consciousness to speak out against the legal equality of the Jews, my very same consciousness would make it an honorary duty to lay down a position I have with a school that rests on the equality of all denominations. I would not take Jewish school fees if I campaigned against education based on equality.

(Vigorous approval.)

More than the disciplinary judge, everyone should make their own conscience the judge in this regard. Indeed, in this movement it holds true what Moltke once said of the Socialists: the better are surpassed and superceded by the worse. Treitschke is surpassed by his students, Stöcker by Henrici

(Vigorous approval.)

and Henrici is surpassed by someone else again.
(Call: by Ruppel)

I cannot think of him as worse than Henrici.

(Great amusement.)

Stöcker now disarms, he was the mildest in the movement, so he said one of these days in Kassel. A child, no angel is so pure that’s what Zelle already said.


If Stöcker disarms with regard to Jew baiting what remains yet of this man that is notable at all? No exceptional laws does he want anymore, so he says now, only by way of administrative decisions he wants to restrict the advancement of judges, the approval of teachers and such things.

So the law and the sworn constitution are to be upheld, but by stealth to be passed over by administrative decisions, and likewise for civil equality before the law. Jews are not advanced, one does not dare to say that it happens because they are Jews. That's just that petty and wretched system that already existed in Prussia in the 1850s, but that was done away with when the current Kaiser began his reign.


Does anything improve in this way? Jews are told to not only pursue trading. Now that they apply for honorary public offices, which do not yield any money, still it is not right, and they are meant to be excluded. No matter what, the Jew is burnt.

(Great amusement.)

When the Socialist movement was in full swing, it was said, business conditions would improve as soon as the 'little state of siege' would have ended their propaganda. Now we have the 'little state of siege' against the Socialists. But is the current movement a means to improve business conditions?


Has the Christmas business been more favorable this time?

(Calls of No.)

Businessmen have told me that this propaganda has worsened business conditions in a certain direction.


Well, then it is the very duty of the businessmen, of the craftsmen, of the workers of Berlin to end this nonsense, a nonsense that is pursued by those who do not earn anything at all and pay no taxes, that is directed by those who because they live from public coffers have no understanding of how hard it is for a businessman to get by nowadays.

(Vigorous applause.)

Internally the movement does not have a goal, it must have been caused by external causes. A meeting yesterday called the movement an election maneuver. I would like to call what has happened over the past weeks a 'quarterly maneuver'. You don’t squander your powder for election maneuvers this early. It is about supplying new subscribers for the next quarter to shady papers and to a paper paid for by the Junkers.

Other conscious leaders may indeed go after election maneuvers. This Jew baiting, too, is a form of how the Reaction fights against Liberalism. The cities are the home of Liberalism. If they succeed in splitting the urban citizenry, then they break Liberalism. It almost seems as if the anti-Semitic movement is meant to succede the Socialist movement in the rear of Liberalism. This movement also everywhere resembles the first stirrings of Socialism in Berlin.

(Vigorous applause.)

Some also found Lassalle quite interesting, like some find the activity of the anti-Semites against the Liberals interesting nowadays. We will soon apprehend what the core of the matter is. In this politically mixed meeting I do not want to dwell more closely on what I think about it. All parties may struggle against each other. If, however, they really want to be considered supportive of the public order, they always have to remain conscious that they serve the one fatherland, are citizens of the same nation and only are to compete over how it is to be organized in the best way. Those who instead of inciting a noble competition incite raw passions, those who deny their opponents that they belong to the nation go beyond the confines of the party struggle, they are condemned if not by law, but by public morality!

(Vigorous approval.)

Since we believe that also other parties acknowledge the same limits, we have invited the electors of all parties to this meeting. The Progressives are called the fellow travelers of the Jews. We as a party are neither friends nor opponents of the Jews as such, but we defend all those who are meant to be hurt in their equal rights, and as the accusation of being fellow travelers of the Socialists did not hold us back from fighting against the special situation of the Socialists, so being called fellow travelers of the Jews will not hold us back from standing up for the equal rights of the Jews.


Standing firm both to those above and to those below, we stand on the same ground that until recently was common ground to all parties without any objections. Still at the European Congress in Berlin in the summer of 1878, it was Chancellor Prince Bismarck who together with the other leading statesmen advocated that the accession of half-civilized states, such as Romania or Serbia, to the league of nations was made dependent on recognizing in those countries the principle of equal rights for all denominations.

This movement clutches the coat-tails of Prince Bismarck nonetheless, and even when he rejects them and at times has his press reproach them for their transgressions, it still continues to cling to him and call upon him like noisy children surrounding their father.

Even so, I think I cannot conclude in a better way than by reminding you of the words Prince Bismarck spoke in the Reichstag on February 9, 1876 when a similar movement, in part supported by the same persons and the same press as the anti-Semitic movement I remind you of the articles about the so-called Bleichröder era slandered and attacked him personally.

He said: “We all can do much against slander as long as we have a sense of honor and decency, a Christian standpoint and tradition. We all who use a Christian standpoint not only as a poster child for political purposes, if we all stand together in a league against depravity and go after it in our own house and place it under a ban unanimously, we will achieve more than we would by calling in the judiciary.”

(Vigorous applause.)

In this vein, let us also fight against the depravity of this movement in a league without party distinction and let us feel united in this resolution drawing on the New Year’s Address of the city councillors to the Kaiser and his reply that only if all powers of national life, before which no distinction of denominations is justified, work peacefully and peaceably together, the welfare of the German Reich and her individual citizens can prosper.

(Vigorous, continuous applause.)


[1] The German Reich was technically a federation of states with independent legal systems although Prussia played a predominant role. Mecklenburg consisted of two Grand Duchies: Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Mecklenburg-Schwerin (now part of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the North of East Germany). These were predominantly rural with most of the land owned by the Grand Dukes, and the rest by petty aristocrats (Junkers). Unlike other states, Mecklenburg never had a constitution, and was viewed as the most backward part of Germany. As Bismarck is supposed to have said: if the world came to an end, he would go to Mecklenburg because there everything happened fifty years later.

[2] The Law on Freedom of Religion (July, 3 1869) abolished all previous restrictions on freedom and equality of religion. It was introduced to the North German Reichstag by the Progressive Party and found approval from all sides.

[3] Junkers were petty aristocrats, usually aligned with the Conservative Parties. The word is a contraction of "jung" (young) and "Herr" (Sir).

[4] Ludwig Windthorst (1812-1891) was the leader of the Center Party representing Catholics in Germany, then a minority. He objected to the precedent that the federal Reichstag could over-rule states' rights, e. g. also in mostly Catholic states. Nonetheless, he was sympathetic to the thrust of the law and would also not yield to those in his party who at the time of the speech were openly pandering to anti-Semitism.

[5] War of 1870-1871 declared by France against the German states which led to the defeat of France and the foundation of the German Reich.

[6] Allusion to Bismarck's words that the German Reich had been founded by "blood and iron" (Blut und Eisen).

[7] Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz) was a Prussian, and then German military order.

[8] Red Eagle Order with Swords (Roter Adlerorden mit Schwertern) was a high Prussian order for military achievement.

[9] "Young people" refers to the popularity of the anti-Semitic movement among university students. By law, full adulthood started only at age 25.

[10] Reference to the new protectionism introduced by Bismarck from the late 1870's on and justified as a protection of domestic industry and agriculture.

[11] Reference to various laws proposed by the Conservative parties to "protect consumers": regulating bills of exchange as well as pubs, and legislative action against the consumption of alcohol.

[12] A standard claim especially by anti-Semitic students that Jews could not drink as much. In the original, Richter speaks of "Vollgermanen" which is literally "full Germans", but where "Germanen" refers to members of the ancient Germanic tribes.

[13] Jews were eager to send their children to high schools and universities where they were over-represented. Over-representation was also due to the fact Jews would focus on subjects like medicine and the law that could lead to careers outside of the government service or the military from which they were effectively barred. The anti-Semites were clamoring for affirmative action for non-Jews.

[14] "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles" (Germany, Germany above All) was the refrain of the Song of the Germans (Deutschlandlied or Lied der Deutschen) written by Hoffmann von Fallersleben in 1841. The original meaning of the refrain was that a unified Germany should be above the petty states. But at the time of the speech, the song (to music from Haydn) had taken on a more chauvinistic overtone and was a signature song of the anti-Semites. It was not yet the German nation anthem, but "Heil Dir im Siegerkranz" (Hail to you in the Victor's Wreath, with the same tune as "God Save the Queen"). It would become the national anthem only in the Weimar Republic in 1922 and stay so until today, only now with a focus on the third stanza with the refrain "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit" (Unity and Justice and Liberty).

[15] Frederick William (1831-1888), at the time Crown Prince of Prussia and Germany, and for only 99 days King of Prussia and Emperor Frederick III. of Germany. Eugen Richter refers to a statement the Crown Prince made in early 1880 calling the anti-Semitic movement "a disgrace for Germany" (there are different versions: "a disgrace for our nation", "a disgrace of our time"). The anti-Semites attacked the authenticity of the quote. Days after Richter's speech, the Crown Prince reaffirmed his statement and made this known through the newspapers. Nonetheless, the anti-Semites would continue to cast doubt on its authenticity, well into the 1890's.

[16] Emanuel Gustav Wulffshein (1807-1880), first a member of the National Liberals, later of Eugen Richter's Progressive Party, Representative in the Reichstag.

[17] Meyer Magnus

On October 27, 1881.

Am 27. Oktober 1881 - Wie
                            Berolina die Sechs siebte

"How Berolina sifted the six."

On October 27, 1881, the candidates of the Progressive Party in all six Berlin electoral
districts (Rudolf Virchow, Eugen Richter, Albert Träger, Kurt von Saucken-Tarputschen,
Ludwig Loewe und Moritz Klotz) win a plurality of the votes in the first round of the Reichstag
elections. Four of them are directly elected, two will win their seats in a run-off against the
Social Democrats. The candidates of the anti-Semitic "Berliner Bewegung" (Berlin
Movement) fall through. Berolina is the personification of Berlin, the wording is
a pun on the word "sieben" (to sift) which also means "seven".

From the satirical weekly Berliner Wespen (Berlin Wasps), November 2, 1881

We are delighted by the support of the "Berliner Wespen",
which also appeared as a supplement to Eugen Richter's
"Freisinnigen Zeitung":



Since September 18, 2011