Simon Dubnow Institute
for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

Studies of the Simon Dubnow Institute, Volume 10

Philipp Graf:

Die Bernheim-Petition 1933.

Jüdische Politik in der Zwischenkriegszeit




342 pp. with 10 illustrations and a reproduction of the petition

Hardcover with dust jacket

Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008

ISBN 978-3-525-36988-3

Price: 52,00 € (D)






The »Bernheim petition,« which stands at the center of vol. 10 of the Publication Series »Schriften des Simon-Dubnow-Instituts,« was an appeal in the name of the Upper Silesian Jew Franz Bernheim filed to the League of Nations by the Comité des Délégations Juives on 17 May 1933. With the petition, that was based on the Geneva Convention between Germany and Poland from 1922, this nongovernmental Jewish body wanted to discuss the discrimination of German Jewry after Hitler's rise to power in 1933 in front of an international audience. The appeal was successful in so far as, until 1937, all anti-Jewish laws in Upper Silesia, as the region of the treaty the Comité related to, were suspended. Although this success triggered strong public interest in the issue of German anti-Jewish policies, it is not known anymore to the public today.


Philipp Graf takes the petition as a point of departure to investigate what can be called »Jewish diplomacy« of the Interwar years. Lacking a nation-state of their own, Jewish transterritorial organizations like the Comité placed their hopes on public opinion and on international guaranteed treaties like the minorities rights system established at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. His study allows a fresh view on the activities of these Jewish lawyers and minority politicians and their challenge to react on the decline of the Geneva system as well as on the shift from minority to human rights.