Emil Felden

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Emil Felden (1874–1959), a pastor in Bremen, was active in the Society for Defense against Anti-Semitism during the period of the Weimar Republic.

Felden was a politically active pacifist and socialist who did not find religion and socialism mutually exclusive. Theologically and ecclesiastically, he pushed boundaries and considered himself a monist and religious socialist. His published writings made him known throughout Germany.

His belief in the dignity and freedom of the individual made him an opponent of racial anti-Semitism, which he regarded as a “cultural disgrace”. He combatted it in treatises and lectures. In 1921, Felden had written the novel “Die Sünde wider das Volk” (The Sin against the Nation), in which he exposed anti-Semitic lies in response to Artur Dinter’s successful anti-Semitic Roman “Die Sünde wider das Blut” (The Sin against the Blood).

Felden initiated the “Anti-Anti-Blätter“, an alphabetically ordered compilation of loose cards with brief texts on keywords based on scholarship in order to provide opponents of anti-Semites an aid to refute them. The “Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith” published this card catalog in 1924 under the title “Anti-Anti-Blätter for Defense: Facts about the Jewish Question”. Several new printing runs followed.

Felden felt that the churches bore a share of the responsibility for the rampant anti-Semitism. Church newspapers and pastors spread anti-Semitic thought and denominational religion classes encouraged the degradation of Judaism. Felden was forced to take retirement on August 1, 1933.

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  • © Evangelische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte, München

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