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A movie I saw recently referred to the experience of German Jews who survived concentration camps and came back to live in German cities. It never occurred to me before how uncomfortable, or even horrible, it would be to live as a Jew at that time, knowing what the other Germans had just done to you and your kin. The movie implied that non-Jewish Germans were also uncomfortable with the concentration camp survivors--many felt guilty, obviously, but it's human nature to avoid guilt by projecting it on the victim--hence they were not kind. I am interested in real-life details that give a sense of what it was like for both Jews and non-Jews in Germany post-WW II.

Do we know what they said to each other on the street, in posted signs, in publications? Were there any non-Jews who could reach out in a healing way (and not just suffocate in guilt or a hard heart)? Any German organizations with a stated goal of healing the wounds and ending antisemitism? What fraction of Jews committed to staying, and what fraction left the country (for Israel or elsewhere)?

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    A side-note. This is Nazi Germany, but maybe there's something to be learned about other race relations. In the U.S. there is heated rhetoric between, say Black Lives Matter and police organizations. There is already suffering--both sides mourning the dead--but I believe that the verbal conflict amplifies the pain and delays a resolution. Wherever there is deep animus, yes, we must speak out about injustice, speak loudly! But we must also be willing to stand in someone else's shoes or the conflict will never end. Maybe we can learn from what Germany did right and did wrong. – composerMike Jun 5 '16 at 22:57
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    the Truth and Reconciliation commission in South Africa might be a better example. Germany got (and needed) the Nuremberg trials. – o.m. Jun 6 '16 at 17:11
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To talk about numbers, one has to talk about the definitions first. The Nazi definition of Jews was racist drivel, but it is relevant because it guided their persecutions. Counting the members in organized Jewish congregations would miss non-religious Jews. That being said, some numbers can be found in Wikipedia if one looks for the right keywords:

  • Directly after the war there were over 200.000 Jews in Germany, mostly Displaced Persons from Eastern Europe.
  • Most of those left within a few years. A few Jewish emigrants came back to Germany and a few Jews immigrated from Eastern Europe. A few years later there were about 10.000 Jews left in West Germany, many too old to emigrate to Israel.
  • The number grew slowly until the end of the Cold War, when Jews and their families from the former Soviet Union were given the opportunity to immigrate to Germany. The details of that are beyond the scope of your question.

As you guessed, the situation was rather awkward. Several groups in Germany attempted to reach out and provide restitution, but most of the victims were dead. Other Germans were reluctant to return goods which were taken during the so-called Aryanization and reacted with anger if the previous owners showed up.

Any posted signs and publications in the immediate post-war period would have been controlled by the occupation forces. Later on there were strict laws against hate speech, but enforcement could vary depending on the bias of the prosecutors and judges, many of whom had worked under Nazi rule.

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