The political resocialization of German Jews in Palestine, 1933-1939 / David Marvin Elcott
Includes bibliographical references (p. 386-406)
This study seeks to explain the differential political resocialization of a number of Jews who were raised in Germany at the turn of the century and who immigrated from Germany to Palestine sometime between 1933-1939. The study identifies three stages in the process of political resocialization: the initial period of socialization into one's native political system, a transitory desocialization stage in which many or all of the learned political behaviors are circumscribed or terminated due to the coercive actions of the government, and a final resocialization period in which the immigrant who was forced to flee is resettled in a new political system in which a potentially new set of political behaviors must be acquired based on the values, norms, and structures of authority of the new political system. To facilitate this investigation, the objects of political interactions were divided according to the community, regime, and Government partisan positions potentially available to the subjects in Germany and in Palestine. By analyzing the background characteristics and political behaviors which define the normative roles attendant to the available positions, the distinctive political interactions of the subjects can be explained. Twenty-nine subjects were interviewed, all but one still living in Israel, representing a wide range of background characteristics and degrees of political participation. Some of these subjects adopted all the positions available to them both in Germany and in Palestine, while others adopted various combinations of political positions, many of which were quite different in Palestine than they had been in Germany. It was the difference in the political positions and attendant behaviors which the subjects adopted in Palestine as they settled in the Jewish community (Yishuv) which had to be explained. For seventeen subjects, their initial socialization into the political system of their childhood was quite durable and impervious to most external forces. While some behaviors changed to adapt to a new political system, the patterns and objects of political participation remained constant. However, it was found that for five subjects, significant transformations of their political behavior occurred in which previously held political positions were discarded and new ones acquired. This was the result of a particularly traumatic experience in Germany as the violent actions of the government shattered the consonance between the core identity of the individual and his or her connection to the political system. For these subjects, the deaths of family members or close friends caused them to reject those aspects of their political interactions which they held responsible for their identity crisis and adopt transformed or new political positions. For the final seven subjects, the specific policies of the resocializing agents--in this case, the Yishuv leadership and HOG, the German-Jewish support organization in Palestine--caused subjects who had displayed no or minimal interactions with the political system in Germany to adopt previously rejected positions and new political behaviors once they settled in Palestine. While the general observation that initial political socialization is durable and hard to alter in later life was confirmed, this study contends that the specific policies and actions of those who control the structures of authority of the political system can, through violent coercion and through resettlement programs, significantly alter the political behaviors of at least some members of the political system.
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