To-day it is hard and almost impossible for me to say when the word
'Jew' first began to raise any particular thought in my mind. I do not
remember even having heard the word at home during my father's lifetime.
If this name were mentioned in a derogatory sense I think the old
gentleman would just have considered those who used it in this way as
being uneducated reactionaries.
In the course of his career he had come
to be more or less a cosmopolitan, with strong views on nationalism,
which had its effect on me as well. In school, too, I found no reason to
alter the picture of things I had formed at home.
At the REALSCHULE I knew one Jewish boy. We were all on our guard in our
relations with him, but only because his reticence and certain actions
of his warned us to be discreet. Beyond that my companions and myself
formed no particular opinions in regard to him.
It was not until I was fourteen or fifteen years old that I frequently
ran up against the word 'Jew', partly in connection with political
controversies. These references aroused a slight aversion
in me, and I
could not avoid an uncomfortable feeling
which always came over me when
I had to listen to religious disputes. But at that time I had no other
feelings about the Jewish question.
There were very few Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries the Jews
who lived there had become Europeanized in external appearance and were
so much like other human beings that I even looked upon them as Germans.
The reason why I did not then perceive the absurdity of such an illusion
was that the only external mark which I recognized as distinguishing
them from us was the practice of their strange religion. As I thought
that they were persecuted on account of their Faith my aversion
hearing remarks against
them grew almost into a feeling of abhorrence. I
did not in the least suspect that there could be such a thing as a