General Category > General Discussion

Crimean Karaites: Did they participate in the holocaust?

(1/2) > >>

White Israelite:
I found this.

Is this true?

During the Holocaust

Their status under Russian imperial rule bore beneficial fruits for the Karaims decades later. In 1934, the heads of the Karaite community in Berlin asked the Nazi authorities to exempt them from the regulations; on the basis of their legal status in Russia. The Reich Agency for the Investigation of Families determined that from the standpoint of German law, the Karaites were not to be considered Jews. The letter from the Reichsstelle fur Sippenforschung gave the official ruling in a letter which stated:

    The Karaite sect should not be considered a Jewish religious community within the meaning of paragraph 2, point 2 of the First Regulation to the Reich Citizenship Law. However, it cannot be established that Karaites in their entirety are of blood-related stock, for the racial categorization of an individual cannot be determined without ... his personal ancestry and racial biological characteristics

    – [4]

This ruling set the tone for how the Nazis dealt with the Karaite community in Eastern Europe.

At the same time, the Nazis had serious reservations towards the Karaites. SS Obergruppenfuhrer Gottlob Berger wrote on November 24, 1944:

    Their Mosaic religion is unwelcome. However, on grounds of race, language and religious dogma... Discrimination against the Karaites is unacceptable, in consideration of their racial kinsmen [Berger was here referring to the Crimean Tatars]. However, so as not to infringe the unified anti-Jewish orientation of the nations led by Germany, it is suggested that this small group be given the opportunity of a separate existence (for example, as a closed construction or labor battalion)...

Despite their exempt status, confusion led to initial massacres. German soldiers who came across Karaims in Russia during the initial phase of Operation Barbarossa, not aware of their legal status under German law, attacked them; 200 were killed at Babi Yar alone. German allies such as the Vichy Republic began to require the Karaites to register as Jews, but eventually granted them non-Jewish status upon being instructed by Berlin.[5]

On interrogation, Ashkenazi and Krymchak rabbis in Crimea told the Germans that the Karaims were not Jews, in an effort to spare the Karaite community the fate of their Rabbanite neighbors.[6] The record of the Karaite community during the war is a checkered one; while many Karaims risked their lives to hide Jews, and in some cases claimed that Jews were members of their community, others joined German auxiliary units such as the Tatar Legion, Ostturkische Waffenverband, an SS unit that included Crimean Tatars and other Turkic peoples. According to a letter dated September 27, 1944, penned by Chancellor Gerhard Klopfer, an estimated 500-600 Crimean Karaims were fighting in the Wehrmacht, Waffen SS, and Tatar Legion. Klopfer asked that until such a time as the exact racial origin of the Karaites could be determined, a list of all members of the sect be diligently kept. Many of the Karaims were recruited for labor battalions.[7]
Karaim cemetery in Warsaw, established in 1890.

In Vilna and Troki, the Nazis forced Karaite Hakham Seraya Shapshal to produce a list of the members of the community, which allowed the Nazis to quickly discover Jews bearing false Karaite papers. Though he did his best, not every Karaylar Jew was saved by Shapshal's list.

In Lutsk the Karaims generally cooperated with the Nazis. The historian W.P. Green describes the situation in Lutsk thus:

    [T]he local Karaites acted as liaisons between the Germans and the Lutsk Judenrat. Jacob Eilbert, a survivor of the Lutsk Ghetto, testified to the Karaite anti-Jewish activity. He recounted that the Karaites would enter the ghetto and beat up women and children. On other occasions they would extort huge sums of money from the Lutsk Judenrat. Eilbert also testified to the fact that the Karaites assisted the Germans and Ukrainians in the liquidation of the Lutsk Ghetto in August 1942. My research, however, indicates that the strained Karaite-Jewish relations described by Eilbert appear to be an exception.

Are they Jews or are they just people who follow The Tanach like it says on the Lituanian Karaites website?

Most of the Krimean Karaites were neither Jews nor followers of the Tanach. Many of them were either descendant of Karaite Jews or Turks who had assimilated to Karaites and adopted some of their customs. They were called Karaites just because they spoke the same Turkish dialect used by Karaite Jews and that dialect had began to be called Karaylar (for its use by Karaites). Very few of them were real Karaite Jews or at least follow the Tanach. The majority only kept the Turkish Karaylar dialect but had a non-defined religion, a mix of Judaism, Christianity and Islam they had got by contact with neighbouring communities. However, neither real Karaite Krimean Jews, nor Turkish Karaylar speakers took part in the Holocaust. They just petitioned the Nazis to exempt them from the slaughter, and that petition also saved many real Orthodox Jews who could hide their identity and register as Turkish Karaylar. What's wrong with that?

From what i read the non Karaite Rabbis were asked by SS if the Karaites were Jews in order to save the the Karaites the Rabbi said no.


--- Quote from: ItalianZionist on January 28, 2009, 11:14:57 PM ---Are they Jews or are they just people who follow The Tanach like it says on the Lituanian Karaites website?

--- End quote ---

Originally , when it started, they were jews.. and I doubt they assimilated much..   At one point they were 10% apparently.
According to historian Salo Wittmayer Baron, at one time the number of Jews affiliating with Karaism comprised as much as 10 percent of world Jewry, and debates between Rabbinic and Karaitic leaders were not uncommon.

And almost a thousand years ago, a great rabbi, the saadya gaon, wrote a work refuting them.. they are still publishing answers to it today .. they've never recovered from it.  They are very small now.
Rav Saadya’s main book on this subject was called "Kolo Anan Vayeilech Lo" – literally, "the cloud has dispersed and disappeared" – a play on words using the founder of the Karaites’ name and a posuk in Iyov. The repercussions of Rav Saadya’s direct attack were so ruinous and damaging to the sect that the Karaites retaliated by attacking him physically and burning his writings.  Due to Rav Saadya’s efforts, the Karaite scourge was dealt a severe blow and became a negligible, non-influential sect. Rav Saadya himself become famous throughout the international Torah community, especially in Eretz Yisroel and Babylonia.

I think they'd have to convert via orthodox judaism, to be considered jewish properly, because they may have accepted converts by their standards, which aren't orthodox standards and are not recognized.

Some wondering around the internet are converts to it  or call themselves karaites... but even *if* by karaite standards they are karaite jews. By Orthodox standards, they are not jewish.  And of course even original ones we can't assume to be halachically jewish. 

I heard that the ones from egypt are descended from the original karaites..

It's a sect that appeared around the time of islam. Interestingly, the sadduccees appeared around the time of christianity. And have a similar concept.  Abandoning the oral law.   Islam is a very simple religion.. Christianity a very undemanding one.

It never really grew.. it's fair to say it was and is a jewish sect.. You can't say for sure a member is not jewish.. but you can't say they are jewish either.

In orthodox synagogues.. I think you need real good evidence that you are jewish.. otherwise they won't marry you.  No karaite could have such evidence.. because their religion allows converts that aren't really jewish(by jewish law).


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version