Anson Rabinbach
In the Shadow of Catastrophe

Ball leaves no doubt that from his perspective the great intellectual betrayal of 1914 can ultimately be traced back to the principles of the Old Testament venerated by Luther and that the Protestant conception of the state as an instrument of power is ultimately derived from Jewish theology. It is this doctrine of power and the sword that Luther used to suppress the revolt of the poor and the disenfranchised whose true and authentic voice was Munzer; it is the same doctrines that led Germany to its disastrous defeat in 1918; and finally it is this doctrine that continues to triumph after 1918 in the form of Social Democracy. German Social Democracy is the product of 'two Jewish intellectuals, Ferdinand Lassalle and Karl Marx.' For Ball, German Social Democracy represented a 'Jewish-German agreement' particularly 'in as far as Marx succeeded in uniting the Jewish international with the socialistic one and in placing German-Jewish Messianism at the head of both, and in as far as Lassalle at the same time linked the proletariat to Prussianism, then, hypothetically the dictatorship of German-Judaism, the Jewish-Junker world rule, was on solid ground.' Ball approvingly cited Bakunin's remark that 'the Jewish sect today represents a more ominous power in Europe than do the Catholic and Protestant Jesuits. They reign despotically in business and finance alike....Woe to anyone who is clumsy enough to offend them.' The Jews represent a secret diabolical force in German history evident in Ball's phantasm of Jewish power, his contempt for the Jewish industrialist Walther Rathenau, whom he regarded as a tacit ally of Marx and Lassalle, and his diatribes against the German-Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen. Though Ball explicitly disavowed the charge of anti-Semitism, he ultimately believes that the catastrophe was 'the price that Europe had to pay for the advances gained by Judaism: the surrender of the social ideal to the messianic antisocial Prusso-German concept of the state as power and success; the instigation of the most horrible of all wars; the annihilation of twenty million human beings; and the ruination of Germany.'

Despite his disclaimers, the fact of Ball's anti-Semitism was already well established before the Critique appeared and was apparently the cause of strains in his relationship with Bloch, who not surprisingly reacted strongly to one such instance, Ball's editorial in Die Freie Zeitung on November 16, 1918. The offending passage contains the following statement about the dissolution of the monarchy and the role of Social Democracy in the founding of the German republic.
They send anational Israelites forward, in order to achieve the most advantageous liquidation. This too is wrong. The soil of the Israelite Republic is the promised land, not Germany. We gladly work alongside these people, as long as they unambiguously dedicate themselves to the moral deed. The legend of the chosen people is triumphant. Berlin is not Sinai. We want a German nation, a German Republic, we want a German National Assembly, which disavows the business makers and the opportunist, and declares itself for the resurrection of a great, truly purified nation. Only thus can we win back the trust of the world.
Bloch's shocked reaction to Ball's assertion that once again alien Jews are holding Germany hostage is evident from a letter written to his patron and fellow wartime Swiss emigre, Johann Wilhelm Muehlon, only eight days later: 'I have something else to say that is important for me. It concerns the astonishing concluding sentence of Ball's editorial. I wrote Ball immediately that this sort of anti-Semitism is scandalous, no
matter how he means it.' If Bloch and Ball were 'completely at one in the explicit denunciation of the Ludendorff war,' by November 1918 their friendship was shaken, though not entirely ruptured.

  The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,

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Through Eden took their solitary way.