The article discusses the impact of World War I on Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe. In modern Jewish history the experience of immigration is almost synonymous with movement to and settlement in immigrant neighborhoods in the heart of big metropolitan cities, especially New York. After 1918, however, traditional immigration countries like the United States closed their gates for most Eastern and Southern Europeans, as well as migrants from Asia. The Jewish migration experience in the German capital Berlin highlights the transition from relatively free migration during the long nineteenth century to a state best described as permanent transit after 1918. Berlin only emerged as an important destination for Jewish migrants from farther east when immigration restrictions put New York and other American cities out of reach. The article focuses on a number of literary descriptions of Berlin as a point of passage, in particular by the Jewish writer Joseph Roth. In his widely published feuilleton articles, Roth described postwar Berlin as a transit city and a city in transition, as a melting pot of different times, visions, and peoples, not least Jews from Eastern Europe (like himself). The experience of Jewish migrants who did not really arrive anywhere fascinated Roth because of the relationship between the preservation of a “supranational” Diaspora identity in time and space with elements of mobility.

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