A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 02, 2015
“There were two types of Jews in 1933—optimists and pessimists”

There is a grim Jewish “joke” that says that when Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany in 1933, there were two kinds of Jews—optimists and pessimists. The pessimists went into exile (usually to the United States and more specifically to New York City) and the optimists went to the gas chambers.

The origin of the joke is unknown, but it appears to have been told during the World War II period. The joke has appeared in several books published since 1990.


Google Books
Underground Humour In Nazi Germany, 1933-1945
By F. K. M. Hillenbrand
New York, NY: Routledge
1995
Pg. ?:
There are two kinds of Jews in the Third Reich: optimists and pessimists. The pessimists have emigrated, and the optimists are in Hitler’s concentration camps.

Google Books
What Do Jews Believe?:
The Customs and Culture of Modern Judaism

By Edward Kessler
New York, NY: Walker & Company
2007
Pg. 36:
It also stimulated some bitter jokes such as the remark that when Hitler rose to power there were two types of Jews in Germany; pessimists and optimists.The pessimists fled into exile and the optimists went to the gas chambers.

Google Books
Roll Over, Hitler!
By Daniel Bruce Brown
Portland, OR: Inkwater Press
2011
Pg. 177:
When Hitler came to power, there were two types of Jews in Germany — pessimists and optimists. The pessimists fled the country. The optimists went to the gas chambers.

Google Books
Dead Funny:
Humor in Hitler’s Germany

By Rudolph Herzog
Brooklyn, NY: Melville House Publishing
2011
Pg. ?:
Jews themselves were of course painfully aware of what was really happening, as the following joke shows:

How many types of Jews are there? Two: optimists and pessimists. All the pessimists are in exile, and the optimistsare in concentration camps.

Washington (DC) Post
A month after kosher market attack, French Jews plan an exodus
By Griff Witte February 7, 2015
(...)
“Personally, I have faith in our community. I’m an optimist,” said Assouline, who intends to stay. “But whenever I say that, there’s always someone who reminds me, ‘In 1933, there were two types of Jews: the pessimists and the optimists. The pessimists left and went to the U.S. The optimists ended up in the death camps.’”

The Guardian (UK)
Monday 3 August 2015 11.37 EDT
A warning to antisemites: Britain is hitting back
John Mann
The rise in antisemitic attacks is worrying – but we have good reason to think that we are on the road to beating the bigots
(...)
We did not include it in our parliamentary report on antisemitism but in one meeting we were told of an old “joke” that had re-emerged. “There were two types of Jews in Poland during the 1930s and 40s – the optimists and the pessimists. The pessimists,” we were told, “ended up in New York.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Sunday, August 02, 2015 • Permalink