Between 1871 and 1910, the population of the Jewish community in Germany grew from 512,000 to 615,000 but held steady at around 1 percent of the total population. This growth was actually slower than the growth of the nonJewish population, but it was still approximately a 20 percent increase. The Jewish population was in enormous flux. Social historians and demographers have traced the large migrations of Jews in the Imperial era from rural areas to towns and then to cities, noting that they were "concerned not only with geographic mobility but also with social mobility."1 Moreover, Germany attracted Eastern European Jewish immigrants and remained a point of transmigration for over 2 million Jews en route from Eastern Europe to points further west.2 Thus German Jews not only took part in their own internal migration—both geographic and social—but also witnessed much larger shifts in the Jewish population.
The peripatetic nature of Jewish life before 1871 was the result not only of trading, especially peddling, but also of Jews' lack of legal domicile. As noted in previous chapters, states could expel Jews without cause or notice, deny them settlement, or (as in Bavaria's Registration Law, or Matrikelgesetz) permit only the eldest son to live in the same residence as his family of origin. The founding of the German Empire in 1871 heralded a new era in which all citizens were permitted to relocate and settle freely. In that year, about 70 percent of Jews lived in the countryside. Forty years later, about 70 percent of Jews resided in cities.3 Millions of non-Jewish Germans were also on