This chapter shows how the Jewish population pursued a very limited range of often marginal occupations within the relatively underdeveloped preindustrial economy of Germany in the 18th century. Subject to many legal restrictions, they rarely had a fixed place of business and often lived on the edge of subsistence. Although there were always some wealthy Jews, the vast majority were in difficult economic straits. Political emancipation and the Industrial Revolution helped large numbers of Jews find new economic opportunities and improve their positions substantially. Although not all Jews benefited from the rapid changes, many were able to enter the German middle class.
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