The Jewish State

The Jewish State

Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl

Author: Herzl, Theodor, 1860-1904
Zionists — Austria — Biography
The Jewish State

Transcriber’s Note:

Inconsistent hyphenation in the original document has been preserved.
Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For a complete list, please see the end of this document.


Theodor Herzl


Theodor Herzl

Dover Publications, Inc., New York

This Dover edition, first published in 1988, is an unabridged, unaltered republication of the work originally published in 1946 by the American Zionist Emergency Council, New York, based on a revised translation published by the Scopus Publishing Company, New York, 1943, which was, in turn, based on the first English-language edition, A Jewish State, translated by Sylvie d’Avigdor, and published by Nutt, London, England, 1896. The Herzl text was originally published under the title Der Judenstaat in Vienna, 1896. Please see the note on the facing page for further details.

THE JEWISH STATEis published by the American Zionist Emergency Council for its constituent organizations on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the publication of “DER JUDENSTAAT” in Vienna, February 14, 1896.
The translation of “THE JEWISH STATE” based on a revised translation published by the Scopus Publishing Company was further revised by Jacob M. Alkow, editor of this book. The biography was condensed from Alex Bein’s Theodor Herzl, published by the Jewish Publication Society of America. The bibliography and the chronology were prepared by the Zionist Archives and Library. To Mr. Louis Lipsky and to all of the above mentioned contributors, the American Zionist Emergency Council is deeply indebted.


Introduction—Louis Lipsky 9
Biography—Alex Bein 21
The Jewish State—Theodor Herzl 67
Preface 69
I. Introduction 73
II. The Jewish Question 85
III. The Jewish Company 98
IV. Local Groups 123
V. Society of Jews and Jewish State 136
VI. Conclusion 153
Bibliography 158
Chronology 159



Louis LipskyToC


Theodore Herzl was the first Jew who projected the Jewish question as an international problem. “The Jewish State,” written fifty years ago, was the first public expression, in a modern language, by a modern Jew, of a dynamic conception of how the solution of the problem could be accelerated and the ancient Jewish hope, slumbering in Jewish memory for two thousand years, could be fulfilled.
In 1882, Leo Pinsker, a Jewish physician of Odessa, disturbed by the pogroms of 1881, made a keen analysis of the position of the Jews, declared that anti-Semitism was a psychosis and incurable, that the cause of it was the abnormal condition of Jewish life, and that the only remedy for it was the removal of the cause through self-help and self-liberation. The Jewish people must become an independent nation, settled on the soil of their own land and leading the life of a normal people. Moses Hess in his “Rome and Jerusalem” classified the Jewish question as one of the nationalist struggles inspired by the French Revolution. Perez Smolenskin and E. Ben-Yehuda urged the revival of Hebrew and the resettlement of Palestine as the foundation for the rebirth of the Jewish people. Herzl was unaware of the existence of these works. His eyes were not directed to the problem in the same manner. When he wrote “The Jewish State” he was a journalist, living in Paris, sending his letters to the leading newspaper of Vienna, the Neue Freie Presse, and writing on a great variety of subjects. He was led to see Jewish life as a phenomenon in a changing world. He had adapted himself to a worldly outlook on all life. Through his efforts, the Jewish problem was raised to the higher level of an international question which, in his judgment, should be given consideration by enlightened statesmanship. He was inspired to give his pamphlet a title that arrested attention.

He wrote “The Jewish State” in a mood of restless agitation. His ideas were thrown pell-mell into the white heat of a spontaneous revelation. What was revealed dazzled and blinded him. Alex Bein, in his excellent biography, gives an intriguing description, drawn from Herzl’s “Diaries,” of how “The Jewish State” was born. It was the revelation of a mystic vision with flashes and overtones of prophecy. This is what Bein says:

“Then suddenly the storm breaks upon him. The clouds open. The thunder rolls. The lightning flashes about him. A thousand impressions beat upon him at the same time—a gigantic vision. He cannot think; he is unable to move; he can only write; breathless, unreflecting, unable to control himself or to exercise his critical faculties lest he dam the eruption, he dashes down his thoughts on scraps of paper—walking, standing, lying down, on the street, at the table, in the night—as if under unceasing command. So furiously did the cataract of his thoughts rush through him, that he thought he was going out of his mind. He was not working out the idea. The idea was working him out. It would have been an hallucination had it not been so informed by reason from first to last.”

Not only did the Magic Title evoke a widespread interest among the intellectuals of the day, but it brought Jews out of the ghettos and made them conscious of their origin and destiny. It made them feel that there was a world that might be won for their cause, hitherto never communicated to strangers. Through Herzl, Jews were taught not to fear the consequences of an international movement to demand their national freedom. Thereafter, with freedom, they were to speak of a Zionist Congress, of national funds, of national schools, of a flag and a national anthem, and the redemption of their land. Their spirits were liberated and in thought they no longer lived in ghettos. Herzl taught them not to hide in corners. At the First Congress he said, “We have nothing to do with conspiracy, secret intervention or indirect methods. We wish to put the question in the arena and under the control of free public opinion.” The Jews were to be active factors in their emancipation and, if they wished it, what was described in “The Jewish State” would not be a dream but a reality.

The beginnings of the Jewish renaissance preceded the appearance of “The Jewish State” by several decades. In every section of Russian Jewry and extending to wherever the Jews clung to their Hebraic heritage, there was an active Zionist life. The reborn Hebrew was becoming an all-pervading influence. There were scores of Hebrew schools and academies. Hebrew journals of superior quality had a wide circulation. Ever since the pogroms of 1881, the ideas of Pinsker and Smolenskin and Gordon were discussed with great interest and deep understanding. There were many Zionist societies in Russia, in Poland, in Rumania, in Galicia and even in the United States. In “The Jewish State” Herzl alludes to the language of The Jewish State and passes Hebrew by as a manifestation of no great significance. He has a poorer opinion of Yiddish, the common language of Jews, which he regards as “the furtive language of prisoners.” This was obviously an oversight. With the advent of Herzl, however, Zionism was no more a matter of domestic concern only. It was no longer internal Jewish problem only, not a theme for discussion only at Zionist meetings, not a problem to heat the spirits of Jewish writers. The problem of Jewish exile now occupied a place on the agenda of international affairs.

Herzl was not so distant from his people as many of the Russian Zionists at first surmised. He was familiar with the social anti-Semitism of Austria and Germany. He knew of the disabilities of the Jews in Russia. There are many references in his feuilletons to matters of Jewish interest. He had read an anti-Semitic book written by Eugen Dühring called “The Jewish Problem as a Problem of Race, Morals and Culture.” One of his closest friends had gone to Brazil for a Jewish committee to investigate the possibility of settling Jews in that part of South America. In 1892 he wrote an article on French anti-Semitism in which he considered the solution of a return to Zion and seemed to reject it. He wrote “The New Ghetto” two years before “The Jewish State” appeared. He was present at the trial of Alfred Dreyfus in December, 1894. He witnessed the degradation of Dreyfus and heard the cries of “Down with the Jews” in the streets of Paris. He read Edouard Drumont’s anti-Semitic journal “La France Juive” and said, “I have to thank Drumont for much of the freedom of my present conception of the Jewish problem.” While he was in Paris he was stirred as never before by the feeling that the plight of the Jews was a problem which would have to have the cooperation of enlightened statesmanship. What excited him in the strangest way was the unaccountable indifference of Jews themselves to what seemed to him the menace of the existing situation. He saw the Jews in every land encircled by enemies, hostility to them growing with the increase of their numbers. In his excitement he thought first of Jewish philanthropists. He sought an interview with Baron Maurice de Hirsch in May, 1895. He planned an address to the Rothschilds. He talked of his ideas to friends in literary circles. His mind was obsessed by a gigantic problem which gave him no rest. He was struggling to pierce the veils of revelation. He saw a world in which the Jewish people lacked a fulcrum for national action and therefore had to seek to create it through beneficence. He had a remarkably resourceful and agile imagination. He weighed ideas, balanced them, discarded them, reflected, reconsidered, tried to reconcile contradictions, and finally came to what seemed to him at the moment the synthesis of the issue which seemed acceptable to reason and sentiment.

Obviously, “The Jewish State” was not a dogmatic finality. Most of the plans for settlement and migration are improvisations. The pamphlet was not a rigid plan or a blueprint. It was not a description of a Utopia, although some parts of it give that impression. It had an indicated destiny but was not bound by a rigid line. It was the illumination of a dynamic thought and followed the light with the hope that it might lead to fulfillment. There was room for detours and variations. It was to be rewritten, as he knew, not by its author but by the Jewish people on their way to freedom.

In fact, it was revised from the moment the Zionist movement was organized on an international basis. The “Society of Jews” became the Zionist Organization, with its statutes, its procedures, its public excitement and controversies. “The Jewish Company” became the Bank; then more specifically, the Jewish Colonial Trust and later the Anglo-Palestine Bank. The description of the Gestor, which appears in the final chapter of the pamphlet, was never referred to again, but in effect it was incorporated in the idea of a state in-the-process-of-becoming. Its legitimate successor is the Jewish Agency referred to in the Mandate for Palestine. He was first led by the idea that the way to the charter was through the Sultan and that the Sultan would be influenced by Kaiser Wilhelm. But both princes failing him, he turned to England and Joseph Chamberlain, and came to the Uganda proposal. This was Herzl’s one political success although the project was, in effect, rejected by the Zionist Congress. But this encounter with England was a precedent which led to much speculation in Zionist circles and gave a turn to Zionist thought away from Germany and Turkey. It served to inspire Dr. Chaim Weizman to make his home in England with the express purpose of seeking English sympathy for the Zionist ideal. The successor of Joseph Chamberlain was Arthur James Balfour. When Herzl opened Chamberlain’s door, Zionism had an easier access to the England of Balfour.
When Herzl first appeared on the political scene, he thought of courtiers and statesmen, of princes and kings. He found that they could not be relied upon for truth or stability. They were encircled by favorites and mercenaries. Enormous responsibilities rested upon their shoulders but they seemed to behave with regard to these responsibilities as if they were gamblers or amateurs. Herzl soon realized that these were frail reeds that would break under the slightest pressure. He came to put his trust in the Jewish people, the only real source of strength for the purpose of redemption. Confidence in themselves would give them power to breach their prison walls. His aristocratic republic had to become a movement of democracy. Only in “The Jewish State” will you find reference to a movement based upon Jews who endorse a “fixed program,” and then become members under the “discipline” of leadership. When Herzl faced the First Congress, he saw that this conception of Zionism was foreign to the nature and character of the Jewish people. The shekel was the registry of a name. It led the way to the elevation of the individual in Zionist affairs, first as a member of a democratic army “willing” the fulfillment, and then settling in Palestine to become the hands that built the Homeland.
Arrayed in the armor of democracy, the Zionist movement made the self-emancipation ideal of Pinsker live in the soul of Herzl. At a number of Congresses, in his articles in Die Welt, Herzl showed how that idea had become an integral part of his life, although his first thoughts ran in quite another direction.
But his analysis of anti-Semitism and how to approach the problem remains true today after Hitler, as it was true then after Dreyfus. This was the authentic revelation that in his last days was fixed in his mind. The homelessness of the Jewish people must come to an end. That tragedy is a world problem. It is to be solved by world statesmanship in cooperation with the reawakened Jewish people. It is to be solved by the establishment of a free Jewish State in their historic Homeland. Herzl manifested his utter identification with the destiny of his own people at the Uganda Congress when he faced the rebellious Russian Zionists, spoke words of consolation to them and gave them assurances of his fealty to Zion. He died a few months later.
“The Jewish State” was not regarded by Herzl as a piece of literature. It was a political document. It was to serve as the introduction to political action. It was to lead to the conversion of leaders in political life. It was to win converts to the idea of a Jewish State. Although a shy man at first, he did not hesitate to make his way through the corridors of the great and suffer the humiliations of the suppliant. Through that remarkable friend and Christian, the Reverend William H. Hechler, he met the Grand Duke of Baden; he made the rounds of German statesmen, Count zu Eulenburg, Foreign Minister, Von Buelow and Reichschancellor Hohenlohe; then he met the favorites who encircled Sultan Abdul Hamid and the Sultan himself. He placed the dramatic personae of his drama on the stage. The plan involved the Turkish debt, the German interest in the Orient. It involved stimulating the Russians and visiting the Pope. At first his political activities were conducted as the author of a startling pamphlet, then as the leader of his people. He became conscious of his leadership, and played his part with superb dignity. He had ease of manner and correct form. He created the impression of a regal personality; his noble appearance hid his hesitations and fears. With the Sultan he played the most remarkable game of diplomacy. He believed that once a mutual interest could be arrived at, he would be able to secure the funds, although at the time of speaking he had no funds at all. Adjusting himself to the wily Turk, he had to change and diminish his demands and finally, when he was dangerously near a disclosure, he was saved by the Sultan’s transferring his interest to the French and obtaining his funds from them. With Kaiser Wilhelm, he soon appreciated the fact that he had to deal with a great theatrical personality who spoke of plans and purpose with great fire, but had no courage and whose convictions melted away in the face of obstacles.
The world Herzl dealt with has passed away. The Turkish Empire now occupies a small part of the Near East. Its former provinces have now become “sovereign” states struggling to establish harmony between themselves and feeding on their animus towards the Jewish people returning home. The methods of diplomacy have changed. Loudness of speech is no longer out of order. Frankness and brutality may be expected at any international gathering. It is now felt as never before that behind political leaders, rulers, princes, statesmen, the people are advancing and soon will be able to push aside those who make of the relations of peoples a game and a gamble, a struggle for power, which, when achieved, dissolves into the nothingness of vanity.

“The Jewish State” should be regarded as one of a series of books, variations on the same theme, composed by the same author. The first was “The New Ghetto” (1894). That was a play which dealt with the social life of the upper class of Jews in Vienna. Then came the “Address to the Rothschilds.” That was a memorandum which contained a proposal to Jewish philanthropists. “The Jewish State” was the third effort of an agitated mind, wavering between the projection of a Utopia or a thesis, and containing the political solution of the Jewish problem. The final variant of the original theme was the novel “Altneuland.” Here he pictured the Promised Land as it might become twenty years after the beginning of the Zionist movement. In the interims, he played on the exciting stage of the Zionist Congresses. He paid court to princes and their satellites. He led in the organization of the Jewish Colonial Trust and the Jewish National Fund. He delivered political addresses and engaged in political controversy. He began the writing of his “Diaries” after he had written “The Jewish State.” His whole personality is reflected in that remarkable book. There you see his ideas in the process of becoming clear. There you see his sharp reactions; the reflection of his hopes, his disappointments, his shifts from untenable positions to positions possible after defeat. There you read his penetrating analysis of the figures on the Zionist stage upon whom he had to rely. There you are made to feel his doubts, his dread of death. In the midst of life he felt himself encircled by the Shadow of Death. There you found the explanation of his great haste, why he was so

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