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- Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For a complete list, please see the end of this document. -
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THE JEWISH STATE
THE JEWISH STATE
by 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 STATE" is 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
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
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.
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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.
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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.
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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 Duehring 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.
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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.
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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.
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"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 anxious to bring a measure of practical reality to the Jewish people even if it necessitated a detour from the land which was becoming more and more a part of his hopes and desires. The "Diaries" are unrestrained and unstudied. They were written hurriedly in the heat of the moment. They reveal the making of the great personality who gave only a glimpse of himself in "The Jewish State." They show the writer evolving as the hero of a great and lasting legend. The pamphlet is one of the chapters in the story of his struggle to achieve in eight years what his people had not been able to achieve in two thousand years. He gave his life to write it.
A BIOGRAPHY based on the work of
Theodor Herzl was born on Wednesday, May 2, 1860, in the city of Budapest.
Almost next door to his father's house was the liberal-reform temple. To this house of worship the little boy went regularly with his father on Sabbaths and Holy Days. At home, too, the essentials of the ritual were observed. One ceremony which Theodor learned in childhood remained with him; before every important event and decision he sought the blessing of his parents.
Even stronger than these impressions, however, was the influence of his mother. Her education had been German through and through; there was not a day on which she did not slip into German literature, especially the classics.
The Jewish world, not alien to her, did not find expression through her; her conscious efforts were all directed toward implanting the German cultural heritage in her children. Of even deeper significance was her sympathetic attitude toward the pride which showed early in her son, and her skill in transferring to him her sense of form, of bearing, of tactfulness and of simple grace.
At about the age of twelve he read in a German book about the Messiah-King whom many Jews still awaited and who would come riding, like the poorest of the poor on an ass. The history of the Exodus and the legend of the liberation by the King-Messiah ran together in the boy's mind, inspiring in him the theme of a wonderful story which he sought in vain to put into literary form.
A little while thereafter Herzl had the following dream: "The King-Messiah came, a glorious and majestic old man, took me in his arms, and swept off with me on the wings of the wind. On one of the iridescent clouds we encountered the figure of Moses. The features were those familiar to me out of my childhood in the statue by Michelangelo. The Messiah called to Moses: It is for this child that I have prayed. But to me he said: Go, declare to the Jews that I shall come soon and perform great wonders and great deeds for my people and for the whole world."
It may be to this period (of his Bar Mitzvah) of reawakened Jewish sensitivity, of heightened responsiveness to the expectations of his elders, of resurgent interest in Jewish historical studies—it may be to this period that the dream of a dedicated life belonged. It is almost certain, too, that for the great event of the Bar Mitzvah the old grandfather of Semlin came to Pest. About this time, again, Alkalai, that early, all-but-forgotten Zionist, passed through Vienna and Budapest on his final journey to Palestine. Whether or not each one of these circumstances had a direct effect on the boy, the whole complex surrounds his Bar Mitzvah with the suggestion of the mission of his life, and, certainly, occasion was given for the awakening in him of the feeling of dedication to a great enterprise.
The attention, energy and time which Herzl devoted to literature, at fifteen, his absorption in himself, his activity in the school literary society meant of course so much less given to his school work. He found no time at all for science; Jewish questions likewise disappeared from his interests; he was completely absorbed by German literary culture. This is all the more astonishing when we reflect that anti-Semitism continued to increase steadily. As a grown man Herzl could recall that one of his teachers, in defining the word "heathen," had said, "such as idolators, Mohammedans and Jews." Whether it was this incident,—as the memory of the grown man always insisted—which enraged him beyond endurance, or the increasingly bad school reports, or both circumstances together, the fact remains that on February 4, 1875 Herzl left the Technical School.
At sixteen to eighteen in High School, he struggled to define the basic principles of various literary art forms in order that he might see more clearly what he himself wanted to say. He took an active and eager part in the work of the "German Self-Education Society" created by the students of his school. The Jewish world, whose inferior position always wounded his pride, and whose obstinate separatism seemed to him utterly meaningless, drifted further and further out of his mind.
At eighteen, after the sudden death of his only sister, the family moved to Vienna where Herzl entered the University as a law student. Herzl, who accounted himself a liberal and an Austrian patriot, plunged eagerly into the activities of a large student Cultural Association, attended its discussions and directed its literary evenings. He had occasion, there, to deride certain Jewish fellow members who, in his view, displayed an excessive eagerness in their loyalty to various movements.
This was the extent to which, in these days, he occupied himself with the Jewish question—at least externally. He concerned himself little or not at all with the official Jewish world which was seeking to submerge itself in the surrounding world. He seldom visited the synagogue.
He was an omnivorous reader. His extraordinary knowledge of books was evident in his conversation, for he liked to adorn his speech with quotations, which came readily to his memory. Herzl read Eugen Duehring's book The Jewish-Problem as a Problem of Race, Morals and Culture—the first and most important effort to find a "scientific," philosophic, biologic and historical basis for the anti-Semitism which was sweeping through Europe in those days (1881). Duehring saw the Jewish question as a purely racial question, and for him the Jewish race was without any worth whatsoever. Those peoples which, out of a false sentiment of humanity, had permitted the Jews to live among them with equal and sometimes even with superior rights, had to be liberated from the harmful intruder, had to be de-Judaized.
The reading of this book had the effect upon him of a blow between the eyes. The observations set down in his diary burn with indignation: "An infamous book.... If Duehring, who unites so much undeniable intelligence with so much universality of knowledge, can write like this, what are we to expect from the ignorant masses?"
This passionate reaction to Duehring's book shows us how deeply he had been moved, and how fearfully he had been shaken in his belief that the Jewish question was on the point of disappearing. We shall find echoes of this experience in the pages of the Judenstaat. For the time being, however, he shrank from the logical consequences of his reactions. His inner pride began to build itself up.
The more immediate reaction was undoubtedly a sharpened perception and evaluation of his fellow-members in the Fraternity. Herzl had joined and been active in a duelling Fraternity. Here, too, anti-Semitism was breaking through; student after student expressed himself favorably toward the Jew-baiting speeches of Schoenerer, who was making a special effort to win over the universities. In the Fraternity debates Herzl expressed himself sharply against any open or covert manifestation of such sympathy. But he was already known for the sharpness of his tongue and the individuality of his views. Thus he won to himself neither the few co-religionists who belonged to the Fraternity nor the mass of the Germanic students.
He had learned from newspaper reports that the Wagner Memorial meeting, in which his Fraternity had taken a part, had been transformed into an anti-Semitic demonstration. His Fraternity had, therefore, identified itself with a movement which he, as a believer in liberty, was bound to condemn, even if he had not been a Jew. "It is pretty clear that, handicapped as I am by my Semitism (the word was not yet known at the time of my entry), I would today refrain from seeking a membership which would, indeed, probably be refused me; it must also be clear to every decent person that under these circumstances I cannot wish to retain my membership." Herzl withdrew from the organization.
On July 30, 1884, Herzl was admitted to the bar in Vienna. His student days were over. A new era opened for him, with its challenge to prove whether or not there was something in him to establish and proclaim to the world.
In August, he entered on his law practice in the service of the state and was soon transferred to the court of Salzburg. Though he may at that time have been so far from Judaism that only pride and a decent respect for the feelings of his parents stood between him and baptism, he could not help perceiving that as a Jew he would find the higher levels of the civil service hierarchy closed to him. On August 5, 1885, he withdrew from the service, determined to seek fame and fortune as a writer.
Brimming with hope, he set out on a journey which was to be the introduction to his literary life. He visited Belgium and Holland and in Berlin made valuable connections and became a regular contributor to several important newspapers. Thus the range of his connections and relationships widened from year to year, and when he travelled again it was an ever-widening audience that waited for his impressions and observations.
In a book of reprinted feuilletons of Herzl which appeared in the first years of his success as a journalist a total of seven or eight lines is devoted to Jews. His impressions of the Ghetto in Rome. "What a steaming in the air, what a street! Countless open doors and windows thronged with innumerable pallid and worn-out faces. The ghetto! With what base and persistent hatred these unfortunates have been persecuted for the sole crime of faithfulness to their religion. We've travelled a long way since those times: nowadays the Jew is despised only for having a crooked nose, or for being a plutocrat even when he happens to be a pauper." Pity and bitterness abound in these lines, but they are written by a detached spectator. He did not know how much of the Jew there was in him even in this feeling of remoteness from a world which offered him not living reality but folly.
By 1892, Herzl had achieved great success as a dramatist and as a journalist; his plays had been performed on the stage of the leading theatre of Vienna and, to cap the climax, came an appointment to the staff of the Neue Freie Presse, one of the most distinguished papers on the continent.
Early in October he received a telegram from the Neue Freie Presse asking whether he would accept the post of Paris correspondent. He replied at once in the affirmative, and proceeded to the French capital at the end of the same month. He wrote to his parents: "The position of Paris correspondent is the springboard to great things, and I shall achieve them, to your great joy, my dear beloved parents."
Herzl sustained successfully the comparison with his great models and predecessors. In style as well as in substance his reports and articles were masterpieces of their kind. He came to his task with the equipment of a perfect feuilletonist; his style was polished and musical; he possessed in an exceptional degree the capacity to describe natural scenery in a few fine clear strokes and of hinting at, rather than of reproducing, a mood with a minimum of language. Everything was there, background, mood and development of action in plastic balance. It was only now, when a great opportunity provoked him to the highest effort, that all the lessons of the years of his apprenticeship built up a many-sided perfection.
He threw himself seriously and diligently into the journalistic craft. He observed with close attention all that went on about him, and listened with sharpened ears. But the moment had not yet come for the unveiling of a mission within him. He was on the way; the process of preparation had begun.
How, in this mood of his, could he possibly have avoided clashing with the Jewish question? As far back as the time of his Spanish journey, when he had sought healing from his domestic and spiritual torments, the question had presented itself to him and had cried for artistic expression. His call to Paris had been a welcome pretext, perhaps, putting off the writing of his Jewish novel—the more so as he probably was not ripe enough for such an undertaking. Now that he was in Paris, where his eyes were opened to the full range of the social process, he began to draw nearer in spirit to his fellow-Jews, and to look upon them more warmly and with less inhibition. He found them as difficult aesthetically as before, but he tried hard to grasp the essence of their character and substance, and to judge them without prejudice.
When Herzl arrived in Paris anti-Semitism, had not—in spite of Drumont's exertions, and in spite of his paper, la Libre Parole, founded in 1892—achieved the dimensions of a genuine movement, nor was it destined to become one in the German sense. But it served as the focus for all kinds of discontents and resentments; it attracted certain serious critical spirits, too; its influence grew from day to day, and the position of the Jews became increasingly uncomfortable.
Herzl's contact with anti-Semitism dated back to his student days, when it had first taken on the form of a social political movement. He had been aware of it as a writer, though the contact had never ripened into a serious inner struggle or compelled him to give utterance to it.
Now he read Drumont, as he had read Duehring. The impression was again a profound one. What moved him most in the work was the totality of a world picture based on a considered hostility to the Jews.
A ritual-murder trial was in progress in the town of Xanten, in the Rhineland. On August 31, 1892, Herzl, dealing with this subject as with all other subjects of public interest, summed up the general situation in a long report entitled "French anti-Semitism."
By now Herzl was no longer content with a simple acceptance of the facts; he was looking for the deeper significance of the universal enmity directed against the Jews. For the world it is a lightning conductor. But so far it was only a flash of insight which ended in nothing more than a literary paradox. However, from now on it gave him no peace.
At the turn of the year 1892-93 there came a sharp clarification in his ideas. He had followed closely the evasive debates in the Austrian Reichstag—debates which forever dodged the reality by turning the question into one of religion. "It is no longer—and it has not been for a long time—a theological matter. It has nothing whatsoever to do with religion and conscience," declared Herzl. "What is more, everyone knows it. The Jewish question is neither nationalistic nor religious. It is a social question."
Then came the summer, 1894, and at its close Herzl took a much needed vacation. He spent the month of September in Baden, near Vienna, in the company of his fellow-feuilletonist on the Neue Freie Presse, Ludwig Speidel. Herzl has left a record of their conversation. What he gave Speidel was more or less what he had felt, many years before, after his reading of Duehring. He admitted the substance of the anti-Semitic accusation which linked the Jew with money; he defended the Jew as the victim of a long historic process for which the Jew was not responsible. "It is not our fault, not the fault of the Jews, that we find ourselves forced into the role of alien bodies in the midst of various nations. The ghetto, which was not of our making, bred in us certain anti-social qualities.... Our original character cannot have been other than magnificent and proud; we were men who knew how to face war and how to defend the state; had we not started out with such gifts, how could we have survived two thousand years of unrelenting persecution?"
At that time Herzl came across the Zionist solution, and definitely rejected it. Discussing the novel Femme de Claude, by Dumas the younger, he says of one of its characters: "The good Jew Daniel wants to rediscover the homeland of his race and gather his scattered brothers into it. But a man like Daniel would surely know that the historic homeland of the Jews no longer has any value for them. It is childish to go in search of the geographic location of this homeland. And if the Jews really 'returned home' one day, they would discover on the next day that they do not belong together. For centuries they have been rooted in diverse nationalisms; they differ from each other, group by group; the only thing they have in common is the pressure which holds them together. All humiliated peoples have Jewish characteristics, and as soon as the pressure is removed they react like liberated men."
The inner apotheosis was drawing nearer and nearer for Herzl. In October, 1894, Herzl was in the studio of the sculptor, Samuel Friedrich Beer, who was making a bust of him. The conversation turned to the Jewish question and to the growth of the anti-Semitic movement in Vienna, the hometown of both Herzl and Beer. It was useless for the Jew to turn artist and to dissociate himself from money, said Herzl. "The blot sticks. We can't break away from the ghetto." A great excitement seized Herzl, and he left the atelier, and on the way home the inspiration came on him like a hammerblow. What was it? The complete outline of a play, "like a block of basalt."
With this play Herzl completed his inner return to his people. Until then, with all his emotional involvement in the question, he had stood outside it as the observer, the student, the clarifier, or even the defender. He had provided the world-historic background for the problem, he had diagnosed it and given the prognosis for the future. Now he was immersed in it and identified with it.
He had become its spokesman and attorney, as he was spokesman and attorney for other victims of injustice. It was no accident that the hero of the play was a lawyer by vocation and avocation. For the hero was Herzl himself, and the transformation which unfolded in Dr. Jacob Samuel was the transformation which was unfolding in Theodore Herzl.
He belongs utterly to the Jews; it is for them that he fights, and, dying, he still sees himself as the fighter for their future. What future Jacob Samuel foresaw for the Jews in his dying moments remained unclear. It would appear that Herzl himself still believed that a deepening of mutual understanding between Jews and non-Jews might bring the solution.
But Herzl had travelled so much further by this time that he could not have in mind the "reconciliation" which would come by the capitulation of baptism. Indeed, the play emphasizes as a first prerequisite in human relations the element of self-respect. "If you become untrue to yourself," says the clever mother to the son, in the play, "you musn't complain if others become untrue to you." It was like a fresh wind blowing suddenly through the choking atmosphere of a lightless room. It was a new attitude: decent pride!
It called for a frightful effort to descend from the intoxicating heights of creativity to the ordinary round of work. For weeks now his regular employment had filled Herzl with revulsion. The first reports of the Dreyfus trial, which appeared while he was working on his New Ghetto, therefore made no particular impression on him. It looked like a sordid espionage affair in which a foreign power—before long it was revealed that the foreign power was Germany, acting through Major von Schwartzkoppen—had been buying up through its agent secret documents of the French general staff. An officer by the name of Alfred Dreyfus was named as the culprit, and no one had reason to doubt that he was guilty, even though Drumont's Libre Parole was exploiting the fact that the man was a Jew.
But, after the degradation of Dreyfus, Herzl became more and more convinced of his innocence. "A Jew who, as an officer on the general staff, has before him an honorable career, cannot commit such a crime.... The Jews, who have so long been condemned to a state of civic dishonor, have, as a result, developed an almost pathological hunger for honor, and a Jewish officer is in this respect specifically Jewish."
"The Dreyfus case," he wrote in 1899, "embodies more than a judicial error; it embodies the desire of the vast majority of the French to condemn a Jew, and to condemn all Jews in this one Jew. Death to the Jews! howled the mob, as the decorations were being ripped from the captain's coat.... Where? In France. In republican, modern, civilized France, a hundred years after the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The French people, or at any rate the greater part of the French people, does not want to extend the rights of man to Jews. The edict of the great Revolution had been revoked."
Illumined thus in retrospect, the "curious excitement" which gripped Herzl on that occasion takes on a special significance. "Until that time most of us believed that the solution of the Jewish question was to be patiently waited for as part of the general development of mankind. But when a people which in every other respect is so progressive and so highly civilized can take such a turn, what are we to expect from other peoples, which have not even attained the level which France attained a hundred years ago?"
In that fateful moment, when he heard the howling of the mob outside the gates of the Ecole Militaire, the realization flashed upon Herzl that anti-Semitism was deep-rooted in the heart of the people—so deep, indeed, that it was impossible to hope for its disappearance within a measurable period of time. Precisely because he was so sensitive to his honor as a Jew, precisely because he had proclaimed, in the New Ghetto, the ideal of human reconciliation, and had taken the ultimate decision to stand by his Jewishness, the ghastly spectacle of that winter morning must have shaken him to the depths of his being. It was as if the ground had been cut away from under his feet. In this sense Herzl could say later that the Dreyfus affair had made him a Zionist.
He saw all about him the ever fiercer light of a blazing anti-Semitism. In the French Chamber of Deputies the deputy Denis made an interpellation on the influence of the Jews in the political administration of the country. In Vienna a Jewish member of the Reichstag rose to speak and was howled down. On April 2, 1895, were held the municipal elections of Vienna, and there was an enormous increase in the number of anti-Semitic aldermen. Changing plans passed tumultuously through his mind. He wanted to write a book on "The Condition of the Jews," consisting of reports on all the important Jewish colonization enterprises in Russia, Galicia, Hungary, Bohemia, the Orient, and those more recently founded in Palestine, about which he had heard from a relative. Alphonse Daudet, the famous French author with whom he had discussed the whole matter, felt that Herzl ought to write a novel; it would carry further than a play. "Look at Uncle Tom's Cabin."
He returned to his former plan of a Jewish novel which he had abandoned when he was called to his assignment on the Neue Freie Presse in Paris. His friend Kana, the suicide, was no longer to be the central figure. He was instead to be "the weaker one, the beloved friend of the hero," and would take his own life after a series of misfortunes, while the Promised Land was being discovered or rather founded. When the hero aboard the ship which was taking him to the Promised Land would receive the moving farewell letter of his friend, his first reaction after his horror would be one of rage: "Idiot! Fool! Miserable hopeless weakling! A life lost which belonged to us!"
We can see the Zionist idea arising. Its outlines are still indefinite, but the decisive idea is clearly visible; only by migration can this upright human type be given its chance to emerge. In The New Ghetto Jacob Samuel is a hero because he knows how to choose an honorable death. Now the death of a useful man is criminally wasteful. For there are great tasks to be undertaken.
In essence it is the Act and not the Word that confronts us. What last impulse it was that actually carried Herzl from the Word to the Act it will be difficult to tell—he himself could not have given the answer. Little things may play a dramatic role not less effectively than great ones when a man is so charged with purpose as Herzl then was.
In the early days of May, Herzl addressed to Baron de Hirsch (the sponsor of Jewish colonization in Argentina), the letter which opens his Jewish political career. His request for an interview was granted. Herzl prepared an outline of his position in notes, lest he omit something important during their conversation.
In these notes he writes: "If the Jews are to be transformed into men of character in a reasonable period of time, say ten or twenty years, or even forty—the interval needed by Moses—it cannot be done without migration. Who is going to decide whether conditions are bad enough today to warrant our migration? And whether the situation is hopeless? And the Congress which you (i.e. Hirsch) have convened for the first of August in a hotel in Switzerland? You will preside over this Congress of notables. Your call will be heard and answered in every part of the world.
"And what will be the message given to the men assembled 'You are pariahs! You must forever tremble at the thought that you are about to be deprived of your rights and stripped of your possessions. You will be insulted when you walk in the street. If you are poor, you suffer doubly. If you are rich, you must conceal the fact. You are not admitted to any honorable calling, and if you deal in money you are made the special focus of contempt.... The situation will not change for the better, but rather for the worse.... There is only way out: into the Promised Land.'"
Where the Promised Land was to be located, how it was to be acquired, is not yet mentioned. Herzl does not seem to have thought this question of decisive significance; it was a scientific matter. It was the organization of the migration which held his attention, the political preparations among the Powers, the preliminary changes to be brought about among the masses by training, by "tremendous propaganda, the popularization of the idea through newspapers, books, pamphlets, lectures, pictures, songs."
On the day of his conversation with Baron de Hirsch, Herzl wrote him a long letter in which he sought to supplement the information and impressions which had been the result of the meeting. "Please believe me, the political life of an entire people—particularly when that people is scattered throughout the entire world—can be set in motion only with imponderables floating high in the air. Do you know what the German Reich sprang from? From dreams, songs, fantasies, and gold-black bands worn by students. And that in a brief period of time. What? You do not understand imponderables? And what is religion? Bethink yourself what the Jews have endured for two thousand years for the sake of this fantasy....
"The exodus to the Promised Land presents itself as a tremendous enterprise in transportation, unparalleled in the modern world. What transportation? It is a complex of all human enterprises which we shall fit Into each other like cog-wheels. And in the very first stages of the enterprise we shall find employment for the ambitious younger masses of our people: all the engineers, architects, technologists, chemists, doctors, and lawyers, those who have emerged in the last thirty years from the ghetto and who have been moved by the faith that they can win their bread and a little honor outside the framework of our Jewish business futilities. Today they must be filled with despair, they constitute the foundation of a frightful over-educated proletariat. But it is to these that all my love belongs, and I am just as set on increasing their number as you are set on diminishing it. It is in them that I perceive the latent power of the Jewish people. In brief, my kind."
In this letter of June 3, 1895, Herzl for the first time imparted his new Jewish policy to a stranger. The writing down of his views, as well as his conversation on the subject, had had a stronger effect on himself than on Hirsch. He had obtained a clear vision of the new and revolutionary character of his proposals. On the same day or shortly thereafter he began a diary under the title of The Jewish Question.
"For some time now, I have been engaged upon a work of indescribable greatness. I do not know yet whether I shall carry it through. It has assumed the aspect of some mighty dream. But days and weeks have passed since it has filled me utterly, it has overflown into my unconscious self, it accompanies me wherever I go, it broods above all my commonplace conversation, it peeps over my shoulder at the comical little journalistic work which I must carry out. It disturbs and intoxicates me."
Then suddenly the storm breaks upon him. The clouds open, the thunder rolls and the lightning flashes about him. A thousand impressions beat upon him simultaneously, a gigantic vision. He cannot think, he cannot act, he can only write; breathless, unreflecting, unable to control himself, unable to exercise the critical faculty lest he dam the eruption, he dashes down his thoughts on scraps of paper—"Walking, standing, lying down, in the street, at table, in the night," as if under unceasing command.
And then doubts rise up from the depths. He dines with well-to-do, educated, oppressed people who confront the question of anti-Semitism in a state of complete helplessness: "They do not suspect it, but they are ghetto-natures, quiet, decent, timid. That is what most of us are. Will they understand the call to freedom and to manhood? When I left them my spirits were very low. Again, my plan appeared to me to be crazy." Then at once he comes to "Today I am again as firm as steel." He notes the next morning. "The flabbiness of the people I met yesterday gives me all the more grounds for action."
Clearer and clearer becomes the picture which he has of himself and of his task in the history of his people. "I picked up once again the torn thread of the tradition of our people. I lead it into the Promised Land."
"The Promised Land, where we can have hooked noses, black or red beards, and bow legs, without being despised for it; where we can live at last as free men on our own soil, and where we can die peacefully in our own fatherland. There we can expect the award of honor for great deeds, so that the offensive cry of 'Jew!' may become an honorable appellation, like German, Englishman, Frenchman—in brief, like all civilized peoples; so that we may be able to form our state to educate our people for the tasks which at present still lie beyond our vision. For surely God would not have kept us alive so long if there were not assigned to us a specific role in the history of mankind." He adds: "The Jewish state is a world need." He draws the logical consequence for himself: "I believe that for me life has ended and world history begun."
He let the first storm pass over him, yielding to its imperious will, making no effort to stem its fury lest he interrupt the inspiration. When it had had its way with him, he took hold of himself again, and gathered up his energies for the effort to reconstruct everything logically and in ordered fashion. He was afraid that death might come upon him before he had succeeded in reducing to transferable form his historic vision. Thus, in the course of five days, he added to his diary a sixty-five page pamphlet—in effect the outline of Der Judenstaat—which he called: Address to the Rothschilds.
In the address he writes, "I have the solution to the Jewish question. I know it sounds mad; and at the beginning I shall be called mad more than once—until the truth of what I am saying is recognized in all its shattering force."
He wrote to Bismarck asking for an interview in order to submit his plan for a solution to the Jewish problem but he received no reply.
He wrote to Rabbi Gudemann, Chief Rabbi of Vienna, the occasion being the anti-Jewish excesses which had occurred in Vienna. "This plan ... is a reserve against more evil days."
Herzl, in his first visit to England, met and talked with Israel Zangwill, the novelist, whom he impressed without quite winning him over. But Zangwill made it possible for him to meet more than a few prominent, influential Jews of whom he made immediate converts. None of them wanted to know anything about the Argentine, and on this point the practical men were united with the dreamers: Palestine alone came into the picture for a national concentration of the Jews.
After his experiences in England, Herzl resolved to present his plan to the public at large. The Address to the Rothschilds which was the first complete writing of his plan, forged in the heat of inspiration was thoroughly reworked and emerged as his great book Der Judenstaat. Its title was: The Jewish State: An Attempt at a Modern Solution of the Jewish Problem. Der Judenstaat may properly be called Herzl's life work; his philosophy of the world, his views on the state, on the Jewish people, on science and technology, as we have seen them developing to this, his thirty-fifth year are concentrated in the book.
The "Jewish State" was published in an edition of three thousand. It was read by small circles in various European capitals. It was sent to leading personalities in the press and political circles. It was soon translated into several languages. Herzl received many letters from authors and statesmen in which the work was praised. But the general German press, especially the Jewish-controlled press, took a negative attitude. A number of journalists alluded to the adventurer who would like to become Prime Minister or King of the Jews. No mention of the "Jewish State" appeared in the Neue Freie Presse, then or ever. The Algemeine Zeitung of Vienna said that Zionism was a madness born of despair, The Algemeine Zeitung of Munich described it as a fantastic dream of a feuilletonist whose mind had been unhinged by Jewish enthusiasm.
It was upon the Jewish masses that Herzl made a tremendous impression. He dawned upon Jews of Eastern Europe as a mystic figure rising out of the past. Little was known of his pamphlet, for it was kept out of the country by censorship in Russia. Only its title got their attention and the stories told of Herzl—the Western Jew returning to his people—gripped their hearts and stirred their imagination. He was greeted by one of the Galician Zionist societies as the leader who, like Moses, had returned from Midian to liberate the Jews. Max Nordau, that devastating critic of art and literature, was swept off his feet and described the pamphlet as a revelation, Richard Beer Hoffman, the poet, wrote to Herzl saying "At last there comes again a man, who does not carry his Judaism with resignation as if it were a burden or a misfortune, but is proud to be the legal heir of an immemorial culture."
It became clear to Herzl that he would have to take an active part in the task he had set forth in "The Jewish State." He no longer felt that he stood alone. He was not inclined to appear on a public platform. He had the shyness of the man who had always written what he had to say. He also felt that it would do more harm than good if his ideas were to be obscured by his personal presence. Through correspondence he set in motion Zionist activities—in London, in Paris, in Berlin, in the United States. The amount of letter-writing he developed was enormous.
He decided that there were three tasks to be undertaken at once. The first was the organization of the Society of Jews. The second was to continue diplomatic work in Constantinople and among interested Powers. The third was the creation of a press to influence public opinion and to prepare the Jewish masses for the great migration.
Through the Rev. Hechler, a chaplain of the British Embassy in Vienna, who believed in the Jewish return to the Holy Land, Herzl was introduced to the Grand Duke of Baden, a Christian of great piety and influence in political circles.
Herzl intended to use the influence of the Germans to affect the Sultan and make him more sympathetic to Zionist proposals. Herzl told the Grand Duke that he would like to have Zionism included within the cultural sphere of German interests. The Grand Duke said that the Kaiser seemed inclined to take Jewish migration under German protection. The great powers were interested in maintaining certain extra territorial rights within the Turkish Empire. If they had nationals in any part of the Empire, they claimed the right to protect them over and above Turkish law. It was, therefore, not the Kaiser's interest in the Jews, but in extending German jurisdiction within the Turkish Empire that persuaded him to suggest the adoption of Jews in Palestine for that purpose. Germany had a special relationship to Turkey. Most of the western powers were openly discussing the impending partition of the Turkish Empire, but Germany was opposed to it.
Herzl was told that the Kaiser was prepared to see him at the head of a delegation when he visited Palestine, but Herzl was anxious to see the Kaiser without delay. He suggested an audience before the trip to Palestine in order that the Kaiser might be in a position to discuss the Jewish question with the Sultan. The Grand Duke advised Herzl to see Count Philip Zu Eulenberg, the German Ambassador at Vienna. Herzl was given an opportunity to see Count Eulenberg in Vienna. Herzl told him that he wanted His Imperial Majesty to persuade the Sultan to open negotiations with the Jews.
The Count passed Herzl over to the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Von Buelow, who happened to be in Vienna at the same time. Van Buelow knew a great deal about the Zionist movement. He said that the difficulty lay in persuading the Sultan to deal with the Jews. He felt certain that the Sultan could be impressed if he was properly advised by the Kaiser. A week later Herzl was informed of the Kaiser's inclination to take the Jews of Palestine under his protection, and repeated that he would like to see Herzl at the head of a delegation in Jerusalem, later on.
Herzl was afraid of going further in this direction without having in existence the financial instrument without which neither negotiations nor colonization could be carried on. Herzl urged David Wolffsohn and Jacobus Kahn to proceed with the utmost speed to incorporate the Jewish Colonial Trust. He foresaw the possibility that a demand might be made at any time to show the color of his money. Although the affairs of the Bank were in the hands of Wolffsohn and Kahn, Herzl himself worried over every detail, urging and driving and complaining about the slowness of the action. On March 28, 1899 the subscription lists were opened. Herzl's expectations were not fulfilled. Only about 200,000 shares had been sold, three-quarters of them in Russia. The Bank could not be opened until it had at least 250,000 paid-up shares. After a great deal of effort, the minimum was finally obtained and the Trust was officially opened in time for the opening of the third Congress in August, 1899.
Herzl addressed a mass meeting in London in October, 1899, under Dr. Gastner's chairmanship. In his address at this meeting, Herzl said that he believed the time was not far off when the Jewish people would be set in motion. He asked the audience to accept his word even if he could not speak more definitely. "When I return to you again," he said, "we shall, I hope, be still further on our path." At this meeting Father Ignatius, a Catholic believer in Zionism, referred to Herzl "as a new Joshua who had come to fulfill the words of the Prophet Ezekiel." The effect produced upon the audience was not useful to Herzl's purposes at that time. He had always tried to discourage the impression of himself as a Messianic figure. The meeting in London was the only occasion where he lost his self-mastery in public.
When Herzl met the Foreign Minister, Von Buelow, again, it was in the presence of the Reich Chancellor, Hohenlohe. At once he perceived a different nuance in the conversation and a dissonance in comparison with the conversation he had had with Count Eulenberg. He thought that the Chancellor and the Foreign Minister were not in agreement with the Kaiser and did not dare to say it openly; or, on the other hand, they might be favorably inclined but would not be willing to say it to him.
Finally, Herzl saw the Kaiser in Constantinople. After Herzl had introduced the subject of his visit, the Kaiser broke in and explained why the Zionist movement attracted him.
"There are among your people," said the Kaiser, "certain elements whom it would be a good thing to move to Palestine."
He asked Herzl to submit, in advance, the address he intended to present to him in Jerusalem. When he was asked what the Kaiser should place before the Sultan as the gist of the Jewish proposals, Herzl replied "a chartered company under German protection."
Herzl met the Kaiser, as arranged, in Palestine. Herzl arrived in Jaffa on October 6, 1898. On a Friday morning, he awaited the coming of the Kaiser and his entourage on the road that ran by the Colony of Mikveh Israel. The Kaiser recognized him from a distance. He said a few words about the weather, about the lack of water in Palestine, and that it was a land that had a future.
In the petition Herzl later submitted to the Kaiser, many of the pregnant passages were deleted by the Kaiser's advisers. All passages that referred specifically to the aims of the Zionist movement, to the desperate need of the Jewish people and asking for the Kaiser's protection of a projected Jewish land company for Syria and Palestine, had been removed. The audience with the Kaiser took place on Monday, November 2nd. The Kaiser thanked Herzl for the address which, he said, had interested him extremely. It was the Kaiser's opinion that the soil was cultivable. What the land lacked was water and shade.
"That we can supply," said Herzl. "It would cost billions, but it will bring in billions too."
"Well, you certainly have enough money, more than all of us," said the Kaiser.
It was a brief interview. It was vague and seemed to lead nowhere. Herzl was under the impression that certain influences had been exerted between the interview in Constantinople and the audience in Jerusalem.
When the official German communique was issued, the encounter with Herzl was hid in a closing paragraph and deprived of all significance. This is how it read:
"Later the Kaiser received the French Consul, also a Jewish deputation which presented him with an album of pictures of the Jewish colonies in Palestine. In reply to an address by the leader of the deputation, His Majesty remarked he viewed with benevolent interest all efforts directed to the improvement of agriculture in Palestine as long as these accorded with the welfare of the Turkish Empire and were conducted in a spirit of complete respect for the sovereignty of the Sultan."
It was a sudden descent from hope into a closed road. Herzl refused to be discouraged. It was hard for him to realize that the Kaiser's enthusiasm in Constantinople could have cooled off so quickly in Jerusalem, but it seemed that there was no way to continue contact with the people he had interested in Germany. He tried to pick up the broken threads, but, once broken, they could not be revived. The Grand Duke of Baden remained ever constant and loyal, but he could do nothing. Herzl never saw the Kaiser again. In a letter to the Grand Duke, closing this chapter of Zionist history, Herzl said:
"I can only assume that a hope especially dear to me has faded away and that we shall not achieve our Zionist goal under a German protectorate."
At about the same time, Herzl met Philip Michael Von Nevlinski, a descendant of a long line of Polish noblemen who had entered the diplomatic service and became a diplomatic agent-at-large and a French journalist. In the first stages, Nevlinski guided Herzl in all the work he did in Constantinople. When Herzl came to Constantinople in June, 1896 he was under the impression that Nevlinski had already arranged an audience with the Sultan. It was not so easy, however. But whether such an audience had been arranged or not, Herzl was able to meet, a number of highly-placed Turkish officials, including the Grand Vizier. At first, the line of action was not clear, but by now Herzl had formulated his proposals to the Sultan.
Ever since the middle of the nineteenth century, Turkish finances had been in a shocking condition. The Empire was being badly managed. The Sultan was regarded as "the sick man of Europe." In 1891 the total external debt, including unpaid interest, reached the figure of two hundred and fifty-three million pounds sterling. In 1881 there was a consolidation of the debt. It was reduced to one hundred and six million pounds, but the finances of Turkey were placed under the control of a committee representing the creditors, to whom was transferred certain domestic Turkish monopolies and the collection of several categories of taxes. This enabled the European powers to intervene in the affairs of Turkey. Only by the removal of this foreign tutelage could Turkey hope to regain its independence. It was to achieve this end, Herzl thought, that the Jews, and the Jews alone, could be useful. For this service, he intended to ask for a Jewish State in Palestine. Herzl followed this line until finally the need for refunding the Turkish debt disappeared.
But at this time Herzl was not able to obtain an audience with the Sultan. Nevlinski reported that such an audience had been refused because the Sultan declined to discuss sovereignty over Palestine. Doubt was expressed as to the accuracy of the report. Whatever the fact may be, the first venture of Herzl in Constantinople was not successful.
Herzl moved along the lines that led to Constantinople and Berlin, but he did not overlook the importance of maintaining contact with Jewish philanthropies. A letter sent to the Baron de Hirsch came a day after his death.
Herzl went to London where matters had been arranged for him to meet the leaders of British Jewry. He met Claude Montefiore and Frederick Mocatte, representatives of the Anglo-Jewish Association. They were not sympathetic. Herzl fared no better at a banquet given to him by the Maccabbeans. The personal impression Herzl made was profound. But there was no practical issue nor did he make any progress during the time he spent in England. He got Sir Samuel Montagu and Colonel Goldsmith to agree to cooperate with him in an endeavor to establish a vassal Jewish State under the sovereignty of Turkey if the Powers would agree; provided, the Baron de Hirsch Fund placed L10,000,000 at his disposal for the plan; and Baron Edmund de Rothschild became a member of the Executive Committee of the proposed Society of Jews. These conditions were fantastic at that time and Herzl could not meet them.
He went to Paris and had a talk with Baron Edmund. Baron Edmund was older than Herzl and felt ill at ease in the presence of a calm critic of all he had done for Jewish colonization in Palestine. Herzl made the impression on him of an undisciplined enthusiast. Baron Edmund did not believe it possible to create political conditions favorable for a mass immigration of Jews. Even if that could be done, an uncontrolled mass immigration into Palestine would have the effect of landing tens of thousands of Jews to be fed and looked after by the small Jewish community in Palestine. He clung to his idea of slow colonization attracting no attention and careful not to provoke hostility. Every reply of Herzl fell upon a closed mind. Baron Edmund's refusal to cooperate was decisive.
This was a decision of historic significance. It turned Herzl away from the thought that the Zionist movement should be built upon the support of Jewish philanthropy. All his hopes in this connection were dissolved by the contacts he had made in London and in Paris. Baron Edmund's refusal to cooperate carried with it the refusal of the Baron de Hirsch Fund and of the circle of leading Jews in London.
Reluctantly, Herzl came to the conclusion that there was only one reply to this situation. The Jewish masses must be organized for the support of the Zionist movement.
The organization he had in mind was not a popular democratic organization. What he meant was to assemble the upper "cadres" to take charge of the organization of the masses for the great migration. At the same time, he wanted to prove to the philanthropists that a popular organization was possible. He felt that they would be greatly influenced by the development of a widespread popular movement. Whatever his thoughts were at that time, his decision to turn to the Jewish masses, to abandon reliance upon the wealthy led to the organization of the modern Zionist movement.
He organized his followers in Vienna. He was the center of a circle in which were included the men who later became the members of the first Zionist Actions Committee. In November 1896 he, for the first time, addressed a public meeting in Vienna. In this address he did not use the term "The Jewish State," nor did he use it in most of his public utterances at that time. He had become cautious. He did not want to prejudice his political work in Constantinople.
He was still thinking of issuing a newspaper, but there were no funds for that purpose. The report that he intended to issue a newspaper drew the attention of a number of personalities and groups in Berlin. There were the Russian Jewish students, led by Leo Motzkin, and a group called "Young Israel," headed by Reinrich Loewe. A conference was held on March 6 and 7, 1897, called by Dr. Osias Thon Willy Bambus and Nathan Birnbaum. They had come together to talk about a newspaper but the First Zionist Congress was launched at this meeting Herzl's proposal for the calling of a General Zionist Conference in Munich was agreed to. In the preliminary announcement of the calling of this Conference or Congress, Herzl said:
"The Jewish question must be removed from the control of the benevolent individual. There must be created a forum before which everyone acting for the Jewish people should appear and to which he should be responsible."
Every one of Herzl's ideas was met by protests and public excitement. The protests were usually launched by Jews. The calling of the Congress aroused a great deal of indignation in conservative circles. The Rabbis of Germany protested not only to the holding of the Congress but also the choice of Munich.
The Congress controversy persuaded Herzl to begin the publication of the weekly Die Welt. The first issue appeared on June 4, 1897, Herzl provided the funds. The journal was something new in Jewish life. It was, in fact, the organ of the Congress. Throughout Herzl's life, Die Welt served as the exponent of his ideas. At first, Herzl contributed numerous articles. He sent in a regular weekly review of all activities connected with the movement. He was responsible for many unsigned articles and notices. He directed the paper in all its details, although he refused to figure as its official editor and publisher. The amount of work he did during the months preceding the Congress was amazing. He was completely absorbed in every aspect of the Congress. The man of the pen revealed himself as a first-class man of action.
On August 29, 1897, the First Zionist Congress was assembled, not in Munich but in Basle, Switzerland. The majority of the delegates to the First Zionist Congress, drawn to Basle from all parts of the world, saw Herzl for the first time. The total number of delegates at the first session was 197.
The first act of the Congress was the adoption of a resolution of thanks to the Sultan of Turkey. Then Herzl rose and walked over to the pulpit. It was no longer the elegant Dr. Herzl of Vienna, it was no longer the easy-going literary man, the critic, the feuilletonist. As one reporter said: "It was a scion of the House of David, risen from among the dead, clothed in legend and fantasy and beauty." The first words uttered by Herzl were: "We are here to lay the foundation stone of the house which is to shelter the Jewish nation." "We Zionists," he stressed, "seek for the solution of the Jewish question, not an international society, but an international discussion.... We have nothing to do with conspiracy, secret intervention or indirect methods. We wish to place the question under the control of free public opinion."
His First Congress address contained the ideas which he had already expressed in previous speeches and articles, but there was a great difference between the views in "The Jewish State" and the address delivered at the first session of the Zionist Congress. The latter is the carefully considered public statement of one who knew he represented tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of followers. His words were not those of a seer, but of a statesman. Almost as profound was the effect produced. It was at this Congress that the Basle Program was adopted.... "Zionism seeks to secure for the Jewish people a publicly recognized, legally secured home (or homeland) in Palestine."
The second important task of the First Congress was the creation of an organization. The Congress was declared to be "the chief organ of the Zionist movement." The basis of electoral right was to be the payment of a shekel, which at that time was equivalent to twenty-five cents. There was to be an Executive Committee with its permanent seat in Vienna. Everything which was to unfold later in Zionism, both in the way of affirmative forces and inner contradictions, was already visible or latent in the first Congress. There was discussion of a bank, of a land redemption fund to be called The National Fund, the creation of a Hebrew University, and the clashes between practical and political Zionism.
On his return to Vienna, Herzl made the following entry in his diary: "If I were to sum up the Basle Congress in a single phrase I would say: In Basle I created the Jewish State. Were I to say this aloud I would be greeted by universal laughter. But perhaps five years hence, in any case, certainly fifty years hence, everyone will perceive it. The state exists as essence in the will-to-the-state of a people, yes, even in that will in a single powerful person.... The territory is only the concrete basis, and the state itself, with a territory beneath it, is still in the nature of an abstract thing ... In Basle I created the abstraction which, as such, is invisible to the great majority."
All that Herzl did in the political field—his conversations in Constantinople, his interview with the Grand Duke of Baden in advance of the holding of the First Congress, was undertaken as author of a political pamphlet. He was now aware of the fact that he was called upon to act as President of the World Zionist Organization. It was difficult to draw a line between the movement and its leader. Herzl insisted that his leadership in the movement was impersonal and that now its direction was vested in its instruments—the Congress and the Actions Committee. But he had all the authority of an accepted leader.
The evolution of Herzl's conception of the Jewish problem since he saw the degradation of Dreyfus can be measured by a study of the articles he wrote after the First Congress. He himself was quite aware of the transformation. He had seen the Jewish people face to face. "Brothers have found each other again," he said. He wrote with great appreciation of the quality of the Russian delegates. He said, "They possess that inner unity which has disappeared from among the westerners. They are steeped in Jewish national sentiment without betraying any national narrowness and intolerance. They are not tortured by the idea of assimilation. They do not assimilate into other nations, but exert themselves to learn the best in other peoples. In this way they manage to remain erect and genuine. Looking on them, we understood where our forefathers got the strength to endure through the bitterest times."
Immediately after the First Congress, Herzl grappled with his second task, the creation of the Jewish Colonial Bank. He wrote of the bank in Die Welt in November, 1898, "The task of the Colonial Bank is to eliminate philanthropy. The settler on the land who increases its value by his labor merits more than a gift. He is entitled to credit. The prospective bank could therefore begin by extending the needed credits to the colonists; later it would expand into the instrument for the bringing in of Jews and would supply credits for transportation, agriculture, commerce and construction."
The seat of the bank was to be London. There were to be two billion shares at L1 each. The bank was to be directed by men acquainted with banking affairs, but the movement would be placed in a position to control its policy. The hopes of Herzl grew from week to week. As he approached the practical situation he became less and less confident of the cooperation of men of wealth. Differences arose in the preliminary discussions as to the scope of the bank. In the first draft of the Articles of Incorporation the Orient alone was named as the area of work for the bank. Menachem Ussishkin insisted that the words "Syria and Palestine" should be substituted. After a great deal of discussion, the proposals for the formation of the bank were brought to the second Zionist Congress and the Articles of Incorporation, as amended, were adopted by acclamation.
Herzl clung to the idea which had come to him when he was thinking of the Jewish State as a pamphlet, that it might be better for him to write a novel. The impulse to write such a novel became irresistible after his visit to Palestine. It was to be called "Altneuland." He began to write it in 1899. It was completed in April 1902, and published six months later. It is remarkable that he could write such a novel while engaged in varied political activities in Constantinople, in London and in Berlin; and while he had to deal with the many troublesome internal Zionist problems.
"Altneuland" was a novel with a purpose. It described the Palestine of the near future as it would develop through the Zionist Movement. It had the weaknesses of every propaganda novel. The entire work has something of the state about it and proceeds in the form of scenes rather than by way of narrative. Each type has a specific outlook. Most of the characters are portraits of living personalities. It was his purpose to memorialize his friends and his opponents.
"Altneuland" tells of a Jew who visits Palestine in 1898 and then comes again in 1923 when he finds the Promised Land developed under Jewish influence. Its territory lies East and West of the Jordan. The dead land of 1898 is now thoroughly alive. Its real creators were the irrigation engineers. Technology had given a new form to labor, a new social and economic system had been created which is described as "mutualistic," a huge cooperative, a mediate form between individualism and collectivism. Haifa had become a world city. Around the Holy City of Jerusalem, modern suburbs had arisen, shaded boulevards and parks, institutes of learning, places of amusement, markets—"a world city in the spirit of the twentieth century." In this new land, the Arabs live side by side in friendship with the Jews.
"Altneuland" did not produce the effect Herzl had expected. Within the Zionist Movement it did more harm than good. Many of Herzl's friends were disappointed that the novel should have so little of the Jewish spirit. It ignored the Hebraic renaissance. The novel evoked the sharpest criticism from Achad Haam.
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While Herzl was immersed in political action, visiting European capitals, carrying on correspondence with leading persons whose interest in Zionism he had engaged, and submitting reports to the Zionist Congress or to the Actions Committee, often facing critical situations in his struggle with growing Zionist parties, the Zionist Organization was gradually becoming an accepted institution in Jewish life. It was the international sounding board for the discussion of the Jewish question. The Jewish National Fund was founded at the Fourth Congress held in London in 1900. The Jewish Colonial Trust was finally established with headquarters in London.
The first Zionist party in the Congress was the Democratic faction led by Leo Motzkin, but soon there were added the Mizrachi party and the beginnings of a labor party. Not only Dr. Nordau's stirring addresses, but many controversies "made" Congresses. The cultural issue was a Congress perennial. Many discussions also took place around what was called the issue of "practical" and "political" Zionism. The Russians, under the leadership of Ussishkin, were all heartily against the "charter" emphasis and drove with maddening persistence for immediate work in Palestine. In the course of these debates, continued over the years, the Congress became a forum for the discussion of international Jewish problems and developed speakers and theorists of varying degrees of talent. It also produced men with hobbies. The Jewish National Fund and the Hebrew University was the hobby of Dr. Herman Schapiro. Colonization in Cyprus was the hobby of Davis Trietsch, who created many scenes on the floor of the Congress. Dr. Chaim Weizmann was not only a leader of the Democratic faction, crossing swords time and again with Herzl, but devoted much time and thought to the idea of a Hebrew University. The procedure of the Congress, based on Continental models, was gradually worked out and became fixed, and many of the delegates were adepts in the art of procedural sparring. The language in Congresses used during Herzl's life was German, but gradually the imperfect use of German by East European Zionists led to the development of what was called "Congress German." This was a form of German that was easy to use, because respect for grammar and pronunciation was not required.
During the Congresses Herzl maintained throughout the role of leader and moderator. His manner was gracious and he never lost his sense of dignity. He was capable of sharp retort, but always bore in mind that it was high duty to hold a balance and to seek compromise rather than sharp division. He developed it in a most remarkable way on the platform. His appearances were dramatic. His interventions were arresting. The man of the writing desk developed as one of the ablest in the parliamentary arts. After some of the Congresses he had to retire to a health resort, having exhausted his strength and bringing on a recurrence of his heart trouble. On a number of occasions his close friends feared for his life. But after a few weeks of rest he usually returned stronger than before and with greater determination to pursue his course, regardless of the consequences to himself.
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At this point it is important to refer to his family life. He had married Julie Naschauer on July 25, 1889. She was the daughter of wealthy parents and grew up in a conventional social circle. When she married Herzl he was already a rising young author who was highly regarded among those with whom she associated. He was attractive, aristocratic in bearing, a keen conversationalist and had all the qualities of being a conventional partner of a conventional wife. But Herzl threw himself into Zionist affairs with such tremendous dynamic activity and was so completely absorbed in the idea which his thinking had given birth to, that except for occasional interim periods, his family played a secondary part in his life ever after he had taken up the Jewish problems his special task in life. Julie Herzl also suffered by reason of Herzl's devotion to his own mother. Herzl never rid himself of his filial dependence which made it very hard for his wife to understand. They had three children. In 1890 a daughter was born and named Paula or Pauline. In 1891 his son, Hans, was born, whose life after his father's death became a serious problem. There was a third child, a daughter Margaret, known as Trude, who was born in May 1893. During this period there were many separations from his family. There were disagreements and reconciliations, but the cup of unhappiness for Julie Herzl overflowed when Herzl became the official leader of a public movement. From that time on her home was constantly overrun with unwelcome visitors. Not only did Herzl give his life to the movement in the literal sense, but he gave his reserve of funds and sacrificed the welfare of his family for the sake of the movement he had brought to life. His domestic affairs as well as his failing heart, made all the years of Herzl's brief Zionist life pain and struggle.
The tragic position of Jews in various parts of Europe, greatly agitated Herzl during the time he was carrying on negotiations with the Kaiser and the Sultan. He was constantly being led to the thought that it would become necessary to find a temporary haven of refuge for Jews. In 1899 a series of pogroms broke out in Galicia. In his diary at the time, he had references to England and Cyprus, "we may even have to consider South Africa or America." But he banished these thoughts from his mind because he knew that the Zionists would place serious obstacles in the way of considering any project other than Palestine. When his hopes with regard to Germany had collapsed, however, he thought of these alternative proposals again.
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On October 22, 1902 a Conference between Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary, and Herzl took place. Chamberlain had been in the Colonial Office since 1895. He held an influential position in the councils of the British Government. He was a man of strong will and political integrity. Herzl submitted his plan for the colonization of Cyprus and the Sinai Peninsula, which included El Arish—"Jewish settlers under a Jewish administration."
Chamberlain said that he could speak definitely only about Cyprus. The Sinai Peninsula came under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Office. As far as Cyprus was concerned, he believed that it was not promising because the Greeks and Moslems would object, and it would be his official duty to side with them. He took a more favorable view, however, of El Arish. In that connection, it was necessary for Herzl to talk to Lord Lansdowne of the Foreign Office. A great deal would depend upon the good-will of Lord Cromer, the British Consul General in Egypt, and actually the Vice Regent of that country. Through the good offices of Chamberlain, it became possible for Herzl to meet Lord Lansdowne a few days later. He was well received and was listened to with a great deal of attention.
Herzl was asked to submit a written expose. Then he asked for permission to have Leopold J. Greenberg go to Egypt and confer with Lord Cromer. Lord Lansdowne said that he would arrange for such a meeting. Greenberg discussed the matter with Lord Cromer in Cairo. There were objections raised by both Lord Cromer and the Egyptian Prime Minister on the ground that an attempted Jewish economy, undertaken in 1891-2 in the region of ancient Midian, had been a pitiful failure. There had been political complications and border disputes with Turkey.
A definitive reply was received by Herzl on December 18, 1902 written on behalf of Lord Lansdowne by Sir T.H. Sanderson, permanent Undersecretary. Lord Lansdowne had heard from Lord Cromer, who favored the sending of a small commission to the Sinai Peninsula to report on conditions and prospects, but Lord Cromer feared that no sanguine hopes of success should be entertained, but if the report of the Commission turned out favorable, the Egyptian Government would certainly offer liberal terms for Jewish colonization.
On the other hand, however, the Zionists should understand that they would be expected to meet the cost of a defense corps and to guarantee the administration. In Lord Cromer's opinion, the most important question was that of the rights which Herzl expected for the projected settlement. He wrote: "In your letter of the 12th ult. you remark that you will become great and promising by the granting of this right of colonization. Your letter does not make clear what is to be understood by these words, and what kind of rights the colonists will expect."
Lord Lansdowne also touched on the question of the new citizenship of the settlers. Herzl had believed that he would have only Englishmen to deal with, since England had become more and more the master of Egypt. It was apparent, however, that the Egyptian Government also played an important part in the discussions.
Lord Cromer confirmed that the Egyptian Government would make it an essential condition that the new settlers become Turkish subjects bound by Egyptian law, but while the British occupation continued the settlers would always be certain of fair treatment.
Herzl was satisfied with this letter and described it as a historic document. The British Government had recognized Herzl as the Zionist leader, and the movement represented by him as a negotiating party. He already saw the "Egyptian province of Judea" under a Jewish Governor, with its own defense corps under Anglo-Egyptian officers.
As a result of the English negotiations, Lord Rothschild seemed to be won over by Herzl. The old banker, who had refused two years before to meet the Zionist leader, now visited him in his hotel. The next task before Herzl was the organization of the Commission. The Commission was composed of the South African engineer, Kessler; the Chief Inspector of the Egyptian Survey Department, Humphreys; Col. Goldsmith was to report on the land; and Dr. Soskin was to study agricultural possibilities. Oscar Marmorek was to investigate building and housing problems and act as General Secretary. Dr. Hillel Jaffe of the Jaffe Hospital was to deal with the problems of climate and hygiene.
The Commission met with great difficulties. There was opposition by the Turks. There was misunderstandings between Herzl and Greenberg. Herzl himself went to Egypt in order to bring the negotiations to a conclusion and to straighten out difficulties. His intervention in no way improved the situation. Lord Cromer had become very cool toward him. He received the general report of the Commission, which observed that "under existing conditions the land is quite unsuitable for settlers from European countries, but if sufficient irrigation were introduced, the agricultural, hygienic and climatic conditions are such that part of the land, which is at present wilderness, could support a considerable population."
An application for the concession was made by Herzl on the advice of Lord Cromer, having as his legal representative a Belgian lawyer of high standing. The Egyptian Government did not receive with favor the outline of the concession. Herzl was received on April 23rd by Chamberlain, who had just returned from his African journey. Chamberlain listened to the report given by Herzl on the work of the Commission. Both regarded the report as unfavorable. Then Chamberlain made this remark:
"On my travels I saw a country for you, Uganda. On the coast it is hot, but in the interior the climate is excellent for Europeans. You can plant cotton and sugar. I thought to myself, that is just the country for Dr. Herzl. But he must have Palestine, and will move only into its vicinity."
This was the first reference to Uganda which became the center of attention in Zionist circles.
Herzl was told that the Egyptian Government would reject the plan. It was found that the area would require five times as much water as had been first estimated. The Egyptian Government could not permit the diversion of such a quantity of water from the Nile.
An attempt to have Chamberlain intervene with Egypt was not successful. "That being the case," said Chamberlain, "What about Uganda?" Self-administration would be accorded. The Governor could definitely be a Jew. Although the matter belonged to the Foreign Office, he would have it transferred under his jurisdiction in the colonial office. The territory would be the permanent property of a colonization company created for the purpose. After five years, the settlers would be given complete autonomy. The name of the settlement was to be "New Palestine."
Herzl pressed for a reply from the government in order that the project might be presented to the Zionist Congress on August 14, 1903. The official proposal came from Sir Clement Hill, permanent head of the Foreign Office. In this letter it was stated that Lord Landsdowne had studied the question with the interest which His Majesty's Government always felt bound to take in every serious plan destined to better the condition of the Jewish race. The time had been too short for a closer examination of the plan and for its submission to the British representative for the East African (Uganda) Protectorate. "Lord Landsdowne assumes," the letter continues, "that the Bank desires to send a number of gentlemen to the East African Protectorate to establish whether there is in that territory land suitable for the purpose in view; should this prove to be the case, he will be happy to give them every assistance in bringing them together with His Majesty's Congress, the conditions under which the settlement could be carried out. Should an area be found which the bank and His Majesty's representative consider suitable, and His Majesty's government consider desirable, Lord Lansdowne will be glad to consider favorably proposals for the creation of a Jewish colony or settlement under such conditions as will seem to the members to guarantee the retention of their national customs...."
The document went on with an offer—subject to the consent of the relevant officials—of a Jewish governorship and internal autonomy.
This was the first official proposal in connection with the Zionist movement which Herzl was able to submit to a Zionist Congress. When the letter of Sir Clement Hill was submitted to the Sixth Zionist Congress in 1903, it split the Zionist movement wide open. It arrayed the overwhelming majority of Zionists in Russia against Herzl and he was called upon to defend himself against a general attack which preceded the convening of the Congress. When the Congress was convened in an atmosphere of great excitement and partisan controversy, the Uganda project was submitted in the form of an official resolution calling for the appointment of a commission of nine to be sent to investigate conditions in East Africa. The final decision on the report of the investigating committee was to be left to a special Congress. Although the vote showed a majority in favor of the official resolution—the tally was 295 for, 177 against, and 100 absentees—the debate on the resolution revealed an overwhelming opposition to the project. It was regarded as an abandonment of Palestine in favor of a diversion. After the vote, the Russian delegates left the Congress in a body. All the opposition delegates left with them and met in conference to discuss the situation. When Herzl heard of the deep feeling that prevailed in the conference, he asked for the privilege of speaking to the opposition. He gave them his solemn assurance that the Basle Program would be unaffected by the resolution. He swore fealty to the Basle Program, to Zion and Jerusalem. His speech revealed the great transformation that had taken place in Herzl's organic relation to the Zionist movement. The opposition delegates felt that in spite of Herzl's seeking alternately one or another substitute for Palestine, his heart responded without reserve to the appeal of Zion. The opposition reappeared in the Congress the following day. They exacted assurances that the funds of the Jewish Colonial Trust, of the Jewish National Fund and the Shekel Income, should not be used for the commission investigating East Africa, and that the commission should report to the Greater Actions Committee before it appeared to submit its report to the Congress.
Herzl's experience at what is called the "Uganda Congress" drew him nearer to the older Zionists. He realized now that the ultimate goal could not be reached within the near future, that Uganda was merely a compromise achievement, providing the field of preparation for a second attempt to reach Zion. The Congress of 1903 was the climax of Herzl's career. It was, in effect, the end of his quest.