Beer, Max

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BEER, MAX (Moses ; 1864–1943), German socialist historian and journalist. Beer was born in Tarnobrzeg, Galicia. Coming from socialist circles there, he emigrated to Germany via Vienna in 1889. He was first employed as a type-setter and printer, then became assistant editor of the social democratic daily Die Volksstimme ("Voice of the People") in Magdeburg. In 1893, as a result of a newspaper article, he was imprisoned for 14 months on the basis of the Sozialistengesetz (1878) and expelled from Prussia on his release. He stayed in London until 1915. In 1895–96, he enrolled at the newly founded London School of Economics, earning his living as a language teacher, lecturer, and correspondent for the social democratic paper Post in Munich and the Jewish Arbeiter-Zeitung in New York. From 1899 to 1901, he temporarily joined the latter's staff in New York and contributed to the Jewish Encyclopaedia (1901–06). Back in London, Beer became correspondent for the social democratic weekly Neue Zeit (est. 1898) and the Berlin daily Vorwaerts, the central organ of the German Social Democratic Party. In 1912, however, he resigned from his post due to political differences and intensified his historical research on British and international socialism. In 1913, his Geschichte des Sozialismus in England appeared which became a standard work (cf. A History of British Socialism, 2 vols., 1919–20). Considered an "enemy alien" during World War i, Beer was repatriated to Germany in 1915 where he continued his research and was naturalized as a German citizen in 1920 (revoked in 1934). In 1919–21, he edited Die Glocke, contributed book reviews to the Times Literary Supplement, and finally was invited by D. Ryazanov to serve as English librarian of the Marx Engels Institute in Moscow from 1927 to 1929. On his return, Beer was employed at the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research until, in 1933/34, almost 70 years old, he was forcibly divorced from his non-Jewish wife and expelled from Germany. Broken and impoverished, Beer again settled in London, continuing his research with the aid of the British Central Fund for German Jewry. In 1935, he published his autobiographical work Fifty Years of International Socialism. In 1943, almost forgotten, he died at the age of 78.

Due to his personal experience, Beer was considered one of the greatest experts on British and international socialism of his time. In 1918, on Karl Marx's centenary, Beer was commissioned to write Karl Marx. Eine Monographie (cf. The Life and Teachings of Karl Marx, 1921), followed by Allgemeine Geschichte des Sozialismus und der sozialen Kaempfe, 5 vols. (1919–23), which was published in several languages (cf. General History of Socialism and Social Struggles, 1922–26). Among Beer's other works are Das Regenbogenbuch (1915); Jean Jaurès (1915); Sozialistische Dokumente des Weltkrieges, nos. 1–5 (1915–16); L'Entente annexionniste (1917); Der briti sche Sozialismus der Gegenwart 1910–1920 (1920); Krieg und Internationale (1924); Die Reise nach Genf (1932; The League on Trial, 1933); Die auswärtige Politik des Dritten Reiches (1934); and Early British Economics from the Thirteenth to the Middle of the Eighteenth Century (1938).


R. Heinefling, in: Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. ii (1940), 133–34; W. Roeder and H.A. Strauss (eds.), International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 19331945, vol. ii (1983), 69; H. Schmuck (ed.), Jewish Biographical Archive (1995), F. 124, 165–71; Series ii (2003), F. ii/47, 124–34; S. Blumesberger et al. (eds.), Handbuch oesterreichischer Autorinnen und Autoren juedischer Herkunft, vol. i, no. 660 (2002), 86.

[Johannes Valentin Schwarz (2nd ed.)]