Ben-Gavriel, Moshe Ya'akov

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BEN-GAVRIEL, MOSHE YA'AKOV (originally Eugen Hoeflich ; 1891–1965), Israeli author who wrote in German. Born into a bourgeois Viennese family (his mother was a cousin of pianist Arthur *Schnabel), he began studying Arabic at Vienna university, but after three years was expelled because of his socialist views. Wounded in Poland during World War i, Ben-Gavriel went to Palestine as an Austrian liaison officer with the Turkish forces in Jerusalem. After just a few months he was dismissed for his "pansemitic" activities and he had to return to Vienna. From there he contributed to Martin Buber's Der Jude and became an active Zionist. In Der Weg in das Land (1918), Feuer im Osten (1920), and Die Pforte des Ostens (1923), Ben-Gavriel presented Zionism as a pan-Asian movement, the yishuv being the link between East and West. Later he adopted the outlook of the Berit Shalom without actually joining the group. Returning to Palestine in 1927, Hoeflich changed his name to Ben-Gavriel. There he was the local representative of the Deutsches Nachrichtenbuero until 1933 and later worked for the Swiss press. His World War ii experiences in a Palestinian unit of the British Army inspired the Schweik-like hero of Frieden und Krieg des Buergers Mahaschavi (1952; Mahaschavi in Peace and War, 1960). After 1948 Ben-Gavriel, living in Jerusalem, was successful in writing and broadcasting about the State of Israel in West Germany, where his many books on the Middle East, many of them styled as Oriental tales, such as Kumsits (1956), were bestsellers. Among his outstanding works is his novel Das Haus in der Karpfengasse (1958), set in Nazi-occupied Prague, which appeared in Hebrew in 1944. Two volumes of early recollections were Zahav ba-Ḥuẓot (1946) and Die Flucht nach Tarschisch (1963). A critical edition of Ben-Gavriel's 1915–27 diaries appeared in 1999.


E. Benyoetz, in: ndb, 9 (1972), 314–16; J. Schmidt, Der Unterhaltungsschriftsteller Moshe Ya'akov Ben-Gavriel (1979); A. Wallas, in: M.H. Gelber et al. (eds.), Von Franzos zu Canetti (1996), 305–44; A. Wallas (ed.), Eugen Hoeflich: Tagebuecher 19151927 (1999, with extensive commentary); idem, in: A. Eidherr and K. Mueller (eds.), Jiddische Kultur und Literatur in Oesterreich (2003), 72–102.

[Marcus Pyka (2nd ed.)