Bernhard, Georg

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BERNHARD, GEORG (1875–1944), German political economist and journalist. Born into an acculturated German-Jewish trading family in Berlin, Bernhard first went into in the banking business from 1892 to 1898, then turned to professional journalism. In 1896, he joined the financial staff of the Berlin Welt am Montag as "Gracchus." In 1898, he was appointed editor of the economic section of the Berliner Zeitung by L. *Ullstein and in 1902 created the first popular financial column of its kind at the Berliner Morgenpost (est. 1898). In addition, from 1901 to 1903, he contributed to M. *Harden's periodical Die Zukunft (est. 1892) as "Plutus." At the same time, he enrolled at Berlin University in 1899, completing his studies in economics and public law in 1902. As a revisionist Social Demokrat, Bernhard was elected a member of the Reichstag in 1903 and thus had to resign from all journalistic posts. Instead, he founded his own financial weekly Plutus. Kritische Zeitschrift fuer Volkswirtschaft und Finanzwesen (1904–25). After a dramatic dispute with A. Bebel in 1903, he was eventually excluded from the Social Democratic Party. In 1908, he returned to the Ullstein company as publisher-editor of the dailies Berliner Morgenpost and B.Z. am Mittag. When Ullstein took over the prestigious Vossische Zeitung in 1913, Bernhard became its editor-in-chief from 1914 to 1930 (until 1920 together with Hermann Bachmann). He was also appointed lecturer at the Berlin Handelshochschule (1916–30, from 1928 as honorary professor). As one of the most influential journalists of the German Empire and Weimar Republic, Bernhard was deeply involved in communal and national politics. After 1918, he strongly supported a reconciliation between Germany and France, which, however, made him a public enemy of the political right, including the nsdap. Subsequently, Bernhard was appointed to the National Economic Council and, as a leading member of the ddp (from 1924), again to the Reichstag (1928–30). Between 1913 and 1930, he was elected council member of several press associations and was active in German-Jewish communal organizations, e.g., as a council member of the Central-Verein, ort, and, though critical of Zionism, the Pro-Palaestina-Komitee. At the end of 1930, Bernhard resigned from all journalistic and political posts, engaging in commerce instead. In February 1933, he managed to flee via East Prussia and Denmark to Paris, where he founded the influential emigrant paper Pariser Tageblatt (1933–36, continued as Pariser Tageszeitung until 1940). At the end of 1937, however, he had to resign as editor-in-chief, instead working as a representative of the World Jewish Congress in Paris. In addition, from 1933, he engaged in numerous emigrant organizations (e.g., Volksfront, feaf, zve, etc.), and served as an adviser to the French government. In 1940, he was interned at Bassens near Bordeaux but, after a dramatic flight to Spain, succeeded in escaping to the United States in 1941. On his arrival in New York, he was employed at the Institute of Jewish Affairs of the American Jewish Congress, continuing his restless activity for several German-American emigrant organizations. Among Bernhard's published works are numerous studies on politics, economics, and finance (cf. abj ii (1993), 274–279). He published Die Deutsche Tragoedie (1933); Meister und Dilettanten am Kapitalismus (1936); Warum schweigt die Welt? (ed. B. Jacob, 1936, in collaboration with others), etc.


R. Schay, Juden in der deutschen Politik (1929), 267–72; "Un grand journaliste allemand," in: Revue mondiale (Jan. 1931), 198–202; Aufbau (Feb. 18, 1944); mb (Feb. 18, 1944); K.H. Salzmann, in: Neue Deutsche Biographie, vol. ii (1955), 117–18; W. Roeder and H.A. Strauss (eds.), International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 19331945, vol. I (1980), 58; R. Heuer (ed.), Archiv Bibliographia Judaica, vol. ii (1993), 271–79, incl. bibl.; H. Schmuck (ed.), Jewish Biographical Archive (1995), F. 138, 22–57; Series ii (2003), F. II/59, 419–28; J. Mikuteit, Georg Bernhard (1875–1944), Ein deutscher Journalist in Presse und Politik vor, Diss. phil., Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), 1998 (Microfilm, 2002); M. Klein, Georg Bernhard. Die politische Haltung des Chefredakteurs der 'Vossischen Zeitung' Frankfurt a. M. (1999).

[Johannes Valentin Schwarz (2nd ed.)]