Fries, Jakob Friedrich°

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FRIES, JAKOB FRIEDRICH ° (1773–1843), German antisemitic philosopher. He lectured in Jena and Heidelberg and published authoritative works on philosophy and psychology. On the one hand, Fries was an advocate of enlightenment, civil and constitutional rights and the equality of man. On the other hand he propagated a cultural, religious, and voelkisch conception of a homogeneous German nation excluding Jews as an ethnic and religious minority. In his pamphlet Ueber die Gefaehrdung des Wohlstandes und Charakters der Deutschen durch die Juden (Heidelberg, 1816), Fries accused the Jews of "physical separation" from the German people and demanded an enforced integration by the complete adoption of German culture and values and the destruction of Judaism and Jewish traditions: "We do not declare war on the Jews, our brothers, but on Jewry" (Judenschaft). Immediately after the Napoleonic wars, Fries took part in the nationalistic student agitation and was the only member of the professional staff present at the 1817 Wartburg demonstration. His popularity with the students contributed to the success of his anti-Jewish writings. Under his influence, the Burschenschaft (students' associations) decided not to accept Jews as members. Although Fries' antisemitic attitude was not principally racist, his rabid language and the frequent use of the words "destruction" and "annihilation" in particular paved the way for radical forms of racial antisemitism.


J. Katz, From Prejudice to Destruction. Anti-Semitism 1700–1933 (1980); G. Hubmann, "Voelkischer Nationalismus und Antisemitismus im fruehen 19. Jahrhundert. Die Schriften von Ruehs und Fries zur Judenfrage," in: R. Heuer and R.-R. Wuthenow (eds.), Antisemitismus, Zionismus, Antizionismus 1850–1940 (1997), 10–34; G. Hubmann, "Menschenwürde und Antijudaismus. Zur politischen Philosophie von J.F. Fries," in: W. Hogrebe (ed.), J.F. Fries, Philosoph, Naturwissenschaftler und Mathematiker (1999), 141–63

[Leon Poliakov]

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Fries, Jakob Friedrich°

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