Jacoby, Johann

views updated


JACOBY, JOHANN (1805–1877), Prussian politician. Born in Koenigsberg (East Prussia), Jacoby studied medicine but devoted his life to politics. As a young man, he represented the interests of his fellow Jews, publishing in 1833 a memorandum in defense of Jewish emancipation. He advocated religious reform and participated in a commission charged with revising the order of worship. Gradually his interests became concentrated on general Prussian and German matters and, without denying his Judaism, Jacoby took up the struggle for a liberal and democratic Germany. In 1848 he was elected to the Prussian Landtag, taking an active stand against the reactionary attitude of *Frederick Williamiv. As a member of a deputation to the king, Jacoby is alleged to have remarked that it was the former's "misfortune" that he "would not hear the truth!" In 1849 he was elected, together with six other Jews, to the German Nationalversammelung in Frankfurt. Forced into the background during the years of reaction that followed, he came to the fore again in the 1860s, with the advent of a new liberal era. In 1863 he entered the Prussian House of Representatives, linking himself with the left wing of the Progressive Party and, after a split in the party, with the Social Democratic camp. Unlike most Jewish politicians, he remained in opposition even after Germany's success in the war against France, and combated the military state and its annexationist policy. Jacoby was one of the ideologists of German democracy; his writings and speeches were published in 1872–77 and 1889.


Adam, in: Historische Zeitschrift, 143 (1931), 48–76; J. Toury, Die politischen Orientierungen der Juden in Deutschland (1966), 39–42 and index; E. Hamburger, Juden im oeffentlichenLeben Deutschlands (1968), 189–200; E. Silberner, in: International Review of Social History, 14 (1969), 353–411; idem, in: Archiv fuer Sozialgeschichte, 9 (1969).

[Reuven Michael]