Kallenbach, Hermann

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KALLENBACH, HERMANN (1871–1945), South African architect and intimate of *Gandhi. Kallenbach was born in East Prussia and studied architecture in Stuttgart and Munich. In 1896 he went to South Africa, where he practiced as an architect. In 1904 he met Mohandas Gandhi, who was then working in South Africa. He became his intimate friend and dedicated devotee. Abandoning the life of a wealthy, sport-loving bachelor, he adopted the vegetarian diet and simple lifestyle of Gandhi. In Gandhi's words, they became "soulmates" and, for a time, shared Kallenbach's home. Together with another Jew, H.S.L. Polak, Kallenbach was associated with Gandhi throughout the Satyagraha (non-violent resistance) struggle which lasted in South Africa until 1914.

In 1910 Kallenbach purchased a farm near Johannesburg as a commune for the families of Indian resisters who had been imprisoned. It was named Tolstoy Farm and Kallenbach joined Gandhi there. During the great Satyagraha march of Indians in 1913, he risked his personal safety to confront hostile whites in defense of the Indians. In November 1913 he was imprisoned together with Gandhi. Upon their release they both went to England. Kallenbach planned to accompany Gandhi to India, but with the outbreak of World War i, he was detained in England because of his German citizenship. After the war he returned to South Africa, where he resumed his work as an architect, but continued to correspond with Gandhi.

The rise of Nazism shocked Kallenbach into a rediscovery of his Jewish roots. He became a convinced Zionist, served on the Executive of the South African Zionist Federation, and planned to settle in Ereẓ Israel. At the request of Moshe Shertok (Sharett), Kallenbach visited Gandhi in May 1937 to enlist his sympathy and support for Zionism. In private conversations he gained the sympathy of Gandhi and his promise to take an interest in the Zionist cause. In his public statements, however, Gandhi continued to maintain a position unsympathetic to Zionism. Although disagreeing with Gandhi over Zionism and also in his (Kallenbach's) conviction that Hitler had to be resisted by violence, Kallenbach's deep friendship with Gandhi continued, and he visited him again in 1939. When Kallenbach died in 1945 he left a portion of his considerable estate for South African Indians, but the bulk was left for the benefit of Zionism. His large collection of books went to the Hebrew University, and his cremated remains were buried at Deganyah.

add. bibliography:

I. Sarid and C. Bartolf, Hermann KallenbachMahatma Gandhi's Jewish Friend in South Africa: A Concise Biography (1997).

[Gideon Shimoni]