Kohn, Hans

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KOHN, HANS (1891–1971), U.S. historian and political scientist. Born in Prague, Kohn was an active member of *Bar Kochba, the Zionist student group led by Hugo (Shemu'el) *Bergmann. He joined the Austrian army at the outbreak of World War i and was taken prisoner by the Russians in 1915. He remained in captivity in Samarkand and later in Siberia, and returned to Prague in 1920. Kohn was secretary to the Comité des Délégations Juives at the Paris Peace Conference in 1920–21 and from 1921 to 1925 lived mainly in London, working for the *Keren Hayesod. He was in Jerusalem from 1925 to 1929 when he returned to Europe, and in 1931 went to the U.S.A. From 1934 to 1949 he was professor of history at Smith College, and from 1949 to 1962 at the City College of New York. Kohn was a prolific writer with more than 30 books to his credit. He was one of the major scholars of modern nationalism to which he was first drawn in the last years of the Austrian Empire and also by the Zionist movement, but later he differed on the Arab question. His major work is The Idea of Nationalism (1944), later continued by The Age of Nationalism (1962), and Prelude to Nation-States (1967), and he wrote on modern history and historiography. Kohn was the author of works on Martin Buber, Heinrich Heine, and Zionist ideology and politics; he edited writings by Aḥad Ha-Am (Nationalism and the Jewish Ethic, 1962). In 1921 Kohn translated the second edition of J. Klausner's History of Modern Hebrew Literature into German. His autobiography (Living in a World Revolution) was published in 1964. It contains a list of his publications (pp. 357–60).


Orbis, 10 (winter 1967), special issue dedicated to Hans Kohn, incl. bibl.; S.J. Kunitz (ed.), Twentieth Century Authors (1955), first suppl.; Times Literary Supplement (London, Oct. 19, 1946).

[Edwin Emanuel Gutmann]