Lichtheim, Richard

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LICHTHEIM, RICHARD (1885–1963), Zionist leader in Germany. Lichtheim was born in Berlin of an assimilated family and completed his studies in economics in Freiburg, where he also joined the Zionist movement. At first he aided the Zionist Organization's Palestine department, which was established in Berlin after the Fifth Zionist Congress (1907). He eventually became one of the outstanding ideologists and publicists in the Zionist movement, and his work Das Program des Zionismus (1911, 19132) made a lasting impression. After D. *Wolffsohn's resignation (1911) and the transfer of the Zionist center to Berlin, Lichtheim became the editor of the central Zionist organ, Die *Welt, and remained in this post until 1913. In that year he went to Constantinople as a representative of the Zionist Executive. At first he worked together with Victor *Jacobson, and when the latter had to leave Constantinople at the outbreak of World War i, Lichtheim, who was a German citizen, remained (until 1917). During that period he did much to curb the physical persecution of the Jews in Ereẓ Israel through the influence of the German and American representatives in the Ottoman capital.

At the end of the war, Lichtheim returned to Germany, and his memoranda on the methods of upbuilding Ereẓ Israel under the British Mandate aroused Chaim *Weizmann's interest. From 1921 to 1923 he was a member of the Zionist Executive and head of its Organization Department. Afterward he left the Executive in opposition to Weizmann's policy, and in 1925 he joined the *Revisionist movement, which he left in 1933 joining for a while the Jewish State Party which seceded from it. Lichtheim worked in an insurance company in Germany and continued in this field after settling in Palestine in 1934 by establishing the Migdal Insurance Company together with G. *Halpern. He was in Geneva throughout World War ii and set up a network of contacts with occupied European countries for the Zionist Organization. At the end of the war, Lichtheim returned to Jerusalem and during his last years wrote his memoirs, She'ar Yashuv ("A Remnant Shall Return," 1953) and Toledot ha-Ẓiyyonut be-Germanyah ("A History of Zionism in Germany," Heb., 1951, Ger., 1954), and an autobiographical volume Rueckkehr (1970), on his activities in Zionist diplomacy before World War i.

[Getzel Kressel]

His son, george lichtheim (1912–1973), historian and political scientist, was born in Berlin and in 1933 went to Jerusalem, where he spent most of the Hitler years as foreign editor of the Jerusalem Post and as a translator. From 1946 he lived in London, except for two periods spent in the U.S. as associate editor of Commentary (1957–58) and as visiting lecturer and research associate at Columbia and Stanford universities (1964–66). Besides serving as London editor of Commentary from 1960 and as a correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, he was a leading scholar in the fields of socialism and political science, and has contributed to a number of leading scholarly and intellectual publications. His works include Marxism, an Historical and Critical Study (19642), Europe and America (1963), The New Europe (1963), Marxism and Modern France (1966), and The Concept of Ideology and Other Essays (1967).

[Irving Rosenthal]


A. Ruppin, Pirkei Ḥayyai (1969), passim; G. Herlitz, in: Ha-Olam (Feb. 15, 1945); P. Rosen, in: Ha-Boker (June 7, 1963); Tidhar, 11 (1961), 3786–87. add. bibliography: R. Cohen, "Confronting the Reality of the Holocaust – Richard Lichtheim 1939–1942," in: Yad Vashem Studies, 23 (1993), 335–68; F.R. Nicosia, "Revisionist Zionism in Germany – Richard Lichtheim and the Landesverband der Zionisten-Revisionisten in Deutschland," in: lbiyb, 31 (1986), 209–40.