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Nossig, Alfred


NOSSIG, ALFRED (1864–1943), writer, sculptor, and musician; one of the first supporters of the Jewish national movements and of Zionism. Born in Lemberg, Nossig's diversified talents found expression in literature (poems, plays, essays in literary criticism), music (a monograph on the life of Paderewski and libretto for his opera), sculpture (his works were exhibited in a number of world exhibitions and achieved considerable recognition). In addition, Nossig engaged in various public and social activities. Yet all of his life he was a kind of outsider, despite the wide veneration he enjoyed. In his youth he belonged to the assimilationist Polish Jews and was one of the editors of their Polish-language journal. Later he abandoned them and in 1887 published the first Zionist work in Polish, "An Attempt to Solve the Jewish Problem" (Próba rozwiązania kwestji źydowskiej, 1887), in which he proposed the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine and adjacent countries. This book had a great impact on the Jewish intelligentsia, especially in Galicia. From that time, Nossig was active in the area of political Zionism. During that period he published books and essays on Jewish national problems and critical writings on socialism.

Nossig participated in the first Zionist Congresses but he soon ran into conflict with *Herzl, for his individualistic character prevented his cooperating with other people. From time to time, however, Nossig raised new suggestions and plans for the founding of Jewish and general societies to solve the world's problems in general, and those of the Jews in particular. Thus in 1908 he founded a Jewish colonization organization (Allgemeine Juedische Kolonisations Organization – aiko), which, like other plans of his, was not implemented. In his works on Jewish statistics (1887, 1903), he laid the basis for the Jewish Statistical and Demographic Institute and thus was among the founders of the scientific study of Jewish statistics. His most famous pieces of sculpture were Wandering Jew, Judas Maccabaeus, Nordau, and King Solomon. Nossig lived in Berlin until the Nazi rise to power, when he was expelled to Poland. There he continued his diversified activities, among other things, in the design of a monumental piece of statue called "The Holy Mountain" to be placed on Mount Carmel as a symbol of world peace and the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine. After the Nazi occupation of Poland and the establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto, he drew up plans for Jewish emigration and submitted several memoranda to the German authorities. Upon order of the Nazi authorities, the chairman of the Warsaw Judenrat, Adam *Czerniakow, nominated him as a member of the Judenrat and head of its Department for Art, which actually existed only on paper. Early in 1943 the Jewish Fighting Organization became convinced that Nossig was collaborating with the Nazis. He was sentenced to death by the Jewish underground and shot on Feb. 22, 1943, by members of the Jewish Fighting Organization.


J. Friedman, in: jsos, 21 (1965), 155–8; H. Seidman, Yoman Getto Varshah (1947), 204–10; A. Czerniakow, Yoman Getto Varshah (1969), index; A. Boehm, Die zionistische Bewegung, 1 (1935), index; M. Zylberberg, in: Wiener Library Bulletin, 23 (1969), 41–45.

[Getzel Kressel]

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