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Schiller, Friedrich von°

SCHILLER, FRIEDRICH VON°

SCHILLER, FRIEDRICH VON ° (1759–1805), German poet, playwright, and philosopher, whose works influenced Hebrew literature and the *Haskalah. Schiller had only a few Jewish contacts, although he knew the writings of Moses *Mendelssohn and had a high regard for Solomon *Maimon. Schiller's stage adaptation of 1801 popularized *Lessing's Nathander Weise. In his own writings there are only a few allusions to Jews. Perhaps the most intriguing of these is Moritz Spiegelberg, a character in his early drama Die Raeuber (1781). Though not explicitly presented as a Jew, Spiegelberg occasionally lapses into a Judeo-German idiom, speaks of Judaizing, and even refers to a project for the reestablishment of a Jewish state. In this portrayal Schiller may have had in mind the ideas diffused at the time in his native Wuerttemberg by followers of Jacob *Frank. Although Ludwig *Geiger and others denied that the character was a Jew, the Nazis inevitably presented him as one. During the 1920s, Erwin Piscator's Berlin production of Die Raeuber presented Spiegelberg in the guise of Leon *Trotsky.

There are echoes of biblical style in Schiller's poems, as in the ode to joy, "An die Freude," and in his dramas. While Schiller praised the "Hebrew nation" as important for "universal history" in his treatise Ueber die Sendung Moses (1790), he also adopted the hostile Bible interpretation quoted by *Voltaire, claiming that leprosy was the chief cause of the *Exodus from Egypt.

Translations and imitations of Schiller's poems and plays were published by maskilim in Galicia, and later in Russian Poland, notably by Abraham Ber *Gottlober, Micah Joseph *Lebensohn, Meir Halevi *Letteris, and Solomon Judah *Rapoport. Between 1817 and 1957 almost 60 Hebrew versions of works by Schiller by more than 80 translators were published. They include *Bialik's translation of the drama Wilhelm Tell. Yiddish parodies of Schiller's poems were extremely popular; Orthodox homes which banned other non-religious literature made an exception in the case of his works. German Jews, too, showed admiration for Schiller. *Heine, who parodied "An die Freude" in his "Prinzessin Sabbat," praised Schiller as the poet of freedom and internationalism. Ludwig August *Frankl and Leopold *Kompert showed their admiration for him in establishing a Schiller Stiftung to propagate his works, and rabbis, including Samson Raphael *Hirsch, eulogized him in their sermons. Jews stressed the poet's quest for a physical and spiritual freedom untrammeled by nationalist dogma, his belief in human equality influenced by *Rousseau, and his idealism. They identified Schiller with Germany and Germany with Europe, seeing in Schiller's writings the bridge to European culture.

bibliography:

O. Frankl, Friedrich Schiller in seinen Beziehungen zu den Juden und zum Judentum (1905); L. Geiger, Die Deutsche Literatur und die Juden (1910), 125–60; S. Lachower, in: Yad la-Koré, 4 (1956/57), 59–75 (bibl. of Heb. trans.); P.F. Veit, in: Germanic Review (1969), 171–85; G. Scholem, in: Commentary, 11 (1966), 33–34; G. Rappaport, Jewish Horizons (1959, Heb. section), 17–22.

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