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Selbstemanzipation

SELBSTEMANZIPATION

SELBSTEMANZIPATION , the first Zionist newspaper in Western Europe, in German. The idea of the newspaper originated in the group centered on the first Zionist student group in Western Europe, *Kadimah, and its name reflected the admiration felt by members of the group for Leo *Pinsker and the influence exerted on them by his book of the same name. The paper first came out in 1885, in Vienna, under the editorship of Nathan *Birnbaum, and with the encouragement of Pinsker. It was the first newspaper in Western Europe to be entirely devoted to advocating the Zionist cause, from its editorials to the notes on local events. The word Zionism itself was used for the first time in its columns (by Birnbaum, in 1890). The moving spirit behind the paper was Birnbaum, whose articles on current affairs and ideological essays on the national character of the Jewish people polemicized both against assimilationism and socialist cosmopolitanism. The paper devoted much of its space to Ereẓ Israel and its resettlement, and became the central organ of the Zionist movement in the West. It experienced great financial difficulties and ceased publication in the middle of 1886 after one and a quarter years of existence. The *Esra society in Germany, then at the height of its activities for the settlement of Ereẓ Israel, renewed publication in September 1886, transferring the paper to Berlin and changing its name to Serubabel. Although Birnbaum continued to write for the paper, Willi *Bambus now became its moving spirit. Since Esra was mainly concerned with Ereẓ Israel, the paper devoted most of its space to this cause, as well as to research and information on Ereẓ Israel. The debate with those opposed to the Jewish national idea continued in its columns, and the first attempts were made to bring about a rapprochement between Eastern and Western Jewry. The paper again ceased publication because of financial difficulties (July 1888) and renewed publication on April 1, 1890, under its original name and editor. In its new form, Selbstemanzipation constituted a synthesis between its two previous forms. It opposed Baron de *Hirsch's proposed settlement program in Argentina. The paper also involved itself in the elections to the Austrian parliament, supporting I.S. Bloch, the candidate who was closest to the Zionist line. Two of the paper's main opponents in Vienna were the rabbis and scholars M. *Guedemann and A. *Jellinek.

With the arrival of the Hebrew writer Reuben *Brainin in Vienna (1891), ties with Eastern Jewry were further strengthened, and the paper began to devote much of its space to the new Hebrew literature. Birnbaum's Zionist articles continued to feature prominently in the paper (whose subtitle "Jewish National Organ" was replaced in May 1893 with "Zionist Organ") and it played an influential part in the establishment of the united Zionist Federation of Austria and Galicia in 1893. In 1894 the name of the paper was changed to Juedische Volkszeitung with the addition of "formerly Selbstemanzipation." The paper was transferred to Berlin, but the editorial board remained in Vienna. While there were no policy changes, the addition of a group of young men later to constitute *Herzl's immediate following (S.R. *Landau, M. *Ehrenpreis, O. *Thon, H. *Loewe, etc.) to the paper's contributors made it into the representative organ of the Zionist movement before Herzl. At the beginning of 1895, however, the paper ceased publication.

bibliography:

Y. Meisel, in: A.E. Kaplan and M. Landau (eds.), Vom Sinn des Judentums (1925), 19–33; G. Kressel, in: Shivat Ẓiyyon, 4 (1956), 55–99.

[Getzel Kressel]

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