Welt, Die

views updated


WELT, DIE ("The World"), the first modern Zionist weekly, founded by Theodor *Herzl, which first appeared in Vienna on June 4, 1897, and, starting with the Fifth *Zionist Congress (Dec. 1901), served as the official organ of the *World Zionist Organization until World War i. From January 1906, after the Zionist Executive had moved to Cologne (1905), the paper was accordingly published there, but, from October 1911 until its last issue of September 25, 1914, in Berlin.

The paper was initiated by Herzl as a privately financed venture to disseminate the Zionist idea, to prepare the first Zionist Congress, and to reply to Jewish critics like W. *Bambus. Herzl was assisted by his brother-in-law, Paul Naschauer (1867–1900), as official publisher, and by S.R. *Landau as first editor-in-chief, who was succeeded by S. *Werner on October 8, 1897. Herzl himself, who had attended to almost every technical detail and initially supplied much of the content, agreed to stay anonymous in order to defuse a severe conflict with his employers at the Neue Freie Presse, E. *Bacher and M. *Benedikt, who strongly opposed Zionism. In the first two years Herzl spent a great deal of his own money on Die Welt, until he founded a separate joint-stock company together with Heinrich Rosenbaum. Although the paper, after ten months, had only found 280 subscribers in Vienna, its circulation eventually rose to a high of 10,000 a week.

In his first editorial, on June 3, 1897, Herzl defined the guidelines of the new paper: "Our weekly is a 'Jew Paper' [Judenblatt]. We take this word, which is supposed to be a term of calumny, and wish to make it a word of honor. … Die Welt will be the organ of those men who wish to lead Jewry out of these times into a better era." Herzl deliberately chose a yellow cover, once the *"badge of shame," now to become a "badge of honor," and inserted a *Magen David with a depiction of the Eastern Mediterranean in the title, designed by H. *York-Steiner. Appearing on Fridays, Die Welt reported on Jewish and Zionist events, fought antisemitism and assimilation, introduced Hebrew and Yiddish literature in translation, and demanded improvements in the Jewish life of the Diaspora and Ereẓ Israel. As Elon stated in his biography of Herzl (1975), the paper was "a new turn in 'parochial' Jewish journalism in the West; aggressive, polemical, belligerent, witty, it dared to discuss Jewish problems and travails openly, with uncommon candor."

Until April 1899, Die Welt was edited by S. *Werner, succeeded by Erwin Rosenberger (until June 1900), Isidor Marmorek (until Dec. 1900), B. *Feiwel (until July 1901), A.H. Reich (until March 1902) and Julius Upřimny (until Dec. 1905). From January 1906, Feiwel, together with A. *Coralnik, continued the paper in Cologne, succeeded by Julius Berger, and finally Moritz Zobel, who remained its editor also in Berlin from October 1911. A Yiddish publication of the same name appeared for about a year (1899–1900). From 1907, the Hebrew *Haolam ("The World") also served as an international Zionist organ until 1950. Die Welt ceased publication in September 1914. The title of Herzl's paper was revived by the Vienna weekly Die Neue Welt (1927–38) of R. *Stricker and again, in 1947, by the Vienna monthly Neue Welt, which has continued to appear in the early 21st century as Illustrierte Neue Welt. Digitized versions of Herzl's Die Welt and Stricker's Die Neue Welt are available online in Compact Memory's "Internetarchiv juedischer Periodika."

add. bibliography:

A. Boehm, Die Zionistische Bewegung (2 vols., 1920–21); A. Bein, Theodor Herzl (1934); R. Lichtheim, Die Geschichte des deutschen Zionismus (1954); A. Elon, Herzl (1975); M. Faerber, in: The Jewish Press That Was (1980), 354–9; J. Toury, in: Zionism, No. 2 (1980), 159–72; idem, in: Smanim, No. 6 (1981), 51–67; idem, Die Juedische Presse im Oesterreichischen Kaiserreich (1983), 92–102; Y. Eloni, Zionismus in Deutschland (1987); R.S. Wistrich, The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph (1990); J.H. Schoeps, Theodor Herzl 18601904 (1995).

[Josef Fraenkel /

Johannes Valentin Schwarz (2nd ed.)]