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Hans Herzl

Hebrew: Hans הנס הרצל
Nicknames: "Theodor Herzl son"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Death: Died in Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France
Cause of death: Comitted suicide. Buried initially in Bordeaux, France 1930-2006.
Place of Burial: Herzl family burial site, Mount Herzl
Immediate Family:

Son of Theodor Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl - בנימין זאב הרצל, חוזה המדינה and Julie (Julianna) Herzl
Brother of Pauline Herzl [Th. Herzl daughter] פאולינה הרצל and Trude Herzl [Th. Herzl dau.] מרגרטה נוימן הי"ד

Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:

About Hans Herzl

Born Vienna, 1891 Num. 1103 Wien Herzl, Hanns Theodor Tivadar, Dr./Naschauer Julianna (genteam.at)

Hans Herzl – A Jew Finally Comes Home (Excerpts)

By Judith Rice

At age 39, he had never married, nor successfully established a home, identification, education or career. His life had been lived as a ward of the Zionists for support, a wanderer without a home. Intensely sensitive, he sought normalcy for himself and for the Jewish people whom he cared deeply about. His choices in life were almost always wrong and he came to tragically understand that. A suicide note was found with the body bequeathing his simple modest possessions. His only true request was to be buried with his older sister Pauline who had died a few days earlier. Together their bones, he hoped, would be reunited with their beloved father.

Hans was a ward of the Zionist caretakers who honored his father. He was buried, quietly, by the Zionists. They were deeply ashamed and embarrassed by Hans’s life. His tombstone was erected almost secretly. The Zionists quickly obscured his life. He was wishfully forgotten.

Hans Herzl was 13 years old when his father died. His family's modest fortune was dissipated, his sisters left adrift and his mother incapable of managing life. The Zionist movement undertook the responsibility of looking after them.

Hans grew up expected by Zionists to become the heir of Herzl and by his family as new head. He became neither. Between 1904 with the death of his father and the start of World War I, Hans demonstrated only a remarkable sensitivity to the world, an inability to complete either education or focus successfully on any life goals. More distressing for the nascent Zionist movement was that the heir apparent did not grasp nor accept his father's vision.

Hans found himself in Britain during World War I where he enlisted and served for a short time in the home guard. He was unable to join the regular army in the great struggle. Ironically he had rejected his Austro-Hungarian roots, becoming a wandering Jew. He was stateless and emotionally empty – no strong family leadership or support, no strong religious foundation, no financial security, no identity, living in the shadow of an image that he could never rise to -- that of Theodor Herzl.

The Zionist dream continued and progressed culminating with the Balfour Declaration. Hans Herzl and the Herzl children existed only in the shadows but now as adult wards of the Zionists.

Hans Herzl wandered in shambles after WWI. He had wanted to go to Palestine but said he was denied admittance by the British Mandate government. Perhaps he applied, but with his family name and Zionist connections if he truly wanted to go to Palestine he would have been able to do so. Hans was not a Zionist even after carefully studying his father's writings and Zionist history.

Hans Herzl, between 1917 and his suicide in 1930, continued seeking his own solution to the Jewish question. He studied Zionist history and delved deep into his own lonely, frustrated consciousness. Hans concluded, if Zionism was not the solution then perhaps God had not chosen the Zionists. He chose a different course for the solving the Jewish question. His solution would be a universal solution not just for Jews but also for all humanity.

Hans Herzl horrified, and then disgusted the Zionist and Jewish world when he chose to be immersed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was baptized as a Protestant and became a Christian – a Baptist.

Hans to Marcel Sternberger:

"Of course there is a precondition: by giving up the outdated dogma of the historical Messiah, the Synagogue would become a constituent member of the World-Church, and the unification of the human family would be completed by the inclusion of the Jews. Then the ethical content of Judaism could attain its fullest development, and renew national "Christianity" from within. This is how I see the Jewish mission, and Jewish nationalism: a Christian Theocracy of Jewish faith… I am a Christian – but in the spirit of the apostle Paul, in whom Judaism and Christianity were united in the worship of One God… Don't you see that the New Testament is only a continuation of the Old, just as the teachings of Jesus are but a continuation of the Ten Commandments?"

The Baptists did not provide the structure and answer for the better world that Hans envisioned. He saw that they could not deliver worldwide improvement to humanity through a central fiat the way a head of state could. In short order Hans converted again and was baptized a Catholic. Hans soon left the Catholic Church and was excommunicated. He tried different forms of Christianity but found no solace in any.

In time he found himself attending the liberal synagogue in London. His life had spiraled into spiritual, emotional and personal hopelessness. Word came to him of his beloved sister Pauline's death in Bordeaux. His depression and self-absorption, his failure in protecting his sister and saving himself (hence his people the Jews) became manic.

In Bordeaux he wrote after his sister's death:

"If a ritual can really calm our spirits and give us the illusion of being in the company of our beloved dead once more I can't think of anything better than a visit to the Temple: there I can pray for my parents, ask their forgiveness and repent my apostasy before God. I am destitute and sick, unhappy and bitter. I have no home. Nobody pays any attention to the words of a convert. I cannot suddenly turn my back on a community which offered me its friendship.

Without prejudice, even if all my physical and moral impulses urge me to: I have burned all my bridges… What good is the penance which the Church has ordained for my "spiritual healing"! I torture my body in vain: my conscience is torturing me far worse. My life is ruined… Nobody would regret it if I were to put a bullet through my head. Could I undo my errors that way? I realize how right my father had been when he once said: 'Only the withered branches fall off a tree – the healthy ones flourish'.

A Jew remains a Jew, no matter how eagerly he may submit himself to the disciplines of his new religion, how humbly he may place the redeeming cross upon his shoulders for the sake of his former coreligionists, to save them from eternal damnation: a Jew remains a Jew….I can't go on living. I have lost all trust in God, All my life I've tried to strive for the truth, and must admit today at the end of the road that there is nothing but disappointment. Tonight I have said Kaddish for my parents – and for myself, the last descendent of the family. There is nobody who will say Kaddish for me, who went out to find peace – and who may find peace soon….. My instinct has latterly gone all wrong, and I have made one of those irreparable mistakes, which stamp a whole life with failure. Then it is best to scrap it."

Hans Herzl took his life September 15, 1930. His final wishes were to be buried with his sister Pauline. The Zionist caretakers of the Herzl legacy and his children twisted the arms of the resistant Orthodox community and had him buried in the Jewish cemetery. They recognized that he, like his sisters, his mother and his father, suffered from severe mental illness. They also recognized that it was best to bury him, move on quickly and keep his story as secret as possible.

A year later Wolf Stolpner, who took care of Hans's final bequests, arranged to have a stone placed over Pauline and Hans's joint grave. He bitterly noted about the Zionists:

"… it seems to me that you had an elementary duty to notify the family or, if that was impossible, those who could represent them… Dr. Theodor Herzl, who devoted himself completely to the Jewish people, seems at least to have earned the right to have a few friends present when his children were laid to eternal rest…"

In the end Hans was a Jew. Prof. Dawnd, an old friend of Hans, wrote to Trude (Herzl) Neumann in Vienna:

"I first met dear Hans at the British Legation in Bern, in August 1914… I loved has as a (dear) brother, and his tragic death was a great shock to me and my family. He had changed his views: he was a true Jew, and until a few days before his death he was studying the Bible with me, and praying for the peace of Jerusalem…"

In September 2006 the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel provided the final respectful honor to Theodor Herzl. The modest ceremonies returned the remains from France to be reburied on Mt. Herzl. The final step was taken.

Hans Herzl to Marcel Steinberger – 1929 – Princes Without A Home:

"My father was a great man, whom I loved… But I've come to see that he made a great historical error in his attempt to rebuild the Jewish State…. My father did not realize the true mission of the Jewish people, which has proven that the living and fertilizing spirit does not need territorial boundaries, and that a people can live and exist even when fortifications and borders have disappeared.

"I would ask them not to attempt to add to the decadent civilizations but to remember their true identity and work for the cultural reconstruction of their homeland – and this homeland is the entire world."

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The Bordeaux coroner's announcement was plain and simple. "Dead on September 15, 8p.m., at 31 Rue de la Gare Hanns [sic] Herzl, born in Vienna, Austria June 10, 1891, son of Dr. Theodor Herzl, Privator Herzl and Julie Naschauer, without occupation, single". The death report did not discuss the method of his suicide – some say he shot himself. Hans had referred to that possibility once as he reflected on his failed life.

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September 28, 2006. Better late than never, Theodor Herzl, children reunited in death:

Two of Theodor Herzl's children were reinterred in Jerusalem after decades of debate. Hans and Pauline Herzl, who died in 1930 and were buried in France, were laid to final rest alongside the Zionist visionary at the cemetery that carries his name in Israel's capital. Theodor Herzl, who launched the modern Zionist movement and wrote "The Jewish State" a few years before dying in 1904, had expressed the wish to be buried next to his children. But Israeli authorities, after reinterring Herzl himself in 1949, were reluctant to do the same for Hans and Pauline given the controversy over their deaths. Pauline died of a drug overdose in what might have been a suicide, prompting her brother to shoot himself. Hans' conversion to Christianity shortly before his death further stoked religious opposition to his burial in Israel. But rabbis recently ruled that Hans had disavowed Christianity before dying, and that Pauline's demise was a result of mental disturbance.

"Having brought in the remains of Pauline and Hans, we are completing the mission and achieving historical closure," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the burial ceremony.

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Hans Herzl's Timeline

1891
June 10, 1891
Vienna, Austria
1930
September 15, 1930
Age 39
Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France
2006
September 2006
Age 39
Herzl family burial site, Mount Herzl