Heinrich Graetz (1817 - 1891) MP

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Birthplace: Poznań, Poznań County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland
Death: Died in Munich, Oberbayern, Bavaria, Germany
Cause of death: Short illness
Occupation: Jewish historian
Managed by: Yigal Burstein / יגאל בורשטיין
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Immediate Family

About Heinrich Graetz

Heinrich Graetz (October 31, 1817 - September 7, 1891) was amongst the first historians to write a comprehensive history of the Jewish people from a Jewish perspective.

Born Tzvi Hirsh Graetz to a butcher family in Xions (Książ Wielkopolski), Poznan, in Prussia (now in Poland), he obtained his doctorate from the University of Jena though he had attended Breslau University because Jews at the time were barred from receiving Ph.D.s at that institution.

After 1845 he was principal of the Jewish Orthodox school of the Breslau community, and later taught history at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland). His magnum opus History of the Jews was quickly translated into other languages and ignited worldwide interest in Jewish history.

In 1869 the University of Breslau granted him the title of Honorary Professor, in 1888 he was appointed an Honorary Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences.

Biography

Graetz received his first instruction at Zerkov, where his parents had relocated, and in 1831 was sent to Wolstein, where he attended the yeshivah up to 1836, acquiring secular knowledge by private study. The "Neunzehn Briefe von Ben Uziel" (see Samson Raphael Hirsch) made a powerful impression on him; and he resolved to prepare himself for academic studies in order to champion the cause of Orthodox Judaism. His first intention was to go to Prague, to which place he was attracted by the fame of its old yeshivah and the facilities afforded by the university. Being rejected by the immigration officers, he returned to Zerkov and wrote to S. R. Hirsch, then rabbi of Oldenburg, intimating his desire. Hirsch offered him a home in his house. Graetz arrived there on May 8, 1837, and spent three years with his patron as a pupil, companion, and amanuensis. In 1840 he accepted a tutorship with a family at Ostrowo, and in October 1842 he entered the University of Breslau.

At that time the controversy between Orthodoxy and Reform Judaism was at its height, and Graetz, true to the principles which he had imbibed from Hirsch, began his literary career by writing contributions to the "Orient," edited by Julius Fürst, in which he severely criticized the Reform party, as well as Geiger's text-book of the Mishnah ("Orient," 1844). These contributions and his championship of the Conservative cause during the time of the rabbinical conferences made him popular with the Orthodox party. This was especially the case when he agitated for a vote of confidence to be given to Zacharias Frankel after he had left the Frankfurt conference because of the stand which the majority had taken on the question of the Hebrew language. After Graetz had obtained his degree of Ph.D. from the University of Jena (his dissertation being "De Auctoritate et Vi Quam Gnosis in Judaismum Habuerit," 1845; published a year later under the title "Gnosticismus und Judenthum"), he was made principal of a religious school founded by the Conservatives. In the same year he was invited to preach a trial sermon before the congregation of Gleiwitz, Silesia, but failed completely.

He remained in Breslau until 1848, when, upon the advice of a friend, he went to Vienna, purposing to follow a journalistic career. On the way he stopped at Nikolsburg, where Samson Raphael Hirsch was residing as Moravian chief rabbi. Hirsch, who then contemplated the establishment of a rabbinical seminary, employed Graetz temporarily as teacher at Nikolsburg, and afterward gave him a position as principal of the Jewish school in the neighboring city of Lundenburg (1850). In October 1850, Graetz married Marie Monasch of Krotoschin. It seems that Hirsch's departure from Nikolsburg had an influence on Graetz's position; for in 1852 the latter left Lundenburg and went to Berlin, where he delivered a course of lectures on Jewish history before rabbinical students. They do not seem to have been successful. Meantime his advocacy of Frankel's course had brought him into close contact with the latter, for whose magazine he frequently wrote articles; and accordingly in 1854 he was appointed a member of the teaching staff of the seminary at Breslau, over which Frankel presided. In this position he remained up to his death, teaching history and Bible exegesis, with a preparatory course on the Talmud. In 1869 the government conferred upon him the title of professor, and thenceforward he lectured at Breslau University.

In 1872 Graetz went to Israel in the company of his friend Gottschalck Levy of Berlin, for the purpose of studying the scenes of the earliest period of Jewish history, which he treated in volumes one and two of his history, published in 1874-76; these volumes brought that great work to a close. While in Israel he gave the first impetus to the foundation of an orphan asylum there. He also took a great interest in the progress of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, and participated as a delegate in the convention assembled at Paris in 1878 in the interest of the Romanian Jews. Graetz's name was prominently mentioned in the anti-Semitic controversy, especially after Treitschke had published his "Ein Wort über Unser Judenthum" (1879–1880), in which the latter, referring to the eleventh volume of the history, accused Graetz of hatred of Christianity and of bias against the German people, quoting him as a proof that the Jews could never assimilate themselves to their surroundings. Graetz's tomb in Jewish Cemetery in Wrocław

This arraignment of Graetz had a decided effect upon the public. Even friends of the Jews, like Mommsen, and advocates of Judaism within the Jewish fold expressed their condemnation of Graetz's passionate language. It was due to this comparative unpopularity that Graetz was not invited to join the commission created by the union of German Jewish congregations (Deutsch-Israelitischer Gemeindebund) for the promotion of the study of the history of the Jews of Germany (1885). On the other hand, his fame spread to foreign countries; and the promoters of the Anglo-Jewish Exhibition invited him in 1887 to open the Exhibition with a lecture. The seventieth anniversary of his birthday was the occasion for his friends and disciples to bear testimony to the universal esteem in which he was held among them; and a volume of scientific essays was published in his honor ("Jubelschrift zum 70. Geburtstage des Prof. Dr. H. Graetz," Breslau, 1887). A year later (October 27, 1888) he was appointed an honorary member of the Spanish Academy, to which, as a token of his gratitude, he dedicated the third edition of the eighth volume of his history.

As usual he spent the summer of 1891 in Carlsbad; but alarming symptoms of heart disease forced him to discontinue his use of the waters. He went to Munich to visit his son Leo, a professor at the university of that city, and died there after a brief illness. He was buried in Breslau. Besides Leo, Graetz left three sons and one daughter. -------------------- GRAETZ WAS THE FIRST TO WRITE THE JEWISH HISTORY IN THE MODERN TIME. HE WAS THE FIRST TO DEFINE THE JEWISH PEOPLE AS A NATION. HIS MOST IMPORTANT WORK WAS 11 BOOKS DETAILING THE HISTORY OF THE MODERN JEWDISM. HIS WORK WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT BASE TO THE ZIONISM IDEA.



      
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Heinrich Graetz's Timeline

1817
October 31, 1817
Poznań, Poznań County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland
1851
1851
Age 33
1856
1856
Age 38
1856
Age 38
1891
September 7, 1891
Age 73
Munich, Oberbayern, Bavaria, Germany
September, 1891
Age 73
Wrocław, Wrocław, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland
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