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Gustav Jakoby Mayer

Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: Prenzlau, Germany
Death: February 21, 1948 (76)
London, England
Immediate Family:

Son of David Mayer and Clara Devora Mayer (Gottschalk)
Husband of Flora Mayer (Wolff)
Father of Peter Emmanuel Mayer and Ulrich Philip Mayer
Brother of Elise Mayer; Arthur Ascher Mayer; Gertrud Jaspers (Mayer); Ida Mayer; Ernst Mayer and 3 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Gustav Mayer

Gustav Mayer, 4 Oct 1871 to 21 Feb 1948

Archives at

Correspondance with Albert Einstien -

Gustav Mayer was born in Prenzlau, Germany. His home provided him with a traditional Jewish upbringing, at the same time, however, also liberal beliefs and enthusiasm for classical German literature.

In 1890 Mayer went to university in Berlin and then in Freiburg, choosing the national economy as his main area of study. From 1896 to 1906 he was subsequently a correspondent for the liberal Frankfurter Zeitung newspaper in Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels. He gained direct experience of the political practice of parliamentarianism and formed close personal ties with leading West European socialists. In 1906 he became a private teacher and publicist, soon making a name for himself as a pioneer of the history of the workers' movement. In 1918 the university of Berlin turned down Meyer's application for professorship, but in 1922 he was appointed the first German professor of the history of German and international social democracy.

He was dismissed by the Nazis in 1933 on account of his Jewish background. He initially settled in the Netherlands, but in 1936 emigrated to Britain, where he died in 1948. During his years of exile Meyer involved himself with the early history of the English workers' movement and dedicated to it a work on sources, which was published posthumously in 1995.

His publications include:

  • Der Jude in Karl Marx (1918)
  • Friedrich Engels: a biography (1934)
  • The era of the Reform League: English labour and radical politics 1857 - 1872: documents selected by Gustav Mayer (1995)

Born in Prenzlau, Germany 1871, died in London 1948; studied economy and history; Ph.D. in Basel 1893 with 'Lassalle als Sozialökonom'; foreign correspondent of the Frankfurter Zeitung in Holland, Belgium and France 1896-1906 and member of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD); recognized as one of the first historians of the German labor movement through his biographies of Johann B. von Schweitzer 1909 and Friedrich Engels, Vol. I, 1920, and the edition of Lassalle's Nachgelassene Briefe und Schriften' 1921-1925; his Engels biography became one of the standard works of international social history; first German professor of the history of democracy and political parties in Berlin 1922; dismissed by the Nazis; in exile in the Netherlands, where Vol. II of his biography of Engels appeared in 1934; lived in Great Britain from 1936; external staff member of the International Institute of Social History (IISH) 1937-1940.

Biographies of Gustav Mayer

  • Gottfried Niedhart (Hrsg.): Gustav Mayer - Als deutsch-jüdischer Historiker in Krieg und Revolution 1914-1920. Tagebücher, Aufzeichnungen, Briefe. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, München 2009, ISBN 978-3-486-59155-2
  • Jens Prellwitz: Jüdisches Erbe, sozialliberales Ethos, deutsche Nation: Gustav Mayer im Kaiserreich und in der Weimarer Republik. Palatium-Verlag, Mannheim 1998, ISBN 3-920671-35-X

Gustav Mayer's ashes were buried next to his son Peter's in the small town of Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, England. This was done on 16 March 1948, the seventh anniversary of his young son death (Niedhard 1993: 412-12)

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Gustav Mayer's Timeline

October 4, 1871
Prenzlau, Germany
Age 35
May 21, 1910
Age 38
Berlin, Germany
February 21, 1948
Age 76
London, England