JUDr. Robert Weltsch

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JUDr. Robert Weltsch

Hebrew: רוברט ולטש
Birthplace: Prague, Hlavní město Praha, Hlavní město Praha, Czech Republic
Death: December 22, 1982 (91)
Jerusalem, Israel
Immediate Family:

Son of JUDr. Theodor Weltsch and Frieda Weltsch
Husband of Martha Weltsch
Father of Ruben Weltsch; Private and Private
Brother of Elisabeth Kaznelson and Gertrud Weltsch

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Immediate Family

About JUDr. Robert Weltsch


Robert Weltsch (20 June 1891, Prague – 22 December 1982, Jerusalem) was a journalist, editor and prominent Zionist.

He was editor of the Jüdische Rundschau (Jewish Review), a newspaper published twice a week in Berlin, Germany during the years the Nazis were gaining influence. The newspaper had a peak readership of 37,000.[1] He edited and wrote for the Rundschau from 1919 through its demise under the Nazi regime in 1938 . His best-known contribution was a reaction to the April 1, 1933 Nazi-led boycott of Jewish shops, which was the first meaningful anti-Jewish action of the newly empowered Nazis. In his editorial Weltsch used the phrase, "Wear it with pride, the yellow badge."[2] This was a call for strength and solidarity, and a lone voice in reaction to the Nazi boycott. It was not a reference to the forced-wearing of yellow armbands, which the Nazis didn't force on Jews until 1941, but rather a call for unity to a German-Jewish community that had until then thought of itself as comfortably assimilated into German life.

Weltsch was born in Prague when it was part of Austria-Hungary. The city had a strong Jewish community which was culturally German. Weltsch fought in World War I on the German side. His cousin, Felix Weltsch, was a good friend of Franz Kafka and Max Brod, and Robert was also lifelong friends with the latter; they shared a strong interest in idealistic Zionism.[3]

From 1925 to 1933 Robert Weltsch was active in the Zionist organization Brit Shalom which advocated a binational solution in Palestine, with Jews and Arabs living together. In this cause he was befriended by Martin Buber and Albert Einstein,[4] among others.

After fleeing to Palestine in 1938 (which at that time included all the territory of modern-day Israel, as well as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank), he continued agitating for accommodation with the Arab population of Mandate Palestine. He was friendly with Chaim Weizmann, who would later become the first president of Israel.

Weltsch worked for many years as a correspondent for Haaretz, a major Israeli newspaper. In 1945 he moved to London, becoming Haaretz's London correspondent. In this capacity he covered the Nuremberg Trials. He was a major force in establishing the Leo Baeck Institute, named for a rabbi and leader of the German-Jewish community during the Nazi years. The Institute is a group dedicated to preserving German-Jewish history and culture and is still active. Weltsch edited the Institute's Yearbook from 1956 to 1978.[5]

Notes and references[edit] Jump up ^ H. Freeden. The Jewish Press in the Third Reich, Providence & Oxford, 1993. pp. 21-28, 49-53, 57-59 Jump up ^ Robert Weltsch. Wear It With Pride, The Yellow Badge. Juedische Rundschau, No. 27, April 4, 1933 Jump up ^ Robert Weltsch in the YIVO Encyclopedia Jump up ^ Einstein Archives Online, Folders 48-9 Jump up ^ Paucker, A. (2009). "Robert Weltsch the Enigmatic Zionist: His personality and his position in Jewish politics". The Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 54: 323–332. doi:10.1093/leobaeck/ybp012.


Weltsch, Robert ContentsHide Suggested Reading Author Translation (1891–1984), Zionist activist, journalist, and essayist. Robert Weltsch was born in Prague to one of the oldest and most respected Jewish families in the city. His father, attorney Theodore Weltsch, was active in local Jewish public affairs and at the turn of the century served as director general of the Centralverein zur Pflege Jüdischer Angelegenheiten (Central Society for Handling Jewish Affairs), founded in Prague in 1885.

In 1910, having graduated from the German gymnasium of the Alt-Stadt (Staré Mĕsto), and after he began studying law at the Karl-Ferdinand German University of Prague, Robert Weltsch joined the Zionist student association Bar Kochba, then the focal point for Zionist activity in the Bohemian capital, and served as its chair in 1911–1912. From 1910 to 1914 he published articles in German-language Zionist newspapers such as the Prague-based weekly Selbstwehr, as well as in Die Welt. Even while serving as an officer of the Austrian army on the Russian front during World War I, Weltsch was involved with the German-language Zionist press.

Shortly after the war, Zionist leaders in Germany invited Weltsch to Berlin to serve as editor in chief of Jüdische Rundschau, the official journal of the Zionist Federation of Germany and one of the most widely read interwar publications in the Jewish world. During the early 1920s, Weltsch, with Hugo Bergmann and Hans Kohn (who had been his close friends from the Bar Kochba association) as well as Martin Buber, began advocating within the Zionist Federation a binational concept for the future of Palestine, a plan that called for the establishment of a joint Jewish–Arab commonwealth while rejecting, in principle, the concept of a Jewish nation-state. Because of his consistent adherence to the binational cause and his critical approach toward the policies of the mainstream Zionist movement, Weltsch often faced attempts to depose him as the editor of Jüdische Rundschau. Nevertheless, he held this post until 1938 without ever backing away from his political principles.

Weltsch’s reservations about the establishment of a Jewish nation-state in Palestine constituted just one component of his larger critical outlook toward the very principle of self-determination of national groups within multiethnic territories. He regarded the actual implementation of this principle in East Central Europe after World War I as a fateful mistake, whose origin he traced to the “unnatural,” external intervention of the United States.

Following his immigration to Palestine in September 1938, Weltsch wished to distribute Jüdische Rundschau, but he encountered vigorous opposition from the Hebrew newspaper establishment. Most of the Hebrew papers in Palestine published heated articles and manifestos, some of which were blatantly worded, that denounced Weltsch for what they regarded as a malicious attempt by a controversial figure, and questionable Zionist, to damage the Hebrew identity of the nascent polity. After the storm had passed, Gershom Schocken, editor of the Hebrew newspaper Ha-Arets, invited Weltsch, in 1939, to become a regular commentator on international affairs. In 1946, Weltsch became the paper’s London correspondent. From that time until his return to Jerusalem in 1978, he made a substantial contribution to the newspaper as a political journalist, analyzing politics and even producing critical book reviews. Suggested Reading

Hillel J. Kieval, The Making of Czech Jewry: National Conflict and Jewish Society in Bohemia, 1870–1918 (New York, 1988); Hagit Lavsky, Before Catastrophe: The Distinctive Path of German Zionism (Detroit, 1996); Herbert A. Strauss, “Robert Weltsch und die Jüdische Rundschau,” in Berlin und der Prager Kreis, ed. Margarita Pazi and Hans Dieter Zimmermann, pp. 31–43 (Würzburg, 1991); Robert Weltsch, Be-Naftule ha-zemanim (Jerusalem, 1981). Author

Dimitry Shumsky Translation

Translated from Hebrew by Rami Hann

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JUDr. Robert Weltsch's Timeline

June 20, 1891
Prague, Hlavní město Praha, Hlavní město Praha, Czech Republic
February 10, 1921
December 22, 1982
Age 91
Jerusalem, Israel