Jakob Klatzkin

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Jakob Klatzkin (* probably: October 3, 1882 in Berjosa , Grodno Gouvernement , Russian Empire ; † probably: March 26, 1948 in Vevey , Switzerland ; Name also: Jacob / Jakov / Yakov / Jakub Klaczkin , Russian Яков Клачкин , Hebrew יעקב קלצקין) was a Zionist philosophical writer and publicist.


Jakob Klatzkin was a son of the rabbi Elijahu Klatzkin (Elija ben Naftali Herz Klatzkin, * 1852 Oshpol, † 1932 Jerusalem), who worked in Marijampolė and Lublin and was one of the most important rabbinical authorities of his time.

There are different information about Jakob Klatzkin's life data in various sources. Schoeps cites March 10, 1882 as the date of birth, Tetzlaff 1892 (unlikely); New York is also given as the place of death ( Schoeps ; Tetzlaff ), and March 28th ( Schoeps ) as the day . According to new family history sources, the place of death Vevey can be assumed ("Klatzkin returned to Switzerland and died there").

Klatzkin studied philosophy with Hermann Cohen in Marburg from around 1900 , but quickly moved away from him and approached positions that Baruch Spinoza (Klatzkin translated his ethics into Hebrew), and Bergson much later, in an anti-intellectual and vitalist form , were to represent.

From 1909 to 1911 Klatzkin published the Zionist organ Die Welt , from 1912 to 1915 the Freie Zionistische Blätter (not to be confused with the "radical Zionist" publications of the same name that Klatzkin published together with N. Goldmann over a few months of 1921) .

Klatzkin founded Eschkol-Verlag together with Nachum Goldmann in Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1923 , was (1927–1934) the founder and (together with N. Goldmann and Ismar Elbogen ) editor of the Encyclopaedia Judaica and also of its parallel Hebrew edition (ten German volumes, two Hebrew Volumes; the ambitious company was forced to stop by the National Socialists ). He gave u. a. also the Thesaurus Philosophicus Linguae Hebraicae (4 volumes, 1926 ff.) and thus earned a lasting contribution to the new Hebrew philosophy and the development of its own specialist terminology.

Klatzkin was a radical Galut denier who saw the complete downfall of the Jews outside of Palestine, only recognized territory and factual power, but regarded cultural, spiritual aspects of Judaism or even a (harmful) belief in election as completely irrelevant.

After the handover of power to the National Socialists in 1933 he fled to Switzerland and in 1941 to the USA, where he worked at the College of Jewish Studies in Chicago.

In academic circles in Israel, he has hardly received any recognition for his work to this day.

Fonts (selection)

Hebrew Literature in Transcription.

  • otzar munahim ha-philosophim (philosophical terms, 4 volumes, published in Berlin).
  • mischnat rischonim (philosophical anthology, published in Berlin).
  • shkijatahajim (philosophical discussions; published in Berlin).
  • trumim, to dead (posthumous).
  • mishnat achonim (posthumous).
  • tavim (posthumous).
  • Problems of Modern Judaism. Berlin 1918 (historically influential reflection of his Zionist positions).
    • Crisis and decision in Judaism. Berlin 1921 (2nd edition)
  • Hermann Cohen. Berlin 1919.
  • Baruch Spinoza . Berlin 1923
  • The drive for knowledge as the principle of life and death. Zurich 1935.


  • Walter Tetzlaff: 2000 short biographies of important German Jews of the 20th century. Askania, Lindhorst 1982, ISBN 3-921730-10-4 , p. 176.
  • Julius Hans Schoeps (Ed.): New Lexicon of Judaism. Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh / Munich 1992, ISBN 3-570-09877-X , p. 261.
  • Nahum Goldmann: statesman without a state. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1970, p. 102 f. (regarding Zionism and Encyclopaedia Judaica)
  • Klatzkin, Jakob. In: Lexicon of German-Jewish Authors . Volume 14: Kest – Kulk. Edited by the Bibliographia Judaica archive. Saur, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-598-22694-2 , pp. 87-100.

Web links

Wikisource: Jakob Klatzkin  - Sources and full texts