Nachum Sokolov

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Nachum Sokolow around 1922

Nachum ben Josef Samuel Sokolow (also Nahum and Sokolof , Hebrew נחום סוקולוב; born January 10, 1859 in Wyszogród near Plozk , Russian Empire ; died May 17, 1936 in London ) was President of the World Zionist Organization , pioneer of modern Hebrew journalism and Hebrew writer.


Sokolow was born into a rabbinical family in Wyszogród in Poland (then the Russian Empire ). He was an accomplished linguist and spoke German, French, English, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish and Russian. At the age of 17 he began writing for the Hebrew newspaper HaTzefirah ("The Alarm") in Warsaw . He managed the unique feat of inspiring supporters from the most varied of camps, from secular intellectuals to anti- Haskala - Orthodox . He was given his own column and later became editor-in-chief and co-owner of the newspaper.

Although Sokolov wrote almost all of the articles for Ha-Tzefirah himself, he still had time and energy to devote himself to other projects. He contributed to various magazines, for a time edited a Polish newspaper ( Izraelita ) for the Jewish community in Warsaw and a Yiddish periodical. He wrote poems, stories and essays. Between 1885 and 1894, six volumes of his Hebrew annual HeAsif appeared , which had a great influence on the revival of Hebrew. From 1900 to 1906 he published another yearbook, Sefer HaSchana (Warsaw).

Sokolow got involved, although initially an opponent of "political" Zionism , since 1897 for Zionism, belonged to the Hebrew Literature Commission during the first Zionist congress (together with Elieser Ben Jehuda , Marcus Ehrenpreis , Achad Ha'am , Armand Kaminka ), was after Herzls death in 1905 Secretary of the Zionist organization in Cologne, edited temporarily the world , beyond that from him together with David Wolffsohn founded Hebrew central organ of the movement Haolam ( "the world"), and in 1906 the Secretary General of WZC. In the following years he toured Europe and North America (e.g. Constantinople with Wolffsohn in 1909) to fight for the Zionist cause. In 1911 he was elected to the "Engere Actions-Comité" at the 10th Zionist Congress in Basel (together with Otto Warburg , Schemarjahu Levin and Arthur Hantke ). At that time he moved to Berlin and stayed here until the beginning of the world war. As one of the main fighters for the rebirth of the Hebrew language, Sokolov was the first to speak Hebrew at a Zionist conference. On the basis of his application, the Hebrew language was also recognized as the official language of the organization.

When the First World War broke out , he had left Germany and finally came to London via Copenhagen, The Hague and Paris. After talks with Chaim Weizmann and Sokolow, the British Foreign Minister Balfour declared in the Balfour Declaration in 1917 that Great Britain agreed in principle to the establishment of a " national home " for the Jewish people in Palestine .

Sokolov negotiated with many leading political figures and succeeded in getting the Balfour Declaration approved by the governments of France and Italy. Sokolow has also negotiated repeatedly with the Vatican and was defeated by Pope Benedict XV in 1917 . received, to whom he could explain in detail the goals of the Zionist movement. During the peace negotiations, Sokolow became President of the Comité des Délégations Juives and participated in the recognition of Jewish minority rights in the various peace treaties. Expressions of approval from many governments (Poland, Romania, South Africa, even the American Parliament) for the establishment of the Jewish home in Palestine can be traced back directly to Sokolow's work.

1920–1931 Sokolow was president of the Zionist executive (forerunner of the Jewish Agency, ha-sochnut ha-jehudit , founded August 11, 1929), since 1921 president of all Zionist congresses, from 1931 (Weizmann resigned at the 17th Zionist congress in Basel because of the Passfield -Weissbuchs) until 1935 President of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) ; his predecessor and successor in this post was Chaim Weizmann. When Weizmann returned to office in 1935, Sokolow was appointed honorary president of the WZO. He became chairman of the newly formed cultural department, but did not receive sufficient funding to carry out his programs. So he returned to writing and raised money for Keren Hajessod .

Sokolov was a prolific writer and translator. His literary work is so extensive and covers so many different topics that his fellow writer Chaim Nachman Bialik was once prompted to remark that it would take three hundred camels to transport everything Sokolow had ever written to one place . His work includes a three-volume story of Baruch Spinoza and his time ( Baruch Spinoza usemanno , London 1929) as well as numerous other biographies. He translated Theodor Herzl's Zionist novel " Altneuland " into Hebrew under the title " Tel Aviv " ("Spring Hill") and was to a certain extent the namesake of the Israeli metropolis, the first Jewish city in modern Eretz Israel . In 1918 Nachum Sokolow published his "History of Zionism", a two-volume English study on the western roots of the Zionist idea (with greetings from the then French Foreign Minister Pichon and Lord Balfours , complete translation of the first volume by Stefan Hofer, the second volume by Lothar Hofmann) .

In 1956 Sokolov's bones were transferred to Jerusalem . The Israeli " Sokolow Prize " for literature and the Kibbutz Sde Nahum are named after him.

Further works by Sokolow (selection)

  • mekuze erez ("Fundamentals of the Globe", textbook of physical geography), Warsaw 1878
  • sin'at olam le'am olam (History of Anti-Semitism), Warsaw 1882
  • zaddik wenissgaw (historical novella about Jomtow Lipmann Heller ), Warsaw 1882
  • thorath sefath anglith , Warsaw 1882
  • erez chemda (on the geography of Palestine), Warsaw 1885
  • sefer sikkaron (bio-bibliographical lexicon of contemporary Jewish writers), Warsaw 1889
  • English language textbook (in Yiddish, 16th ed. 1904)
  • Selected Writings , Warsaw 1912
  • ha'ani hakibuzzi ("The Collective I"), New York 1930

Web links

Commons : Nachum Sokolow  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Sources / literature

  • Jewish Encyclopedia , 1901-1906, XI, 429
  • Sefer hajovel. Festschrift for the 25th anniversary of Sokolow as a writer , Warsaw 1904
  • Reisen , Lexikon ... , 1st edition 1914, II., 608 ff.
  • Ozar Yisrael , Vol. VII., Vienna 1924
  • Jewish Lexicon , Berlin 1927, Vol. IV./2, columns 485–487
  • Journalism Archives , July 8, 1928
  • Jüdische Rundschau , January 23, 1931
  • Salomon Wininger , Grosse Jüdische-Nationalbiographie , Czernowitz 1925–1936, Volume V., p. 559 ff.
  • John F. Oppenheimer (Red.) And a .: Lexicon of Judaism . 2nd Edition. Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh u. a. 1971, ISBN 3-570-05964-2 , col. 756.
  • Julius Hans Schoeps (Ed.): New Lexicon of Judaism. Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh / Munich 1992, ISBN 3-570-09877-X , p. 426.