Tom Segev

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Tom Segev (2005)

Tom Segev (born March 1, 1945 in Jerusalem , League of Nations mandate for Palestine ) is an Israeli historian and journalist. He is assigned to the loose group “ New Historians ” who have started a re-evaluation of the history of Zionism and the Land of Israel.

Live and act

Segev's parents fled their native Germany in 1933 and settled in Palestine in August 1935 . His father Heinz Schwerin was an architect of Jewish descent, his mother Ricarda Schwerin (née Meltzer) was a photographer. Both were communists and atheists. They met as a student at the Bauhaus in Dessau, but in 1932 they were expelled from the school because of “communist activities”. Heinz Schwerin died in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 as a fighter for the Hagana as a result of a fall. Segev's sister is the architect and former member of the Bundestag Jutta Schwerin , who was born in 1941 .

Tom Segev studied history and political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and received his doctorate from Boston University with a thesis on concentration camp commanders .

In the 1970s he worked as a Germany correspondent for the Israeli daily Maariw in Bonn . Segev is now a columnist for Haaretz , one of the major Israeli newspapers, and has published several books with which he became internationally known.

In particular, his book The Seventh Million , in which Segev deals with the Jews in Palestine at the time of World War II , has been the subject of controversy. The central theme is Segev's thesis that the Jews in Palestine were more interested in creating their own state than in saving European Jews. This and his criticism of David Ben-Gurion sparked sharp reactions in Israel.

In his study Once Upon a Time a Palestine he examines the history of Palestine under British rule. He shows that Jewish and Arab nationalism at that time inevitably meant that the two groups could not live together without conflict. He also points to a Prozionist attitude of the mandate power Great Britain, as it was rather undervalued in the current literature. According to Segev, the Arab-Palestinian nationalists made the mistake of stiffening themselves out of annoyance at the alleged unequal treatment of the British into a complete rejection of any cooperation with the Zionists and, in the run-up to the end of the British mandate, sought help from neighboring Arab states leave what eventually cost them an independent state.

In his book 1967 , Segev deals with the Six Day War . It was published in German in 2007. His core thesis here is that, from a purely military point of view, there was no existential threat to Israel in the run-up to the war. Segev also doubts that the Arab neighbors really attacked Israel. However, in large parts of Israeli society there was an authentic fear of annihilation caused by the threats and military deployment of Egypt and Syria. This increased the political pressure on the then government so much that a preventive attack was finally carried out. The Jordanian army's attack on West Jerusalem gave Israel a welcome reason to conquer East Jerusalem. The occupation of East Jerusalem was not specifically planned politically, but was always longed for.


(in German translation)

  • The soldiers of evil. On the history of the concentration camp commanders. Translation from the American Bernhard Schmid. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1992, ISBN 3-499-18826-0 . Boston, Univ., Diss., 1977
  • The seventh million. The Holocaust and Israel's Politics of Remembrance. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1995, ISBN 3-498-06244-1 .
  • Elvis in Jerusalem. The modern Jewish society. Siedler, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-88680-766-5 .
  • Once upon a time there was a Palestine. Jews and Arabs before the founding of the state of Israel. Siedler, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-88680-805-X .
  • 1967. Israel's second birth. Siedler, Munich 2007, ISBN 3-88680-767-3 .
  • The first Israelis. The beginnings of the Jewish state (original title: 1949, the First Israelis , translated by Helmut Dierlamm and Hans Freundl), Siedler, Munich 2008, pp. 125–129, ISBN 978-3-570-55113-4 .
  • Simon Wiesenthal. The biography . Translation from Hebrew by Markus Lemke . Siedler, Munich 2010, ISBN 3-88680-858-0 .
  • David Ben Gurion: a state at all costs . Translation from Hebrew by Ruth Achlama . Siedler, Munich 2018, ISBN 978-3-8275-0020-5 .

Articles in magazines Segev writes regularly in Aufbau , Zurich, with seven articles since 2006, e. B .:

  • Look back in anger. A look into the future after the Palestinian elections, with a lesson from the past. In: Structure. Volume 71, issue 1, February 1, 2006.
  • Karl Pfeifer, Tom Segev (Interview): “Today democracy is endangered.” The Israeli historian, who has just published a comprehensive biography of Simon Wiesenthal, defends ... the criticism of current Israeli politics. In: jungle. Supplement to jungle world , No. 40, October 7, 2010, p. 22 f. (Readable online; with a short review of the book).



  • Rupert Neudeck : "They thought they had won". Tom Segev's account of the Six Day War of 1967. In: Orientation. No. 22, November 30, 2007.
  • Lorenz Jäger : Counter Stories. The Israeli historian Tom Segev turns seventy. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . February 28, 2015, No. 50, p. 14.

Web links

Commons : Tom Segev  - collection of images, videos and audio files



  1. ^ Renata Schmidtkunz: Design: Back to Dessau. In: Jüdische Allgemeine . July 8, 2013, accessed July 29, 2015
  2. ^ Peace Prize for Israeli Historians. (No longer available online.) Frankfurter Neue Presse, December 7, 2015, formerly in the original ; Retrieved July 5, 2017 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /