Year 11; Modern History Assessment
Theodor Herzl is known for being the father of modern political Zionism. He was born in Pest to a Jewish family originally from Zemun, Austrian Empire. He was second child of Jeanette and Jakob Herzl, who were German-speaking, assimilated Jews.
Herzl had minimal interest in Judaism as a child, consistent with his parents’ lax adherence to the Jewish tradition. His mother relied more on German humanist Kultur than Jewish ethics. Instead of a Bar Mitzvah, Herzl’s thirteenth birthday was advertised a “confirmation”. To be sure, he grew up as a “thoroughly emancipated, anti-traditional, secular, would-be German boy” who dismissed all religion, and spoke of Judaism with “mocking cynicism.”
In 1878, after the death of his sister, Pauline, Herzl's family moved to Vienna, Austria-Hungary. There, Herzl studied law. After a brief legal career in Vienna and Salzburg, he devoted himself to journalism and literature, working as a correspondent for the Neue Freie Presse in Paris, occasionally making special trips to London and Istanbul. Later on, he became literary editor of Neue Freie Presse, and wrote several comedies and dramas for the Viennese stage.
As the Paris correspondent for Neue Freie Presse, Herzl followed the Dreyfus Affair, a notorious anti-Semitic incident in France in which a French Jewish army captain was falsely convicted of spying for Germany. He witnessed mass rallies in Paris following the Dreyfus trial where many chanted "Death to the Jews!" Herzl came to reject his early ideas regarding Jewish emancipation and assimilation, and to believe that the Jews must remove themselves from Europe and create their own state.
In June, 1895, he wrote in his diary: "In Paris, as I have said, I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism... Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to 'combat' anti-Semitism." It was at this time that he wrote his play "The New Ghetto", which shows the...