Berlin (Dec. 19)
Eduard Bernstein, internationally famed Socialist theoretician and writer, contemporary of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, succumbed yesterday to natural causes at the age of eighty-three after an illness of three weeks.
Although he formally severed his connections with the Jewish Community in 1877, at the dictates of the Social-Democratic Party, he remained in his own words “a loyal and proud Jew”. In his later years he expressed regret that he had severed his connection, declaring that given the choice again, he would never leave the persecuted Jewish people. He was a firm friend of the Zionist movement and identified with the Poale Zion organization.
Until the last moment of his life, Herr Bernstein was in full possession of his faculties and active in political and social movements in which his career was projected.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday afternoon. The body will be cremated.
The news of his demise has brought widespread expressions of condolence. Hundreds of telegrams from abroad have been received at the home of Herr Bernstein and headquarters of the Social Democratic Party.
The funeral services will be broadcast over the Federal Radio station.
Otto Wels, president of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, laid a wreath of red carnations on the body this afternoon.
Herr Bernstein was the founder of the School known as “revisionism”, a school of Marxian thought which challenged the extreme doctrines of Karl
Marx. Herr Bernstein is credited with having influenced the international Socialist movement, with particular reference to Germany, more profoundly than any individual since Karl Marx. For twenty-three years Bernstein lived abroad, unable to return to Germany because of the rigid anti-Socialist laws of Bismark. From 1878 to 1890 he lived in Switzerland. In 1890 he was expelled from Switzerland and went to London where he remained until 1901 when he was permitted to return to Germany.
In a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, Herr Bernstein set forth his views on Jewry and Judaism as follows :
“When I left the Jewish Community, I did so in order to preserve Socialist Party discipline which at that time was recommending its members to leave their religious communities as a protest against the anti-Semitic race hatred which was then being preached by the notorious Dr. Stoecker, the Court Chaplain of the time, who was a founder of the German anti-Semitic movement.
“As a Jew who was a leader of the Socialist Party, and engaged in preaching to my Christian comrades that they should leave their churches, I had to be consistent and leave the Jewish community, although much to my regret and with a great deal of grief. Today I could in no circumstances leave the persecuted and oppressed Jewish Community. I have always fought for Jewish rights and I am working now to assist in the upbuilding of a Jewish home in Palestine which, however, must not be a national State constituted on chauvinistic lines in any way injurious to the Arab population. I am fighting together with the Poale Zion for the realization of their ideals and I declare myself in every way to be a Jew in the positive sense of the word.”
On his seventy-fifth birthday, Herr Bernstein described his early Jewish environment in an article written for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“My parents were both Jewish”, he wrote, “but members of the Reform Community, observing Sunday as their day of rest and they were not bound by the Jewish dietary laws. I had a cousin, Aaron Bernstein, a great man whom I always regarded with immense awe and affection. He was a founder and for many years editor and chief leader and writer of the “Berliner Volkszeitung”. He also wrote scientific works which won the admiration of scientists of the rank of Alexander von Humboldt. He was a practical scientist. In politics he was one of the leaders of the German Democratic movement and one of the first champions of the Jewish emancipation campaign in Germany.
In literature he wrote poems and novels which achieved great popularity in their time. But his chief interest was in the Jewish Reform Community of which he was one of the founders. He was for many years its preacher and he and Dr. Stern were the authors of the Prayer Book adopted by the Community. He was a fluent Hebrew writer and Biblical exegetist and he exercised a tremendous influence upon the course of my life.
“I never forgot that I was a Jew,” he declared.
For the greater part of his life, Herr Bernstein took no part in Jewish affairs. He was 74 years old when for the first time he took his stand on the platform of a Jewish meeting organized by the Committee for Promoting a Working Class Palestine. The building up of Palestine, he declared then, is a symbol of the progress of mankind and must be safeguarded against possible failure. Since then he gradually came very close to Jewish life and addressed many Jewish meetings.