Prague (Aug. 31)
A native of Germany was being sought today and police, using blood-hounds, were searching the forests near Marienbad for a second man believed to be one of the murderers of Professor Theodor Lessing, famous German-Jewish philosopher and refugee from Nazi Germany, who was assassinated at his Marienbad villa this morning.
Police definitely established the fact that two men fired one shot each through the window of Professor Lessing’s bedroom as he lay sleeping. Both shots found their mark in his head. Professor Lessing was alone in the room, his wife having been in another part of the house.
Max Eckert, a native of Germany, was the object of an intensive search when blood-hounds led police to the village of Schanz, where Eckert lived, and where the ladder employed by the assassins was found to have come from. Witnesses also told the police that Eckert had been discussing the murder with German Nazis whose names were unknown.
Eckert was believed to have fled to Germany by automobile from Marienbad, which is only twenty minutes from the frontier. A motor patrol was sent out to watch the frontier and prevent any unauthorized crossings.
HAD BEEN WARNED
Twenty Nazis, arrested in Marienbad today in connection with the murder, were freed after they had established alibis.
Professor Lessing, who was sixty-one years old and a bitter foe of the Nazi regime, had received letters threatening his life three weeks ago. the Prague press stated this afternoon on the authority of a former guest of the noted scholar and his wife. One of the letters warned him he would be dead within a month. The assassination followed a venomous attack on Professor Lessing in the Voelkischer Beobachter, Hitler’s own newspaper, last Sunday.
News of the murder dismayed the Eighteenth World Zionist Congress now in session here and came as a great shock to the delegates. Professor Lessing, who had been a member of the German Poale Zion, Zionist labor group, had been an honored guest and participant in the work of the Congress. He had been invited to sit with the presiding officers of the Congress on the platform.
Professor Lessing was to have been received by President Masaryk this week to discuss questions bearing on the Jewish situation in Germany. He had recently completed a lecture tour throughout Czecholovakia in which he spoke on the position of the Jews.
The Ministry of the Interior informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that frontier guards had been increased to prevent the escape of the assassins to Germany. If it is proven that the murderers came from Germany or escaped to Germany, the ministry stated, a strong protest will be lodged with the German Government.
FRIEND, HERE, WEEPS AT NEWS
Professor Alfons Goldschmidt, distinguished German-Jewish political scientist, who arrived in New York Tuesday, broke down and wept yesterday when informed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that his friend and colleague of many years standing, Professor Theodor Lessing, had been assassinated in Prague, presumably by Nazi killers.
“It is a great shock,” said Professor Goldschmidt. “I knew him well. He was one of the active workers in the pacifist movement in Germany. He represented German idealistic philosophy at its best, one of the finest and gentlest types who ever wrote on the subject. He was a righteous man and this was acknowledged by all.
“His love for mankind motivated his whole life. It is well known that for the past ten years his path was literally a way of sorrow. He was persecuted as few men have been, for qualities that would have endeared him anywhere else in the world. This hero of humanity lived in poverty all his life. Now he is dead at the hands of an assassin.”
A PACIFIST STORM CENTER
Theodor Lessing, who had been Professor of Philosophy at the Hanover Technical College and storm center of German educational circles, was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1872 and was educated at Hanover and Hamelin.
He was well known in Germany for his pacifist views and for his opposition to all reactionary forces in German life. His views brought him into continual conflict with the authorities and with the militant student youth, who, imbued with the spirit of nationalism, refused to sit in his classrooms and finally forced the authorities to dismiss him from his post.
During the election of 1925, Professor Lessing published an attack on President Von Hindenburg and followed this with a series of articles in which he attacked the German militarists and reactionaries. The students staged a series of riots against Professor Lessing. At first he was supported by his superiors but as Nazi influence grew, his position became intolerable and he was forced out, and with the triumph of Hitlerism he fled from Germany to Czechoslovakia.
In his youth Professor Lessing was converted to Christianity, but in 1900, as a result of an interest in the. Zionist movement, he returned to the Jewish faith. His wife, a descendant of the Christian Prussian nobility, also joined the Jewish faith.
Professor Lessing was a prolific author, writing on many subjects outside the field of philosophy. As a young man he wrote many volumes of poetry. Later he wrote on Nietzsche, Wagner and Schopenhauer.