Baron de Hirsch, founder of the Jewish Colonization Association, was in agreement with Dr. Herzl’s basic idea that the Jews should establish a country of their own, but he did not join him in his plans only because Dr. Herzl had bound himself to Palestine as the place of Jewish settlement, Baron de Hirsch’s special sleeping-car attendant, Husserl, declares in the “Wiener Journal,” reporting a conversation on the Jewish question which he had had with Baron de Hirsch in 1895, following Baron de Hirsch’s conversations on the subject with Dr. Herzl, and with the Grand Duke Sergius during his journey to Rome.
Baron de Hirsch, although in agreement with Dr. Herzl, he states, considered the selection of Palestine inadvised, because of the big sea of Arab population in Palestine and the adjoining countries which he believed would bring about the failure of any Jewish settlement scheme in Palestine. The Jews, he felt, would always remain a minority people in Palestine, without being able to become self-governing. He therefore took the view that it was not desirable that the Jews should leave the countries in which they were resident. But if Dr. Herzl would succeed in finding an unpopulated country where Jewish self-government would be possible, he said, I am ready to give my whole fortune in order to bring about the realization of his idea.
Dr. Herzl had his interview with Baron de Hirsch in May 1895. Less than a year after-on April 21, 1896-Baron de Hirsch died. Soon after the interview. Dr. Herzl wrote a long letter to Baron de Hirsch, explaining his ideas. In this letter he wrote: “I want to create a national loan for the Jews. Will you pledge yourself to contribute 50 million marks when I have raised the first hundred million? What are ten million marks for the Jews? You are richer than the French in 1871, and how many Jews were among them! Jewish money is found in vast quantities for a Chinese loan, for negro railways in Africa, for the most adventurous enterprises-and for the most profound, immediate, torturing need of the Jews themselves is none to be found?”
A few days later, Dr. Herzl wrote in his diary: “Hirsch-eight days ago the centre of my plan-is today reduced to a quantite absolument negligeable.”
On July 5, 1895, Baron de Hirsch wrote to Dr. Herzl from London, acknowledging his letter and saying that he would be delighted to see him when he returned to Paris. To this Dr. Herzl replied: “For the Jews I will still attempt to do something-with the Jews nothing. If I could believe that anyone would understand my ideas, it was you. From the other Jews I can expect still less.”
On hearing of Baron de Hirsch’s (Continued on Page 4)
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.