Theodor Herzl

The Visionary of the State

Benjamin Zeev Theodor Herzl (1860 – 1904) was a Jewish journalist; jurist, writer, and statesman. He was born in Budapest and was the developer of the idea of ​​political Zionism and founder of Zionism as an institutionalized national-political movement. In the Zionist movement, and later among the Jewish population in the Land of Israel and around the world; as well as in literature; art, and research, he was awarded the title “The visionary of the State of Israel”. And it’s true that in many ways than one, Herzl was some kind of a modern prophet. 

From the times of the First Zionist Congress in 1897 until Herzl’s death; the Zionist movement became a political and functional, dynamic, and significant movement. Herzl’s ideas found a home among European Jewry and reached Jewish communities all over the world. The support of the masses of Jews for the ideas of Zionism influenced the increase in the waves of immigration to the Land of Israel; it was this that ultimately enabled the establishment of the State of Israel.

Theodor Herzl: His Early Life 

Theodor Herzl was born and lived as a child in a house near the Great Synagogue of the Neolog community in Budapest; whose construction was completed in 1859. His father was one of the worshipers there. Herzl first attended a Jewish elementary school, and in 1869 was transferred to a real public gymnasium. Then in Vienna, the family lived in a large apartment in the second district, which was a wealthy residential area.  In October 1878, Herzl enrolled in law at the University of Vienna. 

Also, by this time Herzl had read, in addition to German; French; Italian; and English, and had a good command of Hungarian, Latin, and Greek. Depending on the taste of the period and place, he was keen on the music of Richard Wagner. In January 1880 he underwent his first medical examination in the Army Recruitment Committee, where he was found healthy and fit. In the second examination, however, in December 1880; the decision was changed and he was found to be “unfit for military field service at this time,” without specifying the reason for the rejection. During this time Herzl’s best friend was Heinrich Kana, the only close friend he had all his life.

Theodor Herzl: The Dreyfus Trial, 1894–1895

As part of his work as a reporter for the newspaper “Neue Freie Presse”  Herzl covered the Dreyfus trial as an emissary in Paris. Although Herzl did not initially believe in Dreyfus’ innocence. But later became increasingly convinced that Dreyfus was innocent. He was present in the courtroom when the verdict was handed down in which Dreyfus was declared guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Then two weeks later, he was among the number of journalists allowed to enter the Great Square where Dreyfus’ public humiliation ceremony took place. 

Dreyfus’ trial and humiliation may not have planted in Herzl’s mind the idea of ​​establishing an independent Jewish state; but they were the last straw. Herzl has now decided to lead a global action for the Jews; and the rise of anti-Semites in other parts of Europe has also strengthened his decision. In February 1895, demands were made in the Austrian parliament for the expulsion of all Jews from Austria and the confiscation of their property. The city council of Vienna had 56 anti-Semites. Antisemitism intensified at both the National Assembly in France and the Reichstag in Germany. Herzl came to the conclusion that the Jews must leave Europe.

He decided that the world should find a suitable territory and negotiate Jewish sovereignty over it. The Jewish immigration to it will be made in an organized; open and large-scale manner; with the full consent of the current states of residence of the Jews. Everything should be ready for immigrants upon arrival, housing, employment and educational institutions. Their departure will be funded by a global Jewish lender.

Theodor Herzl and Foundation of the Zionist Movement 

Theodor Herzl began to take shape in the Zionist-political idea, which was also influenced by the rise of the national consciousness of various peoples prevalent in the Austro-Hungarian Empire during this period. Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, and other groups sought to emphasize their unique ethnic identity within the multinational empire. Herzl now completed two cycles in his life: the transition from German nationalism to cosmopolitanism and from cosmopolitanism to Jewish nationalism. He decided to “write a book for the benefit of the Jews”

In 1895, Herzl began his attempts to persuade wealthy Jews to support the institutionalized Zionist movement under his leadership. In May, he turned to the Jewish philanthropist and one of the richest men in the world, Baron Hirsch, with the aim of financing the exodus of European Jews. Herzl prepared a 22-page memo, through which he presented his plan. But the meeting was a failure. Herzl was tense and aggressive and without sufficient knowledge of Hirsch’s actions. He attacked his experiments in Argentina, where only 6,000 Jews lived in the colonies he established through the YCA, claiming that he was creating a population of beggars. 

Herzl decided to turn to the Rothschild family for help in establishing the “Jewish Society”; which would be responsible for negotiating the purchase of land and organizing the mass transfer of immigrants; and in fact, forming the nucleus of the new government. The Rothschild family was to raise for this purpose its prestige and connections in the world and especially its money: for a billion francs to donate to the national lender, one of its sons would be the first to head the new republic.

Theodor Herzl: His Vision About the State 

According to a memorandum Herzl Wrote, the Land of Israel is not suitable as the new territory. Because it is too close to Europe and the new state must be isolated from the social and military storms of the continent. Besides, most Jews have become accustomed to a different climate from that of the East. The country of choice will be chosen by a committee of geographers and social scientists. The memorandum spoke on the nature of the economic system and detailed the arrangements of government, military, labor and culture. The memorandum stated that the new state would not be a theocracy, because “religion unites us, science makes us free”; And that its language will not be Hebrew. 

Meanwhile, Herzl wrote a letter to Otto von Bismarck, the former German chancellor, in which he told him about his plan. He then wrote to Albert von Rothschild, head of the family’s Viennese branch. He informed him of his intention to turn to the German emperor and asked him to serve as a witness to his good intentions. Neither Bismarck nor Rothschild responded to him. Bismarck told one of his acquaintances that Herzl’s plan was a danger to both Germany and the Jews. 

Theodor Herzl: Der Judenstat (The Jewish State)

In 1896, Herzl published the 68-page pamphlet, entitled “The State of the Jews: An Attempt at a Modern Solution to the Question of the Jews.” In his book, Herzl proposed a practical solution to the problem of the Jews and Europe’s inability to solve it. He stressed that international and legal recognition of the rights of the Jewish people over his own state; which could be established in Argentina or Israel, must be achieved. 

No reputable publisher wanted to publish the book, and Herzl published it at a small bookseller in Vienna. On January 17, 1896, a short summary of the book was published in the Jewish Chronicle of London. The editors of the newspaper “Neue Freie Presse” panicked because Herzl was identified in the “Chronicle” as the editor-in-chief of the Viennese newspaper. Following this, Herzl was pressured to delay the printing of the book, but Herzl refused to wait. Ultimatley, the book received much publicity after its publication; but in most cases received ridicule and negative reviews.

The book “The State of the Jews” formed the basis of the current of political Zionism; whose supporters believed that international and legal recognition (by charter) of the rights of the Jewish people over the Land of Israel should be achieved before the actual settlement – a political arrangement that guarantees Jews’ right to land; and only after guarantees Legality and political rights to settlement; it will be possible to start immigration (immigration). This opinion of Herzl was the opposite of the “practical Zionism” of the “Lovers of Zion” led by Ussishkin; which operated by immigrating to Eretz Israel and establishing settlement facts.

The Appeal To the German Emperor and His Trip to Constantinople, 1896

Herzl tried to find ways to be interviewed by the German Emperor Wilhelm II, who headed the German Empire. He planned to ask the emperor to exercise his influence over the Ottoman sultan in favor of granting a charter to settle Jews in Israel. The Zionist movement will donate money to the Ottoman Empire to help deal with the Empire’s debts to European countries, and in return, the Land of Israel will be leased to the Jews.

Herzl spoke with the Grand Vizier (Prime Minister) Khalil Rifat Paha at the sublime Porte Palace. He explained his proposal and added that in exchange for the Ottoman Empire’s relinquishment of the Land of Israel, the Jews were also willing to pay an annual tax. The Vizier promised to report the call to the Sultan. Herzl’s proposal was not unusual in the 19th century. States used to exchange; buy; sell, lease and lease land. Only 18 years earlier, England had leased Cyprus from the Ottomans. Herzl now preferred Israel to Argentina; not only because the veteran Zionists wanted it; but also because he thought a deal could be made with the Turks.

Although Herzl was not accepted by the Sultan, he believed that his trip to Constantinople was a “brilliant success”. The anxiety that would attack him in the face of Rami-Ma’aleh also began to subside. 

Theodor Herzl: The First Zionist Congress 1897

Herzl created a new phenomenon in European politics – an international national movement. On August 1, 1896 he wrote to David Wolfson that he was interested in convening a “General Zionist Congress” of all European countries. At the same time, he instructed to establish ties with the Jewish community in the United States. Herzl rented an office in central Vienna and set up a team to coordinate international activities. He financed the expenses out of his own pocket. Due to the caution of the wealthy Jews in London, Herzl ordered to establish Zionist youth clubs and Zionist women’s associations there. Herzl made the practical preparations for the Zionist Congress almost alone, and in the mornings he would ride his bicycle to town to work for the newspaper. In early April 1897, he circulated the first circular inviting organizations and individuals to register to participate in Congress. 

In order to unite all the Zionist forces, and in order to gain the cooperation of “The Lovers of Zion”, Herzl convened a World Zionist Congress in 1897. Herzl planned to hold the first Zionist Congress in Munich; but the city’s Jews objected, claiming that it endangered their security because their patriotism would be called into question. The heads of the community in the city mobilized both the Reform and Orthodox rabbinates in Germany and provoked a protest campaign throughout the country. As a result, Herzl moved the Congress to Basel, Switzerland.

Opening Ceremony of the First Zionist Congress 1897

At the opening ceremony of the Congress, Herzl was greeted with stormy applause and found it difficult to begin his speech because the applause intensified each time he opened his mouth. The applause lasted about 15 minutes and in the hall; there were cries of “Long live the king!”. In his speech, Herzl said, “We want to lay the cornerstone for a house where the Jewish people will one day live” and “Zionism is our return to Judaism even before we return to the Land of the Jews.”

Herzl attacked the infiltration of the Jews into the Land of Israel, claiming: “If anyone thinks that the Jews can sneak into their ancestral land, he is misleading himself or others. There is no place in the world where the Jews will watch more quickly than in their historical homeland.” Herzl was unanimously elected President of Congress. In committee deliberations, he served as chairman. He conducted one of the meetings for 21 consecutive hours.

The Zionist Congress was a public gathering of representatives of Zionist Jews from various countries. Primarily designed to create an infrastructure that would bring together supporters of its programs; and form the basis for the expansion of the Zionist movement toward an organized political movement. Also, it is intended to be the institution of legislation and decision-making of the Zionist movement.

Theodor Herzl: The Approval of the Basel Plan 

At the convening of the Congress, the establishment of the Zionist organizations within its framework, and the propaganda for the Zionist idea that led to it; Herzl laid the foundation for all the political systems of the Zionist movement. Furthermore, the First Congress approved the Basel Plan; which called for the establishment of a home for Jews in the Land of Israel with the consent of the countries of the world, and on its initiative, the World Zionist Organization was established as an executive body of the Zionist movement.

A few days after his return to Vienna, Herzl wrote in his diary about the convening of the First Congress:

“If I’d describe the Basel Congress in one phrase, which I will take care not to think in public, it is this: In Basel, I founded the Jewish state. If I say it out loud today, I will be answered with general laughter. Maybe in five years, certainly in fifty years, everyone will admit it.”

Benjamin Theodor Herzl’s, Personal Diary

Theodor Herzl: His Visit Palestine, 1898

On October 26, members of the Zionist delegation reached the port of Jaffa, a heatwave was hitting the Land. Herzl had a high fever and difficulty breathing. He fell on the ship’s ramp and injured his leg. The news of his journey preceded his arrival. Several Jewish settlers identified him in the port and in the Arab market. In fact, the rumor that the “King of the Jews” had arrived. On the occasion of Herzl’s arrival, Mendel Kramer, a Jewish agent of the Turkish secret police; was summoned from Constantinople; who followed him throughout his stay in Israel and carried with him a signed order for his imprisonment, intended to use the first opportunity to deviate from the norm.

An hour after they went down to the shore, they managed to get rid of the dangerous police officer and went out in a carriage to the Mikve Israel agricultural school; where Herzl talked to the principal and the students. From there they continued to the Rishon Lezion colony, where Herzl was received by Baron Rothschild’s official, who was embarrassed by his fear of his master’s reaction. On the other hand, the young peasants accepted Herzl as a hero.

Visits the Colony Ness Ziona and Other Colonies 

The next morning the expedition continued south and visited three more colonies. In all the colonies visited by the members of the delegation, the residents applauded them. The elders greeted Herzl with turnips and salt and wine, and the children sang Hebrew songs and exclaimed, “Heil, Herzl, President of the Jewish State!” In “Nachlat Reuven” (today Ness Ziona), Herzl met with the founder of the colony, Reuven Lerer, at his home. He heard about the state of the colony, tasted honey, and took with him citrons and oranges. He also visited the hut of Golda Miloslavsky, the colony’s founder, from whom he was very impressed. 

In Ekron (Mazkeret Batya), the elders of the colony waited for him by the side of the road with Torah scrolls in their hands and some even kissed his footprints on the ground. In each of the places he gave a short speech in German. Not everyone understood his words, but Herzl and his work were proof for the settlers that they were pioneers of the mass movement. The delegation then returned to Jaffa. Although it passed through about a dozen Arab villages (in addition to the city of Jaffa); there is only one mention of the Arab population in Herzl’s descriptions of his journey in the Land of Israel. 

The Meeting With the German Emperor at Mikveh Israel, 1898

On the afternoon of October 27, the German emperor also arrived in Jaffa and in his entourage; who passed in a chariot through the streets of Jaffa and called out to passersby: “The Messiah is coming!” Herzl asked him to inform the emperor’s court minister of his arrival; and that he would wait for him the next day at the gates of Mikve Israel. At night, Herzl had a severe fever and the blow to his leg was very painful. The next morning he left with great difficulty, in the heavy heat, for Mikve Israel. Baron Rothschild’s officials also waited for the emperor at the gate and the school principal asked Herzl not to present it to the emperor; so that the event would not look like a Zionist demonstration, which could harm the school. 

The emperor arrived in his convoy mounted on a white horse. He spotted Herzl in the distance and stopped his horse at once, causing a stir among the riders and one of the courtiers fell off his horse. The emperor asked Herzl how he was and had a light conversation with him that lasted several minutes; at the end of which they shook hands; the emperor continued on his way to Jerusalem and the Zionist delegation returned to Jaffa. The image documenting this meeting, in which the emperor is seen sitting on a horse and talking to Herzl, is in fact a photomontage image, created following a malfunction in the photograph of the original image that commemorated the meeting.

Theodor Herzl Visits Jerusalem, 1898

In the afternoon, the Zionist delegation boarded a train to Jerusalem. Herzl fevered and limped on his sore leg. The train car was narrow and cramped and the heat in it was very heavy. It was Saturday night and the train was delayed to leave. The journey took almost four hours and by the time the train arrived in Jerusalem, it was already dark.

Herzl’s heat rose and he wanted to rent a carriage, but due to the sanctity of the Sabbath, his friends insisted on walking for half an hour to the hotel. Herzl enters Jerusalem with the help of a cane; with his other hand supported by Wolfson’s arm. David Moshe Shuv; who accompanied Herzl, testified that he explained to him that a sick person does not violate the Sabbath. But Herzl refused to go and said: “This is my first time in Jerusalem, the Holy City, I do not want to use a carriage.” No reception was prepared for him in Jerusalem, and the city’s Rabbis did not agree to meet him at all. Herzl stayed at the Hotel Jerusalem (Kaminitz Hotel); but due to lack of space, he had to move to the Stern House the next day. 

The next day Herzl finished his speech and sent the full text to the Imperial Court Minister. Herzl’s initial impression of Jerusalem was not positive. In his diary, he wrote:

“When you remember Jerusalem, not with the pleasure of your memory. Musty sediment of two thousand years of personal indifference, dark fanaticism, and filth prevail in your stinking alleys […] If a day comes and we have Jerusalem […] First of all I will do a thorough cleaning of it.”

Benjamin Theodor Herzl

Members of the delegation visited the Western Wall, but Herzl wrote that “no deep emotion” would arise in his sight. Herzl toured the streets of the Old City. In its exterior, it was “a typical small, partly ruined Oriental city; where here and their buds of resurrection begin to sprout; a city whose former majesty awns and its holiness is seen from every slit. But its present is sad, and desolation and desolation fill it.”

Theodor Herzl: The Meeting With the Emperor in Jerusalem

Five days after arriving in Jerusalem, Herzl was called to arrive at the emperor’s tent camp. He was received by a young diplomat who erased many passages in his speech. Including key sentences dealing with the revival of the Jewish settlement and the German sponsorship of the Zionist enterprise and demanded that he submit an amended version. The interview with the emperor is scheduled for the next day. Herzl was very careful about the appearance of the clothing details of the members of his delegation. The five rode in a chariot dressed in black evening suits in the midday heat to the emperor’s camp set up north of the Old City wall. A secretary of the emperor put them in a tent-lounge, where they were received by the emperor.

Herzl introduced the members of the delegation and Emperor Wilhelm saluted. Herzl read his amended speech:

“A delegation of the children of Israel addresses the emperor of Germany […] in a land that was the land of our ancestors. We are not bound to this holy land by any legitimate right. Many generations have come and gone since this land was the land of the Jews. But the dream is still alive […] it is still healing and healing in many hours of pain for our people.”

Benjamin Theodor Herzl

Herzl claimed that the land was “begging for people to revolt its ruins” while the Jews were “begging for a land that they could enslave,” and to that end, he was asking for the emperor’s help. He further claimed that “ the Zionist program will also assist the welfare of Turkey.

Herzl also promised: “Our idea will not infringe on any person’s religious rights or feelings.” The emperor responded sympathetically but reluctantly and refrained from announcing his support for the matter. Instead, he talked about the need for water. Herzl replied, “We can bring water to the land, it will cost billions,” and the emperor replied slyly: “Indeed, you have plenty of money.” The delegation submitted to German Emperor a gift, a photo album from the Jewish colonies in Eretz Israel and the interview ended.

Theodor Herzl Leaves Palestine 

In the afternoon, Herzl left for the Motza colony, where he greatly admired the courage and determination of Shmuel Broza and Neta Erez. Fearing for his life from the reaction of the Turks to his request for German protection in the Land of Israel; Herzl decided to leave it immediately. Before dawn, the Zionist delegation left Jerusalem. Herzl could not find a place on the ship to Alexandria and the delegation was forced to spend the night in Jaffa. In the morning he boarded a small English cargo ship that was about to set sail at night with an orange cargo.

He refused to get off the deck until nightfall and insisted on sailing on the rickety ship. Despite the opposition of his comrades. The members of the delegation sailed on an Italian luxury ship to Naples; where they were greatly disappointed. The German government issued an official announcement of the emperor’s tour of Jerusalem, in which Herzl’s interview with the emperor was presented as an event without any political significance. Herzl did not know then that the delegation had failed miserably.

Theodor Herzl Receives Criticism From Within

Herzl’s opponents in the Zionist movement took advantage of the failure of the delegation to the emperor to challenge his policy. Some argued that practical work was needed in the Land of Israel and not just fruitless diplomacy; It was alleged against him that he did not share with his friends in the Zionist administration; Some accused him of irresponsibility, that he did not understand the German emperor’s intention in Constantinople or that he even distorted the things he had heard there and before in Berlin. Herzl, however, could not refute these accusations because he refused to publish his conversation with the emperor in Constantinople and the promises he had received. He tried to renew the relationship with the German emperor, but it refused to accept him.

Theodor Herzl: Third and Fourth Zionist Congresses, 1899–1900

In August 1899, the Third Zionist Congress convened in Basel; culminating in criticism of Herzl’s German experience; which was blatant and aggressive. Herzl failed to silence the critics. He kept the secrecy he had promised the Germans because he still hoped to resume negotiations with them. Despite the criticism, he was re-elected head of the movement and the congress ended with thunderous cheers and shouts of “Next year in Jerusalem.” Since the chances of achieving the Land of Israel now seemed low to him; while masses of Jews needed immediate help, Herzl began to look for another land that could be reached more quickly. In early November he decided that if no progress was made with the Turks by the time of the Fourth Congress, he would influence and even force Congress to agree to some other country.

Theodor Herzl: Negotiations with the Ottoman Government, 1901

The conversation with the Sultan lasted over two hours. Herzl listened to the advice of Barry and refrained from uttering the words “Eretz Yisrael” or “Zionism.” He mentioned to the Sultan the story of Androcles and the Lion and claimed that as in the story, the Sultan has a thorn in the form of the national debt of the Ottoman Empire, which Herzl could take out. Herzl demanded complete secrecy and detailed his plan:

The Jews will buy the bonds of the Ottoman Empire in all the stock exchanges of Europe; the Sultan will repay them with a friendly gesture, and in the meantime, the empire will open its gates to the Jews who left the countries in which they are persecuted. The Sultan, on the other hand, made three wishes that he asked Herzl: to recommend an expert in finance and oil who could handle the revenues from the newly discovered oil fields in Baghdad; Help him urgently raise £ 1.5 million to cover last year’s deficit; assistance in the consolidation program of state debt through the creation of a new lender to repay the old lender. Herzl requested a detailed report on the state of the state’s finances to advise on the matter.

Theodor Herzl: The Ottoman Sultan Response, 1901

After several days of submitting his proposals and receiving the Sultan’s responses; the Sultan announced that the Jewish settlers would have to accept Ottoman citizenship, including military service, but “no mass settlement will be allowed, but scattered, not concentrated.” Herzl replied that he did not oppose the dispersal; but proposed the establishment of a “large land company … which would be allotted unprocessed land on which the Jews would settle. For example, in the Land of Israel.” The Sultan expressed interest in the proposal and gave Herzl a four-week stay, to prepare a detailed proposal. Herzl went to Paris to recruit the wealthy Jews, Rothschild again rejected his application and so did the YCA company, to which Baron Hirsch bequeathed ten million pounds.

Rothschild even declared in the Financial Times that there was no connection between him and Herzl’s movement. Herzl got into a “vicious circle”: there were rich people who were willing to donate money, but only if and when Herzl obtained the charter. But Herzl needed money first to get the charter. On June 2, 1901, Herzl wrote in his diary about the difficulties of acceptance and maneuvering between the royal houses of Europe and Asia and the atmosphere of distrust towards him.

Theodor Herzl Health Issues, 1901

On June 5, 1901, while hiking in the Boulogne Forest, Herzl suffered a heart attack and lost consciousness for a few moments. He then traveled to London and even there failed to obtain the money needed to open serious negotiations with the Turks. Due to the duty of secrecy imposed on him by the sultan’s men; he could not reveal what the sultan had already agreed to and thus persuade the rich to invest. At Lord Nathaniel Rothschild’s house; Herzl was an unwanted guest and he did not agree to receive him for a conversation. When Herzl saw that he was unable to raise money from the wealthy Jews.

Although Herzl’s slide was empty, many thought he was in control of huge budgets and was inundated with numerous charity requests. One of them came from a Jew in Płońsk; who asked him for help with the studies of his 16-year-old son, David Green (David Ben Gurion). Herzl sent letters to the Sultan, in which he wrote that he was busy making efforts to raise money for Turkey. But stressed that he could do much more once an Ottoman-Jewish development company was established.

He did not receive a reply to his letters and feared that they had been detained by corrupt courtiers. Therefore, he began to learn Turkish, so that next time he could speak to the Sultan directly. On the Sultan’s birthday, he sent him a congratulatory telegram, which this time was gratefully answered, but in the following months, he heard nothing more from Constantinople. In addition to his precarious health, he fell into a deep depression and had (again) thoughts of death.

Negotiations with the Sultan (February 1902)

On February 4, 1902, Herzl was invited to Constantinople. This time he conducted the negotiations openly as head of the Zionist movement. He proposed a Turkish-Jewish alliance in exchange for granting a charter: the Jews would pay Turkey’s debts and in return, they would be allowed to settle in the Land of Israel. The Sultan agreed to allow Jewish refugees to settle in the territories of the empire, provided they received Ottoman citizenship, anywhere except Israel. Herzl refused. 

Theodor Herzl Writes The Novel Altneuland (The Old New Land)  

In March and April 1902, Herzl completed the utopian novel “Altneuland”, which he wrote alternately over the past three years. Its plot takes place in the future, in 1923, after Zionism has already been fully realized. The motto “If You Will It – It Will Happen” appeared on the title page. The novel is meant to prove that Zionism is not just a dream, but achievable. Herzl wrote in it: “Patience is everything.” Many social utopias were written in the 19th century; but Altneuland is the only one written by an active politician. The novel symbolized a dramatic turning point in Herzl’s political thought and is a stark contrast to his previous work, “The State of the Jews.” It reflected a new development in Herzl’s conception, which distinguishes him from other nationalists in the 19th century.

In Altneuland, Herzl no longer supports a nation state, but a new society; different from the accepted frameworks of nationalism in Europe. The state is not Jewish, but cosmopolitan. The community is based on cooperative forms of voluntary association. The driving force behind it is mainly goodwill through social reforms: publicly owned land, and industries; newspapers, banks and all-inclusive stores cooperatively owned by workers and consumers. The new society has been careful not to repeat the industrialization mistakes made in Europe: cities are well-designed and equipped with an excellent mass transport system; A tunnel connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea for the purpose of generating electricity; Irrigation plants bloom in the desert; The working day is seven hours and women have the right to choose. 

Theodor Herzl Address to Lord Rothschild in London, June-July 1902

In June 1902, Herzl traveled to London to testify before a commission of inquiry that discussed the emigration of “poor foreigners,” that is, Jews from Russia and Romania who had escaped persecution in Eastern Europe. In the United Kingdom, there was opposition to the emigration of Jews from Eastern Europe to it; and the purpose of the commission was to restrict their entry into Britain by enacting administrative regulations. Lord Nathaniel Rothschild was the only Jewish member of the committee; but vehemently opposed Herzl’s invitation as a witness. But most committee members thought otherwise and invited him. Rothschild now asked to meet with Herzl before appearing on the committee, to instruct him. Before their meeting. However, Herzl was informed that his father had died and he immediately returned to Vienna.

The next day his father was buried in a temporary grave. Herzl did not buy a family tomb, because he believed that his father’s bones would soon be transferred to Eretz Israel. In early July he returned to England to meet with Rothschild and testify before the commission of inquiry. Rothschild told Herzl that Zionism was a mistake and that the great powers would never allow the Zionists to accept the Land of Israel; and asked him to guide what to say and what not to say to the committee, but Herzl replied that he would tell the committee what was good in his eyes. Which silences the cries of distress. ” After sitting down to lunch, which was also attended by Nathaniel’s two younger brothers, Alfred and Leopold; Rothschild changed his attitude toward Herzl and began to like him.

Theodor Herzl: Uganda Controversy at the Sixth Zionist Congress, 1903

On August 23, 1903, the Sixth Zionist Congress convened in Basel. The congress delegates were shocked at the change in Herzl’s appearance, who now looked tired, sick, wrinkled in the face and stooped. Before the opening of the Congress, he convened the Executive Committee for an early meeting, in which he reported to his members on the negotiations he had conducted with the Russian government. The Russian comrades were shocked to hear that Herzl shook the hand of the person responsible for the murder of the Jews of Chisinau, Flava, and were even more shocked when he reported on the British “Uganda Plan”.

The next morning he was received in Congress with stormy applause and delivered the opening speech. In his speech, he reviewed the recent disasters and the aggravation of the situation of the Jews, and said: “Let us save those who can still be saved.” He reported on the failure of negotiations with the Ottomans and negotiations with the British on the Sinai issue. And he put on the agenda of the Congress the British proposal regarding autonomy in Uganda. He stressed that the British government knew that the goal of Zionism was a return to Israel and that Uganda would serve as a “temporary site for settlement on a national basis.”

Theodor Herzl Vs Haim Weizmann

Herzl demanded that Congress accept the proposal and was met with a storm of applause. But an abyss opened up between the factions, which began consultations during the speeches. At a tumultuous meeting of the Russian faction, a young student Haim Weizmann sharply attacked Herzl; claiming that the British government would make a “better offer.” Some opponents of the Uganda plan have even declared a hunger strike. Although Nordau did not support the Uganda plan, he defended Herzl and said that Uganda would serve as a “night shelter” for the persecuted. In view of the fierce opposition and the threat of a split; a very moderate decision was put to the vote – only to send a delegation of experts to the proposed region in East Africa. 

Herzl saw the importance of the British proposal. Because it had British recognition of the Zionist movement and a commitment by the world power to solve the Jewish problem. On the other hand, personalities such as Menachem Ussishkin and others from Russia’s Zionists, including Haim Weizmann; argued that support for the proposal to send a research delegation was a vote against Israel, in which only a Jewish state could be established.

As a compromise between Herzl and his opponents, it was decided that the funding for the delegation would not be from the Zionist funds of the Jewish Settlement Treasury or the Jewish National Fund. Despite the controversy surrounding the proposal, it was eventually approved by a large majority. A storm broke out and while threatening to retire; the Russian members of the Executive Committee, “The Naysayers” left their seats on stage and demonstratively withdrew from the hall along with their supporters. Many of them cried. Hence this sixth Congress was called the “Congress of the Weepers”

Theodor Herzl His Premature Death 

Herzl suffered from poor health. He did not listen to the advice of his doctors. They advised him to rest, but he did not listen even though he suffered from symptoms of malaria; weakness; headaches; difficulty breathing; an irregular heartbeat, fainting and wheezing in the heart. On the advice of his doctors, he entered the sanatorium at Edlach on June 3, together with his wife. He started working again. But on July 1 he contracted pneumonia. He had a fever, his consciousness was vague; his body was shaking and he was bleeding in his cough. On July 2, he was visited by the Rev. Chler. Herzl asked him: “Peace be upon the land of Israel in my name. I gave the blood of my heart for my people.”

Herzl asked to see his mother and children and they were brought to him. Julie suffered a nervous breakdown and was taken out of the room. Herzl pointed to the students who were waiting for him in the garden outside and said to his doctor: “They are good and wonderful people, my people. You’ll see, one day they will enter the Promised Land!”

Herzl died on July 3, 1904, at 5:00 PM, of heart calcification, at the age of 44, less than 10 years after the beginning of his Zionist activities. The “Neue Freie Presse” published on its front page a long obituary praising Herzl as a writer and journalist; but mentioning his Zionist activities in only two short sentences. The liberal and Jewish press portrayed him as one of the great personalities of the 19th century. 

Theodor Herzl: His Will

Herzl wrote a will, in which he asked to be buried in a modest funeral; He also asked that no speeches be made about his grave at his funeral. In his will he wrote: “I want to be accompanied by the poorest class, no speeches and no flowers. I want to be buried in a metal coffin, in the tomb next to my father, to lie there until the Jewish people transfer my body to Israel.” Herzl’s coffin was moved to Vienna and placed in his study. Thousands of people came to the city by train from different countries in Europe. More than six thousand people attended the funeral, which lasted several hours. His son, Hans, said Kaddish and David Wolfson delivered a short obituary. He is buried in the cemetery of the Dobling, district of Vienna.

After his death, it became clear that he had spent all the dowry money of his wife Julia, and that Herzl’s family was left without adequate sources of income. His daughter Paulina was then 14 years old; his son Hans was 13 years old and his daughter Truda was 11. The institutions of the Zionist Organization, and the guardians he appointed; took care of the family economy and took care of his children’s education.

In his will, Herzl ordered that his friends David Wolfson; Moritz Richfeld and Johan Kremantzky be appointed guardians of his children; and that his children be buried next to him in the Land of Israel. However, the execution of the will was actually delayed for a long time. The admiration among the Jews increased after his death. Adoration of the elderly influenced the younger generations; and largely trained the consciousness of the pioneers of the Second and Third Aliya. 

Burial of Theodor Benjamin Zeev Herzl in Israel

In August 1949, at his request in his will, the bones of Herzl, his parents, and his sister were transferred from the Vienna cemetery to Jerusalem; according to a law passed in the Knesset on August 10, 1949. His coffin and coffins of his relatives were carried on the streets of Vienna by Israeli delegations To the “Seitenstetten” synagogue and then transferred to the airport and flown to Israel.

Herzl’s grave is set on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem; which was named after him. The state funeral was conducted by the military rabbinate. The burial ceremony was attended by representatives from all the settlements in the country who brought dirt from their settlements to lay on the grave. The tombstone on his grave was erected in 1960.


Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

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