FOR many years past I have been intending to study the Zionist activities of Lucien Wolf and his relations with Theodor Herzl. But it seemed almost as if fate were against it. The research was beset by constant difficulties since it appears as though Lucien Wolf regarded his work for Zionism as a youthful aberration of which he did not wish ever to be reminded.
Three great men stood at the side of Theodor Herzl at the dawn of Political Zionism, but after some time all three denounced Political Zionism and became estranged from Herzl.
Chief Rabbi Dr. Moritz Guedemann of Vienna who, at the beginning was a sup? porter of Herzl and?like Lucien Wolf?later published an anti-Zionist pamphlet entitled National Judaism, at first refused to be reminded of his original enthusiasm for Zionism. But years later, in the Memoirs intended only for his family, he described his meetings with Herzl in detail. And, before his death ten months after the Balfour Declaration he said to his successor, Rabbi Dr. H. P. Chajes, "Long before the existence of Zionism I was a fighter for Zion."2
Mathias Acher who worked for Zionism even before Herzl and who many years later became a leader of the anti-Zionist Agudath Israel, was proud of his Zionist past. In 1932 he was asked to write an article on his Zionist period for the Kadimah, the first Zionist student group. In his covering letter he stressed that "in spite of the fact that I have abandoned the road of the Kadimah, I do not regret it, but on the contrary still rejoice to have participated in its foundation."3
so Lucien Wolf. He derived no satisfaction from his Zionist experiences. Some two years before his death he wrote to Tulo Nussenblatt who was preparing a book on Herzl: "I regret I do not have any personal memoirs of the late Theodor Herzl for your book. I never was a Zionist and my relations with Herzl were never of any sig? nificance whatsoever to the public. They were rather, in a literary sense, personal and professional relations, no more. But in common with all who knew him I had great admiration for his character and a real affection for his genial personality."4
In this letter we are confronted with a Lucien Wolf who contradicts himself. In his first sentence he says he has "no personal memories" and immediately afterwards he mentions "personal and professional relations." He claims: "I never was a Zionist" and in the same letter admits that his relations were literary ones.
Could Lucien Wolf have regarded Herzlian Zionism as a "literary" matter? I doubt it. Cecil Roth, in his work A Memoir, devotes a few lines to Wolf as a Zionist.
1 Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England on 15 March, 1959.
2 H. P. Chajes, Reden und Vertraege. Herausgegeben von Moritz Rosenfeld (Vienna, 1933).
3 Festschrift der Kadimah, 1883-1933. Herausgegeben von Dr. Moritz Rosenhek (Vienna, 1933)
4 Zeitgenossen ueber Herzl. Herausgegeben von Dr. T. Nussenblatt (Brno, 1929).
He writes: "That at first