Max Bodenheimer is born, 1865
On This Day in Jewish History: March 12, 1865
Max Bodenheimer was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1865, to an assimilated Jewish family. He studied law at the Universities of Tuebingen, Strassburg, Berlin, and Frankfurt. Upon obtaining his degree in law, Bondeheimer moved to Cologne where he practiced as an attorney. During this time, Bodenheimer became interested in the Jewish Question, the name given to the wide-range of debates concerning Jews’ status and treatment in 18th and 19th century European society. This interest arose from his observation of the Russian Jewish community, who were at the time suffering severe persecution under the pogroms. Image:
His solution to the Question aligned with that of his comrade, Theodor Herzl; Both believed in the emigration of Jews to Eretz Israel to achieve Jewish self-determination. Herzl and Bodenheimer pioneered political Zionism, an ideology which frames the Jewish Question in a political, rather than cultural, lens. Together, they wrote the Zionist constitution and attended the first Zionist Congress, in which Bodenheimer was elected to be a member of the Inner Actions Committee. In 1898, he accompanied Herzl to the First Zionist Delegation in Ottoman-Occupied Palestine to meet German Emperor Wilhelm II. Wilhelm II was in Jerusalem on a trip for pleasure unrelated to the Zionist movement. Herzl and Bodenheimer hoped that, by meeting on the soil of the Holy Land, they could gain the Emperor’s support for building homes for the Jews in the land of Israel. Despite their carefully-curated efforts, they failed to gain Wilhelm’s wholehearted support.
In 1929, Bodenheimer joined the Revisionist Party of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. The Revisionists differed from other branches of Zionism by their right-winged politics; they believed in the creation of a Greater Israel encompassing Transjordan (modern day Jordan) in addition to the entire Mandate of Palestine. At the 17th Zionist Congress, Bodenheimer and the Revisionist party encountered a controversy with the majority, and resulted in the Revisionists exiting the Congress. Bodenheimer then pursued a life away from politics and emigrated to Jerusalem where he began writing memoirs and poems.