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Gustav Landauer: Anarchist and Jew

Gustav Landauer:
Anarchist and Jew

Edited by Paul Mendes-Flohr and Anya Mali

in collaboration with Hanna Delf von Wolzogen
ISBN 978-3-11-037395-0
e-ISBN (PDF) 978-3-11-036859-8
e-ISBN (EPUB) 978-3-11-039560-0

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Paul Mendes-Flohr

Paul Mendes-Flohr
Messianic Radicals: Gustav Landauer and Other German-Jewish

Ulrich Linse
Poetic Anarchism versus Party Anarchism: Gustav Landauer and the
Anarchist Movement in Wilhelmian Germany45

Michael Lwy
Romantic Prophets of Utopia: Gustav Landauer and Martin Buber64

Martin Treml
Between Utopia and Redemption: Gustav Landauers Influence on
Gershom Scholem82

Anthony David
Gustav Landauers Tragic Theater92

Gertrude Cepl-Kaufmann
Gustav Landauer and the Literary Trends of his Time107

Philippe Despoix
Toward a German-Jewish Construct: Landauers Arnold Himmelheber121

Corinna R. Kaiser
Gustav Landauers Early Novella Geschwister: Dying to Communicate132

Hanna Delf von Wolzogen

Gustav Landauers Reading of Spinoza155

Yossef Schwartz
Gustav Landauer and Gerhard Scholem: Anarchy and Utopia172
vi Contents

Wolf von Wolzogen

Ina Britschgi-Schimmer: Co-Editor of Gustav Landauers Letters191

Chaim Seeligmann
Gustav Landauer and his Judaism205

Ernst Simon
Der werdende Mensch und der werdende Jude: Gustav Landauers Development
as a Human Being and Jew213

Brigitte Hausberger
My Father, Gustav Landauer233


GLAA Gustav Landauer Nachlass, International Institute for Social
History, Amsterdam, No.
GLAJ Gustav Landauer Nachlass, The National Library of Israel,
Jerusalem, Varia, No.
Lebensgang I/II Gustav Landauer, Sein Lebensgang in Briefen, ed. Martin
Buber and Ina Britschgi-Schimmer, 2 vols., (Frankfurt/Main:
Rtten & Loening, 1929).
Mauthner Briefe Gustav LandauerFritz Mauthner: Briefwechsel 1890-1919, ed.
Hanna Delf, (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1994).
Aufruf 1911/1919 Gustav Landauer, Aufruf zum Sozialismus, (Berlin: Socialist
Bund, 1911; 2nd ed. Berlin: P. Cassirer, 1919).
Beginnen Beginnen: Aufstze ber Sozialismus, ed. Martin Buber, (Kln:
Marcan-Block, 1924).
Meister Eckhart 1903/1920 Gustav Landauer, trans., Meister Eckharts mystische Schriften.
In unsere Sprache bertragen, (1903; 2nd ed., Berlin: K.
Schnabel, 1920).
Revolution Die Revolution, vol. 13, Die Gesellschaft. Sammlung sozial-
psychologischer Monographien, ed. Martin Buber, (Frankfurt/
Main: Rtten & Loening, 1907; new ed., Berlin: K. Kramer,
Der Sozialist Der Sozialist, Berlin: 1891-1899; Der Sozialist. Organ des
Sozialistischen Bundes, ed. Gustav Landauer, (Bern/Berlin:
1909-1915; repr. Vaduz, 1980).
Shakespeare I/II, 1920/1923 Shakespeare. Dargestellt in Vortrgen, (1920), 2nd ed.
(Potsdam: Rtten & Loening, 1948).
Skepsis 1903/1923/1978 Skepsis und Mystik: Versuche im Anschlu an Mauthners
Sprachkritik, (Berlin: Marcan-Block, 1903; 2nd ed., Kln:
Marcan-Block, 1923; repr. Wetzlar: Bchse der Pandora, 1978).
WM 1921 Gustav Landauer, Der werdende Mensch: Aufstze ber Leben
und Schrifttum, ed. Martin Buber, (Potsdam: Kiepenheuer, 1921).
WA III Gustav Landauer, Dichter, Ketzer, Auenseiter: Schriften zu
Literatur, Philosophie, Judentum, ed. Hanna Delf, vol. III of
Gustav Landauer, Werkausgabe, (Berlin: Akademie, 1996).
Macht und Mchte Gustav Landauer, Macht und Mchte: Novellen, (Berlin: Egon
Fleischel, 1903; 2nd ed. Kln: Marcan-Block, 1923).
Gesprch Gustav Landauer im Gesprch: Symposium zum 125.
Geburtstag, Conditio Judaica 18, ed. H. Delf and G.
Mattenklott, (Tbingen: Niemeyer, 1997).
Sensation die beste Sensation ist die Ewige Gustav Landauer
Leben, Werk und Wirkung, (Dsseldorf: Theatermuseum,
Dumont-Lindemann-Archiv, 1995).
NG Die Neue Gemeinschaft: Ein Orden vom wahren Leben.
Vortrgen und Ansprachen, part 2, Das Reich der Erfllung,
ed. Heinrich Hart and Julius Hart (Leipzig: Diederichs, 1901).
Paul Mendes-Flohr
Idealist war ich immer, Idealist bin ich und
das will ich bleiben. Amen . Gte, grosse,
unendliche Gte thut uns noth, und die will
heute so warm aus mir hinausstrmen in alle
Gustav Landauer1

In February 1912, the forty-two-year-old Gustav Landauer (1870-1919) addressed

a group of young socialist Zionists in Berlin. His topic was pointedly entitled
Judaism and Socialism. Acknowledging his bond to his fellow Jews, he reflected
on the Jewish renaissance, the awakening sense of Jewishness among erstwhile
assimilated Jews. The renewal of a Jewish consciousness, he suggested, is born
first and foremost of a new appreciation that Jewishness is an indomitable
fact, a natural characteristic that there is something that by nature bonds Jews to
one another. One is a Jew, even if one does not know it or wish to confess it. The
socialist anarchist Landauer further observed that this reawakened conscious-
ness obliged the Jews to face fateful decisions, and hence the need for leaders
beholden to a spiritual vision: For when a nation stands once again at a turning
point when it should initially become what it could and what its inner possibil-
ity demands of it, then the poets, then the prophets are needed. These leaders,
Landauer held, should emerge from the ranks of Jewish socialists, who would
ally the re-born nation with a cause greater than itself the command to create
a compassionate and just social order. Some socialists will understandably seek
to shape the national community as the basis of the new society. Hence, many
Jewish socialists will decide that what is initially needed is a [new] Jewish com-
munity. But, Landauer continues, for other Jewish socialists the Galut, exile
as an inner disposition of isolation and longing, will be the utmost calling that
bonds them to Judaism and to socialism. For these [lonely] individuals Judaism
and socialism will be the same; they will know that Judaism and socialism have

1An idealist I always was; an idealist I am and I will remain so. Amen . Goodness, abundant,
endless goodness is what we need most; and goodness will warmly flow from me throughout
the world. The epigraph is taken from G. Landauer, Aus meinem Gefngnis-Tagebuch, Der
sozialistische Akademiker I (1895), nos. 13-18, 319. Cited in Ruth Link-Salinger, Gustav Landauer.
Philosopher of Utopia (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1977), 47, n. 103.
2 Paul Mendes-Flohr

charged them to demand [human] solidarity and justice.2 A year later Landauer
had the occasion to elaborate this gracious and elegant explanation of why he
could not align himself with Zionism. In an essay provocatively entitled, Are
these Heretical Thoughts? frequently cited in the present volume he asserts
that the Jews can only be redeemed with [all of] humanity, and that the two are
one and the same: to pursue persistently the messiah in [national] banishment
and dispersion, and to be the messiah of the nations.3 In the same breath, he
gently rebukes the Zionists for posing a false dilemma of having either to be true
to ones Jewish identity and cultural memory or to embrace world culture and
court the inevitable scandal of assimilation. The embrace of world culture, he
defiantly affirmed, need not vitiate ones Judaism. On the contrary, Judaism and
other cultural affiliations may dwell parallel to one another in mutual enrich-
ment. The modern Jew is a complex amalgam of many cultures, and the demand
for a simplification of his or her cultural identity and loyalty is both insipid and
invidious. Similarly, Landauer regarded himself to be both a socialist or rather
an anarchist and a Jew. He saw no contradiction between these commitments,
nor even a necessary tension between them.
This volume of essays explores various aspects of Landauers parallel fidel-
ities as a Jew and as an anarchist. He fashioned his anarchism as a form of Kul-
tursozialismus, with a view to enlisting culture theater, music, literature to
nurture the values and attitudes necessary for the realization of socialism. This
conception of the political function of culture goes back to the German romantics
who assigned to aesthetic education the exalted task of transforming a societys
moral and spiritual sensibilities. Hence, Landauers critique of Marxism, which
he faulted for placing what he regarded to be a false emphasis on the objective
forces of political economy. True socialism, he argued, would emerge only through
the moral and spiritual regeneration of human beings; it cannot be imposed from
above either by governmental fiat or by the decree of a revolutionary vanguard:
Revolution is not what revolutionaries think it to be.4 There is nothing inevi-
table about socialism, no inner dialectical logic guiding history. A revolutionary
change of the moral fabric of human relations in all spheres of life economic,
social and interpersonal is indeed the exigent need, but it will only come about
with the maturing of the will to revolution, with the resolute decision to break
with history, to fold back the sad millennial record of social injustice, and begin

2Landauer, Judentum und Sozialismus, Selbstwehr (7 February 1912); also in Die Arbeit. Organ
der Zionistischen Volkssozialistischen Partei (June 1920). Reprinted in WA III, 160f.
3Sind das Ketzergedanken? in Vom Judentum, published by the Jdischer Studentenverein,
Bar Kochba (Leipzig: K. Wolff, 1913), 250-57; also in WA III, 170-74.
4Letter to Fritz Mauthner, 5 October, 1907. Lebensgang I, 172.
Introduction 3

anew. Marking a radical caesura with history, revolution paves the way toward
something that has yet to come [that is] not yet in the world.5 The revolution-
ary must look forward beyond history, adopting an unabashed Utopian vision.
Tellingly, Landauer solicits the support of the second-century Platonist, Maximus
Tyrius (c. 125-185), whom he cites as having declared: Here, now, you will see the
road of passion, which you call decline because you make [your] judgment on
the basis of those who have already passed away thereon which I, however, call
salvation (Rettung), basing myself on the order of those yet to come.6
The envisioned radical disjunction between history and redemption,
echoed traditional Jewish apocalyptic messianism.7 But rather than waiting for
a divinely appointed redeemer to usher in the eschaton, Landauer transposed
the axis of hope to human deed (Tat), that is, to concrete, small deeds acts of
love, kindness, empathy and the creation of utopian communities (Siedlungen),
implanted as seeds of redemption within and in opposition to the present social
reality; their efflorescent multiplication would ultimately overwhelm the domi-
nant structures of economic and political power and, reigning supreme, witness
the dawn of a humanity born anew. The desired revolution would thus evolve
without resorting to violence. Nor would it be secured by establishing new con-
figurations of state power. The state, any state, Landauer averred, is inherently
tyrannical; even when associated with the most noble ideals, a state is but an
organized form of violence. Authentic socialism, therefore, cannot be realized
through the auspices of a state. In our souls we take no part in the compulsory
unity of the state, since we wish to create a genuine human bond, a society pro-

5Cited, without source, by Link-Salinger, Gustav Landauer, 60.

6Landauer, Revolution, epigraph to volume. Translated by Ruth Link-Salinger in Gustav Lan-
dauer, 60. Cf. the concluding sentence of Die Revolution: Nur das knnen wir wissen: da unser
Weg nicht ber die Richtungen und Kmpfe des Tages fhrt, sondern ber Unbekanntes, Tief-
begrabenes und Plltzliches. Ibid., 118. Landauer held firm to this meta-historical one may
even say, given its apocalyptic overtones, anti-historical view of revolution. In the midst of the
Bavarian Revolution, Landauer wrote: Das Chaos ist da: neue Regsamkeit und Erschtterung
zeigen sich an; die Geister erwachen; die Seelen heben sich zur Verantwortung; die Hnde zur
Tat; mge aus der Revolution die Wiedergeburt kommen; mgen, da wir nichts so sehr brauchen
als neue, reine Menschen, die aus dem Unbekannten, dem Dunkel, der Tiefe aufsteigen, mgen
diese Erneuer, Reiniger, Retter unserm Volke nicht fehlen; mge den Vlkern aus dem urtief
Ewigen und Unbedingten der neue, der schaffende Geist zustrmen, der erst recht neue Ver-
hltnisse erzeugt; mge aus der Revolution Religion kommen, Religion des Tuns, des Lebens,
der Liebe, die beseligt, die erlst, die berwindet. Preface, signed 3 January 1919, to the second
edition of Landauers Aufruf, xvii.
7This formulation is from Gershom Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism, and Other Essays
on Jewish Spirituality, trans. Michael A. Meyer et al. (New York: Schocken, 1971), 10.
4 Paul Mendes-Flohr

ceeding from the spirit and therefore from freedom.8 Indeed, Landauers anar-
chism was wedded to an unbending pacifism.
Hence, his participation in the Bavarian Revolution, which erupted in Novem-
ber 1918, surprised many. At first he heeded the call of his friend Kurt Eisner (1867-
1919), a former student of the neo-Kantian philosopher Hermann Cohen and leader
of the motley band of socialist intellectuals who proclaimed the Bavarian Demo-
cratic and Social Republic. Inspired by Eisners vision of an ethical reformation
of spirits, he joined the Revolutionary Workers Council, a sort of advisory com-
mittee of fifty radicals, who were charged with the task of directing the revolution
toward socialism and genuine democracy (based on decentralized councils or Rte
of workers, soldiers, and peasants, as opposed to an authoritarian, parliamen-
tarian central government).9 When Eisner was killed by an assassins bullet in
February 1919, Landauer assumed a role in the preparation of a so-called Second
Revolution and in the establishment of a Rterepublik (a republic of workers
councils) to replace the tottering and defective republic founded by Eisner. Led by
a band of anarchist intellectuals, the Rterepublik was declared on 7 April of the
same year, which was by chance Landauers birthday. Landauer joined the govern-
ing central council, which appointed him commissioner for enlightenment and
public instruction. Within less than a week the Rterepublik was overthrown by
the more radical Spartacists, as communists were then called. A few weeks later,
on the first of May, troops of the German federal government entered Munich and
with dispatch brutally suppressed the revolution. Although no longer playing an
active role in the revolution, Landauer was apprehended and on the second of May
bludgeoned to death by soldiers of the reactionary White Guard.
The pacifist Landauer met a violent death on behalf of the revolution. He was
a martyr of the revolution. His friend Martin Buber (1878-1965) eulogized him as a
latter-day Jesus, as a Jew who sacrificed his life for humanity, a suffering servant in
the cause of redemption: In a church in Brescia I saw a mural whose whole surface
was covered with crucified men. The field of crosses stretched to the horizon, and
on all of them hung men of different shapes and faces. There it seemed to me was
the true form of Jesus Christ. On one of those crosses, I see Gustav Landauer hang-
ing.10 Against his better judgment, Buber explained, Landauer joined the revolu-
tion. As an act of solidarity with the workers and fellow socialists, he reluctantly

8Cited in Maurice Friedman, Martin Bubers Life and Work. The Early Years. 1878-1923 (London
and Turnbridge Wells: Search Press, 1982), 235.
9Eugene Lunn, Prophet of Community. The Romantic Socialism of Gustav Landauer (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1973), 296-305.
10Buber, Landauer und die Revolution, Masken. Monatsschrift des Dsseldorfer Schauspiel-
hauses, XIV (May 1919), 291.
Introduction 5

participated in the revolution, despite the likelihood that circumstances would

eventually force his comrades to resort to what he feared most: political and
worse, perhaps also physical violence. But, Buber insisted, Landauer fought in
the revolution against the revolution for the sake of the revolution.11 He joined
the revolution in order to ensure that it would eschew violence and reject all
instruments of governance that diminish human dignity and be the redemptive,
eschatological event it promised to be. But he was soon consumed with dark pre-
monitions of (as he wrote just months prior to his tragic death) the frightful danger
that listless routine and thoughtless imitation might take hold of the revolution-
aries and render them philistines of radicalism, of resounding words, and violent
gestures, and that they would not know or wish to know that the transformation
of society can only come about through love, work through stillness (Stille) in
other words, through undemonstrative, quiet deeds.12 Revolution as socialist praxis
was a matter of personal virtue, of sacrificial love. Now is the time to bring forth a
martyr (Opfer) of a different kind, not heroic, but a quiet, unpretentious martyr who
will provide an example for the proper life.13 When Landauer wrote these words in
1911, words that would later be inscribed on his tombstone, he understood martyr-
dom as a metaphor for selfless idealism and not as the giving of ones life for ones
ideals.14 Landauer became a martyr in both senses: he was remembered as one who
had given his life for the revolution that he had hoped would herald the ethical and
spiritual regeneration of humanity, and as one who embodied the humane virtues
envisioned by that revolution.
Landauers thought and life thus merge into one skein. He was a man of
letters and genuinely a man of Geist, with all the inflections that the term bears in
German, and which are only inadequately conveyed by the English word spirit.
The life of intellect and culture was also the life of the spirit, which for Landauer
had an explicit religious quality. Socialism, he explained, means abandoning
both God (i.e., formal religion) and the material and personal ambitions of the
world, in order to serve God and the world.15 True religion will emerge from the
revolution, the religion of deed, of life, of love that ensouls, redeems (erlst),
overcomes. What remains of life? We all eventually die, we all are destined to die
. Nothing lives on but what we have made from out of ourselves, what we have

11Buber, Recollection of a Death (1929), in Buber, Pointing the Way. Collected Essays, trans.
and ed. by Maurice Friedman (New York: Harper & Row, 1957), 120.
12Landauer, Preface to the second edition of Aufruf, written in January 1919.
13Ibid., 152: Jetzt gilt es, dazu noch Opfer anderer Art zu bringen, nicht heroische, sondern
stille, unscheinbare Opfer um fr das rechte Leben ein Beispiel zu geben.
14Lunn, Prophet of Community, 342.
15Aufruf, xvi.
6 Paul Mendes-Flohr

set in motion; creation (Schpfung) lives on, that which is created (Geschpf), not
only the Creator (Schpfer). Nothing lives but the act of the honest hands and the
rule (das Walten) of pure, genuine Geist.16 The life of the Geist of intellect and
deed was thus one for Landauer.17
Hence, also Landauers engagement on behalf of all the disinherited members
of society was necessarily complemented by his activity as a literary and theatre
critic, novelist, translator, scholar of mysticism, philosopher of language, and
author of studies on Shakespeare. For Landauer, culture and politics occupied
the same spiritual space; both were compelled by the same passionate, unyield-
ing commitment to illuminate and effectively approach the Utopian horizon of
human possibility and hope. This is the governing thesis of this volume, which
has its origins in a conference Gustav Landauer: Anarchism and Judaism
held in Jerusalem in December 1998. Co-sponsored by The Franz Rosenzweig
Minerva Research Center for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History (The
Hebrew University of Jerusalem), The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, the Goethe
Institute (Jerusalem), and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Herzliyah, Israel), the con-
ference hosted scholars from Austria, France, Germany, Israel and the U.S.A. to
assess Landauers ramified literary and political activities, his life as a Jew and
The conference was occasioned by an exhibition on Landauer prepared by
Michael Matzigkeit, a curator at the Theater-Museum Dsseldorf, which was
brought to Israel at the initiative of Christiane Gnther, the director of the Jeru-
salem Goethe-Institute.18 She approached Gabriel Motzkin, then serving as the
director of the Rosenzweig Center, and suggested that a conference be held in
conjunction with the exhibition. Paul Mendes-Flohr was invited to organize the
conference. With the collaboration of Hanna Delf von Wolzogen, co-editor of the
collected writings of Gustav Landauer, Mendes-Flohr developed a program for
the conference and identified the most prominent scholars currently engaged in
research on the legacy of Landauer.19 On behalf of the Rosenzweig Center, Maria
Diemling attended to logistics of the conference.

16Ibid., 55.
17Cf. Der Geist gibt dem Leben einen Sinn, Heiligung und Weihe; der Geist schafft, zeugt und
durchdringt die Gegenwart mit Freude und Kraft und Seligkeit; das Ideal wendet sich vom Gegen-
wrtigen ab, dem Neuen zu; es ist Sehnsucht nach der Zukunft, nach dem Besseren, nach dem
Unbekannten. Es ist der Weg aus den Zeiten des Niederganges heraus zu neuer Kultur. Ibid., 9.
18 die beste Sensation ist das Ewige Gustav Landauer Leben, Werk und Wirkung, ed. Mi-
chael Matzigkeit (Dsseldorf: Theatermuseum der Landeshauptstadt Dsseldorf/ Dumont-Lin-
demann-Archiv, 1995).
19Gustav Landauer Werkausgabe, ed. Gert Mattenklott and Hanna Delf (Berlin: Akademie Ver-
lag, Berlin, 1997), vol. 3.
Introduction 7

The papers in this volume were originally presented at the conference, with
the exception of three: Paul Mendes-Flohrs article, which is an adaptation of a
previously published essay;20 a memoir of Landauer by his second daughter, Bri-
gitte Hausberger (1906-1985), which is based on an interview conducted in October
1976 by Paul Avrich, published by him in 1995 and reprinted here with the per-
mission of Princeton University Press;21 and an essay by Ernst Simon (1899-1988),
first published in German in 1921, which pays homage to the martyred Landauer
and records his impact on post-World War One Central European Jewish youth.22
The essay was conscientiously translated by Carl Ebert and is printed here with
the kind permission of Uriel Simon.
In light of the intervening years since the conference, the contributors were
asked to update their articles, taking into consideration the most recent scholar-
ship. In this respect, the present volume reflects the current state of research on
Landauer, building upon a volume published in 1995: Gustav Landauer (1870-
1919). Eine Bestandsaufnahme zur Rezeption seines Werkes.23 The first chapter,
penned by Paul Mendes-Flohr, situates Landauer in the political discourse of his
contemporary German-Jewish radicals. The second essay by Ulrich Linse exam-
ines Landauers distinctive brand of anarchism from the more general perspective
of the German anarchist movement of his day. This essay is followed by Michael
Lwys analysis of what on the face of it was the improbable friendship between
Landauer and Martin Buber and not only because Buber was barely five foot two
and Landauer close to six foot six. Raised in the traditional Jewish home of his
paternal grandparents in the Austrian-Hungarian province of Galicia, Buber had
well-defined Jewish commitments, whereas Landauer came from an assimilated
home in South West Germany and subscribed to a cosmopolitan ethos. Yet, as
Lwy deftly shows, an elective affinity evolved from their very first encounter
in 1899 and over the next two decades until Landauers tragic death, crystallized
into a symbiotic relation of mutual influence.
The pioneering scholar of Jewish mysticism Gershom Scholem (1897-1982)
fashioned himself to be a religious anarchist. In his contribution to this volume
Martin Treml traces the affinities between Scholems and Landauers anarchism,
and notes the resonance of the latter in Scholems conception of mystical myths.

20The Stronger and Better Jews. Jewish Theological Responses to Political Messianism in the
Weimar Republic, in Jews and Messianism in the Modern Era, ed. J. Frankel (New York: Oxford
Univ. Press, 1991), 159-93.
21Paul Avrich, ed., Anarchist Voices. An Oral History of Anarchism in America (Princeton: Prince
ton Univ. Press, 1995), 33-37.
22E. Simon, Der werdende Mensch und der werdende Jude, Der Jude, 6 (1921-1922), 457-475.
23The volume is edited by Leonhard M. Fiedler, Renate Heuer, and Annemarie Taeger-Alten-
hofer, and published by Campus Verlag in Frankfurt/Main.
8 Paul Mendes-Flohr

He further discerns a striking parallel between Landauers conception of revolu-

tion as a continuous, unending dialectical process between utopia and topos,
or social renewal, followed by inevitable conservative calcification, and in its
wake a renewal of the utopian regenerative impulse and Scholems notion of
restorative and utopian messianism.
Anthony David offers a novel perspective of Landauer as a dramaturge of
the Bavarian Revolution, in which his tragic death at the hands of vengeful reac-
tionaries could be seen in retrospect to have been a symbolic coda of what he
regarded to be inherently tragic but ethically necessary attempts to change the
course of history. As David puts it, Landauer choreographed his death accord-
ing to a very precise theory of history, art, and society. He knew full well that he
and the revolution aesthetics served both to nurture socialist sensibilities that
overcome the invidious individualism of bourgeois society and, at the same time,
to inculcate a sober existential realism about the human condition and the dark
hope that progressive politics would secure the promise of human decency and
solidarity. In elaborating this thesis, David probes Landauers understanding of
the intimate relation between aesthetics, honed through literature and theater,
and politics.
Gertrude Cepl-Kaufmann reconstructs the evolution of this dialectical cou-
pling of aesthetics and politics in Landauers thought through his efforts to define
a distinctive voice in the vibrant bohemian literary circles of fin-de-sicle Berlin.
What he would eventually call his cultural anarchism, she notes, had two
formative, overlapping moments, one expressly literary and the other political.
Under the sway of his friend Fritz Mauthners language skepticism, and drawn to
a mystical epistemology, he rejected the prevailing literary naturalism. His quest
for a mystical communion with a noumenal reality beyond the grasp of language
did not blunt his social conscience, however. In consonance, he developed a dis-
tinctive form of anarchism. Wary of the position of those anarchists who held
that to be politically effective it was necessary to jettison all traces of bourgeois
culture to reach the masses, Landauer resolutely refused to relinquish a commit-
ment to Bildungskultur. Rather he deemed it a political imperative to share with
the masses the aesthetic and intellectual sensibilities of high culture. The anar-
chistic political ethos is thus to be furthered by aesthetic pedagogy directed to the
proletariat. At bottom, he held, personal and communal renewal are one.
Landauer articulated this vision primarily as an essayist, playwright, drama-
turge, novelist, and lecturer on cultural topics (on such themes as Shakespeares
plays). In a detailed analysis of Landauers novella Arnold Himmelheber, Philippe
Despoix demonstrates how Landauer detached Bildungskultur from its prevail-
ing affinities to bourgeois morality and values, and transformed it into a Nietzs-
chean-inflected affirmation of eros and life. Challenging bourgeois familial and
Introduction 9

sexual taboos, Landauer the novelist also questions the culture of shame and
guilt engendered by the Jewish Law and Christian love. The protagonist of the
novella thus exclaims, There is no sin, there is only life. The liberation of the
individual from a culture of repression is correlated to the forging of interpersonal
and communal bonds that can be genuinely called love. Within the vision of this
aesthetic utopia, Despoix points out, Landauer advocated a renewal of Judaism
as post-traditional anarchistic ethic an ethic in support of a Diasporic identity
that resists all ideological self-enclosure and fixed cultural fidelities.
Corinna Kaiser explores the same theme in Landauers early, unpublished
novella Geschwister (Siblings), which unyieldingly questions the incest taboo.
Penned in 1890 by the then twenty-year-old aspiring writer, the novella presents
a sympathetic portrait of the trials and tribulations of a brother and sister who,
despite daunting social and psychological obstacles, are determined to realize
their compelling libidinal love for each other. Their ultimate failure to give full,
uninhibited expression to their love is marked by suicide; hand in hand they sub-
merge themselves in the depths of the sea. The possible melodramatic effects of
their ill-fated love, as Kaiser deftly shows, is softened by the narrative strategy
of inter-textual citation and reference to literature that deals with sibling love.
Imbricating the narrative with a rich array of inter-textual references and allu-
sions allows Landauer not only to subvert bourgeois morality, but also to point
to the utopian vision of all barriers frustrating genuine fraternal love between all
human beings. Spontaneous (anarchic) love is to displace the bourgeois code of
duty and social conformity. There is even a further, deeper message embedded in
Landauers literary style: language itself proves inherently incapable of express-
ing human experience at its deepest emotional level. In this regard, as Kaiser
argues, Geschwister powerfully anticipates Landauers seminal study of 1903,
Skepsis und Mystik, which as its subtitle indicates was inspired by his mentor and
friend Fritz Mauthners critique of language.
Landauer elaborated Mauthners godless mysticism as a means to over-
come the epistemological and ontological limits of language. Toward that end,
he developed a mystical anthropology by which an individual isolates herself
from the invidious influences of the surrounding culture and social structures.
By retreating into ones self, one sinks into eternity, which is present in every
moment of ordinary lived time, but which contains time as a whole and, pari
passu, transcends time. Utopia is thereby moved from the future into the eternal
presence, whereby the individual experiences primordial unity of the world. A
mystical pantheism is thus the true road to socialism; the realization of genuine
human community is not dependent on the socio-political dialectics of history.
As Hanna Delf von Wolzogen argues in her contribution to this volume, Landauer
marshaled the support of Spinoza to propagate the idea that true knowledge
10 Paul Mendes-Flohr

does not take place from without, but rather is bound up in the knower . Lan-
dauer thus aligns his mystical anthropology with Spinozas Ethics and the ratio-
nal acknowledgment of the divine order of the world as leading to self-knowledge
and release from an individuated ego. This reading of Spinoza, Hanna Delf von
Wolzogen observes, also prompted Landauer to affirm his ties to his ancestral
Judaism and to consider Jewish tradition in a new light, unfettered by the restric-
tions of proscribed orthodoxy. Spinoza also provided Landauer with a unique
perspective by which to examine the legacy of Shakespeare as advocating indi-
vidual introspection and the creation of a new world order and a new human
being from within ones self.
Landauers distinctive conception of anarchism as primed by a mystical
self-understanding was refracted through the study of the writings of medieval
Christian mystics, principally of Meister Eckhart. In the chapter on Landauer and
Gerhard (Gershom) Scholem, Yossef Schwartz avers that Landauer had a pro-
found intuitive understanding of the psychological and ethical presuppositions
of Eckharts teachings, even though these would only be given clarion articulation
as the result of later scholarship that considered Eckharts more metaphysically
informed Latin texts and those that reflect his relationship to Maimonides, in par-
ticular the belief that the philosopher has a pedagogical and political responsibil-
ity to the masses. It was precisely this ethic that Landauer discerned in Eckharts
teachings and which recommended Eckhart to him as a spiritual guide, indeed
as one deeply involved in the philosophical questions that Landauer himself
explores in his Skepsis und Mystik. From the perspective of the political theol-
ogy, a secular blending of messianic-mystical or antinomian anarchism, that Lan-
dauer crafted in great measure from his reading of Eckhart, Schwartz argues that
Scholems religious anarchism demonstrates but superficial similarities to that
of Landauers mystical anarchism. The most telling and far-reaching difference
between them, Schwartz concludes, is the unbridgeable gulf between Landau-
ers universal anarchist position and Scholems Zionism and his corresponding
attempt to reformulate what he held to be the fundamental Jewish ethos with
rhetoric taken from the arsenal of modern nationalism.
In March 1919, shortly before he left his home and family to join the govern-
ment of the Rterepublik, Landauer wrote his last will and testament, in which
he named Buber as the executor of his literary estate. Buber dedicated himself
with unflagging devotion to the task of assembling and publishing Landauers
ramified writings. Among the four collections he edited,24 that of Landauers

24Buber edited the following volumes: Shakespeare. Dargestellt in Vortrgen (Frankfurt/Main:

Rtten und Loening, 1920), 2 vols.; Der werdende Mensch. Aufstze ber Leben und Schriftum
(Postdam: Kiepenheuer, 1921); Beginnen. Aufstze ber Sozialismus (Kln: Marcan-Block, 1921);
Introduction 11

correspondence surely presented the most daunting challenge. Landauers corre-

spondents had to be identified and located, their letters read, and those selected
for publication had to be annotated. Close to six hundred letters were finally pub-
lished in two volumes, totalling 899 printed pages. Wolf von Wolzogen provides a
biography of the fraught gestation of the edition of Landauers correspondence
by focusing on the relationship between Buber and his editorial assistant, Ina
Britschigi-Schimmer (1881-1949). She proved to be an exceedingly resourceful and
indefatigable collaborator. Upon completion of the project, she felt that given the
extent of her part in the editing she deserved to be designated on the title page
as a co-editor. Although acknowledging her prodigious editorial labors, Buber
insisted that in accord with Landauers testamentary mandate, he was obliged
to take upon himself full editorial responsibility for the volume. Hence, he was
ethically, if not legally obliged to indicate on the title page that he edited the
correspondence with the collaboration of Ina Britschgi-Schimmer (Unter Mit-
wirkung von Ina Britschgi-Schimmer herausgegeben von Martin Buber).
Britschgi-Schimmers intense engagement in the editing of the correspon-
dence led her to explore Landauers ambiguous Jewish identity, a project she
never fully realized. The late Chaim Seeligmann (1912-2009) shared this interest
in Landauers Judaism. Born in Landauers native city of Karlsruhe, in southwest
Germany, Seeligmann claimed an intimate familiarity with Landauers tenuous
Jewish roots; indeed, his father was personally acquainted with Landauer and
his family. His essay, translated from the German by Eric Jacobson, thus has an
implicit autobiographical dimension. Stemming from an assimilated family with
a marginal affiliation to Liberal Judaism, much like Landauers family, Seelig-
mann argues that despite its attenuated Judaism, the Jewish milieu of Landauers
youth somehow allowed the individual to preserve his or her own inner Jewish
essence (jdische Substanz). Over the years Landauers abiding Jewish sensibil-
ity increasingly gained, in great measure due to Bubers influence but not only,
voluble expression. Seeligmann also identified with Landauers anarchism and
ethical socialism, which upon his emigration to Palestine in 1935 he sought to
integrate into the ethos of the kibbutz he joined and remained a member until his
death just shy of his 97th year.
Ernst Simon (1899-1988) also traces Landauers incremental self-affirmation
as a Jew, parallel to his intellectual and spiritual development, indeed, to his mat-
uration as a human being, as the essays title Der werdende Mensch und der wer-
dende Jude suggests. Originally published in Bubers cultural review Der Jude
in 1922, Simons essay was addressed to German Jews seeking to clarify their own

and in collaboration with Ina Britschgi-Schimmer, Gustav Landauer. Sein Lebensgang in Brie-
fen (Frankfurt/Main: Rtten und Loening, 1929), 2. vols.
12 Paul Mendes-Flohr

Jewish identity and its relation to their most pressing intellectual and ethical con-
cerns as human beings. Accordingly, Simon presented to them Landauers legacy
as paradigmatic. Landauers engagement in politics as an ethical calling both
challenges the cynical abuse of political power and resists the equally cynical
withdrawal into sheltered solitude. Landauers homo politicus is at root a homo
religiosus whose ego is never full of the overflowing sense of his own existence;
it is always imbued with God, the world, and ones brethren of earth. It is from
this perspective that one is to appreciate Landauers utopian socialism. He was
no nave idealist, however. Fully cognizant of the complex discordant reality of
the world, his utopians and revolutionaries are buoyed by an uncanny assured-
ness of a dream a will to delusion that arises from knowledge of the world.
Similar to Ernst Blochs Geist der Utopie (1918), Landauer taught that discontent
with the existent political and social order leads one to embrace utopia, fairy
tales, fantasy, and the hope of an alternative, more humane reality. The politi-
cal imperatives issued by the utopian impulse are directed to the here and now.
Hence, he objected to Zionism, fixated on a future resolution of the Jewish Ques-
tion, which he deemed to be a movement that substitutes verbal litanies of idle
messianic hope for concrete political deeds. Although Simon faults Landauer for
not acknowledging the ongoing Zionist settlement in Palestine and the practi-
cal work of reconstructing the land, he enjoins Landauers prophetic warning
against the dangers of vacuous nationalism. Yet due to his failure to perceive
the utopian possibilities of Zionism, Simon avers, Landauer gave his life for the
chimerical hopes of revolution. Nonetheless, his legacy has a profound Jewish
dimension: To establish the sacred in the midst of life that is the hallowed law
of Judaism.
The volume concludes with a memoir by Brigitte Hausberger, Landauers
youngest daughter. In the late 1920s she married the Vienna-born physician Dr.
Igor Peschkowsky, who upon emigrating to the U.S.A. changed his name to Paul
Nicholas, after his father, Nicolai. The eldest of their two sons is Mike Nichols
(b. 1930), the renowned film director and Oscar laureate. In April 1938 Mike and
his brother joined their father who had settled in New York City a few months
earlier. Brigitte would, however, manage to reunite with them in 1940, escaping
the clutches of the Nazis via Italy. After her husband died, she married Dr. Franz
Hausberger, a research physician who emigrated to the U.S. after the war and
settled in Philadelphia. Her memoir, as noted above, is based on an interview
conducted at her home in Philadelphia on 28 October 1976.
Anya Mali meticulously prepared the manuscript for publication, a demand-
ing task exacerbated by the fact that, since most of the participants in the volume
are not native English speakers, their contributions often required fundamental
rewriting. Her attentiveness to stylistic and conceptual detail has immeasurably