(1856 - 1914)
David Wolffsohn was born in Darbenai, Lithuania in 1856 where he received a traditional Jewish education. He moved in
1872 to Memel and then again to Lyck in East Prussia, finally making
his home in Cologne in 1888. It was here that he became a successful
Wolffsohn had been active in Jewish affairs throughout
his travels but it was in Cologne that he first became involved in Zionist activities. In 1893, together with Max Bodenheimer he established the
Cologne Association for the Development of Agriculture in the Land of
Israel, which was one of the Hovevei
Zion groups of the time. In 1896, immediately after he heard of Herzl's impending publication
of Der Judenstaat,
Wolffsohn traveled to Vienna, to meet with the future leader of the
Zionist movement. Wolffsohn soon became Herzl's associate and was a member of the Inner Actions Committee until 1904.
He went with Herzl on his
tour to Constantinople and EretzIsrael where they met with Kaiser
Wilhelm II. Wolffsohn became one of the central figures in the establishment
of the Jewish Colonial Trust and
later became its first president. But in this capacity he experienced
a number of differences with Herzl who despite his lack of financial experience interfered in the running
of the bank.
Despite these difficulties, Wolffsohn remained loyal
to Herzl even during the Uganda plan controversy and
rather than to oppose the leader of the Zionist Organization, Wolffsohn
maintained his silence. After Herzl's death, Wolffsohn assumed the position
of President of the World Zionist
Organization continuing the political and diplomatic priorities
of his predecessor. The practical
Zionists and the Democratic faction opposed his reelection
in 1911 although he continued his work with the Jewish Colonial Trust.
He died on September, 15, 1914, in Hamburg, Germany.
Sources: The Jewish Agency
for Israel and The
World Zionist Organization