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Moses Hess

(1812 - 1875)


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Moses Hess was a Jewish philosopher and socialist, and one of the founders of Labor Zionism.

Hess (born June 21, 1812; died April 6, 1875) was born in Bonn to an orthodox Jewish family. He received a traditional Jewish education but as an autodidact learnt German and French as a means to secular learning. Initially, Hess was a utopian socialist but following his acquaintance with Marx he moved toward a more scientific determinist understanding.

Hess contributed toward Marx's "Communist Manifesto" written in 1848 in particular the term "religion as the opium of the masses."Following the unification of Italy, the rise of nationalism in that country and the emergence of German antisemitism, Hess returned to his Jewish roots. His booklet Rome and Jerusalem; The Last National Question, written in 1862 is evidence of this change. However, his proposed Jewish State was to be socialist in nature. Hess died in Paris although at his request was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Cologne. However, in 1961 his remains were transferred to Israel where they were buried in the Kinneret cemetery alongside other Socialist-Zionists such as Nahum Syrkin, Ber Borochov, and Berl Katznelson.


Sources: "New Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel," ed., Geoffrey Wigoder. Copyright 1994 by Associated University Press, The Jewish Agency for Israel and The World Zionist Organization.

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