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Jacob Ehrlich

EHRLICH, JACOB (1877–1938), Austrian Zionist leader. Born in Bistrica, Moravia, Ehrlich studied at Vienna University and joined the Jewish student association "J.A.V. Ivria." Encouraged by Theodor *Herzl, he toured Moravia and Bohemia to propagate Zionism. In 1908 he settled in Vienna, where he became a lawyer, and in 1912 he was one of the first Zionists to be elected as a member of the Board of the Jewish Community (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde). As a high officer of the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I he saved a number of Russian Jews from false accusations, among them the son of Abraham Menachem Mendel *Ussishkin. From 1919 to 1923 Ehrlich was a member of the Vienna city council. In the 1920s, and also during the Zionist Congress of 1925, he was president of the Zionist Federation in Austria. He helped to obtain a Zionist majority at the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde in December 1932, and in February 1936 became its vice president. In 1934, after the defeat of the Austrian Socialists in the civil war and the establishment of the Austrian corporate state, he became the representative of the Jewish community (councilor of the city of Vienna) in the "Buergerschaft," which replaced the city council, and an outspoken defender of Jewish rights. After the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany (March 1938) Ehrlich was arrested, beaten daily by the Gestapo, and deported with the first transport to the Dachau concentration camp. He was murdered on May 17, 1938, the first prominent Austrian Jewish victim of the Nazis. His body was sent to Vienna, but the Nazis forbade all speeches and obituaries. His widow, Irma, and his son, Paul, immigrated to the United States via England.

The society of Jews from Austria in England and a B'nai B'rith Lodge in Tel Aviv bear his name.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.