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Jacobus Henricus Kann

KANN, JACOBUS HENRICUS (1872–1945), banker; founder of the Zionist Organization in Holland. Born in The Hague, from 1891 Kann was the owner and manager of his family's bank, Lissa & Kann – one of the largest banks in Holland (established in 1805) and for three generations that of the Dutch royal family. Herzl's Der Judenstaat made a great impression on Kann, who was not at all involved in Jewish public life until then. He participated as an observer in the First Zionist Congress (1897) and later became Herzl's aide, especially in matters of banking. He and David *Wolffsohn were among the founders of the *Jewish Colonial Trust, despite his earlier hesitation about the financial effectiveness of the bank. He established the Zionist Organization in Holland, becoming its leader and representative at the Zionist General Council (then called Greater Actions Committee; 1897–1905). At the Seventh Zionist Congress (1905) he was elected to the Zionist Executive (the "Smaller Actions Committee"), reduced to three members, Kann, Wolffsohn, and Otto *Warburg, at the Eighth Zionist Congress (1907). Throughout, he was an enthusiastic fighter for Herzl's political Zionism as opposed to "practical" Zionism, which the Zionist organization introduced during his term of office in the executive. When the opposition to Wolffsohn was victorious at the Tenth Congress (1911), Kann also resigned, but he continued to manage the financial institutions (the Jewish Colonial Trust and the Anglo-Palestine Bank). The plot of the "Ahuzzat Bayit" suburb near Jaffa, purchased by an association of settlers in Ereẓ Israel and from which Tel Aviv developed, was registered under his name. Impressions of his visit to Ereẓ Israel in 1907, published in his Ereẓ Israel (Dutch, 1908; German, 1909; French, 1910), included a demand for Jewish autonomous home rule in Ereẓ Israel. This demand aroused sharp criticism from V. *Jabotinsky, then head of the Zionist press in Constantinople, who claimed that Kann's statement was causing political harm to Zionism in the Ottoman capital. When Wolffsohn rejected his argument, Jabotinsky resigned and left Constantinople. From 1911, Kann remained in the Zionist opposition. He did not participate in the Zionist Congresses after World War I. Nevertheless, he moved to Palestine in 1923 as the consul-general of Holland (until 1927). He returned to Holland in 1931, working on behalf of different projects in Palestine (among them the establishment of the Jewish National Library on Mt. Scopus, using the resources of the Wolffsohn Fund, etc.). After the 1929 riots in Palestine, Kann published a pamphlet in English (1930) in which he criticized the actions of the Zionist Executive in economic matters and in Arab-Jewish relations. When Holland was occupied by the Germans in World War II, he was dismissed from the bank and eventually deported to *Theresienstadt, where he died shortly before the liberation.


N. Sokolow, History of Zionism, 2 (1919), index; A. Boehm, Die Zionistische Bewegung, 1 (1935), index; T. Herzl, Complete Diaries, ed. and tr. by R. Patai (1960), index; J. Simon, in: Haaretz (March 11, 1945).

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