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Josef Kastein

KASTEIN, JOSEF (pen name of Julius Katzenstein, 1890–1946), German writer and biographer. Kastein was born in Bremen to an assimilated family. He was an ardent Zionist from a young age and took part in the Tenth Zionist Congress in Basel. Kastein abandoned his legal career during the 1920s and devoted himself to Jewish historical studies. In 1927 he left Germany and settled in Switzerland, where he worked as a writer. He immigrated to Palestine in 1935 and lived in Tel Aviv for the rest of his life. Beginning with his well-known Eine Geschichte der Juden (1931; History and Destiny of the Jews, 1933), Kastein published a steady stream of original presentations of both the broad sweep of Jewish history and of particular historical figures and themes. His monographs include Sabbatai Zewi, der Messias von Ismir (1930; The Messiah of Ismir, 1931), Uriel da Costa (1932), Suesskind von Trimberg (1934), Theodor Herzl (1935), Herodes (1936), and Jeremias (1938). Among other works that appeared before the outbreak of World War II were Jews in Germany (1934; Juden in Deutschland, 1935), first published in English; Das Geschichterlebnis des Juden (1936), an indictment of Jewish assimilationism; and Jerusalem; die Geschichte eines Landes (1937). Though without pretensions to original scholarship, Kastein's books were written in a passionate style, expressing the author's faith in the mission and destiny of the Jewish people. Two works of a different type were the early verse collection Logos und Pan (1918) and Eine palaestinensische Novelle (1942). Toward the end of his life Kastein also wrote a collection of Hebrew essays, which appeared posthumously as Middot va-Arakhim (1947).


E. Carlebach, Sefer ha-Demuyyot (1959), 286–300. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Dreyer, in: Bremisches Jahrbuch, 58 (1980), 93–144; idem, in: BLBI, 60 (1981), 21–50; idem, in: BLBI, 66 (1983), 23–51; idem, in: BLBI, 71 (1985), 35–56 (bibliography).

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