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Leon Reich

REICH, LEON (1879–1929), Zionist leader in eastern Galicia and a leader of Polish Jewry. Born in Lemberg, Reich joined the Zionist Movement in his youth and founded the first Zionist students' association in Galicia, called Emunah. By that time he was already known as an able lecturer and writer. After studying political science in Paris for two years, Reich returned to Galicia and became head of the Zionist Movement. He was also active in the political struggle for the civil rights of the Jews. In 1911 he was a candidate for the Austrian parliament, and, in spite of his failure to be elected, his influence increased in all Jewish circles. He was the editor of the Zionist Polish-language weekly Wschód and also edited a Polish Zionist almanac in 1910. During the political unrest in Galicia at the end of World War I (1918), he was arrested by the Polish government, accused of treason, and placed in a detention camp. He was released, however, on the intervention of West European leaders. He moved to Paris and became a leading member in the *Comité des Délégations Juives to the Versailles Peace Conference, on whose behalf he edited a book concerning the national rights of East European Jews, Les Droits nationaux des Juifs en Europe Orientale (1919). Back in Poland, he was elected a member of the Polish Sejm for the Lvov district, an office which he retained until his death.

In 1924 Reich was made chairman of the Jewish Club in the Sejm and Senate (Kolo Zydowskie) In this capacity he and O. *Thon negotiated an agreement with the Polish government according to which the Jewish members of the Sejm were to support the government, provided that certain concessions be given to the Jews. The agreement (known under its Polish name *Ugoda) met with wide opposition in the Jewish public and became void later, when, after a coup, a new regime was established in Poland. Reich was forced to resign from the chairmanship of the Jewish Club in the Sejm, but retained his influence, especially in eastern Galicia, where he was reelected to the Sejm in spite of pressures exerted by the Polish authorities in favor of their own candidates. At the same time, he carried on his Zionist work as president of the Zionist Organization in eastern Galicia and deputy chairman of the Zionist General Council. He took part in all Zionist congresses as a leading delegate of the *General Zionists. In order to increase his influence throughout Poland, he founded a second Zionist Polish-language daily in Warsaw, Dziennik Warszawski, in addition to Chwila, published in Lvov. The new paper was on a high level, but had to be closed because of financial difficulties. Reich's remains were brought to Tel Aviv in 1934.


N.M. Gelber, Toledot ha-Tenu'ah ha-Ẓiyyonit be-Galiẓyah, 2 vols. (1958), 833–4 and index; I. Zineman, In Gerangel (1952), 94–105. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Majchrowski et al., Kto byl kim w drugiej Rzeczypospolitej (1994), 412.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.