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Davis Trietsch

TRIETSCH, DAVIS (1870–1935), Zionist leader and author. Born in Dresden, Germany, Trietsch was educated in Berlin and subsequently studied migration problems in New York (1893–99). There he conceived (1895) the idea of settling Jews in *Cyprus, but he pursued this notion only after attending the First Zionist Congress (1897). He opposed Theodor *Herzl's political Zionism, insisting on immediate practical settlement wherever possible in the vicinity of Palestine. He tried in vain to persuade the Zionist Movement to adopt his conception of a "Greater Palestine," which was to comprise Palestine proper, Cyprus, and *El-Arish. After negotiations with the High Commissioner of Cyprus in 1899, Trietsch brought a group of 11 Boryslaw miners to the island (March 1900). This attempt ended in failure, however, because of inadequate preparation of both the settlers and of the land. He regarded Herzl's negotiations with the British authorities for a settlement in El-Arish (1902–03) as "an acceptance by Herzl of his program without him." This led to a permanent rupture between the two men (Sixth Zionist Congress, 1903). He subsequently organized the Juedische Orient-Kolonisations-Gesellschaft in Berlin, in whose name he negotiated with the London Colonial Office (1903) concerning a settlement in Cyprus, but was turned down.

Trietsch was a delegate to the First Zionist Congress and at many subsequent ones. In 1905 Trietsch opened an Information Office for Immigration in Jaffa, with branches in other cities in Ereẓ Israel, but was unable to maintain it. In 1906 he organized and participated in an expedition to El-Arish to investigate the area for Jewish settlement with a view to reopening negotiations with the British government, but this effort, too, ended in failure. He was a member of the Zionist General Council in 1907–11 and 1920–21. Some of his suggestions regarding practical settlement in Ereẓ Israel were adopted by Zionist Congresses. At first he supported the new leadership consisting of practical Zionists (from 1911 onward), but soon fell out with them and opposed Arthur *Ruppin's "slow settlement methods." During World War I he served in the statistical department of the German army, and after 1915 he published a number of officially sponsored pamphlets in which he pleaded for collaboration between Zionism and Germany after the war. At the request of the British government, Arnold J. Toynbee opposed these ideas and pleaded (in Turkey: A Past and A Future, 1917) for cooperation between Zionism and the Allies. After World War I Trietsch fought for his "Zionist maximalism" with still more fervor, believing that a chance for large-scale immigration to Ereẓ Israel was at hand and that the agricultural methods of the Zionist Organization were inadequate to handle it. He suggested planned industrial development of the country in conjunction with numerous small "garden cities" and propagated these ideas at Zionist Congresses and in his periodical Volk und Land (Berlin, 1919).

Trietsch was coeditor and cofounder (with Leo Wintz) of Ost und West (Berlin, 1901–02) and with Alfred *Nossig of Palaestina (Berlin, 1902). He propagated his ideas in a great many books, pamphlets, and articles, including Palaestina-Handbuch (1907 and nine subsequent editions), Juedische Emigration und Kolonisation (1917), Palaestina Wirtschaftsatlas (1922), Der Widereintritt der Juden in die Weltgeschichte (1926).


O.K. Rabinowicz, in: Herzl Year Book, 4 (1962), 119–206; Juedische Rundschau (Jan. 9, 1930); A. Boehm, Geschichte der zionistischen Bewegung, 1 (1935), 247ff.; 2 (1937), 20–21.

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