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Pursuing the significance of “living together”

Siegfried Landshut: a portrait of a German-Jewish intellectual
Elena Fiorletta
Traduction de Daphne Granot
Cet article est une traduction de :
Sur les traces du « vivre-ensemble »

Texte intégral

  • 1 Letter from Siegfried Landshut to Fritz Warburg, 29.2.1936, in Rainer Nicolaysen, Die Wiederentdeck (...)

“I am profoundly impressed by everything that I have seen. While not ignoring in any way the difficulties and often the concerns of the many aspects of community life, this land offers nonetheless in its entirety a lively and persuasive reflection of willpower and transformation. From a professional point of view, it is such a particularly attractive field to implement new forces that I have no other desire than to be able to work on it”.1

1The author indulges in these lines during a few moments of optimism after his forced exile, three years after his departure from the port of Hamburg. This is said after Siegfried Landshut, a young German-Jewish intellectual is thrown out of the university of the Hanseatic city when the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service is passed on April 7, 1933. The land he deeply favors is Palestine, which has become the favorite destination of the Jewish communities who have to escape the anti-Semitic persecutions in Europe and who are seduced by the Zionist project that was initiated fifty years earlier. The “difficulties” and the “concerns” he evokes refer to the complexity of the historical and political context of the place, which is marked by a civil war that has been fuelled by the national aspiration of the Jewish immigration and by the desire for independence from the Arab population. His only true desire is to continue with his research work, specifically at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. There, several Jewish foundations act as his sponsor in order to allow him to finally take up his intellectual activity in an academic environment, even if only precariously.

2There is one additional point in these lines that is filled with hope and expectation, which is worth dwelling on. This last point is a window on the intellectual profile of our author: “I – he writes – am not ignorant of the difficulties and the concerns of the many aspects of community life”, which he is ready to confront. We can see that it is not only a question of the refugee’s perplexity toward the perspective of finding himself in an unheard of condition of existential insecurity. He characterizes it with the adjective that he uses in order to describe the “life” that awaits him in Palestine. This adjective, “collective”, completely illustrates his reflection on politics [das Politische] from the very first research projects and up to his last works.

  • 2 The definition is by the historian Dan Diner. Ibidem (ed.), Zivilisationsbruch: Denken nach Auschwi (...)

3This letter is a unique testimony to this period, marked by what is described as a “rupture in civilization”2 [Zivilisationsbruch], which is unparalleled in the modern age. Nevertheless, the combination of references to historical facts, to personal points of view, to the prospect of new opportunities for life and finally, to the main theme of his research, which is put forward in a more implicit manner, does in fact turn it also into a document of the time and a synthetic overview of his intellectual profile on which the scientific community has not dwelled on until now.

4The following pages thus offer the opportunity to explore a few elements of the author’s biography – which today is only available in German thanks to the pilot work of the historian Rainer Nicolaysen from Hamburg – with particular attention to the years of exile in Palestine. These preliminary notes provide us with a first insight on the concepts of “living together” with one another [miteinander zusammenleben] and of man as an individual living in a community [Gemeinwesen], which both play a central role in Landshut’s work and which will undergo a significant semantic alteration during his stay in Jerusalem.

First part

5We cannot remain insensitive to the many parallels, which link his journey to the intellectual scene of the Weimar Republic when reading Siegfried Landshut’s biography. He was born in Strasbourg into an assimilated Jewish family. Landshut attended the local protestant grammar school when he was a child. There, he acquired a humanistic education, which later guided him towards classical studies. Apart from Latin and Greek, he also studied English and French. He used the latter in his studies on Rousseau, Montesquieu and Tocqueville as well as during his exile in Egypt. When he was seventeen years old, Landshut was enlisted into the German ground forces that sent him to the front in the Middle East as a non-commissioned officer. He was wounded and returned to Germany after one and a half years at war and then again, five years later, at the end of the hostilities. The war had taken him to Turkey, then to Aleppo, Damascus, Beirut, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, cities to which he would return twenty years later as a refugee. The experience of the conflict marked his life and his future choices profoundly, as his letters, filled with doubt and worry for the future, reveal.

  • 3 For more information, please see his curriculum vitae, which he himself wrote in 1928. See Nicolays (...)
  • 4 Ibid.

6This uncertainty towards his “new existential situation”3 lead him to abandon his law studies in order to study political economy in Freiburg with Robert Liefmann and in Frankfurt with Franz Oppenheimer, In 1921, he completed his doctorate with a thesis that focused on the concept of “l’homo oeconomicus” as part of the theoretical debate regarding the autonomy of the social and historical sciences that sought a new methodological status. While he was trying to find an answer “to the problematic nature of life”,4 which was typical for the fragile balance of the Weimar Republic, Landshut opted for the philosophical disciplines. At first, he pursued his studies with Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger in Freiburg and then, in Marburg and after that with Max Scheler in Cologne and Alfred Weber and Karl Jaspers in Heidelberg. He met Karl Löwith, Hannah Arendt, Günther Aand s, Hans uWiederentdeckArendt, Güntagt ignlrojre is toe="ht of thewish intellectual is thrown out scape thd shapens” he , LandsLabon>

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              s.d.    Politica, 1253a 29

              Buber, Martin
              1923    Ich und Du, Gerlingen 1974.

              Diner, Dan (ed.)
              1988    Zivilisationsbruch: Denken nach Auschwitz, Frankfurt a.M.

              Duverger, Maurice
              1959    Die politische Parteien, ed. et traduit par Siegfried Landshut (Veröffentlichungen der Akademie für Gemeinwirtschaft Hamburg), Tübingen.

              Finer, Herman
              1957-1958    Der moderne Staat. Theorie und Praxis, ed. et traduit par Siegfried Landshut, vol. I Grundlage (Internationale Sozialwissenschaftliche Bibliothek) Stuttgart-Düsseldorf, vol. II et III (Veröffentlichungen der Akademie für Gemeinwirtschaft Hamburg), Stuttgart-Düsseldorf.

              Fiorletta, Elena
              2005a    “Siegfried Landshut tra passato e futuro. Intervista ad Angelo Bolaffi”, in
    , dernier accès le 10.12.2012.
              2005b    “Er war ein Perspektivenöffner auf die Moderne. Interview mit Martin Sattler”, in, dernier accès le 10.12.2012.

              Habermas, Jürgen
              2011    “Grossherzige Remigranten. Über jüdische Philosophen in der frühen Bundesrepublik. Eine persönliche Erinnerung”, in Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2.7.2011.

              Hennis, Wilhelm
              1970    “Zu Siegfried Landshuts wissenschaftlichem Werk”, in Zeitschrift für Politik, 17 (1970), c. I, pp. 1-14 (Ibidem, Wilhelm Hennis, Politik und praktische Philosophie. Schriften zur politischen Theorie, Stuttgart 1977, pp. 275-293)

              Kessel, Wolfgang
              2000    Das politische Gemeinwesen, in R. Nicolaysen (ed.), Polis und Moderne. Siegfried Landshut in Heutiger Sicht, Berlin-Hamburg 2000, pp. 81-93.

              Krauss, Marita
              2004    “Jewish Remigration: an Overview of an Emerging Discipline”, in LBI Year Book, vol. 49 (2004).

              Krohn, Claus-Dieter
              1993    Intellectuals in Exile, Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research, University of Massachusetts Press.

              Landshut, Siegfried
              1925    Über einige Grundbegriffe der Politik, in Ibidem, Politik. Grundbegriffe und Analyse Leipzig (Ibidem, Politik, op. cit.)
              1926    “Eine Frage europäischer Politik”, Die Gesellschaft, 3 (1926), vol. II.
              1929    Kritik der Soziologie. Freiheit und Gleichheit als Usprungsproblem der Soziologie, München-Leipzig (Ibidem, Politik, op. cit., pp. 43-188).
              1931    “Max Webers geistgeschichtliche Bedeutung”, Neue Jahrbücher für Wissenschaft und Jugendbildung, 7 (1931), pp. 507-516 (Ibidem, Politik, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 539-555).
              1931    “Marx redivivus”, Neue Blatter für den Sozialismus, 2 (1931), pp. 611-617.
              1932    Der Begriff des Ökonomischen. Einige Kapitel aus einer historisch-analytischen Untersuchung über den Bedeutungswandel des Begriffs des Ökonomischen, dans Ibidem, Politik, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 189-290.
              1934    “La crise et la politique monétaire de Président Roosevelt”, in L’Egypte Contemporaine. Revue de la Société Royale d’Economie Politique de Statistique et de Législation [Le Caire], 25. Année, n. 148-149 (Mars-Avril 1934), pp. 501-517.
              1934    “Les grandes problèmes sociaux de notre époque”, in L’Egypte Contemporaine. Revue de la Société Royale d’Economie Politique de Statistique et de Législation [Le Caire], 25. Année, n. 150 (Mai 1934), pp. 501-517.
              1939    La révolution sociale dans la conception de Landauer, Centre culturel du Histadrut (ed.) Gustav Landauer. Au vingtième anniversaire de son assassinat, Tel Aviv 1939, pp. 44-57 (en hébreu).
              1941    À la fin d’un siècle (1840-1940), dans Berl Katznelson (Ed.), Ba-kur, 1. Edition, Tel Aviv 1941, pp. 58-67 (en hébreu).
              1944a    Landshut, Kibboutz (Bibliothèque Sioniste 4), Jerusalem 1944 (en hébreu), 2. Edition par Yad Tabenkin, Research and Documentation Center of the United Kibbutz Movement, avec une introduction de Gideon M. Kressel, Ramat Efal 2000. Ibidem, Politik, op. cit., 2 vol., pp. 770-977.
              1944b    “Réflexions sur l’Alija”, Beajot [Problèmes], année 1, cahier I (avril 1944), pp. 152-157.
              1945    “L’essence de la société moderne selon Karl Marx et Max Weber”, in Iyyun [Réflexions], vol. I, cahier I (Octobre 1945), pp. 102-125 [en hébreu] (Ibidem, Politik, op. cit., pp. 608-653).
              1950    Jewish communities in the Muslim Countries of the Middle East. A survey, pour The American-Jewish Committee and the Anglo Jewish Association, édité par le Jewish Chronicle, London.
              1959    “Politik”, dans Evangeliche Kirchenlexikon. Kirchlichtheologisches Handwörterbuch, Heinz Brunotte et Otto Weber (eds.), vol. 3 (P-Z), Göttingen 1959, pp. 248-250 (Ibidem, Politik, op. cit., pp. 294-295).
              1969    “Verfassung”, Première publication du Wörterbuch der Soziologie, Wilhelm Bernsdorf (ed.), deuxième édition, Stuttgart 1969, pp. 1230-1233 (Ibidem, Politik, op. cit., p. 397).
              2004    Politik. Grundbegriffe und Analyse, ed. par R. Nicolaysen, Berlin-Brandeburg.

              Löwith, Karl
              1928    Das Individuum in der Rolle des Mitmenschen, Stuttgart 1981-1988.
              1986    Ma vie en Allemagne avant et après 1933 : récit, Paris 1988.

              Marx, Karl
              1932    Der historische Materialismus. Die Frühschriften, 2 vol. ed. par Siegfried Landshut et Jacob Peter Meyer, avec la collaboration de Friedrich Salomon (Kröners Éditions de poche 91 et 92), Leipzig.

              Nicolaysen, Rainer
              1997    Die Wiederentdeckung der Politik. Eine Biographie, Frankfurt a.M.

              Riedel, Manfred
              1972    Die Rehabilitierung der praktischen Philosophie, Freiburg.

              Sternberger, Dolf
              1987    Gang zwischen Meistern, Frankfurt a.M.

              de Tocqueville, Alexis
              1954    Das Zeitalter der Gleichheit. Eine Auswahl aus dem Gesamtwerk, ed. par Siegfried Landshut (Kröners Éditions de poche 221), Stuttgart. 2. Édition 1967.

              Weber, Max
              1919    Wissenschaft als Beruf, W. J. Mommsen (ed.), Max Weber Gesamtausgabe, vol. 17, Tübigen 1992.

              Haut de page


              1 Letter from Siegfried Landshut to Fritz Warburg, 29.2.1936, in Rainer Nicolaysen, Die Wiederentdeckung der Politik. Eine Biographie, Frankfurt a.M. 1997, p. 218. The information on Landshut’s life is based on this research monograph.

              2 The definition is by the historian Dan Diner. Ibidem (ed.), Zivilisationsbruch: Denken nach Auschwitz, Frankfurt/M. 1988.

              3 For more information, please see his curriculum vitae, which he himself wrote in 1928. See Nicolaysen, cit., p. 31.

              4 Ibid.

              5 Siegfried Landshut, Über einige Grundbegriffe der Politik, in Ibidem, Politik. Grundbegriffe und Analyse, ed. by R. Nicolaysen, Berlin-Brandeburg 2004, pp. 327-386.

              6 Wilhelm Hennis, “Zu Siegfried Landshuts wissenschaftlichem Werk”, in Zeitschrift für Politik, 17 (1970), c. I, pp. 1-14, here p. 4; now also in Wilhelm Hennis, Politik und praktische Philosophie. Schriften zur politischen Theorie, Stuttgart 1977, pp. 275-293, here p. 279.

              7 This issue is quite disputed by historians, see Nicolaysen, p. 65.

              8 Ibid., p. 81.

              9 Ibid., p. 77.

              10 Landshut, “Eine Frage europäischer Politik”, Die Gesellschaft, 3 (1926), Vol. II.

              11 Landshut, Kritik der Soziologie. Freiheit und Gleichheit als Ursprungsproblem der Soziologie, München-Leipzig 1929, now in Ibidem, Politik, cit., pp. 43-188. See also Ibidem, “Max Webers geistgeschichtliche Bedeutung”, Neue Jahrbücher für Wissenschaft und Jugendbildung, 7 (1931), pp. 507-516, now also in Ibidem, Politik, cit., Vol. II, pp. 539-555.

              12 Landshut, “Marx redivivus”, Neue Blätter für den Sozialismus, 2 (1931), pp. 611-617.

              13 Karl Marx, Der historische Materialismus. Die Frühschriften, 2 Vol. Ed. by Siegfried Landshut and Jacob Peter Meyer, together with Friedrich Salomon (Kröners pocket-sized editions 91 et 92), Leipzig 1932.

              14 Landshut, Der Begriff des Ökonomischen. Einige Kapitel aus einer historisch-analytischen Untersuchung über den Bedeutungswandel des Begriffs des Ökonomischen, now also in Ibidem, Politik, cit., Vol. I, pp. 189-290.

              15 Landshut, “The crisis and monetary politics of President Roosevelt”, in Contemporary Egypt. Magazine of the Royal Society of Political Economic, Statistics and Legislation [Cairo], 25. N. 148-149 (March-April 1934), pp. 501-517. Ibidem, “The great social problems of our era” in Contemporary Egypt. Magazine of the Royal Society of Political Economic, Statistics and Legislation [Cairo], 25. N. 150 (May 1934), pp. 501-517.

              16 Nicolaysen, cit., p. 498.

              17 In a letter to Bernhard Kahn, at that time Director of the European Office of the American Joint Distribution Committee, Landshut explains the reasons that inspire his research: “I think that if a scientific reflection can still be taken on, then the task of clarifying the historical sociological point of view on the Jewish destiny in the modern world should be the task that a Jewish sociologist should do today”. Nicolaysen, p. 208.

              18 Ibid., p. 220.

              19 Ibid., p. 503.

              20 Landshut, The Social Revolution in Landauer’s Concept, Cultural Center of the Histadrut (ed.) Gustav Landauer. At the twentieth anniversary of his assassination, Tel Aviv 1939, pp. 44-57 (in Hebrew).

              21 Landshut, At the End of a Century (1840-1940), in Berl Katznelson (Ed.), Ba-kur, 1. Edition, Tel Aviv 1941, pp. 58-67 (in Hebrew).

              22 Landshut, Kibbutz (Zionist Library 4), Jerusalem 1944 (in Hebrew), 2. Edition by Ya Tabenkin, Research and Documentation Center of the United Kibbutz Movement, with an introduction by Gideon M. Kressel, Ramat Efal 2000. Now also in Ibidem, Politik, cit., 2 Vol., pp. 770-977.

              23 Landshut, “Reflections on Aliyah”, Beajot [Problems], Year 1, Journal I (April 1944), pp. 152-157.

              24 Landshut, “The essence of the modern society according to Karl Marx and Max Weber”, in Iyyun [Reflections], Vol. I, Journal I (October 1945), pp. 102-125 [in Hebrew]. Now also in Ibidem, Politik, cit., pp. 608-653.

              25 Landshut, Jewish communities in the Muslim Countries of the Middle East. A survey, for The American-Jewish Committee and the Anglo Jewish Association, edited by the Jewish Chronicle, London 1950.

              26 Cf. Claus-Dieter Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research, University of Massachusetts Press, 1993, p. 199.

              27 Alexis de Tocqueville, Das Zeitalter der Gleichheit. Eine Auswahl aus dem Gesamtwerk, ed. by Siegfried Landshut (Kröners pocket book edition 221), Stuttgart 1954. 2. Edition 1967.

              28 Nicolaysen, cit., p. 366.

              29 Herman Finer, Der moderne Staat. Theorie und Praxis, ed. and translated by Siegfried Landshut, Vol. I Grundlage (Internationale Sozialwissenschaftliche Bibliothek) Stuttgart-Düsseldorf 1957, Vol. II and III (Veröffentlichungen der Akademie für Gemeinwirtschaft Hamburg), Stuttgart-Düsseldorf 1958.

              30 Maurice Duverger, Die politischen Parteien, ed. and translated by Siegfried Landshut (Veröffentlichungen der Akademie für Gemeinwirtschaft Hamburg), Tübingen 1959.

              31 According to Nicolaysen, Landshut asked his friend Daniel Dishon in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 60’s to send him literature on the Kibbutz in order to resume his study on the “community establishments” but it is not known if he really pursued the development of the new studies. Cf. Nicolaysen, op. cit., p. 427 and 559.

              32 Jürgen Habermas, “Großherzige Remigranten. Über jüdische Philosophen in der frühen Bundesrepublik. Eine persönliche Erinnerung”, in Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2.7.2011.

              33 Cf. E. Fiorletta, “Siegfried Landshut tra passato e futuro. Intervista ad Angelo Bolaffi”, in, last access on 10/12/2012.

              34 Marita Krauss, “Jewish Remigration: an Overview of an Emerging Discipline”, in LBI Year Book, Vol. 49 (2004), p. 111.

              35 Cf. E. Fiorletta, “Er war ein Perspektivenöffner auf die Moderne. Interview mit Martin Sattler”, in, last access on 10/12/2012.

              36 Max Weber, Wissenschaft als Beruf, W. J. Mommsen (ed.), Max Weber Gesamtausgabe, Bol. 17, Tübigen 1992, p. 46.

              37 Cf. D. Sternberger, Gang zwischen Meistern, Frankfurt am Main 1987.

              38 Cf. Karl Löwith, Ma vie en Allemagne avant et après 1933: récit, Paris 1988.

              39 Martin Buber, Ich und Du (1923), Gerlingen 1974.

              40 Karl Löwith, Das Individuum in der Rolle des Mitmenschen (1928), Stuttgart 1981-1988.

              41 From CV, Landshut, cf. Nicolaysen, pp. 64-65.

              42 Landshut, Über einige Grundbegriffe der Politik, cit., p. 327.

              43 Aristotle, Politica, 1253a 29. What is remarkable is Landshut’s reference to the political Arestitolianism that also contributed to Hannah Arendt’s thoughts and to the entire German tradition of studies known as the rehabilitation of practical philosophy. Cf. Manfred Riedel, Die Rehabilitierung der praktischen Philosophie, Freiburg 1972.

              44 Landshut, Über einige Grundbegriffe der Politik, cit., p. 328.

              45 Besides the philosophers that have already been mentioned, such as Buber and Löwith, we should also recall Hermann Cohen, Die Religion der Vernunft aus den Quellen des Judentums (1919); Franz Rosenzweig, Der Stern der Erlösung (1921); Max Scheler, Wesen und Formen der Sympathie (1923).

              46 Landshut, “Politik”, in Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon. Kirchlich-Theologisches Handwörterbuch, Heinz Brunotte and Otto Weber (eds.), Vol. 3 (P-Z), Göttingen 1959, pp. 248-250. Now Ibidem, Politik, cit., pp. 294-295.

              47 Landshut, Über einige Grundbegriffe der Politik, cit., p. 328.

              48 Landshut, “Verfassung”, First publication of the Wörterbuch der Soziologie, Wilhelm Bernsdorf (ed.), Second Edition, Stuttgart 1969, pp. 1230-1233, now Landshut, Politik, cit., p. 397.

              49 Wolfgang Kessel perfectly understood the main role of the idea of the political community in Landshut’s thoughts. Cf. Kessel, Das politische Gemeinwesen, in R. Nicolaysen (ed.), Polis und Moderne. Siegfried Landshut in Heutiger Sicht, Berlin-Hamburg 2000, pp. 81-93.

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              Elena Fiorletta

              Elena Fiorletta earned her degree in Philosophy (magna cum laude) from the University of Rome La Sapienza. In 2009, she earned her PhD in Contemporary Social Philosophies and Theories from the University of Bari. Her thesis, entitled “Economia, politica, società. Il contributo di Siegfried Landshut a un’analisi del moderno” aims to reconstruct three key moments of the first phase of the philosophical thought of this still unknown Jewish-German author. She carried out her research in Germany at the universities of Heidelberg, Frankfurt and Hamburg. In 2012, she completed her postdoctoral studies at the Franz Rosenzweig Research Center of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Currently, she is a Bettencourt Schueller Research Fellow at the French Research Center in Jerusalem (CRFJ), with a project on the concept of Gemeinwesen in Landshut’s philosophical work. She contributes to the CRFJ research program on religious identities in Israel today.

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