Felix Weltsch

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Felix Weltsch

Felix Weltsch, Dr. jur et phil. (October 6, 1884, Prague – November 9, 1964, Jerusalem), was a German-speaking Jewish librarian, philosopher, author, editor, publisher and journalist. A close friend of Max Brod and Franz Kafka, he was one of the most important Zionists in Bohemia.

Life[edit]

Born in Prague (then in Austria-Hungary), Weltsch studied Law and Philosophy at the Charles University. He lived and worked in Prague until 15 March 1939, and left the city with Max Brod and his family on the last train out of Czechoslovakia. In Palestine, he worked as a librarian in Jerusalem until his death in 1964.

He had one daughter, Ruth Weltsch (1920–1991), with his wife Irma Herz (1892–1969). They married in August 1914. The publisher, journalist and important Zionist Robert Weltsch and the pianist Alice Herz-Sommer were Felix Weltsch's cousins.

Influence[edit]

Weltsch's works around deal with the subjects of Ethics, Politics and Philosophy. For his ethical and political publications Weltsch received the Ruppin-Prize from the city of Haifa in 1952. His most important work was the Jewish-Zionist weekly paper Selbstwehr (self-defense), which he led from 1919 until 1938. With this work and hundreds of articles he became one of the most important personalities in Jewish life next to Martin Buber, Chaim Weizmann and Hugo Bergmann, his early school friend.

Weltsch wrote remarkable essays on philosophers like Henri Bergson and Christian von Ehrenfels, who was the most influential teacher for Weltsch. This was in so far unusual, as most of Weltsch's colleagues and student friends were more following the ideas of Franz Brentano. But people like Bergman and Martin Buber called him a self-thinking, independent philosopher. His influence and help to many others was great, but his role as a cultural consultant is not known to many also due to his shyness. The friendship to Kafka lasted 20 years, and the friendship to Max Brod lasted 75 years from the Piarist school in Prague to Weltschs death in 1964.

Works[edit]

  • Anschauung und Begriff, 1913 (Co-author, Max Brod)
  • Organische Demokratie, 1918
  • Gnade und Freiheit. Untersuchungen zum Problem des schöpferischen Willens in Religion und Ethik, Munich 1920
  • Nationalismus und Judentum, Berlin 1920
  • Zionismus als Weltanschauung, Jerusalem 1925 (Co-author, Max Brod)
  • Judenfrage und Zionismus, 1929
  • Antisemitismus als Völkerhysterie, 1931
  • Thesen des Nationalhumanismus, 1934
  • Das Rätsel des Lachens, 1935
  • Das Wagnis der Mitte, 1937
  • Die Dialektik des Leidens (Ha-Di’alektikah shel ha-Sevel), 1944
  • Natur, Moral und Politik (Teva, Musar u-Mediniyyut), 1950
  • Religion und Humor im Leben und Werk Franz Kafkas, 1957

References[edit]

  • Carsten Schmidt: Kafkas fast unbekannter Freund (Kafka's nearly unknown friend). Biography on Felix Weltsch. Publisher: Koenigshausen & Neumann, Germany 2010, ISBN 978-3-8260-4274-4.