Karl Blind

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Karl Blind
Karl Blind.jpg
Personal details
Born (1826-04-09)9 April 1826
Died 31 May 1907(1907-05-31) (aged 81)
Nationality German

Karl Blind (4 September 1826, Mannheim – 31 May 1907, London) was a German revolutionist and writer on politics, history, mythology and German literature.


While a student at Heidelberg, he was imprisoned for his revolutionary activity, perhaps in consequence of a pamphlet he wrote entitled "German Hunger and German Princes." During the risings of 1848, he participated in the uprising in the Grand Duchy of Baden led by Friedrich Hecker, and had to flee, wounded. The next year, he joined the band of liberals headed by Gustav Struve which invaded southern Germany. He was taken prisoner and sentenced to eight years' confinement, but after eight months in prison, he was freed by a revolutionary mob while being taken to Mainz. He then went to Karlsruhe, whence he was sent by the provisional government of Baden as an envoy to Paris. Expelled from France, he went to Brussels, and then in 1852 found refuge in England, where he interested himself in democratic movements, and cultivated his literary as well as his political proclivities by contributing to magazines, and otherwise. He maintained an active correspondence with other democratic leaders, like Giuseppe Garibaldi, Giuseppe Mazzini, and Louis Blanc.[1][2][3][4]

Many Europeans expected a unified Germany to become a European and world leader and to champion humanitarian policies. This is demonstrated in the following letter written by Garibaldi to Blind on 10 April 1865:[5]

The progress of humanity seems to have come to a halt, and you with your superior intelligence will know why. The reason is that the world lacks a nation which possesses true leadership. Such leadership, of course, is required not to dominate other peoples, but to lead them along the path of duty, to lead them toward the brotherhood of nations where all the barriers erected by egoism will be destroyed. We need the kind of leadership which, in the true tradition of medieval chivalry, would devote itself to redressing wrongs, supporting the weak, sacrificing momentary gains and material advantage for the much finer and more satisfying achievement of relieving the suffering of our fellow men. We need a nation courageous enough to give us a lead in this direction. It would rally to its cause all those who are suffering wrong or who aspire to a better life, and all those who are now enduring foreign oppression.

This role of world leadership, left vacant as things are today, might well be occupied by the German nation. You Germans, with your grave and philosophic character, might well be the ones who could win the confidence of others and guarantee the future stability of the international community. Let us hope, then, that you can use your energy to overcome your moth-eaten thirty tyrants of the various German states. Let us hope that in the center of Europe you can then make a unified nation out of your fifty millions. All the rest of us would eagerly and joyfully follow you.

After 1866, Blind's writings became less revolutionary in tone.

Karl Blind was pardoned by the Baden government in 1867.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Karl Blind married a widow, Friederike Cohen (née Ettlinger) around 1849. They had known each other for several years and been imprisoned together in 1847.[6] They had two children together, Rudolph (born 1850, died February 1916) and Ottilie (died 1929). She already had a daughter, Mathilde, and son, Ferdinand from her first marriage.

His stepson, Ferdinand Cohen-Blind (1844-1866) attempted in May of 1866 to assassinate Bismarck and then committed suicide in prison.[2] His stepdaughter, Mathilde Blind (1841-1896), adopted his name over her father's, and became a well-known poet.[7]

After moving to Hampstead, London, Blind's family embraced the English education system and interests. Ottilie was involved in supporting women's suffrage, home rule for Ireland and the League of Nations. She organised working parties for the Serbian Red Cross during the First World War. She married a barrister Charles Hancock. She is now best known for her endowment in 1925 of the Ottilie Hancock and Hertha Ayrton Fellowships at Girton College, Cambridge.[8] Rudolph was educated at University College School and the Royal Academy.[9] He was an artist and illustrator. His best known works were The Golden Gates, Christ the Consoler, The World’s Desire (subject to two court cases, one against the artist for alleged obscenity and indecency while the other was for delivery of the picture and damages against the artist's wife),[10] Love’s Extasy, and The Throne of Grace.[10] He married Annie Sarah and they had 3 sons.


Blind published a great number of political essays and brief articles on history, mythology, and German literature. Among his works are:

Additionally, he wrote biographies of Ferdinand Freiligrath, Alexandre Ledru-Rollin, and Francis Deák.


In 1897 he contributed an autobiographical sketch to the Cornhill Magazine, London.[2]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Wood, James, ed. (1907). "Blind, Karl". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. 
  2. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Blind, Karl". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. 
  3. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Blind, Karl". The American Cyclopædia. 
  4. ^  Reynolds, Francis J., ed. (1921). "Blind, Karl". Collier's New Encyclopedia. New York: P.F. Collier & Son Company. 
  5. ^ Denis Mack Smith, ed., Garibaldi (Great Lives Observed), Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. (1969) p. 76.
  6. ^ Lee, Matthew. "Karl Blind". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. 
  7. ^  Garnett, Richard (1901). "Blind, Mathilde". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography (1st supplement). 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  8. ^ Stephen, Barbara (2010). Girton College 1869-1932. Cambridge University Press. p. 228. ISBN 9781108015318. 
  9. ^ "Rudolph Blind, obituary". The Times, London. 4 February 1916. 
  10. ^ a b Regan, Patrick. "'The World's Desire' by Rudolf Blind". ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901). Retrieved 28 April 2016. 


External links[edit]