He was the son of Edward Wolf, a London pipe manufacturer, and his wife Céline (born Redlich). Wolf's father was a Bohemian Jew who came to England as a political refugee after the 1848 revolution, and his mother was Viennese.
Wolf began his career in journalism as early as 1874, at the age of seventeen, becoming a writer for the Jewish World and remaining at this position until 1894; from 1905 to 1908, he would later serve as its editor. In 1877, he became assistant director of the Public Leader. From 1890 to 1909, he was foreign editor of the Daily Graphic, writing under the pseudonym Diplomaticus. From 1895 to 1905 he wrote under the same pseudonym for the Fortnightly Review. As indicated by his pseudonym, Wolf's writings dealt primarily foreign affairs and diplomacy and he became a respected expert in these fields.
The outbreak of the anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia in 1881 sparked his interest in Jewish affairs. He became a sharp critic of the Czarist regime and attempted to draw attention to the plight of Russian Jews. In 1912, Wolf founded and wrote a supplement named Darkest Russia to the Jewish Chronicle. With the outbreak of World War I, Wolf's preference for the more liberal German government to the Russian practically ended his career in journalism, as the British were allied with Russia against Germany.
Wolf was an enthusiast for Jewish history, and promoting Jewishness. In London he organized the 1887 Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition charting the immigration of Jews to Britain from across Europe over the centuries. In 1893, Wolf was one of the founders and the first president of the Jewish Historical Society of England. Wolf's historical writings extended beyond to aristocracy exhibiting his own upper-middle class pretensions. Fascinated by the emancipation and liberal enlightenment of Jewry he contacted Theodor Herzl, the German leader of World Zionism, when he came to London for the First Congress in 1896. Wolf was already an established joiurnalist for the most significant newspaper the Jewish Chronicle.
From 1903 Wolf served on the Conjoint Committee of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Anglo-Jewish Association. He served for over 20 years, effectively as "Foreign Secretary" representing Anglo-Jewry, having frequent meetings with members of the Cabinet. The "Conjoint Committee" had been formed in 1878. Author Sharman Kadish, citing Chimen Abramsky, says that he was regarded as "Public enemy number one of the Tsarist Government" in England. As an assimilationist Wolf believed Jewry was a mainly spiritual and religious identity. He vigorously the new Zionist movement that had been formed in Manchester. In the pages of the Jewish Chronicle he wrote angry, vituperative articles criticizing their leadership. The Jewish community in Britain was small, still only 300, 000 in 1900. it owed its presence to liberal democratic values, threatened by the violent pogroms, and stirring agitators in Britain. As a powerful editor Wolf had access to ministers, whom he lobbied frantically to avert the establishment's support for a home land: only secret negotiations with the Tsar could prevent disastrous Pogroms "without Zionism." At the international conferenceZemstvos calling for the relaxation of disabling industrial restrictions on Jews.
Lucien Wolf, journalist and assimilationist understood Sokolow and Weizmann's position as threatening the nationality status of British Jews. Emancipation was their gift from Britain. A series of leader articles from Claude Montefiore, and wrote "No wonder that all anti-semites are enthusiastic Zionists". Montefiore who was President of Anglo-Jewish Association, would later be brushed aside by Weizmann as irrelevant. It was curious that a committed freedom fighter for jewry should equivocate in this way; for the passionate Belarusan advancement of Zionism, must have been seen by Westernised Jews as bellicose, disruptive and insurgent. The yearning for a home land was historical and fundamental to the essence or quintessence of Jewishness. But to Wolf this "yearning" was primarily only religious.
Meanwhile, Walter Rothschild and others from the banking dynasty set up several meetings with Balfour to confound the Conjoint Committee. Wolf supported the committee's work as the only true representative body of all-English Jewry. By contrast, Zionism was sectarian, sectional minority. Wolf illuminated the principles of assimilation and emancipation to the Foreign Office - but behind this Wolf was as xenophobic as others. Montefiore tried to recruit Lord Milner, the jingoist to their side of the argument. But the Cabinet was already moving in a Zionist direction in May 1917.
Wolf was opposed to political Zionism, although he was one of the first people to formally propose the British government incorporated an aspiration for a Jewish home in Palestine into its war aims during the First World War. He later came to favour a model of national cultural autonomy, similar to that proposed by the Jewish Bund, for Jewish communities in Eastern and Central Europe. He would travel extensively in Europe inspecting the living conditions faced by Jews: In 1917 the Conjoint Committee had become the Conjoint Foreign Committee. In May with successful Cabinet pressure, Wolf was appointed First Secretary of the Joint Foreign Committee of British Jewry, remaining in post for the rest of his life. By the end of the year the Board of Jewish Deputies and Anglo-Jewish Association formed a Joint Committee in opposition to Zionism. Wolf met Robert Cecil face-to-face on May 8, 1917, but was warned not to antagonise the Zionists. Milner met Montefiore on May 16, arguing that anti-semitism and emancipation could not be achieved by consideration only of a small state in Palestine: given the impression that Zionism was about to be rewarded with ass. On May 17, Wolf, Alexander, and Montefiore issued a Conjoint Committee statement about Zionist Theory which it condemned; and the Chartered Company idea for Palestine home land which it deplored. Wolf was accompanied by new Chief Rabbi, Joseph H Hertz, who regretted the Zionist statements. Wolf wanted Herzl, and also Greenberg to "bring pressure to bear upon the Zionist leaders". On the evening of May 22, Greenberg told Wolf the quarrel over Zionism should be contained within Britain. The subsequent row was very damaging to both Greenberg and the Conjoint Committee.
Wolf was part of the Anglo-Jewish delegation to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. He helped draft the minority treaties, which guaranteed rights for the ethnic, religious, and linguistic minority populations. The Jewish delegations to the conference were split along different ideological lines. Western Europeans were cautious of both Zionism and diaspora nationalism, wanting Jews to be integrated with society. During 1920's anti-Semitism became more intensive, and organized, particularly in Poland, which had one of Europe's largest Jewish minority populations. The following year in 1926, he went to Portugal to aid the Marranos. Wolf continued to write extensively and in an outspoken manner against Zionist proponents, which he believed was leading to conflict and crises. In 1927, Roumanian Jews continued to be victims of pogroms: his work and expertise was recognized by appointment as an Advisor to the Committee for Refugees for the League of Nations at Geneva which he founded in 1929.
Some works by Lucien Wolf
- The Zionist Peril, The Times, 8 Sept 1903
- Parallels of the 17th and 20th Centuries (1885)
- 'Jewish Education', A Lay Sermon - Manuscript (1886)
- A Final Note on the Resettlement" published in The Jewish Chronicle (1886)
- Surrey Families (Jews in England) (1887)
- The City of London and the Jews (1888)
- Early History of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation (1889)
- "Situation of Jews in Bagdad", reprint from The Jewish Chronicle (1889)
- The Zionist Peril, Jewish Quarterly Review, 17 Oct 1904, p. 1-25.
- "Anglo-Jewish literary ability", Anglo-Jewish Literary Annual (1905)
- The Jewish National Movement, Edinburgh Review, April 1917, pp. 303–318.
- "Notes on the Diplomatic History of the Jewish Question" Jewish Historical Society of England (London 1919)
- The Myth of the Jewish Menace in World Affairs (1920): this is an edited compilation of articles - published previously in various periodicals - denying the authenticity of "The Protocols."
- The Jewish Bogey and the Forged Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (London 1920)
- 'Jews in the Canary Islands, Being a calendar of Jewish cases extracted from the records of the Canariote Inquisition in the collection of the Marquess of Bute', Jewish Historical Society (1926)
- "Report on the "Marranos" or Crypto-Jews of Portugal", Anglo-Jewish Association (1926)
- The Russian Conspiracy or Russian Monopoly in Opposition to Britain Interest in the East (Birmingham 1877)
- Sir Moses Montefiore: A Centennial Biography with Selections from Letters and Journals (Paris, 1885)
- The Treves Family in England (1896)
- Introduction: in E Semenoff, The Russian Government and the Massacres: A Page of the Russian Counter-Revolution (London 1907)
- The Legal Sufferings of The Jews of Russia (London 1912)
- Notes on the Diplomatic History of the Jewish Question: With Texts of Protocols, Treaty Stipulations and Other Public Acts and Official Documents (1919)
- The Myth of the Jewish Menace in World Affairs: The Truth about the Forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1920) ISBN 1478101334
- The Myth of the Jewish Menace in World Affairs, or The Truth about the Forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1921)
- The Montefiore Family (c1921)
- The Geneboten Jubilee: The Romance of a Bohemian Village
- The Queen's Jewry 1837-1897
- Memorandum on Russian discrimination against British Jews (Passport Question) (1890-1891)
- Memorandum and correspondence regarding Lucien Wolf's meeting with the Russian Minister of Interior Viacheslav Konstantinovich Plehve (1903)
- Outrages on the Jews (Appeal by the Russo-Jewish Committee) (1905)
- Memorandum on the treaty rights of Jews in Romania (1908)
- Memorandum on Russian discrimination against British Jews (Passport Question) (1912)
- Rights of British Jews Travelling in Russia" (1913)
- Conjoint Foreign Committee to Sir Edward Grey regarding British Jews in Russia (1913)
- Greetings to the [American Jewish] Congress from Lucien Wolf (1916)
- Report on the Polish Negotiations in Paris (1919)
- Report on his interview with Paderewski (1919)
- Romania and the Minorities Treaties – "Draft of a Treaty with Roumania" (1920)
- Memorandum on the Austrian Interpretation of Article 80 of the Treaty of St. Germain (1921)
- Russo-Jewish Refugees in Constantinople (1922)
- Report on Immigration Possibilities in Portugal and Spain (1926)
- Levene, Mark, Wolf, Lucien (1857–1930), journalist and lobbyist in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)
- Levene, Mark, Jews and the new Europe: the diplomacy of Lucien Wolf, 1914–1919 (1992)
- Wolf to Abrahams, 30 Oct 1916, MWS1693
- Wolf to Foreign Office, 1 Sept 1915, FO371/1445/155; C Dossier, "The Eastern War Zone"; Levene, p. 67-8
- Conjoint Committee, Report no.11, May 17, 1917-July 15, 1917, Yivo Institute, Wolf Papers; Schneer, p.309
- Hertz to Montefiore, May 23, 1917, Yivo Institute, Wolf Papers, microfilm reel 3.; Schneer, p.309
- Lucien Wolf (1921). The Myth of the Jewish Menace in World Affairs. The Macmillan company.
- 216 24/367 Lucien Wolf - Articles about Lucien Wolf 1879-1929, Series X: Newspaper clippings, 1879-1957
- "Guide to the Papers of Lucien Wolf (1857-1930) and David Mowshowitch (1887-1957), (1708-1963) (bulk 1880-1930)".. Retrieved January 30, 2006.
- Kadish, Sharman (1992). Bolsheviks and British Jews: The Anglo-Jewish Community, Britain and the Russian Revolution. London: Frank Cass & Co., Ltd.
- "Wolf, Lucien in the Jewish Encyclopedia".
- Cecil Roth, ed. (1934). "The Jew in Diplomacy". Essay in Jewish History (London).
- Works written by or about Lucien Wolf at Wikisource
- Works by Lucien Wolf at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Lucien Wolf at Internet Archive
|President of the Jewish Historical Society of England||Succeeded by