Maximilian Harden (born Felix Ernst Witkowski, he changed his name to Maximilian Harden) (20 October 1861 – 30 October 1927) was an influential German journalist and editor.
Life and career
Born the son of a Jewish merchant in Berlin he attended the Französisches Gymnasium until he began to train as an actor and joined a traveling theatre troupe. In 1878 Harden converted to Protestantism and started his journalistic career as a theatre critic in 1884. He also published political essays under the pseudonym Apostata in several liberal newspapers like the Berliner Tageblatt edited by Rudolf Mosse.
From 1892 Harden published the journal Die Zukunft (The Future) - microfiche edition - in Berlin. His baroque style was mocked by former friend Karl Kraus, who even wrote a satire about "translations from Harden".
Initially a monarchist, Harden became a fierce critic of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his entourage around Prince Philip of Eulenburg and General Kuno von Moltke. His public accusations of homosexual behaviour - according to Paragraph 175 a criminal offence at that time - from 1906 on led to numerous trials and did sustained damage to the reputation of the ruling House of Hohenzollern and the German jurisdiction. In reaction Karl Kraus, disgusted by the public display of intimate details, wrote an obituary: Maximilian Harden. Eine Erledigung (A Settlement).
By 1914, Harden had again moved sufficiently to the right that he welcomed the German invasion of Belgium. During the war, Harden was an annexationist who wrote numerous articles demanding that Germany win the war to annex most of Europe, Africa and Asia to make the Reich the world's greatest power. However, after the war he became a pacifist and supported the Weimar Republic.
In the following years Harden's readership diminished. On 3 July 1922, a few days after the assassination of Walther Rathenau, he was severely injured in an assault conducted by Freikorps members. In the following trial the court ruled that his writings had provoked the two assailants, Bert Weichardt and Albert Wilhelm Grenz. Both were charged and sentenced to 2 years and 5 months and 4 years respectively.
Harden abandoned the publishing of Die Zukunft and in 1923 retired to Montana, Switzerland where he died four years later. His grave is located in Berlin at the Friedhof Heerstraße (Feld 8-C-10 (Reg. 335) (Ehrengrab)). The British historian A. J. P. Taylor wrote:
"Harden was certainly the most brilliant political writer during the reign of Wilhelm II. His paper, Die Zukunft, had a unique influence despite its small circulation. But Harden's spirit was essential critical and destructive. He always took up men when they were down-Bismarck after his fall and Holstein after his resignation. Equally he denounced those were up-Wilhelm II when in power, and even Ebert. His outstanding achievement was to hound Eulenburg from public life-not much to be really proud of. In international affairs, he swung from one extreme to another: at one time a Big Navy man, later an advocate of a naval agreement. At the beginning of the First World War he was a violent annexationist, towards its end a Wilsonian democrat and internationalist. He remained constant only in his high opinion of himself and contempt for everybody else."
- Helga Neumann: Maximilian Harden (1861-1927). Königshausen & Neumann, 2003, p. 15. Neumann states that "the prename Isidor which has often been used in necrologues with negative tendency is incorrect".
- Taylor, A.J.P. Review of Maximilian Harden by Harry F. Young page 370 from English Historical Review, Volume 75, Issue # 295, April 1960 page 370
- Norman Domeier: The Eulenburg Affair. A Cultural History of Politics in Imperial Germany (German History in Context 1), New York 2015, ISBN 978-1571139122.
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