Saul Ascher

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Saul Ascher
Born Saul ben Anschel Jaffe
(1767-02-06)February 6, 1767
Died December 8, 1822(1822-12-08) (aged 55)
Nationality German
Occupation Writer and Translator

Saul Ascher (February 6, 1767 in Berlin – December 8, 1822 in Berlin) was a German writer, translator and bookseller.


He was born Saul ben Anschel Jaffe, and was the first child of Deiche Aaron (c. 1744 Frankfurt (Oder) – 1820 Berlin) and bank broker Anschel Jaffe (1745 Berlin – 1812 Berlin).

Little is known about his training. In 1785, he attended high school in Landsberg an der Warthe (today Gorzów Wielkopolski), on the Warta River in western Poland). Saul married Rachel Spanier on 6 June 1789 in Hanover. Spainier was the daughter of Nathan Spanier, the head of the Ravensberg Jewish community. On 6 October 1795, his only child, a daughter named Wilhelmine, was born. On 6 April 1810, Ascher was arrested in Berlin, and on 25 April, due to political pressure, was released. On 6 October, he was awarded a doctoral degree in absentia from the University of Halle. In 1812, the year his father died, Ascher received the letter of citizenship. Ascher stepped forward in 1816 in the Jewish reform-oriented Gesellschaft der Freunde (Society of Friends). In the book burning at the Wartburg festival on 18 October 1817, Asher's writing "Die Germanomanie" ("The Germano Mania") was also burned.[1] In October 1822, Saul Ascher fell ill, and on 8 December 1822, he died of "exhaustion".


Ascher had a vast circle of friends. He was a close friend with the Swiss Heinrich Zschokke from the end of 1789, and later with Solomon Maimon, Johann Friedrich Cotta and Marx's teacher Eduard Gans. In his death year 1822, he visited Heinrich Heine. Throughout his life, Ascher was rejected as a Jew, theorist and writer. However, he also had never spared his enemies. Leopold Zunz remarked in 1818, Ascher was an "enemy of all fanaticism, against the Deutschtümler, his moral character was not appreciated".

Saul Ascher was a prolific writer. His work can be divided into three different areas: author, translator, editor/publisher. The full extent of his work has only been inadequately described until now.

Ascher was already very active early as a publisher. He had successively and in parallel several publishers under different names. His own writings also appeared anonymously or under various pseudonyms.

Ascher was a member and correspondent for various magazines, including the Berlin Monatsschrift, Berlinische Archive of Time and Taste, Eunomia, Literary Newspaper Hall, Morning Paper for the Educated Classes of Cotta, Miscellany for New World Client by Zschokke, Journal de l'Empire. As a journalist, he delivered text, sometimes, which corresponded to his rank as a thinker, at other times, merely the day's products.

Ascher had founded at least two magazines himself, and distributed with some success. In 1810, a politically difficult year for Ascher, he brought out the "World and Spirit", which was published until 1811 in six issues. Here to have several authors, among them Ascher 1818 and 1819 alone, he moved himself and wrote Der Falke ("The Falcon"), a rather theoretical and critical organ from which six issues appeared also.


In his first publication, "Bemerkungen über die bürgerliche Verbesserung der Juden" ("Remarks on the Civil Improvement of the Jews"), Ascher said that the alleged special Jewish character did not go to a predisposition, but the centuries of persecution and discrimination. About the fate of the Jewish nation, he noted:

"Repression creates despondency of the spirit, contempt suppresses every germ of morality and education, tracking every germ of morality. No nation is more persecuted and despised than the Jewish."

Unlike other Jewish writers, that the Edict of Emperor Joseph II associated reforms – and that included the general obligation to military service – welcomed, Ascher turned against the Jews to be in the military service.

Because of the de facto division of the Jewish nation into rich and poor, they would redeem themselves, and the burden alone would be passed on to the poor. Only a forward-running full equality of the Jews should draw a general agreement also with the state to himself.

In 1792, appeared "Leviathan oder über Religion in Rücksicht des Judentums" ("Leviathan or religion in respect of Judaism") as a religious criticism, Ascher, between disclosed and aim of obtaining a religion of reason and an externalized "machine-like" ritual law differed. In his 1794 pamphlet published Eisenmenger The Second Ash polemic against Fichte's anti-Semitic remarks, which he called the Jews to then known enemy Johann Andreas Eisenmenger, author of the pamphlet Entdecktes Judaism attributed. With spruce, the cutting heads of Jewish and others had called for a touchdown, anti-Semitism was a new phase of the observed, now the religious political arguments against the Jews into the field instead of leading. Ascher called for the emancipation and pointed to the confessions of the bridging elements found in the truths veiled revelations.

In 1799, his script ideas to the natural history of the political revolutions of the censors were banned on the grounds of a coup on the previous constitution aimed being highly culpable intent. In 1801 was another item the description of mankind's journey to higher and worthier communities. For his revolutionary and progressive ideal, Ascher saw it realized first in the Prussian State, then in the political system of Napoleon. The Empire had a certain nationalism and intolerance, without the groundwork for a more harmonious world order.

In 1809, Ascher translated the Scriptures The Negroes of the fighter for the emancipation of Jews Henri Grégoire, a work for all, "what the cause of the unfortunate blacks and mulattoes ... " to defend.

In 1811, Ascher described the circumstances of the arrest of the anti-reform politicians Finckenstein and Marwitz, as the press was told that the article has a completely uninformed Jewish instructor named Saul Ascher, resulting from, which a year ago ... the city was handed over to prisons, and, as it turns out, is released early.

In the same year, described the Berlin Ascher romantic-nationalist Christian-German dinner party, the statute in their club membership of Jews or Jewish ethnic principle excluded. He brought with respect to anti-Semitic publications Clemens Brentano[1] expressed the fear that after the condemnation of the Philistines and Jews, Muslims, Chinese, barbarians and Indians come.

The Germano Mania[edit]

With the defeat of Napoleon, the German-nationalist anti-French and anti-Semitic Volkstumsideologie won, with the influence of the spokesmen Ernst Moritz Arndt and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. In the journalistic controversy took Saul Ascher 1815 with his book, Die Germanomanie ("The Germano-Mania").

You have to amount to too, for a view or doctrine to take, seek to inspire, to get the fire the enthusiasm must, fuel will be collected, and the handful of Jews want our German maniacs lie down the first set Reiser to the spread of fanaticism.

Said Ascher more Germany, is not harmful foreign influences weakened because of, but because it is the impulse of the French Revolution had withdrawn from the outset. The idea of a united humanity he saw looming in the Holy Alliance realized. The claim of the anti-Semitic historian Friedrich Ruhe Jews, lack of honor from the state to exclude participation in the war because, he said it, that Germany in the fight against armies of France were subject, before the Jews ... participated, however, they were ... victorious, when the Jews ... with their rank and file were in.

The student and follower of Jahn, Hans Ferdinand Massmann organized the reaction of the offended hoping, "German maniacs" on the Wartburg Festival on 18 October 1817, a figure of Luther 300 years ago, remember act to end book-burning. It was the "Germano mania" with other letters and symbols in front of 500 students fraternity with a reputation woe to the Jews, so that cling to their Judaism and do about our nationality and Germans mocked. burned.

His perspective on the events of the book-burning took Ascher 1818 in the magazine The Wartburg celebration together, in which he the fellow sheep Tern a reversal of the Lutheran intention as an irrational aberration pointed at. He explicitly called police action to suppress German nationalism of thought on to. Also called Saul Ascher 1818 a government censorship decree on the Frankfurt parliament.

As a summary of his thoughts can be wrote his 1819 publication The German Geistesaristokratismus understand. Starting from the ideal of the French Revolution came to Germany the role of completing them. Germany offers conditions of a disintegrating nationalism in favor of a gradually progressive, unifying cosmopolitanism.


Illustration by C. E. Brock for The Ghost of Dr. Ascher as depicted in The humour of Germany (1909)

Historically effect emancipation is Ascher behind other contemporary representatives of the fallen significantly. In his "Harz Journey", says Heinrich Heine of him. Ironically, he describes Ascher as "reason doctor" and leaves him after his death as a ghost appear, with the help of the teachings of Kant's "witching hour" the non-existence of ghosts seeking to prove-in. At the same time, Heine points out, however, Ascher have influenced him in his development. The literature professor Reinhold Steig deals in his book, "Heinrich von Kleist's Berliner struggles" (Stuttgart 1901) one-sided and distorted with Ascher and his disputes with Kleist.

Walter grave was the first in 1977, basing on a dissertation by Fritz Pinkuss of 1928, representing an in-depth essay by Ascher. Even Peter Hacks has 1989 and 1990 in two papers, the title "Ascher against Jahn" were grouped under the order political classification and appraisal Asher tried one. An important role as a counter-figure to Clemens Brentano and Achim von Arnim played Ascher in the context of recent research on the relationship between romance and anti-Semitism (see "Literature" the study by Puschner).

In his two-part essay, "The Falcon" has André Thielelast in his collection "A world in ruins," (2008) reprinted, preliminary work for a comprehensive biography Ascher presented the well as a bibliography of the primary title, compared to previously known to titles 50% is more extensive.

In 2010, two new editions of works by Saul Ascher announced a one-volume selection from the work in the Böhlau Verlag, Bonn, and the first volume of a comprehensive edition of works published by André Thiele, Mainz.

In January 2010, a website was started that deals exclusively with Saul Ascher.


  • Leviathan oder über Religion in Rücksicht des Judentums (Leviathan or religion in respect of Judaism) (1792)
  • Eisenmenger der Zweite (Eisenmenger the Second) (1794)
  • Philosophische Skizzen zur natürlichen Geschichte des Ursprungs, Fortschritts und Verfalls der gesellschaftlichen Verfassungen (Philosophical sketches of Natural History of the Origin, Progress and Decline of Social Constitutions) (1801)
  • Orientalische Gemälde (Oriental Paintings) (1802)
  • Ideen zur natürlichen Geschichte der politischen Revolutionen (Ideas for the Natural History of Political Revolutions) (1802)
  • Kabinett Berlinischer Karaktere (Berlin Cabinet Character) (1808)
  • Napoleon oder über den Fortschritt der Regierung (Napoleon or the Progress of the Government) (1808)
  • Rousseau und sein Sohn (Rousseau and His Son) (1809)
  • Historisch-romantische Gruppen (Historic-Romantic Groups) (1809)
  • Romane, Erzählungen und Märchen (Novels, Short Stories and Tales) (2 Bde, erschienen 1810)
  • Bagatellen aus dem Gebiete der Poesie, Kritik und Laune (Bagatelles of the Areas of Poetry, Criticism and Humor) (2 Bde, erschienen 1810–1811)
  • Die Entthronung Alfonsos, Königs von Portugal (The Dethronement of Alfonso, King of Portugal) (1811)
  • Die Germanomanie (The Germano Mania) (1815) online
  • Idee einer Preßfreiheit und Censurordnung (Idea of Freedom of the Press and Censorship Regulation) (1818)
  • Die Wartburgsfeier (The Wartburg Celebration) (1818)
  • Ansicht von dem künftigen Schicksal des Christenthums (View of the Future Fate of Christianity) (1819)


  • Henri Grégoire, Die Neger. Ein Beitrag zur Staats- und Menschenkunde. (1809)
  • Auguste Lambert, Praxède oder der französische Werther. (1809)
  • Charles Ganilh, Untersuchungen über die Systeme der politischen Ökonomie. (1811, anonym)
  • Auguste Lambert, Schwärmereien der Liebe. (1816)
  • Bernard v. Mandeville, Fabel von den Bienen. (1818, kommentiert)

Published post-mortem

  • Ideen zur natürlichen Geschichte der Revolutionen, Kronberg/Ts. 1975
  • 4 Flugschriften, Berlin und Weimar 1990
  • Ausgewählte Werke. Hrsg. Renate Best, Köln 2010, ISBN 978-3-412-20451-8 (umfasst vier Texte)
  • Werkausgabe. Theoretische Schriften, Band 1: Flugschriften, Hrsg. André Thiele, Mainz 2010, ISBN 978-3-940884-27-5 (umfasst sieben Essays)


  • Fritz Pinkuss: Saul Ascher, ein Theoretiker der Judenemanzipation aus der Generation nach Moses Mendelssohn, in: Zeitschrift für die Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland VI (1936), S. 28–32.
  • Walter Grab: Saul Ascher. Ein jüdisch-deutscher Spätaufklärer zwischen Revolution und Restauration, in: Ders.: Ein Volk muss seine Freiheit selbst erobern. Zur Geschichte der deutschen Jakobiner, Frankfurt 1984, S. 461–494.
  • Peter Hacks: Ascher gegen Jahn. Ein Freiheitskampf, Berlin: Aufbau 1991.
  • Christoph Schulte: Die jüdische Aufklärung: Philosophie, Religion, Geschichte, C.H.Beck, 2002, ISBN 3-406-48880-3.
  • André Thiele: Der Falke, in: Ders.: Eine Welt in Scherben, Mainz 2008, ISBN 978-3-940884-06-0, S. 39–64.
  • Marco Puschner: Antisemitismus im Kontext der politischen Romantik. Konstruktionen des "Deutschen" und des "Jüdischen" bei Arnim, Brentano und Saul Ascher, Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2008 (Conditio Judaica; 72).


  1. ^ Deborah Sadie Hertz (2007). How Jews Became Germans: The History of Conversion and Assimilation in Berlin. Yale University Press. p. 152. ISBN 0-300-11094-4. 

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