War, Jews and the New Europe

BookWar, Jews and the New Europe

War, Jews and the New Europe

Diplomacy of Lucien Wolf, 1914-19

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


September 1st, 1992

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The First World War was a major watershed in modern Jewish history. Out of it came the Balfour Declaration, a first critical step in the creation of the State of Israel, but also a radical redrafting of the political map of eastern and central Europe, with dramatic and potentially tragic consequences for its dispersed but substantial Jewish minority. In this lucid work, which was awarded the 1991 Fraenkel Prize for Contemporary History, Mark Levene approaches these developments through the diplomatic endeavours of Lucien Wolf, a British Jew who was both one of the chief proponents of the Balfour Declaration and co-architect of the Minorities Treaty that provided an internationally endorsed framework for Jewish existence in Europe after the First World War. Through an analysis of Wolf's diplomacy, Levene examines how Jewish interests throughout Europe were affected by the Great War and how they were perceived by the warring powers. Levene shows how british support for Zionism was bound up with misconceptions about the Jewish role in Europe, notably that the revolutionary movement in Russia was Jewish-inspired and Jewish-led. Equally, however, he shows how the diplomatic activities of Wolf and his Jewish contemporaries heralded the entry of 'world Jewry' as a perceived force in modern politics, and how Wolf himself was preoccupied with eastern Europe and its jews at a precarious time. He also analyses how the war affected Jewish political self-perceptions, reviewing the context between assimilationists and Zionists in the broader framework of war, peace, and international diplomacy. His consideration of their conflicting claims says much that is of relevance to the contemporary discussion of Zionism as well as to the problems of ethnic and religious minorities in nation-states.

Author Information

Mark Levene is Reader in Comparative History at the University of Southampton and a member of the Parkes Institute for Jewish/non-Jewish Relations. Much of his current work relates to his multi-volume project, Genocide in the Age of the Nation-State, volumes 1 and 2 of which appeared in 2005. He is also concerned with wider environmental issues, most particularly anthropogenic climate change, and is co-founder (with David Cromwell) of Crisis Forum (the Forum for the Study of Crisis in the 21st Century) as well as founder of Rescue!History.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
List of Maps16
A Note on Transliteration18
lntroduction 20
Part I: The Challenge of War40
1: The Challenge to the Community 42
2: The Challenge to the Conjoint 56
3: The Power of the Jews 75
Part II: Wolf and the Zionists94
4: Palestine as Propaganda 96
5: The Ideological Rift 127
6: Zionism versus Bolshevism 147
7: The End of the Conjoint 164
Part III: The Jews as a National Minority180
8: National Autonomy 182
9: The Breakup of Empires 193
10: The Struggle with the Polish National Committee 205
11: The Art of Compromise 223
Part IV: The Peace246
12: Problems 248
13: A Case in Point: Romania 268
14: French, American, and Other Jewish Delegations 281
15: The New States Committee and the Peace Settlement 303
Conclusion: In Alliance with the British?322
Appendix: The Polish Minorities Treaty 1919331