CES: "A Dreadful Experience" How the 1946 Zionist Congress in Basel Changed the Center of Gravity of Jewish Politics


Monday, January 30, 2017, 4:15pm to 6:00pm


Adolphus Busch Hall, Hoffmann Room, 27 Kirkland Street, Cambridge


Jews in Modern Europe Study Group


Simon Erlanger
Professor of Judaic Studies and Theology, University of Luzern


In this talk Professor Erlanger will discuss the 1946 22nd Zionist Congress in Basel, the first after the holocaust and the last such gathering before the establishment of the state of Israel.


In his memoirs "Trial and Error" Chaim Weitzmann describes the eery scene, when the delegates of the Zionist movement met for the first time since 1939:

"It was a dreadful experience to stand before that assembly and to run one’s eye along row after row of delegates, finding among them hardly one of the friendly faces which had adorned past Congresses. Polish Jewry was missing; Central and Southeast European Jewry was missing; German Jewry was missing. The two main groups represented were the Palestinians and the Americans; between them sat the representatives of the fragments of European Jewry, together with some small delegations from England, the Dominions, and South America. The American group, led by Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, was from the outset the strongest, not so much because of enlarged numbers, or by virtue of the inherent strength of the delegates, but because of the weakness of the rest."