Auction No. 115

Seforim, Letters from Rabbis and Rebbes, Chabad, Manuscripts, Art from Israel, Important historic documents

Wednesday, 24 July 2019 at 6 pm
Opening $ 800
Estimate $ 1,000 - $ 1,200

Handwritten and signed letter by visionary of the Jewish state, Binyamin Ze'ev (Theodor) Herzl on official stationery of the newspaper Neue Freie Presse. The letter was sent from Altaussee, Austria, where he was apparently recuperating over the summer. Herzl writes, among other things, that intends to stay for a while longer in the town, so he is forwarding the complaint to Vienna. Altaussee, 1901.

1901, when this letter was written, was one of the most important and busy years of Herzl's life. He met with the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the year, when he detailed his secret revolutionary idea: Jews would buy Ottoman bonds from all the exchanges in the empire, thus saving Turkey from bankruptcy. The Sultan would compensate them by opening its gates to Jews escaping countries where they are persecuted. Herzl wrote in his diary that year: "Once the Jewish state is established, everything will be seen as insignificant and self-evident. But perhaps there will be an honest historian, who nevertheless saw something in that a poor Jewish journalist, in the deep state of the humiliation of the Jewish people, during the era most polluted with antisemitism, turned a rag into a flag, and a lowly mob into a people, who uprightly defend this flag." On June 5th that year, while hiking in the Boulogne forest, Herzl suffered a stroke and lost consciousness for a few moments. This is possibly the reason he was in the resort town Altaussee. About two months after writing this letter, on November 8th, 1901, he wrote to Wolfson: "Time and again I am overcome with a premonition that my days are numbered." The famous picture of him looking out from the Les Trois Rois Hotel in Basel, Switzerland, during the fifth Zionist Congress, was photographed that year.

[1] paper stationery blank. 22x14 cm. Very fine condition, fold marks.

Land of Israel and Zionism