BERNSTEIN, EDUARD (1850–1932), German socialist theoretician, spokesman for the socalled revisionist group which challenged orthodox Marxist doctrines. Born in Berlin, Bernstein was the son of a Jewish engine driver. He joined the Social Democratic Party in 1872 and participated in the creation of the important Gotha program (1875). In 1878, Bernstein was forced to leave Germany after the enactment of the anti-socialist legislation. He lived first in Switzerland, where he edited the Sozialdemokrat, and then in London. It was while he was in London that he published his principal work Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie (1899; Evolutionary Socialism, 1909), in which he set out his nonconformist Marxist interpretation of history. Bernstein contested the view of the inevitable collapse of capitalism and urged the socialists to become a party of reform. His views were vehemently opposed as heretical by most of the party but gained numerous adherents, the socalled "revisionists." In 1901 Bernstein returned to Germany and sat in the Reichstag from 1902 to 1906 and from 1912 to 1918. In World War I his pacifist views led him to disassociate himself from the right-wing faction and join the left-wing independent socialists who opposed the war. He returned to the majority party in 1918 and sat in the Reichstag again as a Social Democrat from 1920 to 1928. Concerning Judaism, Bernstein grew up in a Reform-oriented environment; aaron david bernstein was his father's brother. Thus, Eduard Bernstein was aware of Jewish traditions and ideas, but not interested in them. Nevertheless, throughout his tenure as a deputy in the Reichstag, he was an active fighter for Jewish emancipation and against antisemitism. In common with many Jewish socialists of the time, Bernstein left the Jewish community because the party disapproved of all religious affiliations. During World War I, however, he began to rethink his conception of being Jewish in the modern world. In his book Die Aufgaben der Juden im Weltkriege (1917) he argued that because of their dispersion and universalist ideas, the Jews should be the pioneers of an internationalism which would unite nations and prevent war. Towards the end of World War I, he got in touch with the Po'alei Zion movement, and established close contacts with Zalman Rubashov (later shazar , third president of Israel). During the Weimar Republik, Bernstein became an active supporter of East European Jews. Because of their specific situation he accepted a distinct Jewish nationalism among them, while he disapproved of the same for Western and Central European Jews. Toward the end of his life, he came to support the concept of a Jewish national home in Palestine and became a leader of the "International Socialist Pro-Palestine Committee." Bernstein's writings include his autobiography Erinnerungen eines Sozialisten (1918; My Years of Exile, 1921), Ferdinand Lassalle (1919); Die Deutsche Revolution (1921), and Sozialismus und Demokratie in der grossen Englischen Revolution (1922; Cromwell and Communism, 1930). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. Lichtheim, Marxism (1961), index; P. Angel, Eduard Bernstein et l'évolution du socialisme allemand (1961); P. Gay, The Dilemma of Democratic Socialism: Eduard Bernstein's Challenge to Marx (1952); E. Silberner, in: HJ, 15 (1953), 3–48. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Heuer (ed.), Lexikon deutsch-juedischer Autoren, 2 (1993), 301–38, bibl.; L. Heid, in: E. Bernstein, Texte in juedischen Angelegenheiten (2004), 13–56. (Robert Weltsch / Marcus Pyka (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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