Stefan Zweig: The Rediscovered Jew of Mitteleuropa

The Jewish intelligentsia is ecstatic at the Stefan Zweig ‘revival’ taking place (which is basically a function of New York Jewish writers increasingly writing about Zweig.) The latest is Adam Kirsch in The New Republic (“One of Liberalism’s Greatest Defenders Doesn’t Deserve His Obscurity“):

The truth is that Zionism of any kind was never in the cards for Zweig, because of his deep conviction that being Jewish meant being in the vanguard of cosmopolitanism. “I see it as the mission of the Jews in the political sphere to uproot nationalism in every country, in order to bring about an attachment that is purely spiritual and intellectual,” he wrote in 1919. “This is also why I reject Jewish nationalism. . . . Our spirit is cosmopolitan—that’s how we have become what we are, and if we have to suffer for it, then so be it: it is our destiny.”

Facts like the above (I thought Jews fighting to deracinate a host country, and stamp out any nativist nationalism in a host country, was a stereotype?) must be kept squarely in mind when looking at the widespread ‘anti-Semitism’ that took place in Europe after WWI.

Zweig, it should be added, was a bit of a rarity: he was actually consistent in his anti-nationalist sentiments. Like today, many Jewish intellectuals at the time sought to simultaneously suppress nationalism among the goyim while encouraging Jewish nationalism vis-a-vis Israel.

This entry was posted in History, Jewish, Literature. Bookmark the permalink.