Landauer, Gustav

(1870-1919)
   philosopher and politician; Cultural Minister in Munich's short-lived Räterepublik. Born in Karlsruhe to a middle-class Jewish family, he pursued university studies without completing a degree. In 1891 he joined several young socialists centered on Berlin's* newly founded Freie Volksbuhne (Free People's Stage); when a feud arose over the Marxist program issued by the SPD, he entered a rival group of anti-Marxist socialists. He wrote concurrently for Der Sozialist, a paper founded by exiles from the SPD, and became editor in 1893. For twenty years, in and out of prison, he struggled to support himself. Attracted to anarchism, he was also increasingly steeped in pacifism and mysticism. His major work, Aufruf zum Sozialismus (Call to socialism, 1911), rejected scientific Marxism. By 1911 he was working with Erich Mühsam* and Martin Buber*; the latter's concept of man as God's agent working to perfect humanity was crucial to his thought. He emphasized struggle as essential to spiritual regeneration; his ideas were anathema to many colleagues. Because of his utopian anarchism and his distaste for structure, every Party affiliate refused him membership.
   After several years as a critic and translator, Landauer returned to active politics in 1908 by founding the Socialist Bund and reintroducing a defunct Sozialist, but the outbreak of war isolated him from old friends. He continued publishing antiwar opinions until April 1915, when economic constraints forced closure of Der Sozialist. Powerless to control the present, he grew increasingly preoccupied with shaping the future. Declaring before the November Revolu-tion* that the "poet is the leader of the chorus," he likened his position to that of Goethe a century earlier. Landauer's wife, the former Hedwig Lachmann, a poet and translator, was his closest companion and often the only person to fathom his mystical notion of socialism. Her sudden death in February 1918 was a blow from which he never recovered.
   Esteemed as a scholar and idealist, Landauer was invited to Bavaria* by Kurt Eisner* in November 1918 to assist "in the reformation of Geist." Seeing within the council system a means for realizing his dreams, he opposed the formation of a National Assembly* and thereby fell out of favor with Eisner (Eisner was ambivalent). Drawn to Munich's more radical elements, he championed an autonomous Raterepublik. From 7 April 1919, without KPD participation, he served six days as Commissar for Enlightenment in Munich's so-called pseudo-Soviet Republic. When the regime, which induced disorder and bewilderment, was replaced by hardline Communists, Landauer distanced himself from the new leaders but remained in Munich. The decision proved fatal; captured by Frei-korps* troops, he was beaten and murdered on 2 May. His grave, in Munich's Waldfriedhof, was later destroyed by the NSDAP.
   REFERENCES:Liptzin, Germany's Stepchildren; Lunn, Prophet of Community; Maurer, Call to Revolution; Mitchell, Revolution in Bavaria; NDB, vol. 13; Wurgaft, Activists.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • LANDAUER, GUSTAV — (1870–1919), German philosopher and writer. Landauer, the son of a wealthy Karlsruhe merchant, was drawn toward anarchism in his youth, and as a student in Berlin became editor of the anarchic socialist periodical, Der Sozialist. In 1893 – the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Landauer, Gustav — (1870–1919)    German revolutionary. In imperial Germany, Landauer was imprisoned several times as a political agitator, advocating anarchism based on individual freedom and responsibility in society. He was minister of public instruction in the… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Landauer, Gustav — (1870 1919)    German philos opher and writer. The son of a wealthy Karlsruhe merchant, he was attracted to anarchism in his youth and was twice imprisoned for political agitation. In 1918 he became editor of the theat rical periodical Masken… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Gustav Landauer — (7 April 1870 in Karlsruhe, Germany mdash; 2 May 1919 in Munich, Germany) was one of the leading theorists on anarchism in Germany in the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. He was an advocate of communist anarchism and an… …   Wikipedia

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  • Gustav Landauer — in den frühen 1890er Jahren. Gustav Landauer (* 7. April 1870 in Karlsruhe; † 2. Mai 1919 in München Stadelheim) war Ende des 19. und Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts einer der wichtigsten Theoretiker und Aktivisten des Anarchismus in Deutschland. Er… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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