Find more information about

at the Center for Jewish History:

NOTE: you will be redirected
to the Web site for the

Herrmann, Leo

(1888–1951), journalist and Zionist activist. Leo Herrmann was born in Landškroun (Landskron), Bohemia. After studying law in Prague, he joined the Bar Kochba Association, the organization of Prague Zionists, in 1906, and served as its chairman between 1908 and 1909. That year, he invited Martin Buber to Prague to deliver his famous “Three Speeches on Judaism,” a presentation that had a decisive influence on Zionism in that city. Herrmann was editor of the Prague Zionist weekly Selbstwehr (Self-Defense) from 1910 to 1913; under his editorship it became a respected political and literary journal. He also contributed to the Jüdische Volksstimme (Jewish People’s Voice) in Brünn (Brno) and the Jüdische Zeitung (Jewish News) in Vienna.

In 1913, Herrmann moved to Berlin, where he assumed the post of secretary of the World Zionist Organization and later became editor in chief of Die jüdische Rundschau (The Jewish Review), succeeding his cousin, Hugo Herrmann. He published Nathan Birnbaum, sein Werk und seine Wandlung (Nathan Birnbaum: His Work and His Transformation) in 1914 and the pamphlet “Im Kampf um die hebräische Sprache” (The Struggle for the Hebrew Language) in the same year. Die Treue (Fidelity), a collection of essays on Jewish themes, appeared in 1916. Herrmann was one of the promoters of Martin Buber’s journal Der Jude, which was launched in 1916. He was a member of the Czechoslovak delegation at the Versailles Peace Conference. In 1920 he cofounded Keren Hayesod (the Palestine Foundation Fund) with Berthold Feiwel.

In 1926, Hermann moved to Jerusalem, where he worked as general secretary of Keren Hayesod. He made films about Israel, including Le-Ḥayim ḥadashim (A New Life; 1934–1935). This production was followed they same year by another film with the same name (though called Land of Promise in English), an early sound film dealing with the accomplishments of Jewish pioneers in the 1920s and 1930s. Following many years during which he attempted to steer Zionism in the direction of Berit Shalom—which had as its goal a binational state of Arabs and Jews—in 1929 Herrmann wrote a bitter letter of resignation from his post at Keren Hayesod, predicting dire consequences if Zionist policies toward Palestinian Arabs continued. Nevertheless, he remained in that position until his death in 1951.

Suggested Reading

Peter Heumos, “Rückkehr ins Nichts: Leo Herrmanns Tagebuchaufzeichnungen über seine Reise nach Prag und die Lage der Juden in der Tschechoslowakei im Herbst 1945,” Bohemia 27.2 (1986): 269–304; Felix Weltsch, Prag vi-Yerushalayim: Sefer le-zikhron Le’o Herman (Jerusalem, 1953).