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Zionist weekly published in Prague from 1 March 1907 to 8 October 1938. Selbstwehr’s title, which literally means “self-defense,” was interpreted in the newspaper’s programmatic statement also to mean “self-help.” Communal administration was to be made democratic, and Jews were to be encouraged to stop hiding their Jewishness. In addition, Selbstwehr campaigned to have Jews recognized as one of the nationalities of the multinational Austro-Hungarian Empire. Zionist work was reported in great detail, as was news of the Jewish world and of local Jewish cultural activities. In its first years, Selbstwehr gave special emphasis to sports, which were to help in creating a new type of Jew.

Translations of Yiddish writers and glimpses into the Hasidic world appeared as time went on. Among the important contributors were the philosopher Martin Buber and writer Max Brod. After the proclamation of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, the newspaper backed the Jewish National Council and the Židovská Strana (Jewish Party), which represented those Czechoslovak Jews who declared themselves to be of Jewish nationality. In 1922, the Zionist organization decided to merge Selbstwehr with the Moravian Jewish newspaper Jüdisches Volksblatt (Jewish People’s Paper), and it became the most widely distributed Jewish newspaper in the country.

The worsening situation of the Jews in Europe in the interwar period led to increased reporting on the progress of Jewish colonization in Palestine and on the political situation there. During this period, the philosopher Felix Weltsch served as editor in chief, with the monthly women’s supplement, “Blätter für die jüdische Frau,” edited by Hannah Steiner (1894–1944), the head of the Czechoslovak Women’s International Zionist Organization. The last person listed as responsible editor was Hans Lichtwitz, who later as an Israeli diplomat changed his name to Uri Na’or. The paper’s end came with the Nazi occupation of the Sudetenland, when anti-German sentiment made the publication of Jewish newspapers in the German language impossible.

Suggested Reading

Max Brod, Der Prager Kreis (Stuttgart, 1966), pp. 139–141; Achim Jaeger, “‘Nichts Jüdisches Wird uns fremd sein’: Geschichte der Prager “Selbstwehr” (1907–1938,” Aschkenas 15 (2005): 151–207; Wilhelm Terlau, “Österreichischer Patriotismus und jüdische Solidarität: Die Selbstwehr—eine Zionistische Zeitung im Ersten Weltkreig,” Jüdischer Almanach 1999 (1998): 42–56.