Pierre Birnbaum: A Political Myth: Léon Blum

Simon Wiesenthal Lecture, 19. Februar 2015


In his lecture, Pierre Birnbaum demonstrates how Léon Blum's (1872-1950) Jewishness was central to his milieu and mission from his earliest entry into the political arena in reaction to the infamous Dreyfus Affair, and how it sustained and motivated him throughout the remainder of his life. As Prime Minister of France, he wrote many times that he was proud to be a Jew, at the time courageously facing a violent antisemitic movement. Furthermore, from the turn of the twentieth century he showed a deep interest in Zionism, became a close friend of Chaim Weizmann, and beginning in the thirties continuously helped him with the creation of the State of Israel, thus showing for the first time in history that it was possible for a Jew to be at the head of the French State while remaining dedicated to the faith of the Jewish people.


Chair: Martina Steer (Department of History, University of Vienna)



Pierre Birnbaum is a professor emeritus at the University Paris 1. He wrote several books on the theory of the state and also on the French state seen as a crucial variable in Jewish comparative history like The Jews of the Republic, Stanford 1996 and – together with I. Katznelson – Paths for emancipation, Princeton 1996. He also wrote several books on political antisemitism as a reaction against the involvement of Jews in the State like The Anti-Semitic Moment: A Tour of France in 1898, New York. 2003. Recently, he published a book on La république et le cochon [The Republic and Pork], Paris 2013, on the relation between republican universalism and Kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. His forthcoming books are Sur un nouveau moment antisémite. Jour de colère, Paris 2015 and Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist and Zionist, Yale 2015.




Veranstaltet vom Wiener Wiesenthal Institut für Holocaust-Studien (VWI) in Kooperation mit dem Österreichischen Staatsarchiv, dem Institut für Zeitgeschichte der Universität Wien und dem DÖW



Donnerstag, 19. Februar 2015, 18.30 bis 20.00 Uhr



Dachfoyer des Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchivs, Minoritenplatz 1, 1010 Wien



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