The Alexander Kulisher Quote of 1937

Some time ago a reader wrote to me to ask me if I had an opinion as to the authenticity and/or veracity of the following quote attributed to the Zionist author, translator and lawyer Alexander Kulisher:

‘Germany is the enemy of Judaism and must be pursued with deadly hatred. The goal of Judaism of today is: a merciless campaign against all German peoples and the complete destruction of the nation. We demand a complete blockade of trade, the importation of raw materials stopped, and retaliation towards every German, woman and child.’ (1)

Now in the first instance we know that unlike many of the individuals these difficult-to-verify quotations are attributed to: Kulisher was a real person and lived between 1890 and 1942. Kulisher in fact died in German custody in France during the Second World War. (2) This is a good start given that the alleged author meets all three of the stipulations of the quotation in that he is alive in 1937, he was a jew and also a Zionist.

So far so good, but when we begin digging a little further the life of Kulisher (from what I have found so far) it gets very muddy indeed. You see Kulisher is one of two ways that Kulisher spelt his surname: the other is Kulischer. This is evident for example in the fact that both Alexander and his brother Eugen spelt their surname ‘Kulischer’ on the title of their 1932 book about war and migration. (3)

Kulisher is an anglicization of Kulischer given that when either of the two brothers were writing in English: they used ‘Kulisher’, but when they wrote in German they used ‘Kulischer’. Another example is that Alexander uses ‘Kulisher’ as his surname in his book about Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, (4) but in his translation of Maxim Gorky’s work into German he uses ‘Kulischer’. (5)

To further confirm this Nelly Kulisher - who was/is the daughter of Alexander or Eugen I cannot discern which - uses ‘Kulisher’ in an interview she gave to the ‘Victoria Daily Advocate’ in 1939. (6) It is also worth noting that ‘Kulischer’ is preferred by a recent German commentator on Alexander and Eugen’s work (7) as it is by a late twentieth century jewish historian, (8) while Louis Finkelstein records that Eugen had changed his named to ‘Eugene Kulisher’ by 1943. (9) This behaviour on the part of Eugen, as well as to a lesser extent Alexander, clearly indicates that ‘Kulisher’ and ‘Kulischer’ were interchangeable to them.

Now this is all very nice you might say here, but what does this matter?

Well the point is very simple: it proves beyond reasonable doubt that ‘Alexander Kulisher’ is the same person as ‘Alexander Kulischer’.

Why is that important?

To answer this we need to remember two things about Kulisher’s life that can be stated without dispute: firstly he was a jew who left Russia in 1920 to live in Germany and in 1935/1936 he left Germany for Paris. Secondly Kulisher appears to have made his living in significant part by writing (hence his life of Disraeli previously referred to) and also by translating others work into foreign languages (notably German and French).

Now when we refer back to the volume Kulisher had translated of Maxim Gorky’s work: we should note the publisher. To wit: Verlagsgenossenschaft Ausländischer Arbeiter in der UdSSR. In other words: the Cooperative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers in the USSR.

This publishing house was effectively the branch of the Soviet government/Comintern in their propaganda struggle against all non-Marxist governments. (10) That Kulisher - who remember had left Russia because he was a Zionist not a Marxist - should have published using this publishing house is remarkable in part because it sheds a considerable bit of light on his character and the fact that he was either very opportunistic or truly regarded ‘my enemy of my enemy is my friend’.

So far so good: we have a writer of the correct name, political affiliation and national original in the right place at the right time. Further when we look to Lipson’s review of Kulisher’s book on Disraeli we should note his summary of Kulisher’s argument:

'Beaconsfield’s life, in addition, gives Kulisher an opportunity of dealing with the period as a whole. Of picturing for the historic happenings of the time, and of philosophising on the fate of nations and lands. He cannot resist drawing a parallel between the two distant and yet allied nations; the British and the Jews. He is a great admirer of the British people and he knows his subject. The Englishman he shows, is the father of the machine of natural history, political economy, the trade union movement, the steam-engine, the law of gravity and the law of supply and demand. He gives a complete picture of the development of England in the course of the last century. And he compares the British all the time with the Jews. First, contrast after contrast – the British firmly rooted to their island, men who know that they have a place in the world, with the mentality of ownership; on the other side, the Jews, a nation scatter over the seven seas, an everlasting miracle. The English with their model state system, the Jews with their disorganized communal life, the English who, “never, never, never will be slaves,” and the Jews who have become reconciled to being slaves since the days of Pharaoh in Egypt, the nation of sportsmen and the people of the Book.

And yet Kulisher sees a close similarity between the two.

The enmity of the world to Jews and English, the hatred of the “International Jew,” the “Jewish shopkeeper,” the “Jewish speculator, and swindler,” and then the hatred of “Perfidious Albion,”, the “English commercialists,” the “English Imperialists,” and the “English shopkeepers.” And both nations hating war, the Jews who always suffer from wars, and England, although she engages in wars always keeping them outside her own frontiers. The British people on their own territory know nothing of war, of fighting on their own soil and they re free consequently from the militarist spirit which is so strong on the Continent. Then there is the shrewd, almost Jewish, mentality of the Englishman, which is so utterly absent in the case of Napoleon, or a Wilhelm, self-proclaimed conquerors whose aim is to dominate the world, to cause misery, to destroy. Kulisher points to many more similarities between the British and the Jews, and he shows us both striving to bring about world-peace, only by different methods and in different ways.

And as the link between them – the towering figure of the great Anglo-Jewish statesman and Imperialist, Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield.’ (12)

Now when we compare that to the alleged quotation from Kulisher in 1937: we notice that it shares a similar manner of expression and intellectual preoccupation. Notice how in Lipson’s summary of Kulisher’s argument: he points out that Kulisher believes England and the jews to be closely aligned and that this was in stark contrast to the militarism and persecution of the jews on the European continent (i.e. a common rhetorical foil for anti-German sentiment and the Germans being a ‘militaristic upstart people’).

As this was written in 1923 when Hitler and the NSDAP were seemingly inconsequential to the jews: it is not hard to transliterate this similar language and anti-Germanism shown by Kulisher when he was still living in Germany in 1923 to a wider hatred of Germany by 1937 and the advent of the Third Reich (as the situation had changed drastically and Germany had now become like Gehenna as opposed to Gan Eden for the jews).

In effect Kulisher’s focus in 1923 is on the supposedly wonderful ‘alliance of interests’ between the British Empire and the jews - presumably embodied for him in the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 - but it is clearly discernible that Kulisher is something of liberal as well as being a Zionist. This is indicated by the brief but important note that by Lipson that Kulisher heaped praise on the trade union movement at a time when trade unions were considered quasi-bolshevik organizations by many right-wing British politicians. This - along with the fact that Disraeli himself was a left-wing radical (although he ran on the Conservative party ticket) - suggests that Kulisher held both left-wing/liberal opinions on social issues (hence his publishing a German translation of Maxim Gorky’s work [who was after all a profoundly left-wing author] with, what was in effect, the Soviet government) and also radical jewish nationalist opinions indicated by Lipson’s review of his biographer of Disraeli and his own epitaph from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 1942.

Such a combination of views would not have been unusual for the time given that the primary support base for jews in their struggle against anti-Semitism was the liberals and the political left-wing more broadly.

So accordingly we can see that it is quite possible - based on his earlier work and other activities - that Kulisher wrote those words especially as he had shown anti-German tendencies in his published work as early as 1923 and felt ‘forced’ to leave Germany in 1935/1936. (12)

Now my only quibble with arguing for the authenticity of this quotation from Kulisher is two fold: we don’t have an originating citation (so we don’t know when and by whom this alleged quotation was first cited) and we aren’t told any more detail other than Kulisher supposedly wrote or said this in 1937. Hunting down such a non-specific quotation from a jew in Paris is very difficult given the amount of periodicals published in Paris alone.

One of the few mentions of Kulisher on the internet mentions an association with the Russian paper émigré newspaper ‘Poslednie Novosti’ (lit. ‘Latest News’) that was published in Paris from 1920 to 1940. (13) This seems very plausible for two reasons: in the first ‘Poslednie Novosti’ was the paper of the old Russian Consitutional-Democrat [Cadet] (i.e. liberal) party from the interregnum between Tsarist and Bolshevik rule (the so-called ‘February Days’) edited by the ardent friend of the jews: Paul Milyukov. (14)

This seems eminently plausible although I have not verified it due to Kulisher’s own beliefs and also the fact that ‘Poslednie Novosti’ was also something of literary paper as well, (15) which would - as before stated - appeal to Kulisher.

If I was to conjecture I would say that the likelihood seems to me that Kulisher said or wrote what he is quoted as, but that he likely did so an anti-German foreign language organ like ‘Poslednie Novosti’, which accounts for the lack of mentions of the quote in English language anti-jewish work as well as the lack of an original ‘who, what, where’ for the quotation.

On balance the quotation seems to be more likely than not at least partly genuine, but until I can find the original (if it exists) then it is difficult to use Kulisher’s words as there is no context to the statement and no true source.


(1); Benton Bradberry, 2012, ‘The Myth of German Villainy’, 1st Edition, Author House: n.p., p. 408
(3) Alexander Kulischer, Eugen Kulischer, 1932, ‘Kriegs und Wanderzüge: Weltgeschichte als Völkerbewegung’, 1st Edition, Walter de Gruyter: Berlin
(4) H. Lipson, ‘Disraeli in Hebrew’, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, 13th December, 1923, p. 5
(5) Maxim Gorky, Alexander Kulischer (Trans.), 1934, ‘Augewählte Werke’, 1st Edition, Verlagsgenossenschaft Ausländischer Arbeiter in der UdSSR: Moscow
(6) ‘War Holds Real Significance for Texas Students’, Victoria Daily Advocate, 13th November, 1939, p. 3
(7) Klaus Bade, Allison Brown (Trans.), 2003, ‘Migration in Human History’, 1st Edition, Blackwell: Oxford, p. xi
(8) Benjamin Pinkus, 1988, ‘The Jews of the Soviet Union: The History of a National Minority’, 1st Edition, Cambridge University Press: New York, p. 38
(9) Louis Finkelstein, 1949, ‘The Jews: Their History, Culture, and Religion’, Vol. 4, 1st Edition, Jewish Publication Society of America: Philadelphia, p. 1194
(10) See Günter Schick, 1992, ‘Bibliographie deutschsprachiger Veröffentlichungen der “Verlagsgenossenschaft Ausländischer Arbeiter in der UdSSR,” Moskau, Leningrad’, 1st Edition, Systemdruck: Cologne.
(11) Lipson, Op. Cit., p. 5
(12) Victoria Daily Advocate, Op. Cit., p. 3
(15) Louis Menashe, 1967, ‘“A Liberal With Spurs”: Alexander Guchkov, A Russian Bourgeois in Politics’, Russian Review, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 38-40