Rosenzweig, Franz, 1886-1929

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1886-12-25
Death 1929-12-10
Germans
German

Biographical notes:

Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber collaborated on several projects, the most important of which was a translation of the Hebrew Bible.

From the guide to the Franz Rosenzweig - Martin Buber notebooks, 1925-1929, (Leo Baeck Institute Archives)

Franz Rosenzweig was born in Kassel on December 25, 1886 to Georg and Adele Rosenzweig. His father was a relatively successful local businessmen who was publicly active. He was a member of the Municipal Council in Kassel, sat on boards of many institutions, among them the Jewish orphanage in Kassel. His mother, Adele Rosenzweig neé Alsberg, was the third of six children and after her marriage managed to keep in their household a liberal and open atmosphere.

In 1905 Franz Rosenzweig graduated from the Friedrichsgymnasium in Kassel and started to study medicine in Göttingen. After changing universities several times, in 1908 he left the sciences and started to study philosophy and history. After studies in Berlin he went to Freiburg im Breisgau where he studied with Friedrich Meinecke. After another stay in Berlin, Franz Rosenzweig came back to Freiburg i. B. and finished his studies with the dissertation " Hegel und Staat " (Hegel and State). In 1913 he studied in Berlin with Hermann Cohen, who resigned from the Philosophy Department at Marburg University and started to teach Jewish Philosophy of Religion at Akademie für die Wissenschaft des Judemtums (School of Science of Judaism) in Berlin.

In 1914 Franz Rosenzweig volunteered with the Red Cross and served on several fronts, After serving in Belgium and Germany, Franz Rosenzweig was assigned to the Balkans in 1916, where he stayed until almost the war’s end.

During the war he diligently read and worked on his texts, so that he was able to publish several philosophical works, including Das älteste Systemprogramm des deutschen Idealismus, and his letters to his teacher Hermann Cohen from the front in Zeit ist’s, both in 1917. Shortly after the war his dissertation Hegel und Staat appeared in print in two volumes in 1920. However, he is probably best known for another work, Der Stern der Erlösung (The Star of Redemption), published in 1921.

In the summer of 1920 he lectured in Kassel. He married Edith Hahn on March 23, 1920 and they moved to Frankfurt am Main.

Although he contemplated conversion to Christianity for a period, he rejected this course and returned to Judaism with increasing commitment. In 1920 Franz Rosenzweig, together with Nehemiah A. Nobel, Martin Buber, and others (among them also Erich Fromm), founded the Freie Juedische Lehrhaus in Frankfurt am Main, where Franz Rosenzweig tried to promote new educational methods based on real life experience. This institution was open for everyone without regard to denomination and people were accepted freely without entry exams or references. Next to Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber, Richard Koch, Eduard Strauss, Ernst Simon, and Siegfried Krakauer were teaching at the Lehrhaus, as did Nahum N. Glatzer later.

Franz Rosenzweig also successfully translated and commented upon the medieval liturgical texts and poems of Jehuda Halevi in 1924 and collaborated with Martin Buber on a translation of the Hebrew Bible Die Schrift (The Book) in 1926.

In January 1922, Franz Rosenzweig became ill with a quickly progressing paralysis (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), which soon prevented him from writing. From this point on, all his correspondence and works were dictated. At the end of 1923, Franz Rosenzweig almost lost his ability to speak and had to use a specially constructed type-machine. He became so weak that his wife Edith Rosenzweig had to communicate with him through gestures and signs. In October 1922 Rudolf Hallo took over the leadership of the Lehrhaus . It stayed open until 1930, and was reopened by Martin Buber in 1933.

Franz Rosenzweig died on December 10, 1929.

From the guide to the Franz Rosenzweig Collection, 1832-1999, (Leo Baeck Institute)

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Subjects:

  • Philosophers
  • Jewish philosophers
  • Genealogy
  • Professions and occupations; theologians
  • Domestic life, 20th cent
  • Jewish philosophy
  • Theologians, Jewish
  • Judaism
  • Translators
  • Adult education
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • Bible translation
  • Austro--Prussian War, 1866
  • Military service
  • Jewish philosophy in literature
  • Domestic life, 19th cent

Occupations:

  • Translator

Places:

  • Kassel (Germany) (as recorded)
  • Frankfurt am Main (Germany) (as recorded)