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Einhorn, Ignác

(1825–1875), rabbi, journalist, political economist, and politician. Ignác Einhorn (who also published work using the initials J. E. or the name Eduard Horn) was one of the most versatile and talented Hungarian Jews of the nineteenth century. His great-grandfather had served as rabbi of Vágújhely, and his father, Gerson (1793–1883), a wool merchant, was for many years a community leader. Einhorn was tutored privately in a traditional but enlightened fashion. At 13, he attended the yeshiva of Yeḥezkel Banet at Nyitra (mod. Nitra, Slovakia). He later studied at Pressburg and for several months in Prague, while also receiving a gymnasium eduation.

Einhorn was a precocious youth, well read in philosophy and rabbinical literature. Like many members of the Jewish intelligentsia of his generation, he was caught between a career in the rabbinate or the free professions, which meant journalism and medicine at the time. He arrived in Pressburg at age 16 and with the encouragement of Adolf Neustadt, the editor of the Pressburger Zeitung, Einhorn started his journalism career in 1843 in Hungary’s German-language papers. By the following year, he was contributing reports, book reviews (e.g., on Yehudah Alkala‘i’s Minḥat Yehudah in Der Orient) and occasional essays on the history of Hungarian Jewry to the major Jewish weeklies in Germany.

Einhorn returned to his hometown in 1844, and thereafter referred to himself as a “rabbinical candidate” with a decidedly Reform tendency. He planned to attend university in Germany, but nothing seems to have come of this intention; instead, he moved to Pest in 1845 to continue his studies.

Einhorn contributed to the Pester Zeitung and occasionally to Hungarian-language journals. He threw himself fervently into Jewish public affairs, championing educational and religious reform, Hungarian nationalism, and Jewish emancipation. He joined the Pest Society for the Dissemination of the Magyar Language among the Israelites (founded in 1844), was elected as one of its two librarians, and coedited with Marton Diósy the society’s Hungarian-language Első Magyar Zsidó Naptár és Évkönyv . . . 1848 (First Magyar Jewish Calendar and Yearbook for the 1848 Leap Year). During the first months of the revolution, he expanded his political and historical analysis in his Zur Judenfrage in Ungarn and entered the political fray in his Offene Antwort (Open Reply). Undoubtedly his most important journalistic efforts were given to editing and publishing Der ungarische Israelit, devoted to the political, social, and religious progress of Hungarian Jewry; it was the first Jewish weekly in Hungary. Despite his fervent Hungarian nationalism, Einhorn’s stance was much more ambivalent than is usually portrayed. Already in the mid-1840s, he had condemned Magyarization at the expense of more important issues, such as the dissemination of culture and education.

In 1848, Einhorn chose to publish his weekly Der ungarische Israelit in German. Despite the notice that appeared in every issue that a Magyar-language Jewish journal was in the offing, he realized that both readership and suitable contributors were lacking for such an enterprise. In the wake of the Easter pogroms in April 1848 and what he saw as the despicable policy of surrendering to anti-Jewish pressures on the part of the liberal government, he declared that Jews could expect nothing from Hungary and that their political salvation would only come—as had their spiritual freedom—from Germany. He supported the emigration society formed in May of that year, contemptuously dismissing appeals to sentiment and blind patriotism as reasons for staying in Hungary. He also condemned Hungarian liberals who repeatedly found excuses for postponing Jewish emancipation; indeed, Hungary was the last country in Central Europe to grant Jews equal rights during the revolutionary years.

A similar down-to-earth pragmatism and ambivalent skepticism characterized Einhorn’s approach to religious reform. In 1847, he was invited to preach occasionally at the Reform services organized by youth in Buda. Einhorn became the first preacher of the Pest Reformgenossenschaft, which had its genesis in the heady spring days of the 1848 revolution and was modeled along the lines of the radical Reform Society in Berlin. Elected preacher, he was sent to Berlin in September to observe Samuel Holdheim and his congregation firsthand. In November of that year, he published Grundprinzipien einer geläuterten Reform im Judenthum (The Principles of an Enhanced Reform in Judaism) and at the end of May he produced Reformált izraelita valláselvei (The Reformed Israelite Religious Principles), clarifying his views on religious change.

In the summer of 1849, the Reformgenossenschaft received the approval of the revolutionary government to secede from the parent community, anticipating the communal schisms in Hungary a generation later. In the mid-1840s, Einhorn had expressed reservations about Holdheim and the Frankfurt radical society; he continued to voice his disapproval of extreme reforms in the early days of 1848. From the autumn of 1848, however, he became increasingly radical in both his religious stance and politics. He marked the liberation of Buda and celebrated the declaration of Hungarian independence with a firebrand patriotic sermon on 27 April 1849, “Kettös ünnep” (Ger., “Das Doppelfest”; A Double Festival), concluding with a blessing for Magyar leader Lajos (Ludwig) Kossuth.

With the approach of imperial troops, Einhorn abandoned the capital in the summer, applying in July for the post of army chaplain. It was in this capacity that he was promoted to captain, serving under General György Klapka at the Komárom fortress until its surrender. As an officer, he was granted amnesty, but almost immediately was sought after by the Austrians. He fled to Prague, then arrived in Leipzig in March 1850, where he stayed for a year and a half. Einhorn continued to write articles on Hungary for the liberal opposition German press, as well as entries in the Brockhaus Konversationslexikon. He published in rapid order several books under the pen name J. Eduard Horn, as he was henceforth called, dealing with both history and current affairs in Hungary. Zur ungarisch-östereichischen Centralisationsfrage (On the Austro-Hungarian Centralization Question; 1850) surprisingly welcomed the imposed constitution of 4 March 1849 and affirmed a unified, centralized empire with German as the official language at the expense of Hungarian autonomy, as long as a cultured, liberal, constitutional monarchy would be instituted to respect the rights of all nationalities. Einhorn also published a study on the commander in chief of the Hungarian armies, Arthur Görgey (1850), establishing the general’s image as a traitor; and a rather inaccurate portrait of Ludwig Kossuth (2 vols.; 1851). Einhorn studied philosophy, history, and economy at the University of Leipzig, where he submitted his thesis, “Spinoza’s Staatslehre zum ersten Male dargestellt” (Spinoza on the State Exposed for the First Time; 1851), a study that reflected his interest in political philosophy and traditions, a theme that also appears in his Die Revolution und die Juden in Ungarn (The Revolution and the Jews in Hungary; 1851).

In December 1851, Einhorn moved to Brussels, where he embarked upon a new career for which his studies with Wilhelm Roscher at Leipzig had well prepared him: political economy and financial analysis. The first of his works in this vein were comparative statistical and demographic studies of Belgium. He moved to Paris in 1855 and was invited by Michel Chevalier to write for the Journal des débats. Horn became a pioneer of the cooperative movement and an early advocate of a United States of Europe. In this Saint-Simonian spirit, he helped reconstitute the economy and finances of Egypt in 1864. He was among the founders of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in 1860.

Einhorn also was a correspondent and editor for numerous French, German, and even Russian journals (his younger brother Anton was the editor of the Journal de St. Petersbourg for nearly 30 years) and published many pamphlets and studies on economic affairs. Chevalier recommended that Horn succeed him as professor of economics at the Collège de France; he also supported his application for French Grande naturalisation, which he received in August 1866.

Einhorn became an important political figure whose economic analyses attacking Napoleon III’s empire were said to have affected the crucial 1869 elections. He himself was offered the candidature of the seventh arrondisement of Paris, but by then Hungary beckoned. He had been active among Hungarian émigrés and had written six influential anti-Habsburg pamphlets at the beginning of the 1860s. In May 1869, he returned to Hungary, accepting the invitation of the popular novelist Mór Jokai to edit the Neuer freier Lloyd. By 1870, he entered parliament as representative of Pressburg, in 1872 was elected MP for his native town Vágújhely, and finally in July 1875 represented one of the largest constituencies in Hungary, the Jewish district of Terezváros in Budapest. He opposed the 1867 Compromise, serving as the spokesman for parliamentary opposition on economic matters. Although the University of Budapest elected him to the chair of political economy, Ágoston Trefort, the minister of education, refused to confirm his appointment. When the government fell, Einhorn became secretary of state for agriculture, industry, and commerce in Kálmán Tisza’s cabinet. Not for another half century did an unconverted Jew attain such a high-ranking post in the Hungarian civil service.

Many years of sickness, however, then took their toll. Einhorn died on 2 November 1875, having just turned 50. His funeral was one of the largest ever held in Budapest: it was reported that 70,000 attended, led by the entire cabinet, the mayor, and delegations of Freemasons and university students. He died impoverished; the burial society had to take up a collection for his children and his widow, Louise Ragondet, a Catholic whom he had married in Brussels.

Although Einhorn had seemingly abandoned his earlier intense involvement in Jewish affairs, there are nevertheless surprising indications of his continued Jewish solidarity. His five children were raised in a manner typical at the time of intermarried families: the girls as Catholics, but the boys in the faith of the father as Jews (though they all converted after his death). He was elected honorary president of the Magyar Izraelita society in 1861 and during the Hungarian Jewish Congress expressed his sympathy for the Orthodox. Less known is that he was a founder of the Alliance Israélite Universelle and a member of its central committee from its inception in 1860 until his resignation in 1872.

Suggested Reading

Biographie von Eduard Horn (Budapest, 1875); Émile-Édouard Horn, “Campagnes politiques d’un économiste Édouard Horn,” Séances et travaux de l’Académie des sciences morales et politiques, 86 année: Compte rendu (1926): 124–167; Ignatz Reich, “Horn Ede,” in Beth-El: Ehrentempel verdienter ungarischer Israeliten, vol. 1, pp. 194–203 (Pest, 1867).