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Wexler, Max

(1870–1917), socialist activist and journalist. Max Wexler (Wechsler) was born in Iaşi, Romania. He studied philosophy in Brussels and completed his formal education at the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy of the University of Iaşi, where he then worked as a librarian.

Wexler was an active socialist; in addition to his membership in various socialist clubs, he contributed to the movement’s main publication of his time, Lumea nouă (The New World). In 1895, with Leon (Litman) Ghelerter and Litman Geller, he set up a Jewish club for socialist debates called Lumina (The Light), and established a Romanian and Yiddish publication with the same name. In 1896, the same group also issued a Yiddish weekly called Der vekker. Lumina’s activities were criticized by the leadership of the Social Democrat Party, which did not condone issues specific to Jewish socialists. Accused of being “nationalistic bourgeois,” the members of Lumina were excluded from the party. Nevertheless, Wexler participated in the 1886 Congress of the Socialist International.

In 1901, when the Social Democrat Party dissolved after the desertion of several of its leaders, Wexler rejoined the socialist movement and devoted his energy to it exclusively. He was one of the main theoreticians of the movement, and his objective was to strengthen the party. On his initiative and under his guidance, a new publication was created as of 1902, Viitorul social (The Social Future), which became the main theoretical organ of the social democrat movement in Romania. In Iaşi in 1903, Wexler and Ghelerter organized Cercul Muncitoresc de Studii Sociale (The Workers Club for Social Studies), a place to train the leaders of the Romanian social democrat movement.

On the eve of World War I, Wexler actively protested Romania’s joining the war and especially the alliance with Russia that he perceived, as did other representatives of the socialist left wing, as a “warden of reaction” and a “prison of the peoples.” In May 1917 he was the main organizer of a demonstration for the first of May. He was arrested, then assassinated under the pretext—typical of those times—of “attempting to escape from the escort.” In a 1905 letter to Vasile Kogălniceanu, a Romanian politician, Max Wexler had underlined his position with bitter irony: “I know I have two major shortcomings—I am a socialist and a Jew.”

Suggested Reading

C. Titel Petrescu, Socialismul in România, 1835–6 septembrie 1940 (Bucharest, n.d.).



Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea