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Fuchs, Alfred

(1892–1941), journalist, essayist, and translator. Alfred Fuchs first was a Zionist, then a member of the Czech Jewish academic community, and later an active Roman Catholic. In secondary school, he took a keen interest in Jewish mysticism and wanted to become a rabbi. At Prague University he studied philosophy, law, and theology, and earned his doctorate in 1915. He was also an active member of Spolek Českých Akademiků Židů (Association of Czech Academic Jews).

After World War I, Fuchs taught at the Advanced Industrial School and served as secretary of Svazu Čechů Židů (League of Czech Jews). From 1921 to 1939, he worked as a clerk in the press department of the presidium of the ministerial council, eventually becoming councillor (by virtue of which he was also editor in chief of the Revue quotidienne de la presse tchécoslovaque). Concurrently he lectured at the Higher School (University) of Political Sciences and at the Studium Catholicum in Prague.

In 1921, Fuchs converted to Catholicism and joined the People’s Party. In 1929, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in parliament on behalf of the Christian Social Movement. He explained his reasons for converting in his autobiographical novel Oltář a rotačka (The Altar and the Printing Press; 1930).

At the beginning of the 1920s, Fuchs became editor in chief of the Pondělník Svobodného slova and in 1925 of the Prager Abendblatt. He edited, among others, Rozvoj and Kalendář českožidovský, and contributed to a dozen newspapers and periodicals under various pseudonyms (the best known among these was Draf), mainly writing about religion, the church, culture, art, and politics.

Fuchs published and translated more than 30 books. Initially he dealt with the Jewish question in O židovské otázce (On the Jewish Question; 1919), which he considered from the perspective of the relationship of Jews to the majority society, and denied that assimilation was merely a vacuous phrase. Beginning in the 1920s, he became an important figure in modern Christian universalism, stressing the social aspects of the religion and concerning himself with the role of Christianity in the modern world.

In 1939–1940 Fuchs was interrogated a number of times by the Gestapo. In October 1940 he was arrested and in February 1941 he was tortured to death in Dachau. Following the war, the possibility of his canonization was considered.

Suggested Reading

Hillel J. Kieval, Languages of Community: The Jewish Experience in the Czech Lands (Berkeley, 2000), pp. 217–229; Ctibor Mařan, Kniha o Alfredu Fuchsovi (Prague, 1946); Alexej Mikulášek, Viera Glosíková, and Antonín B. Schulz, Literatura s hvězdou Davidovou (Prague, 1998). Archive: Státní ústřední archiv. Fond Prezidium Ministerské rady (Nationial Archive, Prague; Collection of the Presidium of the Ministerial Council).



Translated from Czech by Martin Ward