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WOLF, GERSON:

Austrian historian and educator; born at Holleschau, Moravia, July 16, 1823; died in Vienna Oct. 29, 1892. He began the study of Hebrew at a very early age, and later received instruction in German and in Latin from Dr. Egenter, then stationed in Holleschau as military surgeon. Intending to pursue a rabbinical career, he went in 1836 to Pohrlitz, and later to Nikolsburg, where he engaged in Talmudic studies, attending at the same time the gymnasium. Three years later (1839) he went to Vienna, where he attended the university, his studies embracing pedagogics, philosophy, and modern languages. In 1845 his first article, "Das Lustspiel des Aristophanes und das Lustspiel Unserer Zeit," appeared in Saphir's "Humorist." Three years later he published in Frankl's "Sonntagsblätter" his "Das Sterben eines Kindes," his only attempt in the field of fiction.

Wolf was personally engaged in the political struggles of 1848-49, his "Die Demokratie und der Socialismus" appearing in the latter year. On account of several radical articles published in "DieOesterreichische Zeitung" and in "Die Zeit," he was ordered to leave Vienna; but owing to the intervention of influential friends the order was revoked. He then decided to abandon journalism, and presently accepted a position in a school for Jewish girls. In 1850 he was appointed religious instructor in the state industrial high school in the Leopoldstadt, one of the districts of Vienna, which position he held till 1876. In 1851, in response to a request from the mayor of Vienna for suggestions as to school reforms, he published his "Ueber die Volksschulen in Oesterreich," in which he advocated the elimination of religious instruction from all public schools. Toward the end of 1852, on account of a secret denunciation, his home was searched by the authorities, and Guizot's "La Démocratie en France," a work which had been placed under the ban, was found in his library. He was court-martialed, held in custody for seventeen days during trial, and finally sentenced to four weeks' confinement in a fortress. In the same year he received his degree of Ph.D., and two years later was appointed religious instructor to the Jewish community of Vienna. Wolf was active in various public undertakings. In 1859 he founded a library for the young; and in 1861, together with Noah Mannheimer, Baron Königswarter, and Julius von Goldschmidt, he organized a society for the aid of poor Jewish students in Vienna. This society, which is still (1905) in existence, has assisted more than 200 students annually since its foundation. Until 1872 Wolf officiated as pastor to the Jewish inmates of the houses of correction of Vienna and Stein-on-the-Danube; and from 1884 to 1892, as inspector of all the Jewish religious schools of Vienna.

Wolf is the author of the following works: "Geschichte Israels für die Israelitische Jugend" (Vienna, 1856), introduced as a text-book in various Jewish schools of the United States; "Ferdinand II. und die Juden" (ib. 1859; 2d ed., Leipsic, 1860); "Vom Ersten bis zum Zweiten Tempel. Geschichte der Israelitischen Cultusgemeinde in Wien, 1820-60" (Vienna, 1860); "Zur Geschichte der Juden in Worms und des Deutschen Städtewesens" (Breslau, 1862); "Judentaufen in Oesterreich" (Vienna, 1863); "Isaak Noah Mannheimer. Eine Biographische Skizze" (ib. 1863); "Die Juden in der Leopoldstadt" (ib. 1863); "Zur Geschichte der Jüdischen Aerzte in Oesterreich" (1864); "Zur Geschichte Jüdischer Tartüffe" (pseudonymously; Leipsic, 1864); "Das Hundertjährige Jubiläum der Israelitischen Cultusgemeinde" (Vienna, 1864); "Zwei Geschichten der Israelitischen Cultusgemeinde in Wien" (ib. 1865); "Zur Lage der Juden in Galizien" (1867); "Joseph Wertheimer, ein Lebens- und Zeitbild" (Vienna, 1868); "Die Vertreibung der Juden aus Böhmen im Jahre 1744, und deren Rückkehr im Jahre 1748" (Leipsic, 1869); "Kurzgefasste Religions- und Sittenlehre" (Vienna, 1870; 2d ed., ib. 1877), used as a text-book in Jewish schools of North America; "Geschichte der Juden in Wien von 1156-1876" (ib. 1876); "Joseph II." (ib. 1878); "Die Jüdischen Friedhöfe und die Chevrah Kadischah in Wien" (ib. 1879); "Die Alten Statuten der Jüdischen Gemeinden in Mähren, nebst den Darauffolgenden Synodalbeschlüssen" (ib. 1880); "Das Unterrichtswesen in Oesterreich Unter Kaiser Joseph II." (ib. 1880); "Aus der Zeit der Kaiserin Maria Theresia" (ib. 1888); "Josefina" (ib. 1890); and "Kleine Historische Schriften" (ib. 1892).

Johann Christoph Wolf.(From Wolf, "Bibliotheca Hebræa," Hamburg, 1715.)
Bibliography:
  • Wurzbach, Biog. Lex.;
  • Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie;
  • Mährens Männer der Gegenwart, s.v. For Wolf's autobiography see Notizenblatt der Historisch-Statistischen Section der Gesellschaft zur Beförderung des Ackerbaues, ed. by Christian Ritter d'Elvert, 1875, Nos. 3 and 4.
S. N. D.
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