July 2, 2019

Edited by Leonard Stein in collaboration with Gedalia Yogev, 

London, Oxford University Press, 1968

[Reprinted with express permission from the Weizmann Archives, Rehovot, Israel, 

by the Center for Israel Education www.israeled.org.]

THE purpose of the work commencing with this volume is to make available, in Hebrew and English, a comprehensive collection, with explanatory notes, of the letters and papers, speeches and writings, other than scientific writings, of Chaim Weizmann. The exclusion of his scientific writings does not rule out the possibility of their being separately published at some future time.

It is proposed to divide the work into two distinct series of volumes—Series A, letters, including communications which, though not strictly letters, can conveniently be classified under that head, and Series B, papers not within the category of letters, speeches, and writings. The speeches to be published in Series B will, with a few possible exceptions, be limited to those of which the full text is available from a reliable source; speeches of which there are only condensed press reports will not normally be included.

In preparing the material for publication priority will be given to the letters, so that there will usually be some delay before the period covered by a volume in Series A is reached in Series B. The notes to the letters will include summaries of any relevant speeches or documentary material due to be published in full in Series B but not yet available in that series.

The introductory explanations which follow relate primarily to Series A, though they may in part be relevant also to Series B.

I. Contents of Series A

For the purposes of Series A, a letter signed by Weizmann will be treated as his whether drafted by him or not, and, in the case of a handwritten letter, even though only the signature is his, the text being in another hand. This is subject to the exception that it is not proposed to include certain letters written by another person on blank sheets signed by Weizmann in advance and dispatched without having been seen by him. A letter of which only a press copy or carbon copy has survived will be included if, in the case of a press copy, the signature is Weizmann’s, and, in the case of a carbon copy, it is clear beyond reasonable doubt that the top copy was signed by him. It is recognized that there can be no absolute certainty that a carbon copy is an exact reproduction of the letter actually sent. Where both the top copy and the carbon of a typed letter have been preserved, there are a number of cases in which a hand-written postscript has been added by Weizmann to the top copy without being carried on to the carbon.

Taking together letters of which the originals have been found and those which have survived only in press copies or carbon copies, the total number of Weizmann letters known to be in existence and, with the exception about to be mentioned, available for publication is approximately 23,000.

The exception just referred to consists of a collection of some 230 letters, belonging mainly to the years 1897-1902, from Weizmann to his first fiancée, Sophia Getzova. These are under the control of a private person (not connected with the Weizmann family) resident in the United States. Efforts to make them available for publication having failed, they will have to be omitted. In number they are relatively insignificant, but they would have helped to fill some of the gaps which will be perceptible to the reader in the letters belonging to the period, ending in October 1902, to be covered by Volume I. Other gaps in that volume are explained by the disappearance of all the letters which Weizmann must certainly have written home to members of his family while at school in Pinsk (1885-92) and during his student days in Germany and Switzerland (1892-8). Certain deficiencies in some others of the earlier volumes reflect the loss of nearly the whole of Weizmann’s private papers, including any copies he may have kept of his outgoing correspondence, for the period of almost nine years from his arrival in England in July 1904 to March 1913. Even after March 1913, though the gaps are less serious, it still remains obvious that the collection is incomplete. Not all the losses are necessarily irretrievable. Experience has shown that the Weizmann Archives may still expect to hear from time to time of fresh discoveries. Any letters brought to light too late for inclusion in the volume to which they properly belong will be published in a later volume.

Of the Weizmann letters available for publication, a considerable number will be omitted from Series A for one or other of the following reasons:

  • It is not proposed to include letters concerned solely with technical matters relating to Weizmann’s scientific interests, with the possible exception of a group of letters belonging to the period of the First World War and relating to his scientific work for the British Government.
  • Where there are two or more letters to different persons in identical terms, or with only trifling verbal variations, the letter to one only of these persons will be published in full, with a note giving the name of each other recipient of a similar letter and the date on which it was sent to him.
  • Letters of a merely routine or formal character, such as acknowledgements of congratulations or the like, will normally be omitted.
  • The same applies to letters of a trivial nature, such as instructions to a secretary to book a seat on a train or to lay in a stock of stationery.

This will result in the letters to be included in Series A being reduced in number to some 15,000. They will be published in strict chronological order.

The Weizmann Archives possess photostats of nearly the whole of the letters to be published in Series A, but with some notable exceptions, including in particular Weizmann’s letters to his wife, they do not possess the originals. Certain letters of which the originals have been lost have survived in press or carbon copies, and in these cases those copies are in the possession of the Archives. The heading to each letter will show where the original, or, as the case may be, the press or carbon copy, is to be found—see below, under III.

With the permission of the Weizmann Archives, representing Yad Chaim Weizmann as copyright owner, certain Weizmann letters, or extracts from them, have been quoted by various writers, but these constitute only a negligible proportion of those to be included in Series A, which will consist almost entirely of letters hitherto unpublished.

II. Translations

General Observations. The originals of the letters to be published in Series A are, up to about 1914, mainly in Russian or German, and thereafter in Russian, German, or English. Other languages occasionally used are Hebrew, Yiddish, and French.

For the purposes of this work, all the letters have had to be translated either into Hebrew or into English and the majority of them into both. The reader will be informed in every case of the language of the original.

The photostats referred to above under I will be available at the Weizmann Archives for comparison with the translations. Should it be desired to inspect the originals, the headings to the letters will show where these are to be found. With a view to making the originals more readily accessible to scholars, consideration will be given to the possibility of arranging for complete sets of microfilms to be deposited at a limited number of Central Libraries in various parts of the world.

The translations will in every case represent the unexpurgated text of the original, subject to the remote contingency of its being thought necessary to expunge words which might be considered defamatory of, or which would cause distress to, some person living at the date of publication. No such case is foreseen, but should any such omission be unavoidable, it will be indicated thus: [(number) words omitted].

The principle on which the translations have been made is that in a work of this type accuracy must be the first consideration. The translators have, therefore, adhered as closely as possible to the original, even though this means that their renderings do not always read as smoothly as they could have been made to do by resort to paraphrases. In exceptional cases in which a literal translation would clearly not do justice to the original some latitude has been thought permissible, the literal meaning of the expression being explained in a footnote.

As regards the Russian letters, it must be borne in mind that Weizmann’s native language was not Russian but Yiddish. The well-known difficulties attending translations from the Russian are all the greater where, as sometimes happens in Weizmann’s earlier letters in that language, there are passages reading somewhat awkwardly even in the original.

Punctuation. It has not been thought obligatory to adhere rigidly to Weizmann’s punctuation where, in the translated version of a letter, this would be confusing or stylistically unacceptable.

Transliteration of Russian words. Russian words, including proper names, have, in the English edition, been transliterated in accordance with the principles set out below in Appendix I, except where the existence of a well-established English equivalent would make their application pedantic.

In the Hebrew edition transliteration will be effected in accordance with the principles set out in the corresponding part of the General Introduction to that edition.

`Foreign’ words and phrases. Weizmann’s Russian letters are often liberally interspersed with Hebrew, Yiddish, German, or other `foreign’ words or phrases. The same applies, mutatis mutandis, though in a smaller degree, to his letters in other languages.

In order to preserve, as far as possible, the flavour of the original, `foreign’ expressions, other than those written in Cyrillic characters, will be reproduced in the translations exactly as they appear in the originals. Any necessary explanations will be provided in footnotes. Though for many readers notes on German words or phrases will be unnecessary, these have usually been provided, but it has been assumed that in the English edition notes on familiar French expressions would be superfluous. Hebrew and Yiddish expressions will be reproduced as written, whether they are or are not in conformity with present-day usage.

III. Description of documents and guides to location

The symbols and abbreviations set out below, to appear immediately under the heading to each letter, will be used in Series A to indicate, in the undermentioned order:

  • For documents other than letters strictly so-called, the nature of the document (postcard, visiting-card,1 telegram).
  • The mode of writing employed (handwritten, handwritten by amanuensis, typed).
  • The location, if known, of the original. Where the undermentioned symbols are not applicable, the location, if known, of the original will be specified.
  • Where the location of the original is unknown, the nature (e.g. press copy or carbon copy) and location of the best available text.

As already stated, the Weizmann Archives have an almost complete set of photostats, and, in the absence of an indication to the contrary, it can be assumed that a photostat of each document is in the possession of the Archives.

The symbols and abbreviations to be used are as follows:

Pcd. = Postcard

T. = Telegram

Vcd. Visiting-cards

H.W. = Handwritten

H.W.A. = Handwritten by amanuensis 

Typ. = Typed

C.C. = Carbon copy

P.C. = Press copy

Ph. = Photostat

C.Z.A. = The Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem

N.L. = The Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem 

U.C.L. = University College Library, London

W.A. = The Weizmann Archives, Rehovoth, Israel

Y.I.V.O. = The Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, New York

Where the information thus provided needs to be expanded or explained this will be done in a head-note.

IV. Ascription of Dates and Places of Origin

The translated text of every letter bearing a date will include a reproduction of the date as it appears in the original. The heading to each letter will show the date editorially ascribed to it. Where, as will sometimes happen, this is not identical with Weizmann’s dating, or where the letter is undated, the following symbols or abbreviations will be used:

Pmk. =  Postmark

[   ]     = Date established beyond reasonable doubt

   [?]      = Conjectural date

    *       = N.S. (New Style, i.e. Gregorian) date substituted for O.S. (Old Style, i.e.                              Julian)  date.

The last point calls for some explanation. The Julian calendar in use in Russia up to February 1918 ran, until 12 March 1900 (N.S.) twelve days, and thereafter thirteen days, behind the Gregorian calendar. Thus, for example, 31 December in the Gregorian calendar would be 19 December, or, after the change in 1900, 18 December, in the Julian calendar. All Weizmann’s letters from Russia were written while the Julian calendar was in force, and it has been assumed, save in any exceptional case in which there is clear evidence to the contrary, that Weizmann’s dates are Julian (O.S.) dates. The substitution, in the headings, of the corresponding N.S. dates has been thought necessary in order to avoid confusion in the chronological order of the letters.

Except where it is indicated by an asterisk that a N.S. has been substituted for an O.S. date, the reasons for the editorial dating of a letter, where this departs from Weizmann’s dating, or where the letter is undated, will be explained in a head-note.

Where a letter from Russia mentioned in a note bears one date only, being a date which can be assumed to be an O.S. date, the corresponding N.S. date will be indicated thus: ‘A to B, 8 (21) Nov. 1902’.

The heading to each letter will include the place of origin. Where this is not mentioned in Weizmann’s dating, it will be enclosed in square brackets—[ ]—if beyond reasonable doubt and, if conjectural, in square brackets preceded by a question-mark–[?]. The heading will also include the location of the addressee where, as will usually be the case, this is not in doubt, whether or not specifically mentioned in the letter.

V. Omissions, Mutilations, Illegible Words

Words accidentally omitted, incomplete or illegible words, mutilated sheets, blurred or faded press copies or carbon copies, and contractions or abbreviations will be dealt with as follows :

  • Where there is considered to be no reasonable doubt as to how the gap should be filled or the contraction or abbreviation expanded, the missing words or parts of words will be supplied in square brackets—[ ].
  • Where there is considered to be room for a conjectural insertion, this will be denoted by square brackets preceded by a question-mark—[?].

  (3)    In all other cases, a lacuna will be represented by a series of dashes in square brackets-[ ]-related in length to the presumed number of missing words or letters.

Except where there is a mere expansion of a contraction or abbreviation, the cause and extent, or estimated extent, of the gap will be explained in a note.

VI. Annotation

Mode of Annotation. The annotation in Series A will in the main take the form of footnotes appended to the texts of the letters and linked to some particular word or sentence.

Where there occur, in quick succession, a number of letters dealing with the same topic, the earliest of them will usually be preceded by an introductory head-note. Head-notes will also be used from time to time to explain the background to a letter or to provide other information concerning the letter as a whole, or to draw attention to the earliest reference to some topic which is thereafter to figure prominently in Weizmann’s correspondence.

In addition to head-notes, concise bridge-notes of a narrative character will occasionally be provided where, because of a gap in the letters, it is thought that the reader might otherwise have difficulty in following the course of events.

Guiding Principles. The notes to the letters will aim at dealing as concisely as possible with matters directly relevant to the explanation or interpretation of the letters to which they relate.

Though the notes will usually be concerned with specific questions arising on the letter under notice, the first mention of a particular subject may sometimes be made the occasion for a fuller note than is strictly necessary at that point, where this will help to prepare the reader for later references to the same or a related subject.

In the annotation of the English edition it has been borne in mind that to anyone not versed in Jewish affairs various expressions and allusions may be incomprehensible without explanations which for readers of the Hebrew edition can be assumed to be superfluous. At a later stage of the work the position may be reversed, but in the early volumes, at all events, it will at times be necessary to provide the English edition with notes with which the Hebrew edition can dispense.

Citation of Sources. In determining the scale on which sources should be cited in the notes, the guiding principles will be, first, that, while the indispensable minimum must be provided, there must be no multiplying of citations for the sake of a display of learning, and, secondly, that there must be some sense of proportion. Thus, for example, notes on obscure points of minor importance in early Zionist history will not necessarily contain exhaustive references to the source-material. There will be cases of other types in which a fuller citation of sources will be appropriate and will be provided. In all cases full information about the material assembled by the researchers will be obtainable from their working-notes, which will be preserved in the Weizmann Archives.

Information about persons. The General Index to each volume of Series A will contain the name of every person mentioned in a letter comprised in that volume, together with references to the place or places at which the name appears and, where thought necessary, a brief indication of the context.

Persons are frequently referred to in the letters by forenames or nicknames. A footnote to the earliest letter in which any such forename or nickname is used will explain who is meant, and all such names will appear in the General Index with the appropriate cross-references.

A separate Biographical Index to be included in each volume of Series A will provide concise biographical data, with special reference to matters of Jewish interest, about those persons mentioned for the first time in letters comprised in that volume who can, on a reasonably liberal view, be regarded as part of the dramatis personae. Information about any person not considered to be within that category, whether important or unimportant in himself, will be relegated to a footnote, usually at the place where the name first appears.

The Biographical Index will not be cumulative. A name appearing in the Biographical Index to any volume will not, unless there is supplementary information to be added, reappear in the corresponding Index to any later volume. It is hoped, however, that, when Series A is complete, it may be found possible to bring together the contents of each successive Biographical Index in a comprehensive biographical supplement.

The General Index to each volume will provide a guide to the biographical data by means of a bold-type entry under each name directing the reader to the relevant Biographical Index, whether belonging to that or to an earlier volume, or, as the case may require, to the relevant footnote.

It is recognized that, especially as regards the earlier part of the period to be covered by Series A, there are in some cases serious gaps in the biographical data provided. The difficulty of excavating reliable material will be better understood if it is borne in mind that there exist few works on Zionist history based on thoroughgoing research and hardly any authentic biographies of Zionist personalities.

Information about institutions and organizations. Any necessary information about an institution or organization referred to in the letters will, with the exception to be mentioned in the next paragraph, be provided in a footnote—usually at the place at which the name first appears. All such names appearing in any volume of Series A will be included in the General Index to that volume, with an indication, in bold type, of the place, whether in that or in an earlier volume, at which an explanatory footnote will be found.

This is subject to the qualification that the explanation of technical terms in use in the Zionist Movement will be found in the note on the Zionist Organization and associated institutions annexed to this Introduction as Appendix II. Where in any volume of Series A there is a reference to, for example, ‘the Actions Committee’, ‘the Annual Conference’, ‘the shekel’, these expressions will appear in their alphabetical place in the General Index to that volume, followed by a reference to Appendix II to the General Introduction.

Though the expression ‘Actions Committee’ reads somewhat awkwardly in English, it has been thought best to retain it in the English edition, at least until the point is reached, some considerable time after the establishment of the Zionist Organization, at which ‘Executive’ (or ‘Zionist Executive’) and ‘General Council’ came to be accepted as the English equivalents of `Engeres AktionsKomitee’ and ‘Grosses Aktions-Komitee’ respectively.

VII. Biographical and Chronological Aids

A full-scale biography of Dr. Weizmann has yet to be written, but for a general view of the biographical background to the Weizmann

Papers the reader may be referred to Weizmann’s autobiography, Trial and Error (London, 1949), and to Chaim Weizmann—A Biography by Several Hands edited by Meyer Weisgal and Joel Carmichael (London, 1962). A condensed biography will be included in the 1951-60 Supplement to the Dictionary of National Biography, due to be published in 1969. As regards Trial and Error, it should be borne in mind that the material at Weizmann’s disposal when he wrote his autobiography was incomplete and that he had to rely to some extent on his memory, with the result that the narrative, illuminating as it is, is not always entirely accurate, especially as to dates.

Since all these works are or will shortly be readily accessible, it is thought that there would be little point in rounding off this Introduction with a biographical sketch. What will, it is believed, be of more practical service to the reader, will be to preface each volume of letters in Series A with an Introduction surveying and analyzing its contents, drawing attention to their salient features, and adding such comment and background material as may help to clarify the picture thus presented.

The reader may find it useful to have before him the skeleton table of salient dates printed below as Appendix III. The date of Weizmann’s birth cannot be established with certainty, but the date given in Appendix III, 27 November 1874, being that now generally accepted in Israel, will be assumed to be correct for the purposes of any reference, in the page-headings or elsewhere in this work, to Weizmann’s age at a given point of time.

VIII. Additional Abbreviations

(see also Sections in, Iv)

Bein, Herzl = Alex Bein, Theodor Herzl (Philadelphia, 1945)

D.N.B. = Dictionaryof National Biography 

Herzl Diaries = The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl,ed. R. Patai (New York and                       London, 1960)

J.C. = The Jewish Chronicle(London weekly)

T. and E. = Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error (London, 1949)

`V.W. Memoirs’ = Vera Weizmann, The Impossible Takes Longer (London, 1967)

Z.C. Prot. = Protocol (stenographic report) of Zionist Congress—(I Z.C. Prot. = Protocol of First Zionist Congress)


Inlatinizing the Cyrillic alphabet, a choice had to be made between two parallel systems of transliteration widely in use today, namely the Czech-style transliteration known as the International system, and the British system. The first of these, fairly popular in the United States, creates certain typographical problems, and its use in Great Britain is strictly confined to linguistics, the British system being invariably preferred in non-linguistic writing. The British system, being the more practical of the two, has been adopted for transliteration purposes in this work.

In its less consistent manifestations, the British method gives way to the pressure of tradition and discriminates in transliteration between certain proper names and the rest of the vocabulary. Moreover, it permits itself certain liberties for the sake of simpler spelling, as for instance the occasional omission of intervocalic y and the palatalization mark.

As far as proper names are concerned, it has been necessary to compromise further. In many instances, usage has had to be adhered to. Many of Weizmann’s Russian-Jewish friends wrote in several languages, settled outside Russia, and adopted their own methods of spelling their names either in Latin or Hebrew characters. Many of them became internationally known in this form. A case in point is Chaim Weizmann himself, who, according to strict transliteration rules, would have to be rendered as Khaim Veytsman. In particular, an important group of people mentioned in Weizmann’s letters either had adopted, voluntarily or under compulsion, German names (this applies especially to Jews living in the Austro-Hungarian Empire), or had Yiddish names which, when written in Latin characters, were spelt as if they were German. In all such cases the rules governing transliteration of Russian names are inapplicable, and the German names, or German equivalents of Yiddish names, have been retained.

Finally, Russian names written in Latin characters are reproduced throughout as given in the original Russian or non-Russian text. Russian names appearing in the letters both in their Latin and Cyrillic form are, therefore, rendered accordingly: in the former case as in the original, and in the latter following the above-mentioned rules of transliteration, but with the qualification that where there are variations in Weizmann’s spelling, in cyrillic characters, of the same proper name, a uniform standard transliteration has been adopted throughout. The purpose of this note is to describe in broad outline, and without going closely into details, the structure and constitutional machinery of the Zionist Organization from its establishment in 1897 to 1929, when it had to adapt itself to the new situation created by the coming into existence of the enlarged Jewish Agency for Palestine. The adjustments then required will be explained when that point is reached. During the period covered by this note various innovations were introduced, but none of outstanding importance except those connected with the emergence within the Movement of organized parties. At the end of this note will be found a brief account of certain institutions closely associated with the Zionist Organization.

1. The Basle Programme. Meeting at Basle in August 1897, the First Zionist Congress set up an organization (the name ‘Zionist Organization’ was not formally adopted until 1899) for the purpose of giving effect to a statement of aims (commonly known as The Basle Programme’), which, in the official translation of the original German, reads as follows:

Zionism strives to create for the Jewish people a Home in Palestine secured by public law.

The Congress contemplates the following means to the attainment of this end:

  • The promotion, on suitable lines, of the colonization of Palestine by Jewish agricultural and industrial workers.
  • The organization and binding together of the whole of Jewry by means of appropriate institutions, local and international, in accordance with the laws of each country.
  • The strengthening and fostering of Jewish national sentiment and consciousness.
  • Preparatory steps toward obtaining Government consent, where necessary, to the attainment of the aim of Zionism.

2. The Shekel. Membership of the Organization was open to any Jew or Jewess who signified assent to the Basle Programme by paying the shekel—a small annual registration-fee, originally fixed at one German mark or its equivalent in other currencies.

3. The Zionist Congress. The supreme governing body of the Organization was the Zionist Congress.

Every adult shekel-payer was entitled to take part in the election of delegates. For electoral purposes, the adult shekel-payers in each country were formed into one or more electoral groups (Wahlgruppen) entitled to return delegates in the ratio of one to every 100 voters up to 1903, thereafter, until 1921, one to every 200, and from 1921, one to every 2,500.

In the earlier years of the period under notice, the delegates from each country, known collectively as a Landsmannschaft, were accustomed to work together as a group. It was the practice for the various Landsmannschaften to meet separately on the eve of a Congress, and, if necessary, while the Congress was in session, with a view to agreeing on a concerted approach to the main questions on the agenda.

More elaborate electoral arrangements than those devised for a Congress in which party politics were unknown came to be needed when adherents of various schools of thought within the Zionist Movement began to organize themselves into parties. The ‘Democratic Fraction’, founded at the end of 1901, soon flickered out, but before long other parties, better disciplined and more efficiently organized, appeared on the scene—in 1902 the Mizrahi (upholders of Orthodox Judaism), and, soon afterwards, the left-wing Poole Zion (`Zionist Workers’). To these were subsequently added other compact groups with distinctive ideologies. Competition between rival parties became an accepted feature of the Congress and led to the development of a complicated electoral system designed to ensure that the composition of the Congress should reflect as accurately as possible the relative strength of the parties.

The Congress met annually until 1901, and thereafter biennially until 1913 and, after an interruption during the war years, from 1921 onwards.

The main business of the Congress, in its opening sessions, was normally to receive and discuss the reports of the Smaller Actions Committee or Executive Committee (see below) and of representative leaders in the main centres of Zionist activity, and also, on some occasions, to hear addresses of a more academic nature by invited speakers. After a general debate, the Congress would proceed to set up Political, Organization, Finance and, where thought necessary, other Committees, which, after discussion—usually prolonged—behind closed doors, would eventually produce their recommendations. Special importance was attached to the composition of the Permanenz Ausschuss (`Standing Committee’), which, besides acting as a Steering Committee, was responsible for the submission of nominations for office. At its closing plenary sessions the Congress would consider and vote upon resolutions drafted by the various Committees and any proposals put forward by individual delegates. It was at this stage that a final decision had to be reached—more often than not after complicated negotiations behind the scenes—about the composition of the incoming Smaller Actions Committee (Executive) and Greater Actions Committee (General Council), as to which see paras. 5 and 6, below.

4. The Annual Conference (JAITRESKONFERENZ). From the time when it was decided at the Fifth Congress in 1901 to substitute biennial for annual Congresses, there was held in each non-Congress year an ‘Annual Conference’ (sometimes known as ‘The Small Congress’) consisting of the members of the Smaller and Greater Actions Committees, together with the holders of certain offices in, or connected with, the Organization. An Annual Conference had only a limited measure of authority and could not exercise the full powers of Congress.

  • The Greater Actions Committee (GROSSES AKTIONS-KOMITEE). This body (sometimes referred to simply as ‘The Actions Committee’, and later represented in English by the name ‘General Council’) was the authority to which the working Executive, the Smaller Actions Committee, was directly responsible, with an obligation to furnish the members of the G.A.C. with periodical reports and to consult them on all matters of importance. In electing the G.A.C. it was usual for the Congress to provide for the representation of all countries in which there were organized bodies of Zionists, and of all recognized parties within the Movement.
  • The Smaller Actions Committee (ENGERES AKTIONS-KOMITEE). Likewise elected by the Congress, the Smaller Actions Committee (in 1921, by a decision of the Twelfth Congress, re-named ‘The Executive’) constituted a directorate charged with the day-to-day conduct of Zionist affairs and, in practice, taking the lead in the shaping of policy. The 1921 Congress divided the Executive into two sections, assigning some members to London and the remainder to Jerusalem.
  • The President. Though until his death in 1904 Herzl was designated by successive Congresses as Chairman of the Smaller Actions Committee, and was, in that capacity, the acknowledged head of the Organization, he was never formally given the title of President. During the period in which David Wolffsohn was Chairman of the S.A.C. in succession to Herzl, the Congress adopted, in 1907, a revised Constitution expressly providing for the election of a President of the Organization eo nomine and in 1909 rejected a proposal to delete this provision, but it is not clear that either at the 1907 or the 1909 Congress Wolffsohn was, in fact, formally elected President. After Wolffsohn’s retirement from office in 1911, Otto Warburg was elected by the S.A.C. as its Chairman and thus became the de facto head of the Organization, but there was no question of his being, or claiming to be, entitled to be described as President. In 1920 the London Zionist Conference conferred the title of President of the Zionist Organization on Weizmann, and in 1921 the Twelfth Congress, having resolved that Congress should have power to elect a President of the Zionist Organization and (as a separate office) a President of the Zionist Executive, exercised that power in favour of Weizmann and Sokolow respectively. During the remainder of the period under notice, ending in 1929, successive Congresses re-elected Weizmann as President of the Organization and Sokolow as President of the Executive.’
  • The Central Office. A Central Office was maintained by the Organization at the seat of the Smaller Actions Committee—until 1905 in Vienna, thereafter until 1911 in Cologne, and from 1911 in Berlin until the end of the First World War. In 1920 a Zionist Office which had been opened in London in 1917 became the Central Office of the Organization. In 1921, when the Zionist Executive was divided between London and Jerusalem (see para. 6, above), there was a corresponding division of the work of the Central Office.
  • Zionist Federations. Zionist societies in every country in which they existed were normally federated in territorial organizations, each such federation being responsible, through its own elected governing body, for propaganda, fund-raising, and other Zionist activities in the country concerned.

In Russia, where, under the Czarist regime, a full-scale Zionist Federation could not lawfully function on the same lines as elsewhere, the country was divided, for Zionist purposes, into a number of regions, each with a regional leader elected by the local Zionists—usually a member of the Greater Actions Committee. These regional leaders met from time to time for consultation and were, in effect, collectively responsible for the direction of Zionist activities in Russia. Some measure of administrative centralization was secured by the maintenance of a Finance Office at Kiev and, in the early stages, of a ‘Correspondence Centre’ at Kishinev, replaced in 1901 by an Information Bureau at Simferopol, whose functions were subsequently taken over by a small directorate (Landeskomitee) of four members unostentatiously formed in 1903 and reconstituted in 1905 and again in 1906, for the purpose (never, in fact, effectively achieved) of centralizing the direction of Russian Zionist affairs.

After the March Revolution in 1917, an All-Russian Zionist Organization was able to come into the open and to function freely, but only for a few months, the Bolshevik regime being implacably hostile to Zionism, so that before long it became impossible for Zionist activities to be continued in any organized form.

  • Separate Unions (SONDERVERBANDE). From 1909 onwards a status equivalent to that of the territorial federations mentioned in the preceding paragraph was enjoyed by certain Separate Unions (Sonderverbeinde) consisting of the adherents, wherever resident, of certain recognized parties within the Movement. At the close of the period under notice, ending in 1929, there existed, side by side with the federations and cutting across the territorial organizations represented by them, four such Separate Unions—the Mizrahi, the Poole Zion, another left-wing party, the Hitandut (`Union’), being an amalgamation of two socialist groups, and (rather anomalously) an organization functioning only in England and having no distinctive ideology, the Order of Ancient Maccabaeans.

Associated Institutions

11. The Jewish Colonial Trust. The Jewish Colonial Trust (Jiidische Kolonialbank), incorporated as an English company in 1899, was designed to serve as the financial instrument of the Zionist Organization and to satisfy the need for a legally constituted body corporate capable of accepting the Charter which it was hoped to secure from the Turkish Government. Founders’ shares issued to the persons who, at the date of the incorporation of the company, constituted the Smaller Actions Committee, and also to certain of the then members of the Greater Actions Committee, carried an aggregate voting-power equal to the combined voting-power of all other shareholders, thus giving the holders effective ultimate control over the conduct of the company’s affairs. The holders of the founders’ shares were also entitled to be represented on the Board of Directors by governors entitled to veto any resolution coming before the Board. The exercise of the powers attaching to the founders’ shares was controlled by a council (known in German as the Aufsichtsrat) consisting of the holders for the time being of the founders’ shares, with power to co-opt a certain number of additional members drawn from the Greater Actions Committee. The council set up, in 1899, a small executive committee consisting of members of the Smaller Actions Committee.

A subsidiary of the J.C.T., the Anglo-Palestine Company (later renamed ‘The Anglo-Palestine Bank’), designed to carry on banking business in Palestine and Syria, with its head office at Jaffa, was incorporated as an English company in 1903.

12.   The Jewish National Fund. The object of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth le-Israel) was to raise by voluntary donations a fund to be used for the acquisition of land in Palestine and Syria, all land so acquired to be held in perpetuity as the property of the Jewish people and to be leased only to Jews. The J.N.F. was incorporated in 1907 as an English company with a membership consisting of the holders of founders’ shares in the Jewish Colonial Trust. Though it had its own directorate, its constitution gave a large measure of control to the members for the time being of the Smaller Actions Committee.

13.    The Palestine Foundation Fund. To meet the needs of the new situation created by the Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Foundation Fund (Keren Hayesod), incorporated as an English company in 1921, was established to serve as the principal fund-raising agency of the Zionist Organization for all purposes, except to the extent to which the acquisition and improvement of land remained the responsibility of the Jewish National Fund. The main object of the Foundation Fund, as set out in its Memorandum of Association, was ‘to do all such acts and things as shall appear necessary or expedient for the purpose of carrying out the declaration of His Majesty’s Government . . . as to the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine’. When plans were being made in 1920-21 for the setting up of the Fund, controversies arose as to its management and as to the principles to govern the use of its resources. The nature of these controversies and the manner in which they were settled will be explained in the notes to the relevant letters when that point is reached.