Eduard Lasker
Eduard Lasker was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 and jurist
A jurist or jurisconsult is a professional who studies, develops, applies, or otherwise deals with the law. The term is widely used in American English, but in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries it has only historical and specialist usage...



He was born at Jarotschin, a village in Posen
Province of Posen
The Province of Posen was a province of Prussia from 1848–1918 and as such part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918. The area was about 29,000 km2....

, being the son of a Jewish tradesman. He attended the gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

, and afterwards the University of Breslau. In 1848, after the outbreak of the revolution, he went to Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 and entered the student's legion
Academic Legion (Vienna)
The Academic Legion was a military organization formed by university students in Vienna during the Revolutions of 1848. It played a key role in toppling the government of Clemens Metternich and precipitating his retirement on 13 March 1848...

 which took so prominent a part in the disturbances; he fought against the imperial troops during the siege of the city in October. He then continued his legal studies at Breslau and Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, and after a visit of three years to England, then the model state for German liberals, entered the Prussian judicial service.

In 1870 he left the government service, and in 1873 was appointed to an administrative post in the service of the city of Berlin. He had been brought to the notice of the political world by some articles he wrote from 1861 to 1864, which were afterwards published under the title Zur Verfassungsgeschichte Preussens (Leipzig, 1874), and in 1865 he was elected member to the Prussian House of Representatives. He joined the radical German Progress Party
German Progress Party
The German Progress Party was the first modern political party with a program in Germany, founded by the liberal members of the Prussian Lower House in 6 June, 1861....

, and in 1867 was also elected to the German parliament, but he helped to form the National Liberal Party
National Liberal Party (Germany)
The National Liberal Party was a German political party which flourished between 1867 and 1918. It was formed by Prussian liberals who put aside their differences with Bismarck over domestic policy due to their support for his highly successful foreign policy, which resulted in the unification of...

, and in consequence lost his seat in Berlin, which remained faithful to the radicals; after this he represented Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

 and Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

 in the Prussian, and Meiningen
Meiningen is a town in Germany - located in the southern part of the state of Thuringia and is the district seat of Schmalkalden-Meiningen. It is situated on the river Werra....

 in the German parliament. He threw himself with great energy into his parliamentary duties, and quickly became one of its most popular and most influential members. An optimist and idealist, he joined to a fervent belief in liberty an equal enthusiasm for German unity and the idea of the German state. His motion that Baden
Grand Duchy of Baden
The Grand Duchy of Baden was a historical state in the southwest of Germany, on the east bank of the Rhine. It existed between 1806 and 1918.-History:...

 should be included in the North German Confederation
North German Confederation
The North German Confederation 1866–71, was a federation of 22 independent states of northern Germany. It was formed by a constitution accepted by the member states in 1867 and controlled military and foreign policy. It included the new Reichstag, a parliament elected by universal manhood...

 in January 1870 caused much embarrassment to Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

, but was not without effect in hastening the crisis of 1870.

His great work, however, was the share he took in the judicial reform during the ten years 1867-1877. To him more than to any other single individual is due the great codification of the law. While he again. and again was able to compel the government to withdraw or amend proposals which seemed dangerous to liberty, he opposed those liberals who, unable to obtain all the concessions which they called for, refused to vote for the new laws as a whole. A speech made by Lasker on 7 February 1873, in which he attacked the management of the Pomeranian railway, caused a great sensation, and his exposure of the financial mismanagement brought about the fall of Hermann Wagener
Hermann Wagener
Friedrich Wilhelm Hermann Wagener was a Prussian jurist, chief editor of the Kreuzzeitung and was a politician and minister from the Prussian Conservative Party.-Biography:Wagenar was the son of a country priest from Neuruppin...

, one of Bismarck's most trusted assistants. By this action he caused, however, some embarrassment to his party. This is generally regarded as the beginning of the reaction against economic liberalism
Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism is the ideological belief in giving all people economic freedom, and as such granting people with more basis to control their own lives and make their own mistakes. It is an economic philosophy that supports and promotes individual liberty and choice in economic matters and...

 by which he and his party were to be deprived of their influence. He refused to follow Bismarck in his financial and economic policy after 1878; always unsympathetic to the chancellor, he was now selected for his most bitter attacks.

Between the radicals and socialists on the one side and the government on the other, like many of his friends, he was unable to maintain himself. In 1879 he lost his seat in the Prussian parliament; he joined the Secession
Liberal Union (Germany)
The Liberal Union was a short-lived liberal party in the German Empire. It was founded as a break-away from the National Liberal Party, therefore also called Secession, in 1880, and merged with the left liberal German Progress Party to form the German Free-minded Party in 1884.The leftist faction...

, but was ill at ease in his new position. Broken in health and spirits by the incessant labors of the time when he did half the work of the Reichstag
Reichstag (German Empire)
The Reichstag was the parliament of the North German Confederation , and of the German Reich ....

, he went in 1883 for a tour in America, and died suddenly in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in January 1884.

Lasker's death was the occasion of a curious episode, which caused much discussion at the time. The American House of Representatives adopted a motion of regret, and added to it these words:
That his loss is not alone to be mourned by the people of his native land, where his firm and constant exposition of, and devotion to, free and liberal ideas have materially advanced the social, political and economic conditions of these people, but by the lovers of liberty throughout the world.

This motion was sent through the American minister at Berlin to the German foreign office, with a request that it might be communicated to the president of the Reichstag. It was to ask Bismarck officially to communicate a resolution in which a foreign parliament expressed an opinion in German affairs exactly opposed to that which the emperor at his advice had always followed. Bismarck therefore refused to communicate the resolution, and returned it through the German minister at Washington.


  • Zur Geschichte der parlamentarischen Entwickelung Preussens (Leipzig, 1873)
  • Die Zukunft des Deutschen Reichs (Leipzig, 1877)
  • Wege und Ziele der Kulturentwicklung (Leipzig, 1881)
  • Fünfzehn Jahre parlamentarischer Geschichte 1866-1880 appeared edited by W. Cahn (Berlin, 1902). See also


  • Ludwig Bamberger
    Ludwig Bamberger
    Ludwig Bamberger was a German economist, politician and writer.-Early life:Bamberger was born in a Jewish family in Mainz.After studying at Gießen, Heidelberg and Göttingen, he entered law.-Career:...

    , Eduard Lasker, Gedenkrede (Leipzig, 1884)
  • A. Wolff, Zur Erinnerung an Eduard Lasker (Berlin, 1884)
  • Freund, Einiges über Eduard Lasker (Leipzig, 1885)
  • Eduard Lasker, seine Biographie und letzte öffentliche Rede, by various writers (Stuttgart, 1884)

  • Rosemarie Schuder
    Rosemarie Schuder
    Rosemarie Schuder is a German writer.-Life:Rosemarie Schuder came from a Middle class family in Jena. She attended a girl's school and took the Abitur in 1947. Subsequently she worked as a freelance journalist for the East German newspaper Tägliche Rundschau and Neue Zeit...

    : Der "Fremdling aus dem Osten". Eduard Lasker - Jude, Liberaler, Gegenspieler Bismarcks. Berlin: Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg 2008, 269 S., Hardcover, ISBN 978-3-86650-780-7
  • Ernest Hamburger: Juden im öffentlichen Leben Deutschlands - Regierungsmitglieder, Beamte und Parlamentarier in der monarchischen Zeit 1848 - 1918. Mohr (Siebeck), Tübingen 1968
  • Dieter Langewiesche: Liberalismus in Deutschland. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt 1988, ISBN 3-518-11286-4
  • Gustav Seeber (Hrsg.): Gestalten der Bismarckzeit. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin (Ost) 1978
  • James J. Sheehan, James J.: German Liberalism in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago 1978
  • Heinrich August Winkler
    Heinrich August Winkler
    Heinrich August Winkler is a German historian.After attending a Gymnasium in Ulm, he studied history, political science, philosophy and public law at Münster, Heidelberg and Tübingen. In 1970 he became professor at the Free University of Berlin. From 1972 to 1991 he was professor at the University...

    : Preussischer Liberalismus und deutscher Nationalstaat. Studien zur Geschichte der Deutschen Fortschrittspartei 1861-1866. Mohr (Siebeck), Tübingen 1964
  • Bamberger, Ludwig: Eduard Lasker Gedenkrede gehalten am 28. Januar 1884 im Saale der Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, Leipzig, F. A. Brockhaus, 1884 (2. Auflage), 38 S.

External links

  • Kurzbiografie auf der Website der RBB
    Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg
    Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg is an institution under public law for the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, situated in Berlin and Potsdam...

    -Produktion Preussen - Chronik eines deutschen Staates
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