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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: August 2018

11 - The Most Genuine and Fruitful Radicalism: Taking the Lead at the Fränkische Tagespost (1907–1908)

Summary

MARTHA EISNER's LONG SUFFERING came to end the morning of Friday, 22 March 1907. Her body was interred three days later at Weißensee's Jewish cemetery. The same week Eisner wrote to Toni Hendrich's young son, Gerhard, of insomnia, enervation, and “dreams like rusty sawing.” Apprised of the family's loss, Joseph Bloch apologized on 8 April for having dunned Eisner all the while for the article on Napoleon when he scarcely had time to write the leads for the Fränkische Tagespost. Readers had been informed in late February of the change of editors and were introduced to Eisner's range of capability by a detailed review of Das Ende des Reichs that appeared on the front page of 9 March. Its author judged the book one of those watershed reappraisals that “bluntly and courageously counter the mindless or unconscionable fairy tales of official historical dogmatism.”

Eisner's lead of 28 March, “The Danger of the Press,” was a manifesto in the same vein, proclaiming the crystalline purpose and financial independence of the party press in contrast to the often veiled agenda and venality of its bourgeois rivals. Even the official organs of the most reactionary parties and interests, he wrote, were innocuous compared with papers that feigned impartiality while taking the line of sponsors whose fortunes depended on the maintenance of status quo. Because these papers relied on revenue from subscriptions and advertisements, their reportage invariably conformed to the opinions of a vested clientele, the beneficiaries of the ruling state. “The frightful political immaturity and woeful political incompetence that still prevail in Germany are in no small part the effect of the bourgeois-capitalist semiofficial press.” The Social Democratic press, on the other hand, was solely the enterprise of the party, and its profits were channeled back into the workers’ movement that begot it. “Free and independent, it serves only the socialist worldview, the liberation of the oppressed, truth, and education.” Thus through his choice of newspaper the citizen determined not only his own future, but that of all mankind. With this appeal to Nuremberg's populace Eisner launched his campaign to make North Bavaria the heartland of democratic socialism.

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