The First Zionist Congress held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897 is well known, and its 125th anniversary was widely celebrated in August 2022. Less well known is that there was a second and then even more Zionist Congresses. In fact, there were 22 Congresses held prior to Israel’s independence in 1948, and the in person portion of the 38th Zionist Congress was celebrated in Jerusalem in April 2023. It was through these Congresses (six of which were held during the life of Theodor Herzl) that the many important steps in the journey from Herzl’s idea to Jewish statehood were discussed, approved, reviewed and implemented.
The Second Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland from August 28 to 31, 1898. It was at this Congress that female delegates were first accorded full voting rights (at the time, the only country in which women had equal voting rights was New Zealand). At this Congress the foundations were laid for the establishment of the Jewish Colonial Trust, a financial institution that funded development in the Land of Israel, which was incorporated under the laws of England in 1899. Another notable event at the Congress was the presentation of a prototype of the Zionist flag, which after independence became the flag of Israel.
400 delegates attended the Congress (twice the number of delegates at the First Congress). This was the first Congress attended by Chaim Weizmann, the architect of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and later Israel’s first President. There were no photographs taken at the First Zionist Congress, so the first photographic evidence of a Zionist Congress was from the Second (see the Harper’s Weekly article in the photographs below).
Herzl’s opening remarks at the Congress included the following statement: “We are ready to bring about the reconstruction of Judaism; we have everything in abundance, men, material and plans. What we require is the soil…no one will deny that there is an unbreakable connection between our people and this land.”
To mark the 125th anniversary of the Second Zionist Congress, please enjoy the images below from David’s collection.
These images are available to be downloaded and used free of charge.
If you do, we would ask that you please provide the following photo credit:
From the David Matlow Herzl and Zionism Collection (www.herzlcollection.com)
Photos: Kevin Viner, Elevator Digital, Toronto
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