Heinrich Bernhard Oppenheim
1819 – 1880
Who was Heinrich Bernhard Oppenheim?
Oppenheim was son of a Jewish family of bankers in Frankfurt and studied law in Göttingen, Heidelberg and Berlin. In Berlin he could not reach a postdoctoral lecturer qualification because of his Jewish origin, so he became a private lecturer for political science and international law in Heidelberg. But his inclinations to journalism soon won the upper hand, and, his living assured by his family, he gave up teaching.
He was very much taken by the questions surrounding the movements of 1848. His feeble attempts at practical politics nevertheless foundered and left him more and more to make himself known through his pen and his theories. He spoke at the agitated mass meeting at Unter den Zelten where the legislature's petition to the king regarding the wishes of the people was discussed. He became one of the chief editors, with Arnold Ruge and Eduard Meyen, of “Die Reform” which soon came under the oversight of several democratic groups. Among his other co-workers on this paper were Mikhail Bakunin, Karl Heinzen and Georg Herwegh. Oppenheim sought a seat in the National Assembly. He thought it sufficient to refer to his writings in “Die Reform” where he developed his premise “that only with freedom did the people become mature enough for freedom,” but the people of Berlin had no patience with a candidate who campaigned only with his pen. This experience convinced him even more he that he was suited to a writing career, as he did not seem suited to speaking.
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