Gustav Landauer

Gustav Landauer (7 April 1870  2 May 1919) was one of the leading theorists on anarchism in Germany at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. He was an advocate of social anarchism and an avowed pacifist. In 1919, during the German Revolution, he was briefly Commissioner of Enlightenment and Public Instruction of the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic.[1] He was killed when this Republic was overthrown.

Gustav Landauer
Born(1870-04-07)7 April 1870
Died2 May 1919(1919-05-02) (aged 49)
Spouse(s)Hedwig Lachmann

Landauer is also known for his study of metaphysics and religion, and his translations of William Shakespeare's works into German.

Life and career

Landauer was the second child of Jewish parents Rosa (Neuberger) and Herman Landauer.[2]

Landauer supported anarchism already in the 1890s. In those years, he was especially enthusiastic about the individualistic approach of Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche, but also "cautioned against an apotheosis of the unrestrained individual, potentially leading to the neglect of solidarity".[3] Landauer believed that social change could not be achieved solely through control of the state or economic apparatus, but required a revolution in interpersonal relations. [4] True socialism could result only in conjunction with this spiritual work, writing "the community we long for and need, we will find only if we sever ourselves from individuated existence; thus we will at last find, in the innermost core or our hidden being, the most ancient and most universal community: the human race and the cosmos."[5]

One of Landauer's grandchildren, with wife and author Hedwig Lachmann, was Mike Nichols, the American television, stage and film director, writer, and producer.[6]


  • Skepsis und Mystik (1903)
  • Die Revolution (trans. Revolution) (1907)
  • Aufruf zum Sozialismus (1911) (trans. by David J. Parent as For Socialism. Telos Press, 1978. ISBN 0-914386-11-5)
  • Editor of the journal Der Sozialist (trans. The Socialist) from 1893–1899
  • "Anarchism in Germany" (1895), "Weak Statesmen, Weaker People" (1910) and "Stand Up Socialist" (1915) are excerpted in Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas – Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300 CE–1939), ed. Robert Graham. Black Rose Books, 2005. ISBN 1-55164-250-6
  • Gustav Landauer. Gesammelte Schriften Essays Und Reden Zu Literatur, Philosophie, Judentum. (translated title: Collected Writings Essays and Speeches of Literature, Philosophy and Judaica). (Wiley-VCH, 1996) ISBN 3-05-002993-5
  • Gustav Landauer. Anarchism in Germany and Other Essays. eds. Stephen Bender and Gabriel Kuhn. Barbary Coast Collective.
  • Gustav Landauer. Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed. & trans. Gabriel Kuhn; PM Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-60486-054-2


  1. Samuel Hugo Bergman and Noam Zadoff. "Landauer, Gustav". Jewish Virtual Library/Encyclopedia Judaica. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  2. Faces of America: How 12 Extraordinary People Discovered Their Pasts, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010, p. 10
  3. Miething, Dominique (2016-04-02). "Overcoming the preachers of death: Gustav Landauer's reading of Friedrich Nietzsche". Intellectual History Review. 26 (2): 285–304. doi:10.1080/17496977.2016.1140404. ISSN 1749-6977.
  4. Mendes-Flohr, Paul (2019). Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. pp. 53, 120–121. ISBN 978-0-300-15304-0.
  5. Landauer, Gustav (1901). "Durch Absonderung zur Gemeinschaft". Journal of the Neue Gemeinschaft (2): 48.
  6. Bruce Weber (November 20, 2014). "Mike Nichols, 83, Acclaimed Director on Broadway and in Hollywood, Dies". New York Times.

Further reading

  • Altena, Bert (2018). "Review: Christoph Knüppel (ed.), Gustav Landauer, Briefe und Tagebücher 1884-1900". Anarchist Studies. Lawrence & Wishart. 26 (2). ISSN 0967-3393.
  • Thomas Esper. The Anarchism of Gustav Landauer. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961)
  • Ruth Link-Salinger Hyman. Gustav Landauer: Philosopher of Utopia. (Hackett Publishing Company, 1977). ISBN 0-915144-27-1
  • Eugene Lunn. Prophet of Community: The Romantic Socialism of Gustav Landauer. (Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1973). ISBN 0-520-02207-6
  • Charles B. Maurer. Call to Revolution: The Mystical Anarchism of Gustav Landauer. (Wayne State University Press, 1971). ISBN 0-8143-1441-4
  • Michael Löwy, Redemption & Utopia: Jewish Libertarian Thought in Central Europe, a Study in Elective Affinity. Translated by Hope Heaney. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.
  • Martin Buber. Paths in Utopia. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1949.
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