Austrian historian and educator; born at Prossnitz, Moravia, Feb. 27, 1831. While still young he came under the influence of men like Gideon Brecher and Hirsch Bär Fassel, and received a careful education in the high school of his native city. Thus prepared he went abroad in quest of a higher education and attended the universities of Berlin, Heidelberg, Prague, and Vienna, training himself for a political career. To this ambition he sacrificed his Jewish religion and embraced Christianity. Having graduated as Ph.D., he was first appointed teacher of history at the high schools of Czernowitz, Prague, and Vienna, then in 1857 assistant professor of Austrian history at the Law Academy of Grosswardein, Hungary. In the following year he was promoted to a professorship of history at the Commercial Academy of Vienna. In this position he remained for ten years, when, in 1868, he was transferred to the Technische Hochschule of that city.
At that time his ambitions began to materialize. He entered the Ministry of Public Instruction as councilor, doing yeoman service in the cause of popular and higher education; and in 1873 he was elected member of Parliament, which election has since been renewed without interruption. His lucid parliamentary speeches, founded on a comprehensive and deep knowledge of educational, commercial, and financial affairs, won him the respect of his colleagues and opponents. In the political dealings between the conservative and liberal elements consequent upon the fall of the Taaffe ministry on Oct. 30, 1893, Beer was proposed as state secretary of education, but his Jewish descent thwarted all his hopes of entering the cabinet.
Beer is of a conservative disposition, appealing rather to the reason than to the emotions of his audience. His numerous writings show the wide range of his knowledge. They embrace commerce, finance, foreign politics, education, and modern history. As far back as 1872 Leopold von Ranke praised Beer's facility of expression and wide sweep of historical view.
Beer is the author of the following works: "Geschichte des Welthandels," 1860; "Fortschritte des Unterrichtswesens," 1867; "Die Zweite Theilung Polen's," 1867; "Joseph II., Leopold II., und Kaunitz," 1873; "Leopold II., Franz II., und Katharina von Russland," 1873; "Finanzen Oesterreich's im 19. Jahrhundert," 1877; "Zehn Jahre Oesterreichischer Politik 1801-10," 1877; "Staatshaushalt Oester.-Ungarns seit 1868," 1881; "Aus-Tegethoff's Nachlass," 1882; "Die Orientalische Politik Oesterreichs seit 1774," 1883; "Die Oesterreichische Handelspolitik im 19. Jahrhundert," 1893.
- Münz, in Nation, Berlin, March 16, 1901;
- Meyer, Konversations-Lexikon, s.v.