Table of Contents

German politician; born at Jarotschin, Posen, Oct. 14, 1829; died in New York city Jan. 5, 1884; educated at the universities of Breslau and Berlin (LL.D. Leipsic, 1873; Hon. Ph.D. Freiburg, 1875). He took part, at Vienna, in the revolution of 1848 as a member of the academic legion. In 1851 he passed his first juridical examination, and was employed for the two following years in the city court of Berlin, after which hewent to England (1853), returning to Germany in 1856 to resume his juridical career. He passed his second examination in 1858 and became associate judge in Berlin. In 1865 he was elected from Berlin to the Prussian Lower House, in which he sat with the party of the Left ("Fortschrittspartei"). Reelected in 1866, he became one of the founders of the German "Nationalpartei." From 1868 to 1873 he represented Magdeburg, and from 1875 to 1879 Frankfort-on-the-Main, in the Prussian National Assembly. In 1870 Lasker was admitted to the bar in Berlin as attorney at law, and in 1873 he was appointed "Syndikus des Pfandbriefamtes" in Berlin. When the North German Parliament was opened in 1867 Lasker represented the first Berlin district; later he was elected to the German Reichstag from the second Meiningen district, which he represented until his death.

Leader of National Liberals.

Lasker was a prominent member of the German party which, under the guidance of Bismarck, contributed to the rebuilding of the German empire after the Austro-Prussian (1866) and Franco-Prussian (1870-71) wars. As one of the leaders of the Nationalists he was a strong supporter of the "Iron Chancellor" until 1879, when he refused to follow him in his new revenue policy, and was consequently defeated when he stood for reelection to the Prussian National Assembly. In 1880 Lasker and a few of his followers deserted the Nationalist party; but Lasker failed to agree even with his followers. He came into direct conflict with Bismarck (who found in him a strong antagonist) with regard to a bill designed to limit freedom of speech in Parliament. Bismarck's fight against the National party and its seceding members became soon a fight against Lasker, who was thus left without a party. Exhausted in body and mind, Lasker retired from political life in the summer of 1883, and, hoping to find health and strength in travel, visited America, where death suddenly overtook him. He was buried at Berlin on Jan. 28, 1884. A resolution of sympathy was passed by the United States House of Representatives and sent to Bismarck to be laid before the German Reichstag. The chancellor, however, refused to accept the resolution on the ground that it contained a criticism of German politics—a course of action which provoked a heated debate in the German Parliament on March 13 following.

Lasker was one of the ablest and most popular orators in the German Parliament, a character above reproach and an enthusiastic patriot. He contributed much to the passage of many important Prussian and German laws, among these being the laws of association, the laws governing handicrafts, determining responsibility, regulating taxation, etc.; in 1875-76, as a member of a commission, he was especially active in this work. His most notable speeches were made on Jan. 4 and Feb. 7, 1873, when he opposed the railroad policy of the Prussian secretary for railways, Von Itzenplitz. The Assembly voted a commission to examine the conditions, but the real success of these two speeches was seen in the collapse of the "Gründungsschwindel" (stock-juggling). Lasker was always the champion of his coreligionists; he introduced a law by which Jews of Orthodox tendencies were allowed to create Jewish communities. He found time also for literary work. He was the author of: "Erlebnisse einer Mannesseele," Stuttgart, 1873; "Zur Geschichte der Parlamentarischen Entwicklung Preussens," Leipsic, 1873; "Zur Verfassungsgeschichte Preussens," ib. 1874 (essays which appeared first in "Deutsche Jahrbücher," 1861-64); "Die Zukunft des Deutschen Reiches," ib. 1877; "Wege und Ziele der Kulturentwicklung," ib. 1881. "Aus Eduard Lasker's Nachlass, I.: 15 Jahre Parlamentarischer Geschichte," was published at Berlin in 1902.

Eduard Lasker.
  • Morais, Eminent Israelites of the Nineteenth Century, pp. 184-186, Philadelphia, 1880;
  • Bamberger, Eduard Lasker, Leipsic, 1884;
  • idem, Eduard Lasker ,Seine Biographie und Letzte Oeffentliche Rede, Stuttgart, 1884;
  • A. Wolf, Zur Erinnerung an Eduard Lasker, Berlin, 1884;
  • Freund, Einiges über Eduard Lasker, Leipsic, 1885;
  • Stein, Eduard Lasker, 1884;
  • T. Cohn, in Jahr. Gesch. der Jud. 1809.
S. F. T. H.
Images of pages