Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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A Note on the Text

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pp. vii-x

This volume presents the first publication in English of Story of My Life (originally published in Hebrew as Sippur yamai [1936]), one of three major autobiographical writings by Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky. The other works are Story of the Jewish Legion (originally published in Russian as Slovo o polku: Istoriia evreiskogo legiona [1928] and The Five (published in Russian as Piatero [1936])...

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Introduction. Muse and Muscle: Story of My Life and the Invention of Vladimir Jabotinsky

Brian Horowitz

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pp. 1-32

Vladimir Jabotinsky’s autobiography, Story of My Life (1936), was written with a political purpose: to provide the reader with a portrait of a charismatic leader who has acquired his right to lead by virtue of his biography—his family, spiritual origins, and practical experiences.1 In the book Jabotinsky describes his personal development during his childhood and early adult years in Odessa, Rome...

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Story of My Life by Vladimir Jabotinsky

This story is condensed and fragmentary in many respects. First of all, I did not even attempt (except in one or two instances) to describe people with whom my life has brought me in contact, not even people who played a prominent role in the lives of my generation and nation. Because of this, of course, I reduced the scope and the interest of my story, since what is valuable in every autobiography...

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My Origins

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pp. 35-40

My mother was born in Berdichev, about one hundred years ago, the daughter of Meir Zak from a merchant family.1 So far as I know, there are no rabbis or other “spiritual dignitaries” in the history of my family; my sole possible consolation may be that at least my wife’s family is connected to the Maggid of Dubno.2 I never heard any details about my mother’s childhood, but from what...

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Between Childhood and Youth

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pp. 41-47

My birth certificate says: “On October 9th 1880, a son was born to the resident (meshchanin) of Nikopol Yevgeny Jabotinsky, and his wife, Yeva, and was given the name Vladimir.” Three errors: my father’s name is Yona, son of Tzevi; my mother’s, Chava, daughter of Meir; and I was born on the fifth of October, corresponding to the eighteenth according to the Western calendar, verse...

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Bern and Rome

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pp. 48-55

I journeyed by way of Podolia and Galicia in third class, of course, in a train that crept forward very slowly, stopping at every station.44 Day and night, Jews came into the car. Between Razdelnaya and Vienna I heard more Yiddish than I had ever heard before in my life.45 I didn’t understand all of it, but the impression was powerful and painful. In that train I got my first contact with the ghetto; I saw...

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Journalist

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pp. 56-63

This new chapter lasted two years, and it was the last transition that led me to Zionist work.
I found that Russia had a new face. Instead of “tedium and longing,” there was a nervous unrest, a general expectancy of something, a mood of spring. During my stay abroad, important events had taken place—the revolutionary parties had come out of the basement, and one or two ministers...

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Kishinev

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pp. 64-67

The beginning of my Zionist activity is connected with two things: the Italian opera and the idea of self-defense.
We always had Italian opera at the Odessa City Theatre during the winter. That winter Armanda degli Abbati was singing.97 She was a friend of my friend Lebedintsev, and he used to come to the theater every evening. Once, during...

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The Congress

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pp. 68-71

A very amusing comedy could be written about my adventures at the congress. First of all, I was not entitled to participate in it, as I was almost a year and a half too young with respect to the legal age for a delegate, and I do not remember who the friendly false witnesses were who attested to my being twenty-four years old; my face was that of a boy, and the official in charge of the delegates’ cards...

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St. Petersburg

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pp. 72-75

What my plans were at that time, at the end of the year 1903, I do not remember. Perhaps, as youth is wont to, I dreamt about conquering the two worlds on whose thresholds I stood: laurels as a Russian writer and the captainship of the Zionist vessel; or maybe I didn’t have any definite plan. I doubt very much in general whether I received from the gods the talent or even the desire to make...

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Wanderer

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pp. 76-78

My connection with the Halastra lasted almost seven years.146 I did not spend all of that time in St. Petersburg; mine was a nomad’s life. In Vilna a hotel owner once told me: “This is the fifty-fifth time that you have come to our place, sir!”
A new Jewish world was revealed to me in Vilna, a world that I knew until then only from my contacts with the “externs” as well...

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Through the Storms of the Russian “Spring”

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pp. 79-87

In the meantime Plehve had been killed, and the workers in St. Petersburg, whom the priest Gapon had promised Zubatov would disengage from politics, organized a procession to the Palace of the Emperor, on January 9, to demand a constitution. The soldiers—their own brethren—killed scores of them. It was already clear to everybody that this victory spelled...

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Helsingfors

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pp. 88-91

In the summer of 1906, we gathered at the conference that I mentioned earlier, at the summer dacha of Isaac Goldberg, in Landvarovo, near Vilna. We called it the Commission of Zionist Journalists. We were joined by the “gang” from St. Petersburg, the group from Głos Żydówski in Warsaw, and the editors of Evreiskaia Mysl’, which had been founded...

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Elections, Marriage, Vienna

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pp. 92-94

I hurried back to Volhynia from Helsingfors. The National Assimilationist Party had declared war on us. It was forbidden, they argued, to stress the Zionist program or raise the Zionist flag in the Russian Duma lest even our progressive-minded allies abandon us. They would say, “If you are Zionists, why do you demand citizens’ rights in Russia?” I hurried to St. Petersburg and mobilized my good friend...

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Constantinople

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pp. 95-100

In the meantime revolution broke out in Turkey, and one of the newspapers in St. Petersburg proposed that I go to Constantinople.218 The Young Turks craved publicity: countless ministers received me and proclaimed unanimously that their country from then on and eternally would be a paradise, and that there is no difference between a Turk, Greek, or an Armenian—all are “Ottomans,” one nation...

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Crossroads

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pp. 101-106

From the middle of the summer of 1910 until the world war broke out, I stayed in Russia. Deep in my heart I doubt whether I was right in giving this chapter the title “Crossroads.” From the perspective of its contents, that period of my life in Russia deserves a more distinguished name. Precisely during this period I achieved a certain fame, of which one shouldn’t be ashamed, as a writer as well...

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When the Volcano Erupted

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pp. 107-111

The critic of Kiryat Sefer indicated some errors in the first part of my story; some of them bad ones—for instance, the Helsingfors Conference I called “the Sixth Conference of Russian Zionists,” whereas it was the third, and who if not I, one of its initiators, should know and remember? Or when I described my involuntary visit to the governor of Odessa, Neidgardt, calling him Shuvalov; for me...

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Lust for a Fight?

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pp. 112-118

In the beginning of September, I crossed the frontier; in the middle of December, I arrived in Egypt; for ten weeks I visited Sweden, Norway, England, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Sardinia, and Italy. I could fill a whole book with my impressions of the journey—about the world that had already been struck with madness but had not yet realized...

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Around the Front

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pp. 119-122

However, I should also report my personal and professional memories as a journalist wandering around the front.
From London I sailed to Holland—not much to tell—and from there I went to Belgium. There I came face to face with the reality of war: half of the city of Malines, famous for its lacework industry, was already destroyed, and in the other half I saw a row of paupers...

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The Jewish Accent

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pp. 123-124

In these chapters devoted to my impressions from the journey that brought me from Moscow to Bordeaux, I did not mention any Zionist matters. Nor is there anything to mention. True, I cabled from Stockholm to the Zionist central committee in Berlin, and from there a messenger came to meet me, and, if I am not mistaken, it was Julius Berger.271 He told me that there was...

Notes

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pp. 125-156

Index

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pp. 157-162