Ferdinand Lassalle (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Lassalle was one of the founders of the German labor movement and the most important advocate of scientific socialism in Germany after the Revolution of 1848. His theory of evolutionary socialism eventually triumphed within the German Social Democratic Party.
Ferdinand Lassalle was born on April 11, 1825, in Breslau, Prussia, the modern Polish city of Wrocław. He was the only son of Heymann Lassal, or Loslauer, a well-to-do Jewish silk merchant. Although admitted to the synagogue at thirteen, the young Lassalle never took his ancestral faith seriously. Lassalle lived at home until he was fifteen. Much of his time as a teenager was spent playing cards or billiards for spending money. Not a particularly bright student, Lassalle was expelled from the classical high school (Gymnasium) for forging his parents’ signatures to his grade reports, an offense he committed repeatedly.
In May, 1840, Lassalle’s father enrolled him in the Commercial Institute in Leipzig. His father had hopes that his son would eventually take over the family business, but Ferdinand was not willing. He announced his intention to study history, “the greatest subject in the world. The subject bound up with the holiest interests of mankind. . . .” After having passed his examinations in 1843, he was enrolled at the University of Breslau.
At the university, Lassalle studied history,...
(The entire section is 2190 words.)
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