Theodor Herzl, the father of Jewish Zionism, was born on this day in Budapest in Hungary. He was born as an Ashkenazi Jew, into a family originally from Zemun, near Belgrade. He studied law in Vienna. The Jewish Herzl family tried to fit into German culture, and didn’t see their Jewishness as their primary cultural identity.
It seems that the young Herzl became an advocate of Jewish rights only when faced with the harsh anti-Semitism that was championed by well-known Viennese mayor Karl Lueger. There are theories that Adolf Hitler became an anti-Semite precisely under the influence of Lueger. In fact, Hitler lived in Vienna in his youth, trying to enroll in the art academy.
Herzl eventually began to think that Jews can no longer live among Europeans and that they must establish their own state. That is how Zionism, the Jewish nationalist movement with the aim of establishing an independent Jewish state, was created. Interestingly, the Zionists did not consider Palestine as the only choice for the location of the Jewish state. Various options were discussed, including Cyprus, Uganda, Madagascar, Albania, Australia, and many others.