The Khazar Empire and Its Heritage
by Arthur Koestler (Author)
This book traces the history of the ancient Khazar Empire, a major but almost forgotten power in Eastern Europe, which in the Dark Ages converted to Judaism. Khazaria was finally wiped out by the forces of Ghengis Khan, but evidence indicates that the Khazars themselves migrated to Poland and formed the cradle of Western Jewry.
Arthur Koestler's book, The Thirteenth Tribe advances the thesis that North/East European Jews and their descendants, or Ashkenazim, are not descended from the Israelites of antiquity, but from a group of Khazars, a people originating in the Caucasus region (historical Khazaria) who converted to Judaism in the 8th century and were later forced to move westwards into current Eastern Europe (Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and other places). Koestler stated that part of his intent in writing the book was to defuse anti-Jewish behavior by undermining the identification of European Jews with the Jews of the Bible, rendering anti-Jewish epithets such as "Christ killer" inapplicable. Arthur Koestler himself was a Hungarian Ashkenazi Jew by ancestry.
Koestler himself was sympathetic to Zionism on secular considerations, and did not see alleged Khazar ancestry as diminishing the claim of Jews to Israel, which he felt was based on the United Nations mandate, and not on Biblical covenants or genetic inheritance.
Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) was born K÷sztler Art˙r (Hungarian names have the surname first) in Budapest, Austria-Hungary, to a German-speaking Hungarian family. The son of Henrik K. Koestler, an industrialist and inventor, and Adele (Jeiteles) Koestler. His parents were Jewish, but later in 1949-50 Koestler 'renounced' his religious heritage. In 1922 Koestler entered the University of Vienna (1922-26), and became attracted to the Zionist movement. During this period he worked with the revisionist, militant Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky. Koestler left for the Palestine in 1926 without completing his degree. First he worked as a farm laborer and then as a Jerusalem-based correspondent for German newspapers. In 1929 he was transferred to Paris, a year later to Berlin where he became science editor of Vossische Zeitung and foreign editor of B.Z. am Mittag.
From 1932 to 1938 Koestler was a member of the German Communist Party, but left the party during the Moscow trials. He lived in France in 1932-36, earning his living as a free-lance journalist. In the early 1930s, Koestler travelled to Mount Ararat, Baku, the Afghan frontier, and Turkmenistan (then the Turkmen Soviet Republic), composing propaganda on Soviet progress. In Turkmenistan he met the American poet Langston Hughes, who later portrayed Koestler in his autobiography. While in Paris Koestler edited the anti-Hitler and anti-Stalin weekly Zukunft.
During the Spanish Civil War Koestler was captured by the Franco forces. The author had remained in Malaga after the military commanders had fled, and he actually had no more duties as a correspondent. Koestler spend his time under sentence of death in some kind of mystical passivity. He used the library of the relatively luxurious jail at Seville and went on hunger strikes. It became apparent for the author, that he was an exception among the prisoners - others were freely killed. In a message three other prisoners, republican militiamen, wrote to him: "Dear comrade foreigner, we three are also condemned to death, and they will shoot us tonight or tomorrow. But you may survive; and if you ever come out you must tell the world about all those who kill us because we want liberty and no Hitler."
During the Second World War, Koestler continually spoke out against the atrocities of the Nazi regime in Germany Ś his Central European Jewish family background made him particularly involved in a way that many British and United States politicians were not. Witnessing first hand the growth of extremist tendencies in the region no doubt added to his resolve.
Koestler and a minority of writers and public figures believed that if they sufficiently described the horrors being committed in Europe in news media and public meetings, it would spur the West to action. Despite their efforts, these protests often fell on deaf ears. Capturing their frustration, Koestler described these people as the "screamers". Despite these frustrations, Koestler and the "screamers" continued their campaign until the late stages of the war.