Lassalle, Ferdinand (1825–1864)
Born in Breslau, 13 April 1825; died in Geneva, 31 August 1864. The only son of a prosperous Jewish silk merchant, Lassalle studied philosophy and history at the University of Breslau and subsequently at the University of Berlin, where he encountered the radical ideas of the ‘Young Hegelians’ and of the French socialist thinkers. During the 1848 revolution he was associated with Marx and the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, and was arrested for his activities but acquitted by a jury in 1849. In the course of his short and turbulent life (which ended as a result of an absurd duel with the former fiancé of a woman he wished to marry), Lassalle became known primarily as a political and economic theorist, and as a leading figure in the radical and working-class movements, who organized in 1863 the first socialist party in Germany (the General Union of German Workers).