Hossein Kazimzadeh and the Iranschahr Journal

Hossein Kazimzadeh and the Iranschahr Journal
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The Iranian printing press, has witnessed hundreds of newspapers, journals, and magazines in its eventful 180 years. Apart from the internally produced press that starts from as early as of 1837, a substantial number of newspapers and periodicals were published outside of Iran. Some of the most important examples of the Iranian printing press: Akhtar of Istanbul, Qanun of London, Habl al-Matin of Kolkata, and many other papers and journals from the late Qajar period up until today were published outside of Iran, due to wide range of technical, political, and cultural issues. Among those publications there is an important name in the history of the Iranian printing press, which is the Journal of Iranschahr that was founded in Berlin in 1922. Iranschahr ran by Hossein Kazimzadeh is the second Farsi journal published in Berlin after Kaveh magazine that was founded by Seyyid Hasan Taghizadeh in 1917. Both Taghizadeh and Kazimzadeh are Tabriz-born intellectuals, which are among the most influential figures of Iranian nationalism and are known for their considerable contribution to the arena. Iranschahr is particularly an important source, because it is one of the rare examples of the printing press which witnessed the rise of Reza Khan and the early years of the Pahlavi rule in Iran.

Kazimzadehand His Life

Hossein Kazimzadeh and Iranscahr represent the mindset of the second generation Iranian nationalists who emerged into Iranian politics during the First World War. Kazimzadeh, Taghizadeh, and like-minded intellectual swere the pioneers of an evolving phase for Iranian nationalism, in which led to the creation of a racial understanding of the Iranian nation swhich began to gradually dominate the literature. Disappointed by the outcome of the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911, Kazimzadeh and like-minded intellectuals left Iran to pursue their political aims outside of Iran. After spending a few years in Istanbul and conducting close collaboration with the Iranian political activists in the city, Kazimzadeh moved to the UK and worked with the famous orientalist Edward Browne for a few years. The peak of Kazimzadeh’s life started when he arrived to Germany and joined the Iranian intellectual circles in Berlin. During the years of the First World War, Kazimzadeh was among many other Iranian intellectuals including: Ibrahim Pour Davoud, Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh, and Mohammad Ghazvini whom all came to Berlin and started to engage in political and cultural activities as well. With the help of a few colleagues and friends, Kazimzadeh founded the Iranschahr Journal in 1922 as a monthly periodical that lasted for four years. Kazimzadeh’s life after Iranschahr was a life of solitude. His writings also changed dramatically, from an ultranationalist journalist to a spiritual author which wrote extensively on new types of mysticisms. Similar to many of the intellectuals in the contemporary history of Iran, Kazimzadeh died away from his homeland in 1962 in Switzerland.

Iranschahr: the Young and Free Iran

The Iranschahr journal is not only the most important work of Kazimzadeh’s life, but also is a prominent example of a periodical which stands out in its formation of modern Iran and its printing press. The first issue of the journal was published in late June, 1922 as sixteen pages and with two additional cover pages. The publisher of the journal was: “Kaviani” the printing house that also published the Kaveh Journal along with many other books and materials in Farsi. Karim Tahirzadeh Behzad, another Tabriz-born intellectual who joined the Berlin circle designed the cover page and the logo of the journal. Iranschahr was introduced as an “illustrated scientific and literary magazine”, however it’s content throughout the years of publication were more of historical, political, and literary essence. The main motto of the journal was the emphasis on Young and Free Iran (Iran-e Azad va Javan), in which was repeatedly used in the first issue of the journal too. The mission of the journal was to help and facilitate the progress of Young Iran and to make it flourish. Kazimzadeh summarized the seven aims of Iranschahr:

“Flourish the spirit of young and free Iran, to build an environment for the spiritual ascending of the new Iranian race, reveal the secretes of the European progress, discuss social concerns and offer practical solutions, fight (ethical) corruption, reflect thoughts and feelings of the young and free Iran and support its pure ideology, and finally project the feature of the Iranian spirit”.

Setting such an agenda, the Iranschahr journal quickly became an important outlet for Iranian nationalism and its values. Coincidence or not, glorifying ancient Iran and prompting a “Young and Free” country by Kazimzadeh and like-minded colleagues was a political prescription that was particularly useful for the Pahlavi Dynasty to rule Iran for over five decades. Reviving ancient Iran and its values provided political legitimacy for Reza Shah and especially his son, Mohammad Reza, and became the foundation of the modern Iranian nation’s building process. After almost a century, Iranschahr and Kazimzadeh are still inspirational figures for the new faces of Iranian nationalism and its followers.