¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In Austria, during the period of the monarchy as well as in the First Republic, antisemitism was not only part of the silent consensus but was loudly expressed by the bourgeois parties. Both Christian Socialists and German Nationalists competed in their hatred of Jews. Even the Social Democrats were not immune to the enemy image of the Jud (Jew) and used anti-Jewish caricatures in their propaganda.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 In 1897 Karl Lueger, who launched the first antisemitic mass movement in the capital, won the mayoralty of Vienna on a radically anti-Jewish platform. His concept of success became Hitler’s populist model. It was in Austria that Hitler’s world view had been shaped. He turned elements of two political trends of the middle class into his theory and practice: racial German nationalism found in the all-German movement of Georg Ritter von Schönerer and charismatic leadership of the masses and antisemitic populism, inspired by Karl Lueger.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Vienna was the German-speaking city with the largest portion of Jews in its population. In the bureaucratic and dynastic center of the reactionary Catholic Habsburg monarchy, the ‘Jew’ was perceived as the leading representative of social change, a symbol of modern times as well as of old monotheism. In Vienna, the residential capital of a multinational state, Jews, who lived in a hub of various nationalisms and coerced assimilation, became the target of all prejudice.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The greater part of the Jewish population came from the eastern regions of the monarchy. Of the 175,000 Jews who lived in Vienna in 1910, no more than one-fifth were born in the capital. Most were without a secure income: only a minority were members of the bourgeois middle class and even fewer belonged to the upper class.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 According to the census of 1934, there were 191,481 Austrian Jews − 2.8 percent of the total population. On 11 March 1938 only 185,028 were said to be still in the country, although the stream of Jewish refugees from the Third Reich flowed non-stop.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 The politically liberal, ‘non-national-Jewish’ Union of Austrian Jews had approximately 3,000 members. Twenty-four associations were devoted to nurturing science and culture. For decades, the Union of Austrian Jews had been the strongest faction in the Viennese Jewish Community, the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien. The name is no coincidence. The word Jewish was not acceptable to the monarchy because the Jews were expected to assimilate. Officially, the religion was therefore Mosaic, not Jewish. The Union of Austrian Jews remained supreme in the Kultusgemeinde until 1932. In the first postwar elections in 1920 it gained 20 of the 36 mandates. However, the ratios soon changed, leading to coalitions of various parties.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 In 1924, the Union formed an election bloc with the middle-class General Zionists and the Orthodox Adass Jisroel, excluding the newly established Social Democratic Party, the religious social Zionists of the Misrachi and the Orthodox Beth El. In 1928 the election alliance shifted again. Union and Adass, jointly, were able to obtain 18 of the 36 mandates. Both Jewish factions dissociated themselves from any Zionist, that is, national Jewish self-definition.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Declaring that it was a ‘non-national-Jewish’ party, the Union proudly proclaimed that it wished to represent “not Austrian Jews but Jewish Austrians.” It was not that the Union did not want to take a self-assured Jewish position, nor was it by any means an advocate of assimilation, but it defended the Austrian state and hoped for equality under constitutional law and emancipation on the tide of progress. The Union of Austrian Jews tried to counter antisemitism in the courts of law, or through interventions and appeals to politicians. In its attempts to come to terms with discrimination and prejudice it had faith in the institutions of state. Although it sought to counter antisemitism with patriotism, to the antisemites, as well as to the majority of society, Jews could never become ‘true Austrians’. Many Jews were supposedly assimilated, but paradoxically, the term Assimilanten was only used for people who were regarded as Jews by the majority of Austrians.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 The Union’s decline was a consequence of frustration with the notion of an emancipatory utopia in an antisemitic society. In the end, the Union, which had once counted on an alliance with liberal parties, had to beg ‘reactionary’ anti-liberal, Christian Social politicians for protection from ruthless antisemitism. On the federal level, many Jews now supported Social Democracy, while they turned to Zionist positions within the Kultusgemeinde.
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 In 1932, the Union lost supremacy in the Kultusgemeinde. Previously, the bloc consisting of the liberal Union and the anti-Zionist Adass Jisroel had formed an election alliance with the non-Zionist Social Democrats. In 1928 the Social Democratic faction still consisted of both Zionist and non-Zionist members. The Jewish Socialists supported Social Democracy in Austria and Jewish Zionist workers in Palestine. However, in 1929 the trends separated due to controversy over the Kultusgemeinde’s budget. The governing coalition chaired by the Union had decided to transfer funds to the Yishuv, the Jewish settlement in Palestine. The Socialist Zionists supported these donations, while their non-Zionist partners preferred to use the funds for the welfare of the Viennese community.
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 The nature of the political discourse had changed: in the early 1920s, following a phase of revolutionary class struggle throughout Central Europe, a civil administration of Union, Orthodox and Zionists had been formed; in 1928 the Union and Adass Jisroel united to form an Austro-patriotic coalition; in 1932 an election bloc consisting of the Union and Adass Jisroel joined the non-Zionist Social Democrats to form a non-Zionist alliance.
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 In 1932, the Zionist Socialists alone obtained almost as many votes as they had won together with the Social Democratic List in 1928. The great majority of Socialist Jews had cast their ballot for the Zionists. All Zionist factions gained votes and they assumed the presidency of the Kultusgemeinde.
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Indeed, part of the Union was made up of a majority of ‘western Jewish’, namely, Austrian, Hungarian and Czech, families, while many Zionists were ‘eastern Jews’, originating in places such as Galicia.
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 The Zionists advocated a different way of countering antisemitism and discrimination. In 1920, in his function as Zionist delegate to the National Council, Robert Stricker, a leading Zionist personality, introduced a bill recognizing Jewish nationality. His proposal unleashed a storm of indignation in the Union. The Union feared that such ideas would reinforce antisemitism due to the wish for differentiation. Independently of the Zionist bill, the antisemitic politician Leopold Kunschak too had demanded a law for discrimination against Jews and Jewesses as a foreign minority. Thus, the Zionist movement was reacting to the antisemitic reality of Austria. It should be noted that after 1945 Leopold Kunschak became one of the founders of the Christian Democrat Österreichische Volkspartei; he stated then that in spite of the Nazis and though having been in a concentration camp himself, he was still proud to be an antisemite.
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Zionism in Austria and Germany was not a rejection of German culture but a search for Jewish self-awareness. Whereas the Union strove to show antisemites that Jews were loyal Austrians, the Zionists wanted to prove them wrong by turning Diaspora Jews into a nation. Austrian and German Zionists wanted to establish a Jewish state in Palestine more as a haven for distressed Jews of Eastern Europe than for their own personal needs.
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 The position of a powerful Bund, namely, an independent Jewish national workers movement that was not Zionist, remained limited in Eastern Europe. The Bund did not exist in the German-speaking area, and left Zionism attracted most of the Socialist members of the community.
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 The Union of Austrian Jews did not reject the Palestine settlement project. In addition, it maintained the hope of ‘rebuilding Erez Israel’. But its Jewish self-understanding was different: it continued to trust in emancipation as the way to overcome anti-Jewish prejudice. In contrast, while Zionist groups fought antisemitic discrimination and sought civic equality and political integration in Austria, they did not expect protection through emancipation. While the Union defined itself as ‘non-national-Jewish’, the Zionist movement refrained from demanding recognition as part of the state’s nation and demanded a return to Jewish identity.
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 The Union fought political antisemitism in Austria in the courts of law and with enlightening publications. In the same vein, the Zionist Wiener Morgenzeitung, headed by Robert Stricker, attacked open antisemitism. The Union argued in its publications that antisemitic stereotypes of the Jews were incorrect; they claimed, for instance, that the Jews had been brave soldiers in World War I. The young community rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein, later a Jewish Elder in Terezinstadt, wrote a book protesting an antisemitic pamphlet by Severin Grill, who had denounced the Talmud. The book was published by the Union of Austrian Jews and the foreword was written by Viennese Chief Rabbi David Feuchtwang.
¶ 22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Beyond internal political squabbling, Jews – whether Zionist or not – who did not intend to combat antisemitism with words alone, also got organized. The Union of Former Jewish Front-Line Soldiers, whose members always stressed their patriotism, organized militias for defense against Nazi attacks. One year after its founding in 1932 the Soldiers Union had 8,000 members. On the High Holidays, 800 of these former soldiers protected synagogues from assault by National Socialist gangs of thugs. Some were wounded during the clashes, others were arrested.
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 Several Jewish organizations in Austria tried to challenge the canard that Jews were cowardly and not satisfaktionsfaehig (not qualified to pick up the gauntlet). Zionist Jewish youth in the sports club Hakoah strove to prove the physical prowess of Jews and Jewesses. Arthur Koestler wrote about the militant Zionist student associations: The goal of these fraternities was to prove that in fighting duels, boozing, singing and boasting, Jews knew how to stand their ground like anyone else.
¶ 24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Both Zionists and non-Zionists tried to contradict stereotypes which, in a way, they had already accepted. A conflict that took place in 1934 illustrates the opposing stands between the Zionist and non-Zionist parties in the Kultusgemeinde. A governmental decree separated non-Jewish and Jewish pupils in a part of the Viennese school system. Collective Jewish classes were about to be instituted.
¶ 25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 A protest lodged by the presidency of the Kultusgemeinde on 19 September 1935 had had no impact and denominational segregation in schools remained in place. The Zionist community leadership therefore changed tactics and decided, instead of common studies, to push for independent Jewish schools. They were successful and in the same year a Jewish elementary school was opened.
Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0
In an interview conducted in 1992, Raul Hilberg recalls his school days back then:
After all, you should not forget that already before the Anschluss life was quite difficult here for the Jewish population. There was a rumor, for instance, that separate desks for Jewish pupils would be set up. Therefore, my parents sent me to a Jewish grammar school; as my mother said, if someone has to sit at a Jewish desk, it is far better to go straight to a Jewish grammar school. Back then I was 9 years old…
¶ 27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 Hilberg’s mother, like many members of the community and finally also the community leadership, had changed their minds when confronted with social antisemitism and political discrimination.
¶ 28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 The Union, nevertheless, continued to insist on common Austrian schools since it feared the Jewish national character of an independent institution of education no less than it did state discrimination. The Orthodox Adass Jisroel welcomed the governmental decree, which it perceived as an initial step toward purely denominational Jewish schools. Adass Jisroel defined itself as being of Jewish denomination and of Austrian nationality. In their opinion, the Jewish religion’s view of a ‘people’ did not accord with the modern idea of a nation. Adass Jisroel tried to counter Christian Social antisemitism by stressing religious values and explaining that Judaism was neither a race nor a nation but merely a faith.
¶ 30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 On 25 September 1935 the Israelite Kultusgemeinde Wien sent the community rabbis a letter stamped ‘confidential’. Although the situation in Austria was not the same as in Germany, said the letter, the Kultusgemeinde felt the need to articulate a warning similar to that issued in Germany, which pertained not only to the holidays, “but to the behavior of Jews in the streets and in public places in general.”
¶ 31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 While the Austrofascists and the Ständestaat granted the Jews protection from Hitler, antisemitic discrimination grew so vehement that the US government had to intervene, and on 13 November 1934 Nahum Goldmann paid a visit to Mussolini on behalf of Austria’s Jews. The policies of the antisemitic minister of education and chairman of the Christian Socialist Party, Emerich Czermak, barred the Jewish intelligentsia from teaching, research and the arts. On the other hand, in a typical Austrian compromise the government appointed a Jewish representative, the president of the Kultusgemeinde, Desider Friedmann, to the State Council.
¶ 32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 The Zionist movement in Palestine was alarmed by newspaper reports about anti-Jewish incidents and discriminatory measures in Austria at the beginning of 1936. On 22 January, two Zionist officials of Austrian origin went to the Austrian consul-general in Jerusalem and challenged the diplomat with the latest wave of dismissals of Jewish employees from public office and the firing of the Jewish president of the Chamber of Lawyers.
¶ 33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 Shortly before the Anschluss, the entry of German troops in March 1938, a group of Jewish youths took up target practice at the Sievering quarry. After the National Socialists came to power, Jews were chased through the streets not only by individual gangs of thugs but also by the antisemitic mob and by militant National Socialist party groups. When the state authorities took action against the Jews, the youth Willy Stern, for example, hurried to get rid of his weapon. Stern dismantled the pistol and threw it into the Danube River. Within hours the young Jewish defense force had dissolved itself.
¶ 34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 After the National Socialist seizure of power all attempts at countering antisemitism had to be relinquished. Despite antisemitic fantasies, the Jewish community was not an independent, alien element within the Austrian population, but an integrated and heterogeneous minority.
¶ 35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 The Viennese Jewish community leadership supported Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg against Hitler. When the Austrian government fixed a date for a plebiscite concerning the future of the Austrian state in order to counter pressure from Berlin, the Kultusgemeinde raised a considerable sum to support it. It pinned its only hope on the continued existence of the Austrian state and was anxious to secure its own existence by means of patriotic conduct and civic loyalty. What happened in 1938 is known; the pictures of Hitler arriving in Vienna are famous. The Jewish community was not prepared for the upcoming persecution. They did not hide their register. They tried to educate the Austrian public about Judaism to combat prejudices by exhibitions, books and articles. They tried to convince the Anti-Semites of their patriotism. They turned to anti-Semitic Christian Social politicians to protect them from Nazis. These were not very successful projects as we know. The Austrian government did not want to fight the Third Reich and the Austrian National Socialist movement. The so-called Anschluss of Austria took place from the outside and from within. Under pressure of Berlin, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, who had been a member of the Austrian government since 1936, took power in March 1938. The National Socialists already controlled several provincial cities and anti-Jewish pogroms in Vienna began even before the German troops invaded. Schuschnigg resigned as chancellor, stressing that he did not want to shed any German blood.
¶ 37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0  Brigitte Hamann, Hitlers Wien. Lehrjahre eines Diktators (Munich/Zurich, 1997); Doron Rabinovici, Instanzen der Ohnmacht. Der Weg zum Judenrat. Wien 1938-1845 (Frankfurt/Main, 2000); Hans Safrian and Hans Witek, Und keiner war dabei. Dokumente des alltäglichen Antisemitismus in Wien 1938 (Vienna, 1988), 13.
¶ 40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0  Überblick über das jüdische Organisationswesen im Lande Österreich, Josef Löwenherz an Adolf Eichmann, Wien, 4. Jänner 1939; Central Archives of the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem, A/W 165, 1.
¶ 46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0  Bericht des Präsidiums und des Vorstandes der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde Wien über die Tätigkeit in den Jahren 1933-1936 (Vienna, 1936), 26−7, cited in Herbert Rosenkranz, Verfolgung und Selbstbehauptung, 311.
¶ 47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0  See for instance, Leo Landau, in “Wien von 1909 bis 1939. Mitglied des Vorstandes der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde,“ report given to Dr. Ball-Kaduri, 28 Jan. 1959 and 22 Feb. 1959; Yad Vashem, 01/244; 6.
¶ 51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0  Benjamin Murmelstein, Einige Fragen an Prof. Dr. P. Severin Grill O. Cist. Verfasser der theologischen Studie “Der Talmud und Schulchan Aruch” (Vienna, 1935)
¶ 58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0  Rundschreiben der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde, signed by Desider Friedmann and Emil Engel, Vienna, 25 Sept. 1935, Central Archives of the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem, P151/8.
¶ 60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0  Freidenreich, Jewish Politics in Vienna, 193; Anton Staudinger, “Völkische Konkurrenz zum Nationalsozialismus – am Beispiel des „Österreichischen Verbandes für volksdeutsche Auslandsarbeit,” in Felilx Kreissler (ed.); 50 Jahre danach − Der Anschluß von innen und außen gesehen (Vienna/Zurich, 1989); Anton Staudinger, “Abwehr des Nationalsozialismus durch Konkurrenz. Zur Kulturpolitik im Austrofaschismus,” in Hundert Jahre Volkstheater, (ed.), Evelyne Schreiner (Vienna/Munich, 1989).
¶ 64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0  For instance: Gabriele Anderl, “Emigration und Vertreibung,” in Erika Weinzierl and Otto D. Kulka (eds.), Vertreibung und Neubeginn. Israelische Bürger österreichischer Herkunft (Vienna/Cologne/Weimar, 1992), 167−338; Gerhard Botz, Wohnungspolitik und Judendeportation in Wien 1938-1945. Zur Funktion des Antisemitismus als Ersatz nationalsozialistischer Sozialpolitik (Vienna/Salzburg, 1975); Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstands (ed.), Jüdische Schicksale. Berichte von Verfolgten; aus der Serie: Erzählte Geschichte. Berichte von Widerstandskämpfern und Verfolgten (Vienna, 1992); Angelika Jensen (Schoschanna), Sei stark und mutig! Chasak we’emaz! 40 Jahre jüdische Jugend in Österreich am Beispiel der Bewegung “Haschomer Hazair” 1903 bis 1943 (Vienna, 1995); Andreas Jindra, “Vertreibung und Entrechtung der Juden Wiens im Jahre 1938” (Diss., Vienna, 1990); Elisabeth Klamper, Auf Wiedersehen in Palästina. Aron Menczers Kampf um die Rettung jüdischer Kinder im nationalsozialistischen Wien (Vienna, 1996); Andrea Leonhartsberg, “Das Leben der österreichischen Juden zwischen 1938 und 1945,” (Dipl.,Vienna, 1986); Jonny Moser, Die Entrechtung der Juden im Dritten Reich. Diskriminierung und Terror durch Gesetze, Verordnungen, Erlasse; in Walter H. Pehle (ed.), Der Judenpogrom. Von der “Reichskristallnacht” zum Völkermord, (Frankfurt/M., 1994), 118−31; Jonny Moser, Die Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung in Wien; in Kurt Schmid and Robert Streibel (eds.), Das Pogrom 1938. Judenverfolgung in Österreich und Deutschland (Vienna, 1990), 96−100; Jonny Moser, “Nisko: The First Experiment in Deportation,” in Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual (White Plains, NY, 1985); Jonny Moser, “Österreichs Juden unter der NS-Herrschaft,” in Emmerich Tálos, Ernst Hanisch and Wolfgang Neugebauer (eds.), NS-Herrschaft in Österreich 1938−1945 (Vienna, 1988), 185−98: Rabinovici, Instanzen der Ohnmacht; Michaela Ronzoni, “Lebensverhältnisse der jüdischen Bevölkerung in Österreich zwischen Herbst 1938 und Frühling 1939. Unbearbeitete Gesuche von jüdischen Österreichern (Dipl.Vienna, 1985); Rosenkranz, Verfolgung und Selbstbehauptung; Safrian and Witek, Und keiner war dabei; Hans Safrian; Die Eichmann-Männer (Vienna/Zurich, 1993); Schmid and Streibel, Der Progrom 1938; Patricia Steines (ed.), Leopold Moses. Spaziergänge. Studien und Skizzen zur Geschichte der Juden in Österreich (Vienna, 1994); Karl Stuhlpfarrer, “Antisemitismus, Rassenpolitik und Judenverfolgung in Österreich nach dem ersten Weltkrieg,” in Anna Drabek, Wolfgang Häusler, Kurt Schubert, Karl Stuhlpfarrer and Nikolaus Vielmetti (eds.), Das österreichische Judentum. Voraussetzungen und Geschichte (Vienna/Munich, 1974), 141−64; Karl Stuhlpfarrer, Nationalsozialistische Verfolgungspolitik 1938 bis 1945; in Erich Zöllner (ed.), Wellen der Verfolgung in der österreichischen Geschichte (Vienna, 1986), 144−54; Brigitte Ungar-Klein, “Bei Freunden untergetaucht. U-Boote in Wien,” in Schmid and Streibel, Der Pogrom 1938; Weinzierl and Kulka, Vertreibung und Neubeginn; Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wein (ed.), Trotz allem…Aron Menczer 1917-1943 (Vienna/Cologne, Weimar, nd); Hans Witek, ”Arisierungen,” in Emmerich Tálos, Ernst Hanisch and Wolfgang Neugebauer (eds.), NS-Herrschaft in Österreich 1938−1945 (Vienna, 1988).