Anti-Semitism in Europe

Home       l       Site Map      l      Exhibitions      l     About the Museum       l      Education      l     Contact Us       l      Links

From the New-York Tribune Illustrated Supplement, 1899




Vienna correspondence of The London Chronicl

Vienna is still the stronghold of anti-Semitism, and Dr. Carl Lueger, the Burgomaster, its most notorious exponent in Europe. For nearly three years the administration of the Austrian capital has now been in the hands of the anti-Semitic party, but the signs of its approaching collapse are increasing.

Upon the head of Dr. Lueger, that greatly overestimated man, the shadows of evening are already beginning to descend. Only a year ago the interesting face and slender figure of "handsome Carl" were to be seen in a hundred representations of every kind; women displayed his picture in brooches and medallions, every barrel organ in the suburban courts and alleys, and every band in the Prater beer gardens, played the "Lueger March" amid frantic applause. Today Lueger's portrait is hardly anywhere to be seen, the notes of the "Lueger March" have ceased to assail unwilling ears, and the barrel organs have taken out the Lueger plate. In office anti-Semitism still is, but on the minds of the befooled million a light has begun to break. Lueger's lieutenants--Schneider, Gregorig, Gessmann and Vergani---feel this change even more than their leader himself. Indeed the Christian Social leaders, who on every opportunity were hailed by the multitude, now feel no longer even safe; their houses have to be watched day and night by the police. Now the people's leaders have to be protected from the people by the police. To any critical observer it has been clear that the anti-Semitic regime could not last long. It is a peculiarity of this singular movement that it soon works itself out. Germany first started it. But the movement makes no progress there; in fact, it is now less than it was ten years ago.

But from Germany anti-Semitism, nevertheless, made its way first to Russia, her Polish provinces, and to Rumania. There the ground had been well prepared as even before that time society and legislation had been anything but favorable to the Jewish race. It had always held an exceptional position, and been tolerated only. In those countries, the anti-Semitic doctrine resulted merely in violent but isolated outbreaks of the mob against the Jews. Such fits repeated twice or thrice resulted in an influx of pauper Jews into England and America; but for about ten years little or nothing has been heard out of this movement.


Anti-Semitism made its appearance in France and Austria simultaneously, and in both countries it now seems to be nearing its end. In both countries the Roman Catholic Church and the reactionary party hailed it as an ally, particularly in Austria. Here the ground had been wonderfully prepared. The lower middle class of the indigenous Vienna population is light and shallow minded, pleasure loving, thoughtless. The so-called Liberal party was defeated and prostrate, the country had just passed through a severe economical crisis, and all the distress suffered owing to that made the Austrians, who have so little common sense, only the more stupid and superstitious. Soon the cry was raised that "it was all the fault of the Jews." They have the most money--so ran the accusation--they produce most cheaply, they create hurtful competition, they are smarter and work longer hours than the Gentiles, they spend less and are satisfied with small profits. This movement was at once supported by the ruling aristocracy and the clergy, for the social question had just then been knocking at the door.

The Socialist agitation was already beginning to spread in the country, and Anarchist crimes were following one another in rapid succession. Count Taaffe, a high Tory, as well as a shrewd and unscrupulous politician, was Prime Minister. He at once perceived that he could make the movement of service to the aristocracy and clergy against Liberalism and the rising Socialism. By clandestinely fostering the anti-Semitic agitation the clergy and aristocracy succeeded in diverting a large portion of the Socialist movement, which was naturally directed against them, and turning it against the Jews. As a consequence Socialism, which started in Austria with so much promise, has made comparatively little progress since. Anti-Semitism, under the false flag of Christian Socialism, rapidly spread in Vienna--shortly before the very bulwark of Liberalism became almost entirely anti-Semitic.

In the Vienna Town Council and in the Provincial Diet of Lower Austria in which the Liberal party used to predominate, the anti-Semites now have immense majorities. But what was their programme on getting into office? Not the improvement of the condition of the working classes, not the abolition of the prerogatives of the nobility, nor the diminution of the burdens of militarism, nor the alleviation of the distress among the poor. Never a word did they say about these things, or about the liberty of the press or the right of combination. The Government, the nobility and the Church remain untouched, unblamed! At all the thousands of noisy meetings, in their daily papers, nothing was said or written except that the whole abominable Jewish race ought to be annihilated! But as that could not well be done, these aliens were to be hunted out of the country which they and their forefathers have inhabited for the last twelve hundred years! If that, too, proved impossible they were to be deprived of all the rights of citizenship. First of all, they were to be excluded from all public offices, and from the numerous chairs which they occupy at the universities and other educational institutes. The celebrated Vienna medical faculty, the anti-Semites complained, was "tainted" by the Jews! The majority of the professors belong to the Hebrew race; the greater part of the big daily newspapers are written by Jews; trade, wholesale and retail, is chiefly in their hands.


Consequently the watchword constantly given to the befooled multitude was: "Don't buy of Jews, don't read Jewish newspapers!" Of the million and a half of inhabitants of this capital, about 120,000 are Jews. But of the 4,000 physicians half are Jews, and of something like 1,000 lawyers, some 650 belong to what Lord Beaconsfield called "The superior race"!

There was a superabundance of the elements with which to excite the envy and all the low instincts of the lower classes, and besides that the anti-Semites appeared under the well sounding and enticing name of "Christian Socialism." The oppressed were promised help and salvation. It is, however, true that the large, well organized Social Democratic party, the only self-reliant and enlightened party in Austria, was not to be misled and corrupted by the reactionary demagogues. But the mass of the lower middle class, which is badly off, and which is in a transitional economic condition, the small tradesmen, who daily receive new wounds from capitalistic industry, the badly paid lower officials, the great army of servants and petty folk adopted the anti-Semitic doctrine with fiery zeal. These people have the franchise, but the Social Democratic workers have not. When the elections came, the anti-Semites were victorious, as they desired to be. Their first act after obtaining the upper hand was to cut out the municipal budget of 15,000 florins an item of the 9,000 florins for school requisites for poor children. The items for building new schools, for the supply of drinking water, for almshouses, for the feeding and nursing of the sick poor were also considerably reduced. Now we are threatened with reductions in the salaries of the teachers, who are already poor enough. Workmen and teachers are refused the use of the rooms in the Town Hall in which they used to hold their meetings. The Jewish shorthand writers to the Diet have been dismissed. Jews cannot get places in the municipal administration, and they are excluded from supplying goods to the municipality, from building, and doing other municipal work. The Vienna Volunteer First Aid Society, a model philanthropic institution, which has served most towns in Europe as an example, was refused the customary modest annual subvention of somewhat more than 5,000 florins because most of the doctors connected with it were Jews--although they gave their services gratis! On the other hand, the Town Council has voted some 250,000 florins for churches, conventual schools and church societies. It is, in short, a struggle against education and culture that this remarkable party which calls itself Christian Social has inscribed on its banner.

Against the Society for Popular Education, which the community has bound itself to assist, they brought an action in order to withdraw from it the promised subvention. On the other hand, this year alone four new churches have been built, and before the close of the year the foundation stones of six more are to be laid, the cost to be nearly 2,500,000 florins.

Besides all this, next year ten more churches are to be built or altered! This year a special loan has been contracted, and guaranteed by both the community and the Government, to this purpose. The Social Democratic party is holding one indignation meeting after the other to protest against "Black Vienna." While thousands of school children are suffering hunger, the erection of model dwellings for paupers and the subvention of the Society for Popular Education are obstinately refused, whereas the anti-Semitic majority on the Town Council is voting from the rates millions of florins--paid in great part by non-Catholics--for Catholic churches. But Town Councillor Lucian Brunner, a Jewish Radical, appealed to the Supreme Court of Administration against these votes, and the Court has disallowed them. The campaign against the school teachers forms a special feature in the anti-Semitic party's hatred of education. When that party first arose, the underpaid and overworked teachers were also among the malcontents, and, indeed, belonged to the party. But when it became more and more evident that the anti-Semites were the mere tools of the clergy and the reactionary nobility, when their attacks on the existing modern school system became increasingly palpable, the teachers opposed them with determination.

In return, dismissal, punitive transfer and all sorts of other vexations were practiced against the liberal minded teachers. Against the best of them was directed the violence of the obscurantist party. Fräulein Fickert, a woman of unusual refinement, whose character and spirit have won her general esteem, was insulted in the most outrageous manner in the open sitting of the Town Council itself, suspicion was cast upon her and finally she was punished.

With the exception of two or three of the leaders, the men of this party are completely ignorant and uncultured persons, filled, moreover, with a burning hatred of knowledge, and education. The rudeness of the language used in the Town Council and in the Provincial Diet of Lower Austria passes all belief. All the associations of teachers have protested at indignation meetings against the suppression of freedom of speech. But the anti-Semitic party does not care a straw. And the reactionary Government, although more observant of the outward forms of decency, is keeping pace with that party in oppressing the modern school. In consequence of this, nearly all the celebrated professors from Germany are abandoning their chairs at Austrian universities, while most of the professors in Germany who have lately had important chairs offered them in Austria have refused them. The next punishment it is proposed to inflict on the liberal minded Viennese teachers is to incorporate them with an electoral class, in which their votes will be swamped.








Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Copyright © 2008-9. Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved. 
Image Use Policy.