Brigitte Hamann’s Hitler’s Vienna:
Part 1: A Multicultural Empire
Hitler’s Vienna: A Portrait of the Tyrant as a Young Man
London: Tauris, 2010
My colleague Andrew Hamilton has asked: “What is the best Hitler biography?” While, as so often in Hitler studies, no conclusive answer is possible, surely Brigitte Hamann’s Hitler’s Vienna is an excellent contender for the position. This highly detailed and readable book may well be the single best volume for understanding the origins and context of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism, those phenomena so often portrayed in official discourse as “incomprehensible.”
Hamann, a German historian based in Vienna, has received high praise from both mainstream and revisionist historians. In the foreword, Hans Mommsen (who took the Holocaust-centric side in the Historikerstreit) calls the book “indispensable for anybody who is interested in the biography of the German dictator and his Weltanschauung” (vi). The long-persecuted revisionist historian David Irving similarly considers Hitler’s Vienna a “fine book.” An Amazon reviewer perceptively characterizes Hamann’s work as “the key to Mein Kampf,” that most difficult autobiography, providing highly illuminating background to understanding Hitler’s grievances and arguments.
Hamann’s technique resembles Irving’s, insofar as she systematically quotes from the rare contemporary sources of Hitler’s youth and very ably draws numerous bits of information from the usual voluminous sources: Mein Kampf, the Table Talk, Hitler’s speeches, and the various diaries and memoirs (especially of Hitler’s youthful friend August Kubizek, whom Hamann says is reliable except regarding young Hitler’s apparently non-existent personal anti-Semitism). Hamann pulls together these diverse and often difficult to read sources into one compelling picture.
Perhaps even more valuable is that Hamann provides very informative chapters on the context of the fin-de-siècle Austria-Hungary and Vienna in which Hitler was living: on the nationalist scene, Hitler’s political models, the chaos of multiethnic and parliamentary politics, “Czechization” of parts of Austria, the rise of the Jews, feminism, and so on. This Austria-Hungary — a dying, nihilist multicultural state, led by a deracinated and heavily Jewish elite, with a founding population increasingly dominated by an ethnically alien majority — will no doubt resonate with many young Westerners today.
Hamann’s thesis is simple and persuasive. The decline of ethnic Germans in Austria produced, as a natural backlash, a Right-wing ethno-nationalist subculture in which Hitler was swimming. Hamann often provides Hitler and Pan-Germanist quotes side by side, with uncanny parallels and identical arguments, factoids or even wordings, often as late as the war years. This subculture powerfully resonated with Hitler, who seems to have been instinctively very high on the ethnocentric distribution scale even as a child.
We thus have a compelling interpretation of the Hitler phenomenon: That a man imbued with the Right-wing ethno-nationalist German subculture of Austria-Hungary, where it thrived precisely thanks to German decline in a multiethnic society, was then taken to a receptive Germany proper when that country fell into impotence, humiliation, and foreign domination under the Weimar Republic, and this subculture’s world-view was then applied on a vast scale by the German state itself when Hitler came to power. This culture was defined by the struggle against Slavs and Jews.
The pan-Germans were by no means alone in their nationalism in Austria-Hungary. All groups were in a perpetual and explicit demographic and political struggle. Anti-Semitism was universally popular among all non-Jewish nationalities. Little surprise then that both German National Socialism and Zionism found their roots in fin-de-siècle Vienna. (Incidentally, the major Czech political party was called the “National Socialists.”)
Hitler seems to have imprinted many of the values of the society of his youth and, taking them as a universal norm, then sought to enforce these upon reality in general by his indomitable will. These origins would also account for Hitler’s limitations as a European statesman, thinking it normal that Slavs should be dominated by Germans (as they had until recently been in Austria) and being largely incapable of instituting cooperation among kin European nations.
In short, the revolution was first “memed” in the realm of ideas before a young man could come forth to implement it in reality. German nationalists in Austria used methods familiar to European metapolitical activists today: small circulation newspapers, cartoons (Hamann includes a number of quite amusing ones critical of Jewish preponderance in the universities and arts), stickers and postcards with slogans and famous anti-Semitic quotes, and so on. Many central themes in National Socialism such as racialism, anti-Semitism, and nationalism were of course widespread in the wider the Western and European context, but had a particular intensity among pan-Germanist Austrians given their dire local context.
I have only two significant criticisms of Hamann’s book. Firstly, Hamann does not fully provide the context for understanding the universal popularity of anti-Semitism in Austria-Hungary at the time, even among some Jews. She frequently puts the term “Jewish” in scare quotes, even when the subject in question is manifestly extremely Jewish, such as the liberal press, Social Democratic leadership, feminism, or Viennese intellectual life. Hamann does provide a good deal of useful information on Viennese Jews, but perhaps her being German leads her to be a bit too circumspect and apologetic, for obvious reasons. (The book was originally published in German in 1996.)
A second critique is regarding a passing comment by Hamann that all of Hitler’s preferred sources for his ideology were “unscientific.” There was certainly a great deal of mysticism and speculative quackery among Hitler’s pan-German ideologues (not necessarily more, I would note, than the pseudoscience peddled by contemporary thinkers such as Sigmund Freud or Franz Boas who remain popular to this day in academia). But, as I have written elsewhere, many (though certainly not all) of the early racial theorists’ hypotheses have actually been confirmed by later genetic studies.
Austria-Hungary: The Prototypical Multicultural Failing State
Hamann very ably recreates the obscure politics and culture of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire. This was a rapidly developing and urbanizing state. The usual forces this unleashed however — disintegrating legitimacy of the old aristocracy and monarchy, growing impoverished urban centers, rising nationalism among its various peoples — meant, besides constant ethnic tension and conflict, the regime was increasingly fragile. This accounts for the irreversible elimination of Habsburg rule and Austria-Hungary itself upon losing a war in 1918.
In 1910, the western half of the Dual Monarchy (also known as “Cisleithania,” that is excluding autonomous Hungary) was made up of 10 million Germans, 6.5 million Czechs and Slovaks, 5 million Poles, 3.5 million Ukrainians, 1.25 million Slovenians, 800,000 Serbo-Croats, 770,000 Italians, 275,000 Romanians, 11,000 Magyars, and 500,000 foreigners (89). The two million Jews mostly classified themselves as Germans, that or Yiddish being their most common language.
The forces of modernization spelled certain decline for the traditionally-dominant German population which had founded the country. “After 1867, the political distribution of power in the Dual Monarchy continuously diminished the significance of the empire’s Germans” (304). This began with Hungary’s autonomy in 1867, was entrenched with the declared equality of all ethno-linguistic groups (which meant the end of German culture’s centuries-old predominance in Bohemia and parts of Austria), and culminated in the first elections by universal suffrage in 1907. “In this new democratic system the Germans were forced to relinquish their former position of predominance, to share their rule with the empire’s other nationalities, and ultimately to submit themselves to the non-German majority” (304). One German nationalist publication lamented: “In the German Ostmark [i.e. Austria] the Germans have sold their birthright for the bowl of lentils of universal, equal suffrage” (319).
The Austro-Hungarian ruling class was losing any identifiable German identity and did not consider itself German:
Since the days of old, the court’s strict marriage laws required having a clear rank of high nobility, but not of any certain nationality. Thus the Cisleithanian aristocracy, as well as the high-ranking officials in the civil service and the military, had grown together into one supranational class that was anything but “German.” (90)
Emperor Franz Josef himself “had a deep distrust of any kind of German nationalism in his empire” (95).
In Hitler’s hometown of Linz, “Czechization” was considered a greater threat than Jewry. In 1850, the city of Budweis had still been German, by 1910 the Germans had been almost entirely displaced by Czechs such that there were no Germans on the city council. German nationalists boycotted the Budweiser beer (305). Czechs and other Slavs had a higher birthrate than the Germans. There was also massive Czech immigration to Austrian cities, particularly Vienna. In 1910, Czechs and people of Czech origin made up an absolute majority of Viennese (307). Hamann claims however that the Czechs often assimilated as “they were dispersed over all the districts and did not live together in one concentrated area, such as the Viennese Jews did in Leopoldstadt” (307).
As in virtually all multiethnic states, Austria-Hungary was constantly wracked by ethnic tensions and conflict, often over the most frivolous issues. Recalling the politics of Belgium, Canada, or the European Union, Austro-Hungarian politics was dominated by ethnic disputes, particularly over wealth distribution and language: the banning of non-German theater groups, schools, and universities in Vienna, tit-for-tat conflict over whether Vienna and Prague should be bilingual (both remained officially monolingual, German and Czech respectively), demands for assimilation and conversion of Slavs and Jews to Germandom, attacks on German minorities in the Slavic parts of the empire, and even the most inane controversies, such as over Czech tourists going to Vienna (the so-called “Battle for the Nibelung District”).
One could even characterize the state of inter-ethnic relations in Austria-Hungary as one of constant, low-level political, linguistic, and demographic warfare. Very significantly: “It was the policy of all nationalities in the multiethnic empire to aim for as high a ‘folkish’ birthrate as possible” (374). How little solidarity was there among the peoples of Austria? Not a single party in the imperial Parliament called itself “Austrian.” The government was made up of Poles, Romanians, Italians, and alternating German parties.
Austria-Hungary never “solved” its ethnic problems, but merely kept the fragile structure going year after year with the usual temporary solution: ugly, insincere compromises (as all multinational agreements are). Hitler — as a German nationalist and indeed a person with a sense of honor, principle, and esthetics — hated the “compromise à la Viennese” of this “corpse-state” (97). Austria-Hungary’s unofficial motto on ethnic issues was “blundering along” (277).
Tensions and fragility were evident on countless occasions. Hamann vividly recounts for instance the sixtieth anniversary of the emperor’s rule in 1908, to which the monarchs of Germany proper were invited. This event, meant to glorify the Dual Monarchy, degenerated into an expensive fiasco. “As usual, the national conflicts presented the most dangerous threat” (97). Among the problems:
- The Hungarians refused to take part, arguing that theirs was as separate kingdom which had already celebrated a separate anniversary.
- The Czechs refused as one of their theaters had just been banned from Vienna.
- The Italians refused to celebrate the defeat of their liberals in 1848 by Austrian forces.
- Gerngross, the largest and incidentally Jewish-owned department store, was accused of profiteering from the celebrations.
- The pan-German activists spoiled the celebration with calls for Anschluss to Germany.
Hamann comments: “the harmony among peoples was an illusion, inasmuch as the empire’s largest non-German nationalities were absent” (101).
The government sought to distract from its flailing and chaotic domestic politics with foreign adventures, notably with the annexation of Bosnia in 1908 (which German nationalists opposed on grounds that it made the empire more Slavic), greatly contributing to the onset of the catastrophic First World War. Hamann emphasizes Austria-Hungary’s fragility: “Once again it turned out that the slightest change in the Dual Monarchy jeopardized the overall, complex structure” (389).
The Austrian Parliament was a mess. Hamann writes:
It is unlikely that there has ever been a parliament as contentious as the Austrian Reichstag in the short period between 1907 and March 1914. Not only were the different nationalities arguing with one another, but these nationalities were also in disagreement among themselves. [. . .] The daily arguments in the mumbo-jumbo of ten languages turned the Austrian Reichsrat into an international spectacle. (119)
There were brawls, filibusters, insults, booing audiences, and so on, constantly. There were ten languages in the assembly, but no interpretation. Franz Josef had hoped the institution of universal suffrage in 1907 would appease ethnic relations, the result however was the exact opposite (122). Parliamentary work proved impossible as every ethnic group would cause chaos and filibuster whenever some petty dispute emerged. The emperor was eventually forced to shut down the assembly.
All this was very bitter for advocates of democratic cosmopolitanism. Oskar Kokoschka wrote: “It looked as if in its almost one-thousand-year rule this old Hapsburg Monarchy had learned the art of teachings its peoples to live at peace with one another,” but of course this was illusion (297-8).
Hitler evidently learned a very great deal from all this. He was a frequent visitor to the assembly in 1908 and “as a diligent newspaper reader he continued to be informed about the chaos in Parliament” (132). Hitler later claimed this spectacle turn him away from parliamentarianism. He would argue no nation-state was possible without the “crystallization” of a common language first (128), a common pan-German argument.
The Jews of Vienna: Privileged, Liberal, & Marxist Elites
The above portrait of Austria-Hungary helps us understand why Jews like Franz Kafka so appreciated the Dual Monarchy, which protected them from nationalists, whether German or Slavic. Hamann writes:
The Jews particularly looked at strict constitutionality as a safe haven. Looking back, Stefan Zweig glorified pre-1918 Vienna: “Whoever lived and worked felt free of narrowmindedness and prejudice. Nowhere was it easier to be a European [sic], and I know that I owe it largely to this city . . . that early on I learned to love the concept of community as the loftiest idea I know.” (91)
As previously mentioned, Hamann is extremely circumspect in describing the “Jewish” character of many economic, political, and intellectual circles in Vienna, no doubt for fear of being seen as justifying anti-Semitism. This begins on her very first page: “Hitler’s Vienna was not the artistic-intellectual “fin-de-siècle Vienna” [. . .] we associate with Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Arthur Schnitzler, and Ludwig Wittgenstein” (ix). This Vienna was considered “too ‘Jewish’” by the little people, Hamann says. But, strikingly, all of the figures she cites here were indeed Jewish.
Hamann does tell us about Jews’ markedly left-liberal political preferences (with the exception of the Zionists, generally from poorer conflict-ridden Slavic areas, and therefore more pessimistic about cosmopolitanism):
Politically the Jews tended to be in the liberal or Social Democratic camp, as Representative Benno Straucher emphasized in the Reichsrat in 1908: “We Jews were, are, and will remain democratic, we can only flourish in democratic air, for us, reactionary air is stuffy, we subscribe to a free, democratic weltanschauung, therefore we can only pursue truly liberal policies.” (329)
To this Jewish left-liberal political bias, we need only add information about Jews’ incredible preponderance among Viennese legal, business, and media elites. In his history of the city’s Jewish community, Steven Beller writes that Vienna’s liberal prestige press was overwhelmingly Jewish:
It is almost cliché [sic] to say that the Viennese liberal press was very Jewish. The problem with antisemitic attacks on the ‘Jewish press’ was that, in Vienna at least, they were based on hard fact. All the major daily newspapers of the liberal press were either owned or edited by people of Jewish descent. There were Bacher and Benedikt at the Neue Freie Presse, regarded by many as The Times of central Europe. This paper had a circulation rival in the Neue Wiener Tagblatt, whose founder and chief editor was Moritz Szeps. When Szeps left to start the rival Wiener Tagblatt in 1886, after a dispute with the board, the Singer brothers took it over. Then there was the Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung, edited by Theodor Hertzka, and later by Szeps’ son, Julius. The socialist newspaper, the Arbeiter Zeitung, was edited by Friedrich Austerlitz. All these figures, the central actors in the history of the Viennese liberal press, were of Jewish descent. This by no means exhausts the list of newspapers run by Jews. Even newspapers which were conservative in profile, clerical or antisemitic, could be staffed by Jews. [. . .] Tietze [a historian] gives the example of the Neue Wiener Journal, but his was not the only case. The history of Jewish journalism and of the Viennese press in general, it has been said, almost amount to the same thing. Especially noteworthy is the fact that the three main cultural journals of the turn of the century were run primarily by Jews: Die Zeit by Heinrich Kanner and Isidor Singer, along with Hermann Bahr (not of Jewish descent), Die Wager, edited by Rudolf Lothar, and Die Fackel, by Karl Kraus. At the editorial level of the liberal press the Jewish presence was dominant.
This leaves the question of the Jewish presence in the lower ranks, in the main body of journalists. The Festschrift of the journalists’ and writers’ society in Vienna, Concordia, contains a list of all the members of the society [. . .]. At present the proven figure for the Jewish presence, out of a total membership of 359, is 185, 51.5 per cent. If then [. . .] we count in half of those names regarded by Dr Heuer and Dr Jäger-Sunstenau as probably Jewish, then the total goes up to 227, 63.2 per cent.
Such a figure has large implications for the cultural élite of Vienna, for the links between the press and such key groups as Young Vienna were very strong. This was an age when journalists were still regarded in liberal circles as ‘knights of the intellect’. In Vienna especially the feuilleton review was one of the arbiters of taste. When Arthur Schnitzler wanted to prove the worth of his play Liebelei so that Burckhard would perform it (against the advice of Hermann Bahr), he persuaded Theodor Gomperz to ask Ludwig Speidel, the Burgtheater feuilletoniste for the Neue Freie Presse, to give his opinion. Speidel’s praise meant that the performance went ahead. Hanslick, Speidel’s colleague for the music review, is well known to have ruled the musical taste of the whole city. His successor was Julius Korngold. After 1918, the feuilleton staff of the Neue Freie Presse consisted of five of Vienna’s best critics: Raoul Auernheimer, Felix Salten, Ernst Lothar, Korngold and A. F. Seligmann. All five were of at least partly Jewish descent.
It should be pointed out that the Viennese press was not totally Jewish: Some of the most famous journalists, such as Bahr (and probably Hanslick), were not of Jewish descent. Nevertheless, the Jewish presence was predominant. [. . .] [I]n an age when the press was the only mass medium, cultural or otherwise, the liberal press was largely a Jewish press.
This should be borne in mind whenever Hamann refers to the “liberal press” and to anti-Semitic attacks upon it.
Jewish historian Yuri Slezkine has similarly shown the incredible preeminence of Jews in modern economic sectors across Central Europe at the time, as reported by Professor Kevin MacDonald:
Slezkine provides us with statistics of Jewish domination only dimly hinted at in the following examples from Europe in the late nineteenth century to the rise of National Socialism. Austria: All but one bank in fin de siècle Vienna was administered by Jews, and Jews constituted 70% of the stock exchange council; Hungary: between 50 and 90 percent of all industry was controlled by Jewish banking families, and 71% of the most wealthy taxpayers were Jews; Germany: Jews were overrepresented among the economic elite by a factor of 33. Similar massive overrepresentation was also to be found in educational attainment and among professionals (e.g., Jews constituted 62% of the lawyers in Vienna in 1900, 25% in Prussia in 1925, 34% in Poland, and 51% in Hungary). Indeed, “the universities, ‘free’ professions, salons, coffeehouses, concert halls, and art galleries in Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest became so heavily Jewish that liberalism and Jewishness became almost indistinguishable.”
The Viennese Jewish community’s combination of massive legal, economic, academic, and media power on the one hand, and of left-liberal political bias on the other, naturally provided extremely fertile ground for anti-Semitism, notably among those who were excluded from these elite circles or were of a non-left-liberal persuasion.
This situation having been clarified, Hamann herself does provide a good deal of useful information on Viennese Jews. They first came to Vienna under the protection of the princes:
Around 1150, when the dukes of Babenberg made Vienna their residence, they brought Jews into the city, who settled in the area of today’s Judenplatz (Jew square), worked as money lenders and tradespeople, and enjoyed the sovereigns’ special protection — paying considerable taxes in return. (325)
The Jews were however periodically kicked out of Vienna, always returning. Leopoldstadt, their neighborhood, was nicknamed “Matzohville.”
Jews’ rise in modern Vienna was astonishingly rapid. In 1860, there were 6,200 Jews in the city (2.2 percent of the total population), quickly rising through immigration to 118,500 by 1890. This made Jews 8.7 percent of the total, a proportion they maintained afterward despite Vienna’s fast-growing population. However, if we include difficult-to-measure “assimilated” and baptized Jews “the number was much larger” (326). This was much more than the proportion in Berlin (4-5 percent) or Hamburg (2-3 percent). Some 2 million Jews lived Austria-Hungary (about 4 percent of the population), as against 600,000 in Germany and 100,000 in France.
The Viennese Jews proved remarkably driven and intelligent, and rapidly outmaneuvered the rather lazy, hapless, and decadent gentile nobility. Jakob Wasserman wrote: “The court, the petit bourgeoisie, and the Jews gave the city its character. [. . .] [T]he Jews as the most mobile group kept all the other groups constantly on the move” (327).
Hamann writes on the Jews’ astonishing penetration of the educational system:
The Jews’ different driving power and value systems expressed themselves mainly in their eagerness to get an education. In 1912 one out of three high school students in Vienna was a religious Jew — three times more than their share of the population. All types of secondary schools put together, the share of Jewish students was 47.4 percent in 1912 — almost half. Although if theology is excluded only 5.3 percent of altogether ten thousand Christians attended university between 1898 and 1902, the figure among Jews was 24.5 percent. Jewish students made up almost a third of all university students in Vienna. (327)
Jews made up 40 percent of students of medicine and one quarter of law students. They also dominated the legal profession: “Of altogether 681 lawyers in Vienna in 1889, more than half — 394 — were Jewish. Twenty years before, there were only thirty-three” (327-328)
“Jewish intelligence” became a standing expression in Vienna around 1900. The [non-Jewish] writer Hermann Bahr joked that every aristocrat “who is a little bit smart or has some kind of talent, is immediately considered a Jew; they have no other explanation for it.” (328)
Jewish nouveaux riches showed off with mansions on the Ring Boulevard — home to Vienna’s finest cultural and government buildings — and earned titles of nobility in exchange for donations and “spectacular marriages of rich Jewish women with impoverished aristocrats” (328). Hamann does not tell us much about the economic situation but she does note: “There were spectacular success stories in trade and economy, such as that of department store king Alfred Gerngross” (328).
Anti-Semitism then rose in Austria “in what was probably the happiest phase in their [the Jews’] history” (326).
Paradoxically, Cisleithanian Jews tended to side with “Germandom” in the linguistic battles with the Slavs and were often great fans of Richard Wagner. Their linguistic and dynastic “patriotism” is not so mysterious. I suspect these Jews believed they were safest siding with a multicultural German-speaking monarchy than with independent German or Slavic nation-states. In contrast to recent Jewish immigrants from the East: “The Austrian Jews, however, knew that they were safely protected by the federal authorities. Those in danger received police protection. Anti-Semitic brochures were confiscated” (331). This was a thankless task, as the emperor told his daughter: “Yes yes, of course we do everything we can to protect the Jews, but who really is not an anti-Semite?” (331).
There was also anti-Semitism against the hundreds of thousands of unassimilated and impoverished Eastern Jews coming from the Russian Empire. These were massively involved in the white slave trade: “Vienna’s Zionist Neue National-Zeitung reported in 1913 that of thirty-nine white slave traders in Galicia, thirty-eight were Jewish” (334). Hamann claims that the victims of this trade were overwhelmingly Jewish girls haplessly taken from the shtetl in marriage scams.
The primary cause of anti-Semitism however was not the nuisance of Eastern Jewish immigrants, but the predominance of “assimilated” Jewish elites. The anti-Semitic Christian-Socials proposed a vigorous affirmative action program in favor of the massively underrepresented gentile majority by limiting Jewish university and high school students to their proportion of the population (335). This was not approved by Parliament despite 162 votes in favor.
Hamann acknowledges that Jews were heavily involved in “Viennese modernism”: “as far as the social pillars of modernism were concerned, the Jews’ share of art and science in fin-de-siècle Vienna was relatively large: they were involved as builders, patrons, buyers, and as the audience that went to performances of modern plays and exhibitions, and listened to modern music” (79).
Jews also predominated among Social Democratic (Marxist) leaders and press chiefs (Wilhelm Ellenbogen, Viktor Adler, Friedrich Austerlitz, Anton David . . .). Hitler wrote in an article in 1920 entitled “Some Questions for the German Worker”:
How come our German labor leaders belong almost exclusively to a nation one never sees working? What’s the percentage of Jews among the total population, what’s the percentage of Jews among the manual laborers, locksmiths, smiths, miners, sanitation coachmen, scavengers, cobblers, etc., etc., but what’s the percentage of Jews among the labor leaders? (181)
The budding feminist movement in Vienna, as later in the United States of America, was largely led by Jewish women. There was “a higher percentage of Jewish woman students, on all educational levels,” even more so than among men. Jewesses made up 40.7 percent of secondary school female students in Lower Austria and an even higher proportion in high schools and universities (372) They made up over half of female medical students in 1906-07 and over two thirds in 1908-09. Hamann writes:
These well-educated women then became more involved in women’s liberation. Politically they favored the Social Democrats [. . .] the battle for women’s rights was considered a Jewish, Social Democratic, immoral, and degenerate battle. (372)
Hitler would later tell the National Socialist Women’s Organization in 1934: “women’s liberation is only a term invented by the Jewish intellect, and its content is characterized by the same spirit. In the truly good times of German life German woman never had to liberate herself” (373) He added that he needed “fighters who don’t look at the rights some Jewish intellectualism is deceptively suggesting to them, but who look at the duties with which nature burdens all of us.”
More generally, there was clearly a lot of degeneracy in Vienna. “The pinnacle of public offense was the fashionable cult some literary figures made of prostitutes” (76). There was a sense of moral panic, as Jews rapidly displaced traditional elites, old values were viciously attacked, and the Marxist-led underclass ominously grew.
A certain Rudolf Vrba (apparently unrelated to the later Auschwitz escapee) wrote following the failed 1905 revolution in Russia:
[J]ust as in certain constitutional states which we don’t have to mention [. . . ] [the] peoples, upper and social classes [would be] exploited and sucked dry, and constitutional governments [would be] forced into total moral and high-financial dependence on them [the Jews]. [. . .] For the Jews don’t want “equality” but complete domination. (344)
A Romanian professor claimed his country’s urban centers and national economy had been taken over by the Jews, warning the pan-Germans:
If we let the Jews destroy the middle class, if we deliver our cities to these alien perpetrators, then we are lost. Therefore a healthy solution to the Jewish problem is a veritably existential issue for our nation. [. . .] Woe unto the nation that doesn’t have the strength to fend off the alien invasion but apathetically watches as legions of cunning Jews penetrate all areas of public life, tear the bread out of the nation’s mouth, and economically subjugate it. (344-345)
Another allegation: the Jews were planning “the establishment of an international alliance of banks with its seat in Washington” to control the world. (346) All of these alarmist statements reflected a moral and ethnic panic, whereby more sensitive souls express the palpable sense that power is slipping from their native community to foreign and hostile groups.
If we summarize the information from Hamann and elsewhere: Jews were massively overrepresented and often the dominant factor in key elite power sectors in Vienna, whether the prestige and liberal press, the Marxist political and trade union movements, much of the economy, the legal profession, much of academia, “modernism,” feminism, and so forth. Furthermore, Jews as a whole had a left-liberal bias and would to some extent as a privileged elite distort the politics of Austria-Hungary in that direction. Hitler’s statements in Mein Kampf on Jews, so radical, generalized dialectically from the Jewish behavior he witnessed in Vienna.
To be continued . . .
1. Andrew Hamilton, “What Is the Best Hitler Biography?,” North American New Right, October 14, 2011. https://counter-currents.com/2011/10/what-is-the-best-hitler-biography/
2. The book certainly has a very conventional cover. Subtitle: “A Portrait of the Tyrant as a Young Man.” Back cover: “What turned Adolf Hitler [. . .] into the very personification of evil? [. . .] Hamann vividly recreates [. . .] the genesis of the most terrifying dictator the world has ever known.” These satanic epithets – while seemingly de rigueur in Hitler studies – do not mar the generally very fair and nuanced contents of the book itself. Never judge a book by its cover!
4. Which reminds me: When is the last time the Hitler historians thanked Martin Bormann for providing them with so much precious source material for their ever best-selling books?
5. Brigitte Hamann, Hitlers Wien: Lehrjahre eines Diktators (Munich: Piper, 1996).
6. Among the most important confirmations of recent genetic studies: Jews’ existence as a genetically-identifiable group, Northwest European nations’ forming an identifiable genetic cluster, the reality of genetic distance and continental macro-races, and the substantial heredity (circa 50 percent) of most mental and physical traits. Guillaume Durocher, “Some Recent Genetic Studies . . . & Hitler,” North American New Right, November 11, 2015. https://counter-currents.com/2015/11/some-recent-genetic-studies-hitler/
7. As is often the case when a population is of the same continental racial type, ethnicity in Austria-Hungary was deemed to be determined by the language one spoke. In France, Germany, Poland, and Romania too, language was typically the marker by which nationalists defined its members (either in defining a priori what territories were part of the nation or in setting a goal of assimilation). It seems to me that common language and continental race are two minimum requirements for individuals to identify as part of a common nation/ethnicity.
8. This recalls the European Union’s similar unofficial motto of “muddling through.”
9. James O’Meara, “Kafka: Our Folk-Comrade,” North American New Right, July 3, 2014. https://counter-currents.com/2014/07/kafka-our-folk-comrade/
10. Steven Beller, Vienna and the Jews, 1867-1938: A Cultural History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 38-40.
11. Kevin MacDonald, “Stalin’s Willing Executioners: Jews As a Hostile Elite in the USSR,” The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 5, no. 3, fall 2005, 73. http://www.kevinmacdonald.net/slezkinerev.pdf
12. Jews were even more prevalent in Cracow (50 percent), Lemberg and Budapest (25 percent), and Prague (10 percent).
13. This can also be compared with the Jewish intellectual Raymond Aron’s French republicanism. Guillaume Durocher, “The Jew as Citizen: Raymond Aron & Civic Nationalism,” North American New Right, November 5, 2014. https://counter-currents.com/2014/11/the-jew-as-citizen-part-1/
14. Hamann’s counter to this — that Hitler himself personally knew Jewish manual workers such as a locksmith and a copper cleaner — is no rebuttal at all, as individual anecdotes do not invalidate wider differences in proportion.
15. The same sense lies behind anti-globalist warnings concerning the “New World Order.”
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