The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph

BookThe Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph

The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


June 1st, 1989

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This book depicts and evaluates the "golden age" of Viennese Jewry which coincided with the long reign of the Emperor Franz Joseph between 1848 and 1916. Based on research into the demographic socio-economic, cultural and political factors that favoured the ascent of Viennese Jewry and also the anti-Semitic movements which accompanied its rise, the author reconstructs the place of the Jews in the Empire and provides new insights into the ideological conflicts that have marked the 20th century. The author describes the liberal-Jewish symbiosis, the impact of the nationality struggles in the Empire and its repercussions on Jewish group identity. He examines the genesis of Zionism, Autonomism, Austro-Marxism, and psychoanalysis as "Jewish" strategies and responses to the dilemmas of modernization. The book explains the religious and political structure and orientation of the official Jewish community and analyzes the problems of identity that affected the Jewish intelligentsia and helped make Vienna the scene of one of the most seminal intellectual revolutions in history.

‘Fascinating . . . both encyclopedic and brilliantly researched and beyond question will remain, far longer than several other recent productions concerning turn-of-the-century Viennese Jewry, both interesting to general readers and useful to scholars . . . an important book.’
- William McCagg, American Historical Review

‘Parmi les plus récent ouvrages, signalons l’étude fondamentale de Robert S. Wistrich . . .’
- P. Ginewski, Diaspora

‘Monumental . . . hugely informative.’
- Norman Lebrecht, Jewish Chronicle

‘Wistrich combines such a wealth of information, such elegance of style, and such maturity of judgement, that one reads his book with considerable intellectual pleasure. His final section, on culture and identity . . . is so enjoyable that one regrets that Wistrich did not take the story down to 1938.’
- Frank Field, English Historical Review

- John Warren, Immigrants and Minorities

‘Masterly . . . He does indeed provide a detailed and multi-faceted picture, highlighting the diversity of the community and its concomitant tensions. It is a serious and detailed historical work . . . a book which has rightly been described by Professor Peter Pulzer as “the standard work for some time to come”.’
- Alastair Falk, Le’ela

‘The excellence of his book lies . . . in the high quality of scholarship, the sensitivity to nuance, the desire to map the entire Jewish response to the crisis of the empire in all its complexity.’
New York Review of Books

Author Information

Robert S. Wistrich was Neuberger Professor of Modern European and Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and also Director of its Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Antisemitism. The recipient of many international awards, he was the author and editor of several books, including Socialism and the Jews: The Dilemmas of Assimilation in Germany and Austria-Hungary (1984), published by the Littman Library, as well as Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred, Understanding the Holocaust, Hitler and the Holocaust, Obsession: Radical Islam and the West, and Masters and Victims: Jewish Fate in Central Europe. He died in 2015.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
List of Illustrations16
I. The Community18
1. From Ghetto to Revolution 20
2. Migration to the Kaiserstadt 55
3. Philanthropy, Politics, and the Ostjuden 79
4. Three Viennese Preachers 115
5. Liberalism, Deutschtum, and Assimilation 148
6. Parvenus, Patriots, and Protected Jews 181
II. Self-Defence Against Anti-Semitism220
7. The New Austrian Anti-Semitism222
8. Adolf Jellinek and the Liberal Response255
9. Joseph Bloch: Rabbi, Parliamentarian, and Publicist287
10. The Austrian Israelite Union327
III. The Rise of Zionism370
11. Kadimah and Jewish Student Nationalism372
12. The Metamorphoses of Nathan Birnbaum406
13. Theodor Herzl: The Making of a Political Messiah446
14. Zionism and its Jewish Critics483
IV. Culture and Identity520
15. Prophets of Doom: Karl Kraus and Otto Weininger522
16. The Jewish Identity of Sigmund Freud562
17. Arthur Schnitzler's Road to the Open608
18. Imperial Swan-Song: From Stefan Zweig to Joseph Roth646
Select Bibliography692
Glossary of Terms not explained in the text705