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Black Vienna

Black Vienna: The Radical Right in the Red City, 1918–1938

Janek Wasserman
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
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  • Book Info
    Black Vienna
    Book Description:

    Interwar Vienna was considered a bastion of radical socialist thought, and its reputation as "Red Vienna" has loomed large in both the popular imagination and the historiography of Central Europe. However, as Janek Wasserman shows in this book, a "Black Vienna" existed as well; its members voiced critiques of the postwar democratic order, Jewish inclusion, and Enlightenment values, providing a theoretical foundation for Austrian and Central European fascist movements. Looking at the complex interplay between intellectuals, the public, and the state, he argues that seemingly apolitical Viennese intellectuals, especially conservative ones, dramatically affected the course of Austrian history. While Red Viennese intellectuals mounted an impressive challenge in cultural and intellectual forums throughout the city, radical conservatism carried the day. Black Viennese intellectuals hastened the destruction of the First Republic, facilitating the establishment of the Austrofascist state and paving the way forAnschlusswith Nazi Germany.

    Closely observing the works and actions of Viennese reformers, journalists, philosophers, and scientists, Wasserman traces intellectual, social, and political developments in the Austrian First Republic while highlighting intellectuals' participation in the growing worldwide conflict between socialism, conservatism, and fascism. Vienna was a microcosm of larger developments in Europe-the rise of the radical right and the struggle between competing ideological visions. By focusing on the evolution of Austrian conservatism, Wasserman complicates post-World War II narratives about Austrian anti-fascism and Austrian victimhood.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5522-3
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction: Reconsidering “Red Vienna”
    (pp. 1-14)

    On Election Day in April 1927, the conservative Viennese newspaperDie Reichspostfeatured Chancellor Ignaz Seipel’s final political announcement to Austrian voters on its front page. Seipel called on the Austrian people to vote for the Einheitsliste, the antisocialist coalition of bourgeois parties, in order to counteract the nefarious intentions of the Austrian Social Democrats: “The victory of the Einheitsliste will guard the Austrian people against the greatest evils. It will hinder the superfluous and harmful tension that still exists between Red Vienna and the other provinces. It will mean that Austria will not appear to a disapproving world as...

  6. Chapter 1 The Emergence of Black Vienna
    (pp. 15-46)

    On 1 October 1922, the historian and author Richard Kralik celebrated his seventieth birthday, and the Viennese Catholic community took the opportunity to honor their hero and extol the strengths of their intellectual movement. The author Hermann Bahr and the Swiss anthropologist Wilhelm Oehl each wrote laudatory pieces in the Christian Social newspaper, theReichspost. The following day, a full-page spread recounted the festivities from the “Kralik-Feier,” hosted at Kralik’s manor in Grinzing, a wealthy district of Vienna.¹ According to the article, the celebration attested to the “cultural sense and will” of Austrian Catholics while displaying their commitment to Kralik’s...

  7. Chapter 2 The Austro-Marxist Struggle for “Intellectual Workers”
    (pp. 47-73)

    In the lead-up to the national elections of April 1927, the Austrian Social Democrats splashed an “Announcement of Intellectual Vienna” on the front page of their daily newspaper, theArbeiter-Zeitung, which endorsed the socialist cause in strong terms. “The essence of Spirit [Geist] is above allFreedom, which is now endangered and we feel obligated to protect it. The struggle for a higher humanity and the battle against indolence [Trägheit] and sclerosis [Verödung] will always find us ready. Today, it also finds us prepared for battle.”¹ Given the fervor of the sentiments and the celebrity of the letter’s signatories, it...

  8. Chapter 3 The Spannkreis and the Battle for Hegemony in Central Europe
    (pp. 74-105)

    In 1936 the philosopher Othmar Spann found himself defending his philosophy against an unlikely enemy: the Nazis. Long a supporter of the movement and a member of the party even when it was illegal in Austria, Spann felt compelled to defend the intellectual and political position of his circle of universalist philosophers and its compatibility with National Socialism. In fact, his school faced criticism from all sides: the Nazis rejected its work as insufficientlyvölkisch; the Austrofascist state, established in 1934, viewed it as unpatriotic; socialists saw it as antiproletarian and fascist; and social scientists castigated it as unobjective, metaphysical,...

  9. Chapter 4 The Verein Ernst Mach and the Politicization of Viennese Progressive Thought
    (pp. 106-131)

    On February 24, 1934, the Viennese police commissioner summoned Moritz Schlick, one of the founders of the Verein Ernst Mach, to police headquarters to answer questions about the group. The date here is significant, for the interrogation took place less than two weeks after the conclusion of the Austrian civil war. Hundreds of Austrians, mostly workers, had died in the streets. The workers’ forces had been crushed, the Social Democratic Workers’ Party (SDAP) outlawed, and trade unions disbanded. Socialist leaders had either fled the country or gone into hiding. The country was under martial law, and the army patrolled the...

  10. Chapter 5 Österreichische Aktion and the New Conservatism
    (pp. 132-157)

    In the introduction to its 1927 manifesto, the Österreichische Aktion, the most important group of Austrian monarchists from the interwar era, demanded the creation of a new conservatism, steeped in traditional values yet sensitive to the present and future demands of modern Europe. “The future belongs to historically and sociologically consequential Conservatism, which knows what it wants and takes the present as it is, a Conservatism which … has the courage ‘to stand with the Right and think with the Left,’ that is, to be rooted in Tradition and yet to accommodate the demands and needs of the times, as...

  11. Chapter 6 The Rise and Fall of Politically Engaged Scholarship in Red Vienna, 1927–1934
    (pp. 158-187)

    As the writers of the Österreichische Aktion celebrated Chancellor Dollfuss’s suspension of parliament and Black Viennese intellectuals trumpeted the successes of Hitler, Mussolini, and radical conservatism across Europe, a group of Viennese social scientists released a landmark study to little fanfare. The team of Marie Jahoda, Paul Lazarsfeld, and Hans Zeisel published their “sociographical” work on the working-class textile town of Marienthal in March 1933. Commissioned by the Social Democratic Party and largely funded by the American Rockefeller Foundation,Arbeitslosen von Marienthalexamined the impact of long-term unemployment on people’s daily lives. The conclusions directly criticized Black Viennese economic concepts,...

  12. Chapter 7 The Triumph of Radical Conservatism in the Austrofascist State, 1933–1938
    (pp. 188-217)

    On 22 June 1936 at 9:20 a.m., philosophy professor Moritz Schlick made his way across the courtyard of the University of Vienna. As he ascended the stairs to a lecture hall, Hans Nelböck, a thirty-two-year-old former student of Schlick’s, confronted him, drew a pistol, and fatally shot Schlick four times in the chest. Police arrived on the scene and apprehended Nelböck, a man who had long suffered from psychotic episodes and had recently been released from a Viennese psychiatric center, Am Steinhof. Nelböck confessed to the crime and was sent to police headquarters for psychological evaluation. For several days, Vienna...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 218-226)

    TheAnschlusshad a profound effect on intellectual life in Vienna. There were a few possible outcomes for progressive thinkers. A few, including the Vienna Circle member Viktor Kraft, remained in inner exile; others, such as Sigmund Freud, emigrated; the psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim and the philosopher Jean Amery ended up in concentration camps, where the least fortunate, among them Käthe Leichter, perished. There were no truly desirable alternatives. Emigration was often a struggle, and many Viennese, including Egon Brunswick, Edgar Zilsel, and Karl Bühler, struggled to adapt to their new home countries.¹ The developments of the 1930s capped a process...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 227-246)
  15. Index
    (pp. 247-254)