Between Toleration and Emancipation: The self-empowerment of Jewish intellectuals in the Habsburg Monarchy
Louise Hecht, Palacký University, Olomouc

Joseph II’s Edicts of Toleration for Habsburg’s Jews were decreed between 1781 and 1789. The Edicts seemingly pursued unifying the legal status of Jews in the different provinces, as part of unification and centralization processes in bureaucracy; but already a superficial analysis proves that most particularities of the individual Judenordnungen remained untouched by the new legislation. Furthermore, painful restrictions of settlement and freedom of movement, as well as the Familianten Laws in the Bohemian lands, persisted until the revolution of 1848 and some even until 1867. Nevertheless, the Edicts were enthusiastically welcomed by the upper echelons of (acculturated) Jewish society who regarded them as the first step toward full legal emancipation of Jews in the Habsburg Monarchy. This assessment was encouraged by the ideological underpinnings of Joseph II’s Edicts that sought for the acculturation of Jews. Therefore, they extended Maria Theresa’s laws for compulsory primary education from 1774 also to Jewish population. As a consequence more than 200 state-supervised German-Jewish schools opened their gates throughout the Habsburg Monarchy in the last two decades of the eighteenth century; while mainly interested in educating ‘useful citizens,’ the sate thus instigated thorough changes in Jewish society.

Connected to this Bildungsoffensive, Jews were also granted the right to enroll in Christian institutions of higher education and pursue university degrees. Many Jewish families avidly seized the opportunity of what they considered a chance for upward social mobility. Thus, we see an ever-growing number of Jewish university graduates from the second decade of the nineteenth century onward. Contrary to original expectations, these modern Jewish intellectuals were confronted with countless restrictions regarding job opportunities, once they had finished their studies. The paper seeks to explore, whether the high level of education combined with frustrated hopes for emancipation turned these young intellectuals into fierce critics of the Monarchy and ardent supporters of the 1848 revolution; i.e. whether Joseph’s Edicts of Toleration have, unintentionally, generated a new group within Jewish society that was determined to fight for their rights.


Antisemitism in 1848
Siegfried Mattl, Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Geschichte und Gesellschaft & Béla Rásky, Vienna Wiesenthal Institute

The 1848 Revolutions first raised the prospect of religious freedom and equality, i.e., of Jewish emancipation, and Jewish intellectuals assumed leading positions in revolutionary movements of all political shades. Pogroms in various localities of the Habsburg Empire, however, revealed soon after the ambiguous consequences of liberal political ideals. They prompted Jewish reevaluation and questioning: Could dynastic power be replaced without triggering a new despotism?  Was such a replacement ever conceivable in a multiethnic state?


The Abiding Imperial Tradition: Austrian Socialism, the Jews, the Monarchy, and Europe
Malachi Hacohen, Duke university

The Jews have famously been Austria-Hungary’s foremost admirers.  Jewish investment in the Habsburg imperial tradition dates back to early modern Europe:  Rabbi Moses Sofer (1762-1839), founder of Jewish Orthodoxy, was an imperial patriot.  Rabbi Joseph Bloch (1850-1923) spoke of the Jews as “the only unconditional Austrians.” After the downfall of the Monarchy, nostalgia for Austria-Hungary spread among Jewish émigrés, including the Zionists.  They imagined a lost Central European culture, one admired today by many Europeans.  Jews were also among the leaders of the Austrian Socialist Party from its foundation by Victor Adler, through the interwar years under Otto Bauer, and, with greatly reduced presence, down to Bruno Kreisky in the postwar years.  They were a reliable Socialist constituency, often voting for the Socialists across class lines.  Could the Socialists, too, be viewed, like the Jews, a bulwark of the Monarchy?  Alone among Austrian parties, they provided a blueprint for imperial reform, and envisioned a federalist multinational empire, befitting a postnational Europe.  They also built a Party replicating the imperial structure and rechanneled nationalist anxieties into social reform.  In hindsight, the Revolutions of 1848, the Grundgesetz of 1867, and the 1889 founding of the Austrian Socialist Party appear as moments of imperial renovation, when the allegiance of Jews and Socialists to the Monarchy was cemented. 1848-1867-1889 were moments of continuity as much as of change, enabling us to rewrite the Empire back into Austrian and European history.


Self-Assertion in the Public Sphere: Jewish Press on the Eve of Legal Emancipation
Dieter Hecht, Austrian Academy of the Sciences

In 1848 Jews like Adolf Fischhof and Ludwig August Frankl were prominent participants in the revolution. Their speeches, poems and portraits circulated through Vienna and the Empire. With the suppression of the revolution most of these prominent Jews had to leave Vienna or retreated to the private sphere. Only in the late 1850s step-by-step Jews regained public presence again, starting with the opening of the Leopoldstaedter Tempel in 1858 and the building of the Ringstrasse from 1860 onwards. Many Jews hoped that the new liberal area would grant them civil rights and legal emancipation. Jewish intellectuals and journalists supported this struggle from within and outside the growing Jewish community. An important weapon in their struggle were Jewish newspapers, like Deborah (founded in 1865), Illustrierte Monatshefte (1865) and Neuzeit (1861).

These newspapers not only provided information, but also served as mouth pieces for different Jewish movements. Central articles of the newspapers were always biographies with portraits of distinguished Jewish leaders (mostly men and a few women). These portraits (in words and images) should present the social achievements of a certain group within Jewish society to a wider audience. In fact, these portraits served as self-assertion for the publisher as well as for the audience; it projected the message that Jews merited emancipation. The paper will therefore address questions of canon building and of the (Jewish) identity these portraits tried to disseminate. Additionally, I will focus on gender aspects within the struggle for Jewish emancipation.


Jews, Property, and the Staatsgrundgesetz
Lisa Silverman, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee

It is usually taken for granted that European Jews’ relationship to the countries in which they resided changed radically with emancipation. Indeed, the Staatsgrundgesetz of 21. December 1867, which completed the legal process of emancipation for Jews in Austria, undoubtedly affected the rate and degree of Jews’ acculturation. But closer examination reveals that not every right provided for in the law represented a radical break for Austrian Jews. For example, the Staatsgrundgesetz provided that all citizens, regardless of religion, now had the right to both acquire and freely dispose of property. However, this was a right that Jews in Vienna had enjoyed already since 1860. In my presentation, I examine what the establishment of Jews’ rights to property in 1867 meant for their self-identification as Austrians in the decades that followed, and suggest that property ownership as one way in which Jews (both men and women) remained deeply connected to the communities in which they lived both before and after emancipation.


1889 in the History of Austrian Socialism: The Founding of an Imperial Party?
Wolfgang Maderthaner, Austrian State Archives

Was the foundation of the Austrian Socialist Party a booster for Austria-Hungary?  From Ernst von Koerber to Oscar Jáczi to the late Bruno Kreisky, astute statesmen described the Austrian Socialists as the major political party supporting the Empire’s integrity, a K. u. K. Sozialdemokratie that became a bulwark of the Monarchy.  The Socialists were the only party replicating in their structure the Austrian Empire and the only ones to have had concrete plans for Austria Hungary’s modernization and federalist reform.  In promoting a class based politics, Austrian Socialism cut across national boundaries and rechanneled nationalist anxieties into the class struggle. 1889 represented the Empire’s last best opportunity:  The Emperor took advantage of it in 1905-7 with universal suffrage but, due to his, and the imperial elites’ conservatism, failed to realize the full potential of his one true imperial party.


The Arbeiter-Zeitung 1889-1895 in the context of contemporary feuilleton journalism
Deborah Holmes, University of Kent

The Viennese social democratic newspaper Arbeiter-Zeitung and its immediate forerunner Die Gleichheit (1886-1889) marked a new departure in Vienna’s media landscape in the late 19th century, in that they directly appealed to members of the working class to participate in the formation of an intellectual community based not only on shared political but also cultural aims. I will consider the ways in which these aims become apparent in the two newspapers’ feuilleton sections, whose content and style were a source of uncertainty and debate to their editors and to party functionaries. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Wiener Feuilleton had become an established literary genre generally associated with whimsical, atmospheric evocations of Viennese cityscapes or cultural phenomena. It was primarily characterized by its subjective nature and the importance of the individual feuilletonist’s personality – features that would seem to be in direct contradiction to the collective ethos of social democracy. Against the background of the Naturalismusdebatte within German Social Democracy and the early states of Viennese Modernism, the Arbeiter-Zeitung and its predecessor newspaper can be seen to struggle to develop its own feuilleton style and reservoir of authors. Why then did the editors nevertheless insist on attempting to adhere to the feuilleton tradition? I will present the first results of a survey of the feuilleton sections of the Gleichheit and the Arbeiter-Zeitung and draw some preliminary conclusions as to what the feuilleton can tell us about the early cultural development of the Austrian Social Democratic Party.


Galician Jewish Socialism — Imperially Embedded?>
Joshua Shanes, College of Charleston

Enjoying the constitutional protections of speech and assembly, and ultimately also suffrage, Galicia served as a “Piedmont” for the Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish national movements. The nascent socialist movement developed a particular Austrian course on Jewish national rights. This paper will survey the development of the Galician Jewish socialist movement from its origins in the 1892 tallis-weavers strike in Kolomea through the foundation of an independent Jewish socialist organization in 1905. Like their Jewish nationalist opponents, Galician Jewish socialists sought to politicize the Jewish workers and regarded themselves as imperial citizens. Their advocacy of Jewish national rights and their (unsuccessful) efforts to collaborate with the Polish branch of the Austrian Social Democratic movement took precedence over fraternization with Jewish socialists across the Russian border. Caught between their Ruthenian and Polish comrades on the one hand and the Zionists on the other, the independent Jewish socialists threw their weight behind the Polish socialist group, the organ of imperial Social Democracy.


“Die Sozialdemokraten der Wissenschaft:” Austrian Jewish Ethnologists and the Quest for a Science of Nationality, 1880-1900
Thomas Prendergast, Duke University

In an 1893 edition of Am Ur-Quell: ein Monatschrift für Volkskunde, Friedrich Salomon Krauss, the journal’s Slavonian-born, German-speaking Jewish editor, described the state of the folkloristics (Volkskunde) as follows:

Let us not surrender to self-delusion, but rather openly and frankly admit the fact that folklore is today in Europe still one of the most unpopular and least recognized sciences. Ethnologists [Volksforscher] are so to speak the Social Democrats of scholarship…they hold scholastic “historical criticism” in contempt, and…have the effrontery to study humans in the way that once only the animal world was observed and described.

Exactly a decade later, the Czernowitz historian, folklorist, and later Pan-German ideologue Raimund Friedrich Kaindl approvingly reproduced, word for word, Krauss’s striking appraisal in his 1903 introduction to the discipline. Such a strange and evocative remark on the part of Krauss, and its later citation in the work of a German national activist, raises the question: in what sense were the scholarly objectives of the nascent field of folklore understood to be analogous to the political objectives of the Social Democrats, and why did these perceived affinities appeal to such an otherwise radically dissimilar pair of scholars?

In this paper, I will attempt to clarify the meaning of this seemingly incongruous comparison by reconstructing the conversation between Krauss and Kaindl. Turning away from political and legal history and toward folkloristic methods offered certain minority populations, I argue, a political language with which to contest the increasingly strident tone of national activists and affirm Austria’s imperial structure. With its emphasis on the social and economic realities of the present, folklore complicated the academic historian’s exclusionary claims to national continuity and homogeneity, thereby offering minority populations the possibility of re-inserting themselves into the political imaginary of their respective regions. Yet, this anti-establishment and, in a certain sense, “progressive” academic discourse came to be marginalized and co-opted by the same idealist historicism to which it had originally set itself in opposition.