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Panel I

Lord of the Hyenas

Alfred Pfoser, Vienna

With the disastrous end of the First World War and the Dual Monarchy’s dissolution, Social Democracy’s commitment to the Empire ended, too. Castigating the Habsburgs was part of the Socialists’ self-understanding in the First Republic and of their cultural struggle with the Christian Socialists and, more specifically, with the Legitimists. Negative commemoration of the Habsburgs gave grounds to new intellectual alliances, but distorted historical memory. It was not until Bruno Kreisky’s great conciliatory gesture towards the Habsburgs, grounded in multifaceted reasons, that Social Democratic castigation of the Habsburgs ceased.

Pietas Austriaca? The Imperial Legacy in Post-War Austria

Dieter A. Binder, University of Graz and Andrássy University of Budapest

Closely associated with the imperial dynasty until 1918, Pietas Austriaca, the idea of Austrian Monarchy’s unique devotion to Catholic ideals, came, in the interwar years, under fire from the Liberal German Nationalist and Social Democratic camps. The national divisions created by the Counter-Reformation, viewed as tragic by nationalists during the second half of the 19th century, served as the legitimation for the anti-clerical and anti-Catholic interwar milieux. In 1918 and 1919, the Christian Social camp largely distanced itself from the dynasty in view of the War and its consequences, transforming its idea of Pietas Austriaca into an envisioned Catholic, German, anti-modernist and rural homeland. Pietas Austriaca re-emerged, however, as a partial reception of the Habsburg legacy in the “authoritarian Corporate State” (Ständestaat) as an antithesis to both “heathen” National Socialism and “godless” Marxism.

Panel II

Broken Links? Austrian Economic Networks across the Iron Curtain

Charlotte Natmeßnig, Vienna University of Economics and Business 

This paper will show the manifold economic intertwining of the former Hapsburg Empire restored in part after World War II. The Empire’s economic links survived throughout much of the interwar period and, to a lesser extent, in the immediate postwar years. Czechoslovakia is one example: Communist rule was only established in 1948, and the country’s proximity to eastern Austria meant easier access to transportation between these two regions. In general, however, the successor states to the Hapsburg Empire became part of Eastern Europe, satellite states of the Soviet Union. A new relationship emerged between Austria and its neighbors  For ten years, Austria was occupied and divided into four zones. The economic ties of the Soviet zone, including Vienna and the Eastern Bloc countries, were faltering but not completely cut, whereas the western parts of Austria were integrated into the western economies. During the 1950s, the share of foreign trade with the successor states decreased substantially, but Austrian foreign trade policy still aimed at re-establishing the broken links.

Galician Traces in Postwar Poland

Werner Michael Schwarz, Wien Museum

Galicia has not existed since 1918. And yet, in a constantly shifting geopolitical situation Galicia remains present as an imaginary space. Wars, forced migrations and ethnic cleansing have shaken the region. A world of diversity was annihilated in the Second World War; the Jewish population was almost completely wiped out.

In 1939, during the first Soviet occupation, and again after 1945, Poles were expelled in huge numbers. The former eastern Galicia was part of the Soviet Union until 1991. In this period the region largely disappeared from consciousness; almost all connections to central Europe were cut off.

On the one hand, remembrance of the Holocaust and the vanished Jewish life led to a rediscovery of Galicia. On the other, and especially in Poland, Habsburg Galicia became an anchor for identification with central Europe. In Ukraine, the former Galicia became a transitional space of yearning for Europe.

Empire as a Way of Life and its Aftermath in Bukovina

Cristina Florea, Harvard University

The Bukovinian writer Josef Burg – the so-called ‘last Mohican of Yiddish literature’ – wrote all of his work in Yiddish. He was a product of the interwar years in Bukovina, when Jewish writers and intellectuals who moved there from Bessarabia created a new literary scene in Czernowitz, radically opposed to the German assimilationist culture that had prevailed under Austrian rule. Even though Burg had spent his formative years in Romanian Cernauti and set foot in Vienna only once, after 1991 he was proclaimed an Austrian writer. In 2002, this fierce defender of the Yiddish language even received a medal for his ‘contributions to Austrian culture.’ This paper argues that Burg’s peculiar literary trajectory reflected the disconnect between Bukovina’s cultural and political geography in the postwar period. By 1991, northern Bukovina – including Chernivtsi – had been under Soviet rule for almost half a century. Yet its cultural ties with Vienna had still not vanished from the memory of Bukovinans and Austrians.  The result was a new cultural rapprochement between Austria and Bukovina after the collapse of the Soviet Union, fostered by disenchantment with the postwar national order and a desire to fashion new identities out of usable pasts. After 1991, Austrians looked eastwards with nostalgia, for a past when Austria had been home to many nationalities and religions. They saw this ‘greater’ Austria reflected in Burg’s vanished world of the Jewish shtetl. In turn, freshly independent Ukraine sought to dissociate itself from its Soviet past and assert a non-Soviet Ukrainian identity defined by diversity and cosmopolitanism. Burg brought Austria’s and Ukraine’s nostalgias for a multicultural past together, and reconnected Chernivtsi with Vienna. For all his literary success, however, Burg lost the only thing that truly mattered to him: the Yiddish language. His most enthusiastic audiences read his work in German translation and his efforts to revive the Yiddish cultural scene in Chernivtsi faltered.

Panel III

From Telegraph Avenue to the Ringstrasse:  Carl Schorske’s Vienna and the American Imagination

Anson Rabinbach, Princeton University

This paper traces the genesis of Carl Schorske’s Fin-de-Siècle Vienna from his early career at Wesleyan University to his engagement and disillusion with the tumultuous student rebellion at Berkeley during the 1960s.  Just as Schorske’s Freud was shaped by mid-century Vienna’s “clear and confident mid-century liberalism,” Schorske was shaped by the paper-thin liberalism that issued from the wartime experience of the OSS, the after-shock of McCarthyism, and the student revolt.  Like his Viennese aesthetes, Schorske understood the new cultural activism as the “the beginning of a sort of revolution of the body, a return of the repressed.”  At Wesleyan, and then at Berkeley, he worried that the political and cultural revolt could become  a threat to the world of learning if it was incapable of generating a new and imaginative response. In his Fin-de-Siècle Vienna he integrated politics and culture, historical and formal analysis.  During the political upheavals of the 1960s he tried to reconcile academic autonomy and antiwar activism.  His solution was a kind of displacement; If the University is always threatened by those who would instrumentalize it, what “crystallized for me at Berkeley,” he wrote, was the the conviction that the “university has to take the tensions of society into its own. It doesn’t resist them, it accepts them. But it insists that once inside its walls, the social tensions be Intellectualized. You have to convert the poison of social discord into the sap of intellectual vitality.”

Traum und Wirklichkeit: The Austrian Invention of Vienna 1900

Heidemarie Uhl, University of Vienna 

The history of exhibitions in Vienna provides a paradigmatic example of the ways in which a museum is literally able to invent new identities. The art and culture of the Viennese Modern Age, which is now deeply rooted in the canon of Vienna’s image, did not establish itself as a new trademark of the city until the mid 1980s. This development owed its success to the exhibition “Traum und Wirklichkeit. Wien 1870-1930” (Dream and Reality: Vienna 1870–1930), which was displayed as Sonderausstellung (special exhibition) of the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna in the Künstlerhaus from March to October 1985. It was this major historical exhibition that made the icons of the Viennese Modern Age – Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Arthur Schnitzler, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Adolf Loos, and Otto Wagner – into a fixed part of Viennese cultural memory. Unprecedented use of tourism marketing strategies gave the capital city of a small neutral country on the edge of the iron curtain the shine of its former glamour as imperial capital of the Habsburg Empire.


Empire, Socialism and Jews: Rewriting the Monarchy into Austrian History

Malachi Hacohen, Duke University

Empire, Socialism and Jews rewrites the Monarchy back into Austrian national history by recalling the lost Socialist imperial tradition of postnational federalism and the Jewish love story with imperial Austria, as well as the émigrés’ nostalgia for multicultural Central Europe. The recovery of these imperial traditions should both enable a long-term Austrian national narrative joining Empire and Republic and open up avenues for new thinking on contemporary European Austria.

The keynote begins with a review of earlier workshops that reconceptualized Austrian socialism via women’s biographies, highlighted the socialists as an imperial party, and tracked the repression of imperial memory in the interwar years, as Austrian socialism was redefined as municipal (Red Vienna) and German nationalist. At the same time, the workshops demonstrated the survival of imperial economic networks throughout the interwar period and the rise of Jewish and Catholic imperial nostalgia.

The present workshop analyzes the caesura of the postwar years, when the Iron Curtain disrupted former economic networks and imperial memory, and, yet, both reemerged, like the Sphinx, in the aftermath of 1989, and rejoined the Jewish émigrés’ celebration of “Austrian literature” and “Central European culture.” Kreisky’s ambivalent appropriation of the imperial legacy draws attention but the focus is on Carl Schorske’s paradigm of Vienna 1900, exemplified in the 1985 exhibition Traum und Wirlichkeit. The keynote explains “Vienna 1900” as a trans-Atlantic Cold War concept, envisioning Vienna as a laboratory of modernity while excluding the Monarchy. The Wiener Moderne provided young Austrians, alienated from the past, with an alternative history, one that was free of the national catastrophes and made Austria’s Western integration via modernist icons possible. The 1990s project, Metropole Wien, integrated bourgeois modernism into a socialist narrative leading to Red Vienna. But this narrative remains fragmentary and can neither bring together Monarchy and Republic nor deploy pluralist and federalist traditions to resist xenophobic nationalism and forge a framework for a European Austria. Vienna 1900 must be opened to imperial networks and transformed from a polis into an imperial metropolis.

Panel IV

Kreisky’s Central Europe: Foreign Policy and Austrian Imperial Management

Andreas Weigl, University of Vienna

The „Kreisky era“ (1970-1983) is well known as a decisive period in the history of the second Austrian Republic. It stands for social reform, an „opening“ of the country to internationalization and an active role of Austria as an agent between east and west. This turning point in Austrian foreign policy was strongly determined by Bruno Kreisky himself as the minister of foreign affairs and later on as chancellor. The question is, if beside his strong connections with social democrats in Western Europe (like Olof Palme, Willi Brandt and Felipe Gonzales) and other parts of the free world, Kreisky’s way of making international politics had some „old Austrian“ roots too. It is not coincidence that Kreisky’s dominance was ironically stated by contemporary journalists and caricaturists, most of them from the bourgeoise press, by calling him the “Sun-King”. He was the only politician of the Republican period in Austrian history who was honoured by such an “imperial” nick-name. And he was the only chancellor who belonged to the former Jewish upper classes of the Habsburg Empire. This is not to say that Kreisky felt any sympathy for the Habsburgs and the semi-feudal political system of the late Habsburg Monarchy. Several times he refused any glorification of the Habsburg Monarchy. Nevertheless he represented to some extent a “Greater Austria” and this was part of his success. The question discussed in this paper is, if Kreisky’s foreign policy owed some elements to the Central European heritage of the former monarchy in relation to neighboring countries and in the broader context of international politics. This will be analysed by taking up Kreisky’s role in the South Tyrol question, his somehow mental distance to Western Germany and the more or less tense relations to some former successor states.

From Revolutionary Socialism to the Imperial Legacy: Bruno Kreisky as a Jewish Remigré

Oliver Rathkolb, University of Vienna

Bruno Kreisky, Chancellor of Austria, 1970-1983, was in the 1930s a Revolutionary Socialist of Jewish origin. He had left the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde in 1931, was imprisoned under Fascism, and tortured and forced out of Austria by the Gestapo in 1938. He returned from his Swedish exile only in 1950. Yet, in 1967, he became Chairman of the Austrian Socialist Party and, three years later, the Austrian Chancellor, overcoming the unwritten law of Austrian politics that a politician of Jewish origin could never become his party chairman. This paper explains the reasons for this “political accident,” and, in turn, Kreisky’s resistance to Austria’s acknowledgement of its Nazi past and his opposition of Jewish solidarity.

Kreisky viewed himself for many years as “der beste zweite Mann” (the best second man). The metaphor highlights his acceptance of Austrian Anti-Semitism, and his effort to distance himself from other remigrés after 1945. But, whereas the Austrian Social Democrats moved, after 1945, to the center, transforming, and even erasing, many past ideological and cultural traditions (including those of Vienna 1900), Kreisky unearthed these traditions and overcame the hostility of the Austrian Social Democrats towards the Habsburg Empire. Kreisky disliked the Monarchy as a political system but he used the central European cultural sphere as a basis for international and national political agenda setting.