Saturday, October 11, 2014

Zionism & German Anti-Semitism Before Hitler

Re my last post, you'll recall the Stern Gang's assertion that it is "well-acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government... towards Zionist activity inside Germany and towards Zionist emigration plans."

There is, of course, a wealth of evidence which testifies to that goodwill - see, for example, my 28/1/13 post Ben Elton's 'Two Brothers': A Quibble.

However, as the following account of a remarkably prophetic book indicates, it seems that a modus vivendi had been reached between German Zionism and German anti-Semitism long before the Nazis came to power in 1933:

"City without Jews, subtitled A Novel for the Day after Tomorrow, was published in 1922 by the pulp-fiction Viennese publishing house Gloriette... Its author, Hugo Bettauer, was a Jewish convert to Christianity... In Bettauer's novel, as in real life in 1922, Vienna is in the throes of rampant inflation and crisis. The people elect a would-be political savior, Dr Karl Schwertfeger, from the Christian Social Party. This figure was an obvious reference to Dr Karl Lueger, the anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna from 1897 to 1910. Lueger forcibly modernized the city and protected the interests of the poor and the Christian middle classes while railing against the Jews... The number of Jews cited in Bettauer's novel, 500,000, corresponded to the number living in Germany at the time; in Austria, the Jewish population numbered only around 200,000. And in the first half of the novel, all of those half-million Jews are expelled from the city.

"The narrative starts with a crowd scene in which all of Vienna seems to have taken to the streets: 'the bourgeois and the workers, fine ladies and common women, adolescents and old men, young girls, small children, invalids in wheel chairs.' It is a warm day in June, and everyone is milling around, sweating in the sun and shouting about politics. There are repeated cries of 'Jews out!' and 'Long live Dr Karl Schwertfeger, long live Austria's liberator!' Slowly, a black government vehicle makes its way through the crowd. Schwertfeger gets out of the car. Like Lueger and later Hitler, he is a man who has remained single and lives to serve the nation. He ascends the staircase of the Austrian parliament and enters the chamber where he will speak in defense of the long-planned 'Law on the Expulsion of Non-Aryans from Austria.'

"The proposed law gives all Jews six months to get their finances in order and quit the country... 'Descendents of Jews,' defined as children of mixed marriages, are likewise required to emigrate, as are Jewish converts to Christianity. After a bit of debate, the rule is waived for 'descendants'...

"The savior Schwertfeger has but a single argument for the necessity of his law. He describes Gentile Austrians as members of a 'naive, true-hearted, good,' but rather slow-developing mountain people, who are 'no match' for Jews. This is the reason he sounds the alarm: 'The Jews among us cannot tolerate such tranquil evolution... Who is driving the automobiles? Who is splurging in nightclubs? Who is filling the coffee houses and the expensive restaurants? Who is draping his wife with jewels and pearls? The Jew!' Schwertfeger also has an answer for how the Jews could have gotten so much further ahead in Austria than the Gentiles: 'With their uncanny sharpness of mind, their cosmopolitan sensibility divorced from tradition, their catlike flexibility, their instantaneous intellectual grasp of things, and all the skills they have honed in millennia of subjugation, they have overwhelmed us. They have become our masters and have seized control of our entire economic, intellectual, and cultural life.' Schwertfeger's speech earns him thunderous applause.

"When he is finished, the only Zionist deputy of parliament, the engineer, Minkus Wassertrilling, gets his turn to speak. He welcomes the law because, as he says, 'half of those expelled will gather under the Zionist banner' and leave for Israel. After Wassertrilling's speech, as a precautionary measure, some thugs arrive to remove certain deputies from the parliament building, and the law is approved unanimously. The remaining formalities are quickly dispensed with, and people celebrate until deep in the night." (Why the Germans? Why the Jews? Envy, Race Hatred, & the Prehistory of the Holocaust, Gotz Aly, 2014, 142-44)

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