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Michael Carter-Sinclair

This chapter shows how the opponents of liberalism managed to achieve two things in this period. First, through active propaganda, in many ways, they began to create an impression, in certain sectors of Viennese society, that liberals and Jews were to a considerable extent the same thing, and that, therefore, liberal ideas were ‘Jewish ideas,’ imported into Vienna. Liberals and Jews were thus portrayed as exploiting new, capitalist modes of production at the expense of what were described as the indigenous, Christian Viennese lower bourgeois craft masters, who used handicrafts, not factory production, and who were being squeezed from markets. At the same time, and with antisemitic local priests at their head, antisemites began to put organised political groups together, weakening the liberal hold on elected public bodies, such as the Viennese City Council and district councils.

in Vienna’s ‘respectable’ antisemites
Michael Carter-Sinclair

This chapter considers what are called here the founding myths of the antisemites. It explains that antisemites considered the introduction into Austria of modernising, secularising, economic, social and political reforms – in short, liberalism – as a step that damaged what they considered to be natural Austrian phenomena – a hierarchical social system, feudal, guild-based economics, and a privileged place in society for the Roman Catholic Church. The chapter examines these claims, setting out how Austria, and particularly Vienna, evolved from around the mid-nineteenth century, into a period of liberal reforms and liberal political ascendency. It examines how a weakening Austrian Empire was beaten in war and called on liberals to modernise the state.

in Vienna’s ‘respectable’ antisemites
Michael Carter-Sinclair

The chapter describes and analyses how Dollfuss used the army to suppress a Social Democratic rebellion that aimed to unseat him as the effective dictator of Austria. The chapter then analyses how Dollfuss, legitimated by the Catholic Church, gave Austria a new constitution as a ‘Christian-German’ state, with a privileged role in social affairs for the Church. It describes how Dollfuss was murdered during a new Nazi coup attempt, and how his successor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, attempted to consolidate this Austria. Schuschnigg, under intense pressure from Hitler, sought allies, including Italy under Mussolini, and for a while he succeeded in keeping a distance from Germany. But he lacked support at home, challenged by Social Democrats, by German nationalists and then by Austrian Nazis, and by 1938 he was clinging to power.

in Vienna’s ‘respectable’ antisemites
Michael Carter-Sinclair

The chapter describes how lay antisemitic activists, in particular, justified the existence of their movement as a Christian reaction to the poverty that was widespread in Vienna in the late nineteenth century, and which they blamed on what they described as ‘Jewish capitalism.’ The chapter analyses the efforts of a number of Christian Social charitable groups, often centred on parishes, and finds that their efforts achieved little, if anything. It emerges that many of these groups were little more than fronts for political activity on behalf of the newly founded Christian Social Party, which took control of Vienna City Council, albeit through an electorate that was a tiny part of the population of the city.

in Vienna’s ‘respectable’ antisemites
Abstract only
Michael Carter-Sinclair

This chapter moves the narrative to the point where Adolf Hitler managed to remove Schuschnigg from office and then annexed Austria, incorporating it as the Ostmark into a new Greater Germany. It shows the violent scenes that accompanied the annexation, known in German as the Anschluss. It shows how senior clergy in Austria welcomed the move, while most of the lower clergy encountered here had serious misgivings. For all their antisemitism, the lower clergy emerge here as resisters to Nazism. This chapter shows priests who were assailed by the Nazis in different ways, even persecuted. It follows them into the war years, and the dreadful, violent fate that awaited Vienna and its citizens. Briefly, the chapter goes beyond the war, to complete some stories, but also to show that, for all that Christian Social thinking had contributed to social division, some could not rid themselves of it after the war.

in Vienna’s ‘respectable’ antisemites
Michael Carter-Sinclair

This chapter analyses how, in the context of the multinational Habsburg Empire, predominantly German-speaking members of the Christian Social movement considered the importance of this national side of their character. The Empire was buffeted by conflicts between bourgeois political representatives of different nationalities, but these became particularly acute for Christian Socials in Vienna when, as a cosmopolitan city, German speakers clashed with Czech speakers there. This chapter shows how, despite their claims to be universalist Christians, above such national disputes, Christian Socials were drawn into these Viennese clashes. It shows how this German dimension would be important for debates as to what should happen to German-speaking areas of Austria if the multinational Empire fell and collapsed, as many suspected it might under international stress.

in Vienna’s ‘respectable’ antisemites
Abstract only
Michael Carter-Sinclair

This chapter sets out the wider background to instances of antisemitism in Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It describes how histories of the subject have explained the origins and development of Christian Social antisemitism in Vienna, then it outlines how this work engages with and challenges these histories. It begins the process of demonstrating how antisemitism came to be used in the long term as a weapon against liberalism and liberal views, and against modernism and the modern world. It begins to explain how antisemitism in Vienna came to be viewed as a ‘respectable’ and acceptable stance. It starts to examine who propagated it and how they did so, and why its proponents initially came from the lower bourgeoise and the lower clergy.

in Vienna’s ‘respectable’ antisemites
Michael Carter-Sinclair

This chapter draws together key points from previous chapters and presents conclusions about the roles played by various Christian Socials and those associated with them in the origins and development of organised, political antisemitism in Vienna. It reiterates the point that the Christian Socials began as a Viennese bourgeois protest movement, and that their history is specific to the particular circumstances of Vienna. The chapter compares conclusions reached in this work with those of previous narratives, especially concerning the motivations of those who became involved in campaigning. It reiterates that the Christian Social movement, including large swathes of the Viennese clergy, had, at its heart, an authoritarianism that rejected pluralism. The chapter adds that some previous histories seem to have left little room for doubt and uncertainty, so this work gives a few examples of where analysis would benefit from seeing a grey rather than a black-and-white picture. The work concludes by looking at a how deep-seated antisemitism in Vienna left a legacy that contributed to the destruction of Jewish Vienna.

in Vienna’s ‘respectable’ antisemites
Michael Carter-Sinclair

This chapter analyses how Austria fell victim to increasing civil conflict that encompassed clashes between left and right, the rise of militias that were independent of the state and a realignment of the political right that saw the take-off of the Nazi Party in Austria. It shows how Christian Socials used political institutions to stage what was, in effect, a coup, taking control of state institutions for their own end. It demonstrates how attempts were made to rein in opposition, and then concludes with efforts made by Christian Social Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, openly supported by the clergy of Vienna, to refashion Austria along the lines of a corporate state, rather than a democracy, after a bloody Nazi coup failed to murder him.

in Vienna’s ‘respectable’ antisemites
Michael Carter-Sinclair

The chapter analyses how the political systems of the day, restricting voting rights to a small minority of the population, worked to the advantage of antisemitic activists. These activists continued to develop political organisations, using the word ‘Christian’ to indicate that they were not Jewish and therefore, in their eyes, not liberal. Claims by activists among the clergy that they were reacting to their ill treatment by the liberal state are found to be wanting. This is a crucial point, as these claims are often held up in other works as key motivating factors for the antisemitism of the clergy. In this work, such claims are shown as secondary to a deep-seated antimodernism, and a desire to make the Catholic Church the supreme moral arbiter in the state, something which could only be implemented in a modern, pluralist world by an authoritarian state. The chapter shows how the senior clergy of Vienna played a part in the rise of politically organised antisemitism.

in Vienna’s ‘respectable’ antisemites