Vienna & Its Jews

George E. Berkley, Author
George E. Berkley, Author Madison Books $24.95 (422p) ISBN 978-0-8191-6816-0
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
``The most unrequited love affair in urban history'' is how University of Massachusetts political scientist Berkley describes his lively story of what made the Jews so ardently love a city that so ardently hated them. Tracing the history of Viennese Jews from around 1900, when they were flourishing under the aged Emperor Franz Joseph I, through the 1938 Anschluss with Germany, down to the election of Kurt Waldheim as president of Austria, the author describes the rise, fall and extinction of the greatest Jewish community of our time, as well as its historic, political, social and cultural heritage. Although Viennese Jews had the highest conversion rate of any Jewish community in the world, that did not spare them in the Holocaust. The Austrians eagerly welcomed Hitler, treated the Jews much worse than did the German Nazis, and, in a poll taken in 1984, 85% of the people admitted to some degree of anti-Semitism. Berkley relates this high incidence to the Austrian sense of inadequacy, lack of national feeling, low self-esteem, ``disinterested meanness'' and an inability to face the unpleasant truth about themselves. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
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