Some Kind of Life

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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14 Responses

  1. LeeEsq says:

    Sometimes, I confuse your posts with my brother’s. This was one of those times.Report

  2. Burt Likko says:

    If Christine had never been lifted out of poverty and given a taste of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, would her existence as a postal clerk still taste so bitter? If so, a lesson might be that the wealthy ought to enjoy their luxuries out of public view, lest jealousy discontent the masses and the have-nots lose the comforting blindfold of ignorance.Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    Did you ever read Zweig’s memoir, The World of Yesterday?

    Jews in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire were in an interesting lot. Many of them were assimilated and loyal subjects to the Haspburg Empire and aspired to be proper and respectable members of the society. In many ways they were the society, Zweig spends a good early section of his memoirs basically stating that Viennese Jews were the people who attended the theatre, the opera, the ballet, and all the other artistic institutions that Empire was so proud of. They also were the leading art patrons and writers. Most of Kilimnt’s commissions came from wealthy Jewish patrons. Mahler was Jewish and so were many other 19th and 20th century Viennese artists. Plus Jews invented the most Austrian and Hungarian of all pastries, the Sacher torte and maybe the Dobos Torte.

    Yet there was still incredible anti-Semitism even if the Jews could get noble titles. Vienna was ruled by a notorious Jew-baiter named Dr. Karl Luger.

    There is an early Austrian novel and movie called City without Jews which is a satire about a Vienna like city going into free-fall economic decline when the city expels its Jews. The cafes are no longer patronized and neither are the artistic institutions or fashionable shops. The fillmmaker was murdered by an anti-Semite according to wikipedia and the Austrians lauded the murderer.Report

    • Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The novelist, Bettauer, was murdered, not the filmmaker. And the case is definitely a good illustration of Austrian anti-Semitism in the years between the wars. The man who murdered him was an Austrian Nazi, and was never imprisoned for the crime, just briefly institutionalized.

      The full movie used to be online, but it looks like it’s been removed. You can watch some clips on YouTube, but the text will be in German.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

        Ah, my bad.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

        What is also interesting is that I think the Empire wanted Jews to be assimilated because they stood as a good example for those who did not want to be assimilated like the Slavs.

        There were plenty of poorer Jews from the provinces who were not assimilated though. Freud became more assimilated than his parents ever did and tried very hard to be a good middle class Viennese with an apartment in the inner-part of ring-strasse. There were still a lot of poorer and unassimilated Jews in the outerrings.

        There was a similar dynamic that happened in the U.S., Germanic Jews who came over during the mid-1800s were already very assimilated by the time the mass of Eastern European Jews came over and they did not look kindly on their unassimilated co-religionists. Many Reform synagogues held services on Sunday to be more mainstream until sometime in the 20th century and possibly post-WWII era.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        After World War I, we’re not talking about the “Empire.” We’re talking about the Republic, which was a political mess, which saw some unsavory elements take power which otherwise would have been largely unavailable to them in the pre-war empire, and which saw increasing attempts to blame Jews and Reds for the loss of the war and resulting hardships. Bettauer was killed by a Nazi in 1925, several years before Nazis took power in their northern neighbors and more than a decade before the annexation, yet his murder was essentially protected by the local government, which did everything it could to deny that anti-Semitism had anything to do with the murder in the first place. The political and social atmosphere at the time led those in power to essentially try to be on both sides, promoting Jewish involvement in Austrian society and culture, while at the very least not angering powerful anti-Semitic, nationalist groups that were becoming more and more powerful and a genuine political threat to a republic that wasn’t particularly well-situated to handle any sort of crisis, social or political.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I have read his memoir, yes. As an undergrad, so I remember it more as a handful of scenes, but that is how I understand Vienna in that era, so it probably had an effect. Actually, a great book for understanding the impossible situation of Viennese Jews before WWI is the Arthur Schnitzler novel Road into the Open. I take the title to refer to what they didn’t have.Report

    • Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I imagine this is right up your alley.Report