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Most of the Jews who had settled in the Austro-Hungarian Empire were in the hinterlands, and were as poor as their neighbours. In those provinces where Jews could own land, there was a requirement that the Jews live on and work their land -- in order to prevent land speculation. As a result, many Jews in Niederoestereich and around Linz, where von Schnerer and his family resided, were themselves farmers. Natural increases and immigration resulted in large Jewish populations in the Austrian Empire; it has been estimated that over 70% of all the Jews in the world lived in these areas in the late 19th century (Engleman, 1933) One can imagine that the entry of Jewish farmers created tension within the communities of rural Austria, as they competed in the marketplace for customers, and demonstrated their abilities to succeed through education and hard work. This contrasted with the Austrian "Bauern," who were relatively unproductive, due to customer and centuries of poor management.
One wonders why von Schnerer chose the Jews as his enemy. Understanding the history in Linz and Niederoesterreich, and the rise of the Jews in the countryside and the city of Vienna, one can understand that he sought non-Austrian, non-Germanic causes for his constituents' problems. This resulted in his extreme hatred of the scapegoats, the Jews:
Hinweg mit der von corrupten und judlichen Einflussen beherrschten Presse:
Hinweg mit dieser Pestbeule!
Hinweg mit diesen Fremdlingen in unserm heim:
Lassen Sie mit mir ertnen die Mahnung:
Ihr Machthaber, die ihr uber Zucht und Ordnung im Staate durch die Gesetzgebung zu walten berufen seid, befestigt im Volke den Glauben an Recht und Wahrheit, zertretet die volksfeindlichen Rattern und macht ein Ende dieser journalistischen Giftwischerei, damit das so hart bedr ngte Volk nich zur Selbsthilfe gezwungen werde.
Den judlichen und verjudeten Zeitungsschreibern aber rufen wir zu, und damit schliesse ich:
Und wenn Ihr sprecht von Recht, so seid gewiss, Recht soll Euch werden, mehr als Ihr begehrt!"
Von Schnerer's Hatred of the Jews
It is difficult to understand how von Schnerer could have translated his hatred for the Press, capitalism and Einwanderer to the Jews, particularly given the large number of hard-working Jews in his district. One must understand three aspects of von Schnerer before attributing the cause of his strong anti-Semitism: His call to earlier values, his hatred of capitalism, and his paranoid need to find demons.
Jews had been welcome in many parts of Austria as complementary to the skills and restrictions of the nobility. They were able to engage in assisting professions, such as teaching and medicine. When Jewish immigrants moved to the cities, however, they encountered the competition of the establish guilds and trades. Austria's late entry into the Industrial Revolution and the generally precarious state of the worker and petite bourgeoisie. Jews had been granted emancipation in the 1860's, before Austria had started its process of industrialisation and growth; this placed an additional competitive burden on their non-Jewish neighbours, who resented seeing some Jews rise in society and economic status.
If Jews had not existed, von Schnerer might have been forced to invent them. His rival, Vienna Mayor Karl Lueger, said "I say who is a Jew. (Kershaw, 1999)" for von Schnerer, Jews stood in for everything that he fought against: foreigners, capitalism, intellectualism, immigration, non-Aryan values. Von Schnerer saw Jews as gaining favour with the first Emperor Wilhelm, and gradually insinuating themselves into the core of Austrian society.
Karl Lueger's election to the Vienna Mayor's position was regarded with alarm by more than just the Emperor. The Viennese press corps despaired for Austria. When Lueger won in 1897, the Neue Freie Presse (the same newspaper that von Schnerer had raided nine years earlier) bemoaned the fact:
Well, the election is over. Vienna has been handed over to its arch-enemy...of freedom, intelligence, progress, the arch-enemy of Vienna's whole effort to become a major city. Or rather, the Viennese have themselves, all on their own, decided to plunge themselves into slavery (Whalen, 2007)
Von Schnerer despised capitalism and capitalists, despite his family's social rise due to capitalistic means. He saw himself as a nobleman; the taking away of his "Ritter" title during the time that he was in prison may have been a bigger blow than his conviction of violent acts. As a "Ritter" for Austrian Kleinvolk, von Schnerer saw himself as defending the Germanic farmer, the small Viennese craftsman, and the exploited Austrian factory worker.
Von Schnerer's Time as Representative
Von Schnerer was elected to the Abgeordnetenhaus in 1873 as a representative from Waidhofen and Zwettl as a member of the Progress Party, which stood in opposition to the ruling Liberal Party. Von Schnerer's speeches in the House of Representatives centred around population movements, taxes, traffic, livestock problems and special allocations for the emperor. He demonstrated his knowledge of and representation for the "little people" of the farms. Von Schnerer's timing in entering the Abgeordnetenhaus was fortuitous, as he represented a popular movement against the government that had brought financial, political and military ruin to the Empire. His farmers were suffering as a result of speculation, which von Schnerer attributed to Jewish speculators and minorities.
As a person educated in Germany and friend of the emerging German nation, von Schnerer heeded the call of his Germanic constituents. He was particularly vocal in support of the Germanic peasants against what he saw as abuse by the Kaiser, the Lords, and the press of Vienna:
Die am 4. December 1884 tagende Volksversammlung des Deutschen Nationalvereins fur den Gerichtsbezirk Warnsdorf erblicket in der in neuester Zeit zu Tage getretetnen Corruption der Wiener Tagespresse eine beklagenswerthe Schnerer tzung ddes Liberalismus, verwahrt sich gegen die Verd chtigung, dass der Liberalismus fur eine solche Ausartung verantwortlich zu machen sei und erwartet, dass die deutlichen Abgeordneten sich von ihr gleichfalls ffentlich loslagen und die Grundung eins ehrenhaften deutschnationalen Tagblattes unternehmen werden."
In 1876, von Schnerer left the Progress Party and became the leader of the German Nationality Movement ("Alldeutschen") in Austria. In 1878, he joined the Niederoesterreich assembly (Landtag), where he represented German Austrian viewpoints. It was during his period in the Landtag that von Schnerer honed his anti-Austrian/Habsburg views, and his pro-Germanic movement. Von Schnerer developed a sort of "volkisch-germanisch" ideal of German Austria before the modern reforms and immigration. He felt that Austria was triply inflicted by the Habsburgs, thei Catholic Church, and unbridled immigration. Although Bismarck had decided in 1867 against bringing Austria into the German Union (thereby bringing in only the Kingdom of Bavaria, and balancing Catholic against Lutheran), von Schnerer hoped to convince Austrians to distance themselves from the Catholic Church of Rome, and to promote the "true, German" religion of Lutheranism.
In 1888, von Schnerer raided the headquarters of the publisher of the "Neuen Wiener Tagblatt" with several of his drunken buddies, and beat up several of the people he found there. Von Schnerer was apprehended and convicted of assault, and imprisoned for four months. Von Schnerer seemed to lose himself in drink during his stay in prison. The most important punishment, in von Schnerer's eyes, is that he was stripped of his noble "Ritter" title. Although the Emperor reinstated his title in 1917 (four years before his death), von Schnerer never regained his former swagger.
Although he represented many Jewish farmers, von Schnerer saw the Jews as men who did not make an honest living. As a true Marxist, von Schnerer did not believe that the movement of capital was true work:
die in Gegenthilfe fur;das Recht, fur den Staat und fur Judenthum und... Ausbeutung Schmarotzern endlich das Handwerk legen will, die am Marke des Staates und Volkes Jahrzenten zehren.
Von Schnerer associated capital with 'international' capital, 'Jewish' capital, and therefore suspect, anti-Austrian, and not deserving of imperial concessions. One of von Schnerer's causes celebres was the Nordbahn, which was a railway concession granted by the Emperor to S.M. Rothschild in 1836. The line travelled between Vienna and Bochnia, along with side railroad lines. Von Schnerer used Rothschild's request for a new concession to drive a wedge between the government and the Germanic citizens of Austria, on the basis that international capital should not mean capitulation to the Jews:
wenn vielleicht noch hhere Factoren im Staate sich beugen woollen vor der Macht Rothschilds und Genossen, der Kern des Vokes und die wirklichen Volkvertreter warden sich dieser Macht nun und nimmer freiwillig fugen, und eine gewaltsame Unterwerfung in einem solchen Falle wurde in Zukunft ganz colossal gewaltsame...zur Folge haben.
Von Schnerer saw the Austrian press, particularly the Vienna press, as conspiratorial in the attempt to sell Austrian rights to international (Jewish) capitalists. He felt that the press either reported in favour of Jewish investments, or did not report at all, and his role was to alert the Austrian Volk to this danger of creeping Jewish capital ist doch begreiflich, den viele von…[continue]
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