Karl Lueger, the son of Leopold Lueger, an usher at the Vienna Polytechnic, was born at Wieden on 24th October, 1844. He attended Theresianische Ritterakademie before studying law at the University of Vienna, receiving his doctorate in 1870. During this period he joined the Catholic Student Association.
Lueger established a law office in Vienna in 1874 and established a reputation for representing the interests of the working class. The following year he was elected to Vienna's City Council. Lueger advocated an early form of "fascism". This included a radical German nationalism (meaning the primacy and superiority of all things German), social reform, anti-socialism and anti-semitism. In one speech in 1890 Lueger commented that the "Jewish problem" would be solved, and a service to the world achieved, if all Jews were placed on a large ship to be sunk on the high seas. (1)
In 1891 Lueger helped to establish the Christian Social Party (CSP). Deeply influenced by the philosophy of the Catholic social reformer, Karl von Vogelsang, who had died the previous year. There were many priests in the party, which attracted many votes from the tradition-bound rural population. It was seen as a rival to Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) that was portrayed by Lueger as an anti-religious party. (2)
After the 1895 elections for the Vienna's City Council the Christian Social Party took political power from the ruling Liberal Party. Lueger was selected to became mayor of Vienna but this was overruled by Emperor Franz Joseph who considered him a dangerous revolutionary. After personal intercession by Pope Leo XIII his election was finally sanctioned in 1897.
Lueger was a zealous Catholic, and wished to “capture the university” for the Church. He made it clear that he would have neither Social Democrats nor Pan-Germans nor Jews in the municipal administration. Lueger did introduce important social reforms. This included the extension of the public water supply, the municipalization of gas and electricity works as well as the establishment of a public transport system. He also built parks and gardens, and hospitals and schools. (3)
In a speech in 1899, Lueger claimed that Jews were exercising a "terrorism, worse than which cannot be imagined" over the masses through the control of capital and the press. It was a matter for him, he continued, "of liberating the Christian people from the domination of Jewry". On other occasions he described the Jews as "beasts of prey in human form". Lueger added that anti-semitism would "perish when the last Jew perished". (4)
Adolf Hitler first arrived in Vienna in 1907 Lueger was the dominant force in political life. Ian Kershaw, the author of Hitler 1889-1936 (1998) has argued: "The rise of Lueger's Christian Social Party made a deep impression on Hitler... he came increasingly to admire Lueger.... With a heady brew of populist rhetoric and accomplished rabble-rousing. Lueger soldered together an appeal to Catholic piety and the economic self-interest of the German-speaking lower-middle classes who felt threatened by the forces of international capitalism, Marxist Social Democracy, and Slav nationalism... The vehicle used to whip up the support of the disparate targets of his agitation was anti-semitism, sharply on the rise among artisanal groups suffering economic downturns and only too ready to vent their resentment both on Jewish financiers and on the growing number of Galician back-street hawkers and pedlars." (5)
Konrad Heiden, a young Jewish journalist who investigated Hitler's time in Vienna, later commented: "A much greater development was that of a second anti-Semitic movement embracing the mass of the German petty-bourgeoisie and parts of the working class, but also having many supporters among the numerous Czech population of Vienna: this was the Christian Social Party, led by an intellectual who had arisen from modest circumstances: Doctor Karl Lueger. A strong personality, a powerful tribune of the people, a party despot who made himself the all-powerful mayor of Vienna. Young Hitler admired him greatly, handed out leaflets for the Christian Social Party, stood on street corners and made speeches. Lueger had the young sons of his supporters parade through the streets with music, banners, and the beginnings of a uniform." (6)
William L. Shirer, the author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1964), agrees with Heiden: "There was another mistake of the Pan-Germans which Hitler was not to make. That was the failure to win over the support of at least some of the powerful, established institutions of the nation - if not the Church, then the Army, say, or the cabinet or the head of state. Unless a political movement gained such backing, the young man saw, it would be difficult if not impossible for it to assume power.... There was one political leader in Vienna in Hitler's time who understood this, as well as the necessity of building a party on the foundation of the masses. This was Dr Karl Lueger, the burgomaster of Vienna and leader of the Christian Social Party, who more than any other became Hitler's political mentor, though the two never met." (7)
Adolf Hitler was also impressed with the way Lueger made use of the Catholic Church: "His policy was fashioned with infinite shrewdness". Lueger "was quick to make use of all available means for winning the support of long-established institutions, so as to be able to derive the greatest possible advantage for his movement from those old sources of power". Hitler stated that Lueger was "the greatest German mayor of all times... a statesman greater than all the so-called 'diplomats' of the time... If Dr Karl Lueger had lived in Germany he would have been ranked among the great minds of our people."
Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf (1925) that it was Lueger who helped develop his anti-semitic views: "Dr. Karl Lueger and the Christian Social Party. When I arrived in Vienna, I was hostile to both of them. The man and the movement seemed reactionary in my eyes. My common sense of justice, however, forced me to change this judgment in proportion as I had occasion to become acquainted with the man and his work; and slowly my fair judgment turned to unconcealed admiration... For a few hellers I bought the first anti-Semitic pamphlets of my life.... Wherever I went, I began to see Jews, and the more I saw, the more sharply they became distinguished in my eyes from the rest of humanity. Particularly the Inner City and the districts north of the Danube Canal swarmed with a people which even outwardly had lost all resemblance to Germans. And whatever doubts I may still have nourished were finally dispelled by the attitude of a portion of the Jews themselves." (8)
Hitler goes onto argue: "By their very exterior you could tell that these were no lovers of water, and, to your distress, you often knew it with your eyes closed. Later I often grew sick to my stomach from the smell of these caftan-wearers. Added to this, there was their unclean dress and their generally un-heroic appearance. All this could scarcely be called very attractive; but it became positively repulsive when, in addition to their physical uncleanliness, you discovered the moral stains on this 'chosen people.' In a short time I was made more thoughtful than ever by my slowly rising insight into the type of activity carried on by the Jews in certain fields. Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Jew involved in it? If you cut even cautiously into such an abscess, you found, like a maggot in a rotting body, often dazzled by the sudden light - a kike! What had to be reckoned heavily against the Jews in my eyes was when I became acquainted with their activity in the press, art, literature, and the theater." (9)
Lueger's main political opponent at the time was Victor Adler, the leader of the Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP). Lueger attacked Adler for his Jewish origins and his Marxism. According to Rudolf Olden Hitler shared Lueger's dislike of Adler even though his "genius, tact and kindheartedness gained him admirers among all classes". (10) As Ian Kershaw pointed out: "Victor Adler... was committed to a Marxist programme... Internationalism, equality of individuals and peoples, universal, equal and direct suffrage, fundamental labour and union rights, separation of church and state, and a people's army were what the Social Democrats stood for. It was little wonder that the young Hitler, avid supporter of pan-Germanism, hated the Social Democrats with every fibre of his body." (11)
Karl Lueger, who never married, died of diabetes mellitus on 10th March 1910.
A much greater development was that of a second anti-Semitic movement embracing the mass of the German petty-bourgeoisie and parts of the working class, but also having many supporters among the numerous Czech population of Vienna: this was the Christian Social Party, led by an intellectual who had arisen from modest circumstances: Doctor Karl Lueger. A strong personality, a powerful tribune of the people, a party despot who made himself the all-powerful mayor of Vienna. Young Hitler admired him greatly, handed out leaflets for the Christian Social Party, stood on street corners and made speeches. Lueger had the young sons of his supporters parade through the streets with music, banners, and the beginnings of a uniform, and Hitler said to Hanisch that this was right, the youth could not be given political training early enough.
Later, Hitler was regretfully forced to criticize this "mightiest German mayor of all times" for not having understood the racial question despite his anti-Semitism; for him a baptized Jew was a Christian - what folly! Lueger was a good Catholic Christian, persecuting the enemies of Christ as he saw fit; an armed sentry guarding Peter's Rock, obedient and devoted to the Holy Father in Rome, whom young Hitler already consciously hated, because he was always an Italian and hence an enemy of the German people. Lueger was a loyal subject of the old Emperor, a true son of the great paternalistic Austria; with his Christian Social movement he hoped to breathe new strength into the sickened Empire. He was not interested in nationalities; he was no Pan-German; he wanted neither to go away from Rome nor home to the Reich. And yet one could learn from him. How well this unknown, nameless man had fought his way to power, almost to omnipotence! With his "rare knowledge of men", he took - as Hitler describes him - good care "not to see people as better than they are" - the young student of life from the lodging-house could agree with a burning heart. And Lueger had put his profound knowledge of human affairs into a form "corresponding to the receptivity of
the broad masses which is very small"; yes, Lueger knew the great brainless working beast. There were in particular two secrets of success which Hitler thought he had learned from him: Lueger put the chief emphasis "on the winning of classes whose existence is threatened", because only such classes carry on the political struggle with passion; secondly, he took pains in "inclining powerful existing institutions to his use". In Lueger's case this was the all-powerful Catholic Church; in another case it might have been the German Army or the Bank of England; and no one will ever have any success in politics who overlooks this obvious fact.
But whatever Hitler learned or thought he had learned from his model, Lueger, he learned far more from his opponent. And this opponent, whom he combated from the profound hatred of his soul, is and remains plain ordinary work. Organized, it calls itself labour movement, trade union, Socialist Party. And, or so it seems to him, Jews are always the leaders.
The relatively high percentage of Jews in the leadership of the Socialist parties on the European continent cannot be denied. The intellectual of the bourgeois era had not yet discovered the workers, and if the workers wanted to have leaders with university education, often only the Jewish intellectual remained - the type which might have liked to become a judge or Government official, but in Germany, Austria, or Russia simply could not. Yet, though many Socialist leaders are Jews, only few Jews are Socialist leaders. To call the mass of modern Jewry Socialist, let alone revolutionary, is a bad propaganda joke. The imaginary Jew portrayed in The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion ostensibly wants to bend the nations to his will by revolutionary mass uprisings; the real Jewish Socialist of France, Germany, and Italy, however, is an intellectual who had to rebel against his own Jewish family and his own social class before he could come to the workers.
Karl Marx, the prototype of the supposed Jewish labour leader, came of a baptized Christian family, and his own relation with Judaism can only be characterized as anti-Semitism; for under Jews he understood the sharply anti-Socialist, yes, anti-political Jewish masses of Western Europe, whom as a good Socialist he coldly despised.
The Jewish Socialist leaders of Austria in Hitler's youth were for the most part a type with academic education, and their predominant motive was just what Hitler at an early age so profoundly despised, "a morality of pity", an enthusiastic faith in the oppressed and in the trampled human values within them. The Jewish Socialist, as a rule, has abandoned the religion of his fathers, and consequently is a strong believer in the religion of human rights; this type, idealistic and impractical even in the choice of his own career, was often unequal to the test of practical politics and was pushed aside by more robust, more worldly, less sentimental leaders arising from the non-Jewish masses. An historic example of this change in the top Socialist leadership occurred in Soviet Russia between 1926 and 1937, when the largely Jewish leaders of the revolutionary period (Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev) were bloodily shoved aside by a dominantly non-Jewish class (Stalin, Voroshilov, etc.); the last great example of the humanitarian but impractical Socialist leader of Jewish origin was Leon Blum in France.
It was in the world of workers, as he explicitly tells us, that Adolf Hitler encountered the Jews. The few bourgeois Jews. The few bourgeois Jews in the home city did not attract his attention; if we believe his own words, the Jewish `money domination' flayed by Wagner made no impression upon him at that time. But he did notice the proletarian and sub-proletarian figures from the Vienna slums, and they repelled him; he felt them to be foreign - just as he felt the non-Jewish workers to be foreign. With amazing indifference he reports that he could not stand up against either of them in political debate; he admits that the workers knew more than he did, that the Jews were more adept at discussion. He goes on to relate how he looked into this uncanny labour movement more closely, and to his great amazement discovered large numbers of Jews at its head. The great light dawned on him; suddenly the "Jewish question" became clear. If we subject his own account to psychological analysis, the result is rather surprising: the labour movement did not repel him because it was led by Jews; the Jews repelled him because they led the labour movement. For him this inference was logical. To lead this broken, degenerate mass, dehumanized by overwork, was a thankless task. No one would do it unless impelled by a secret, immensely alluring purpose; the young artist-prince simply did not believe in the morality of pity of which these Jewish leaders publicly spoke so much; there is no such thing, he knew people better - particularly he knew himself. The secret purpose could only be a selfish one - whether mere good living or world domination, remained for the moment a mystery. But one thing is certain: it was not Rothschild, the capitalist, but Karl Marx, the Socialist, who kindled Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitism.
No justice, no equal rights for all! One of Hitler's most characteristic reproaches to the labour movement is that in Austria it had fought for equal rights for all - to the detriment of the master race chosen by God. At the beginning of the century the Austrian parliament was organized on the basis of a suffrage system which for practical purposes disenfranchised the poor. This assured the more prosperous German population a position of dominance. By a general strike the Social Democrats put an end to this scandal, and twenty years later Hitler still reproached them for it: "By the fault of the Social Democracy, the Austrian State became deathly sick. Through the Social Democracy universal suffrage was introduced in Austria and the German majority was broken in the Reichsrat" - the Austrian parliament.
The power and strategy of this movement made an enormous impression on the young Adolf Hitler, despite all his revulsion. An impressive model for the power-hungry - for the young artist-prince in beggar's garb will never let anyone convince him that the labour movement owed its existence to anything but the lust for power of Jewish wire-pullers. A new labour party would have to be founded, he told Hanisch, and the organization would have to be copied from the Social Democrats; but the best slogans should be taken from all parties, for the end justifies the means. Adolf Hitler saw with admiration how an unscrupulous intelligence can play the masses: for him this was true of the Austrian Social Democrats as well as their opponent, Kurt Lueger.
It was the failure of the Pan-Germans to arouse the masses, their inability to even understand the psychology of the common people, that to Hitler constituted their biggest mistake. It is obvious from his recapitulation of the ideas that began to form in his mind when he was not much past the age of twenty-one that to him this was the cardinal error. He was not to repeat it when he founded his own political movement.
There was another mistake of the Pan-Germans which Hitler was not to make. That was the failure to win over the support of at least some of the powerful, established institutions of the nation - if not the Church, then the Army, say, or the cabinet or the head of state. Unless a political movement gained such backing, the young man saw, it would be difficult if not impossible for it to assume power. This support was precisely what Hitler had the shrewdness to arrange for in the crucial January days of 1933 in Berlin and what alone made it possible for him and his National Socialist Party to take over the rule of a great nation.
There was one political leader in Vienna in Hitler's time who understood this, as well as the necessity of building a party on the foundation of the masses. This was Dr Karl Lueger, the burgomaster of Vienna and leader of the Christian Social Party, who more than any other became Hitler's political mentor, though the two never met.... There was, to be sure, little resemblance between Hitler as he later became and this big, bluff, genial idol of the Viennese lower middle classes. It is true that Lueger became the most powerful politician in Austria as the head of a party which was drawn from the disgruntled petty bourgeoisie and which made political capital, as Hitler later did, out of a raucous anti-Semitism. But Lueger, who had risen from modest circumstances and worked his way through the university, was a man of considerable intellectual attainments, and his opponents, including the Jews, readily conceded that he was at heart a decent, chivalrous, generous and tolerant man...
Hitler thought Lueger was far too tolerant and did not appreciate the racial problem of the Jews. He resented the mayor's failure to embrace Pan-Germanism and was sceptical of his Roman Catholic clericalism and his loyalty to the Hapsburgs. Had not the old Emperor Franz-Josef twice refused to sanction Lueger's election as burgomaster?
But in the end Hitler was forced to acknowledge the genius of this man who knew how to win the support of the masses, who understood modern social problems and the importance of propaganda and oratory in swaying the multitude....
Here in a nutshell were the ideas and techniques which Hitler was later to use in constructing his own political party and in leading it to power in Germany. His originality lay in his being the only politician of the Right to apply them to the German scene after the First World War. It was then that the Nazi movement, alone among the nationalist and conservative parties, gained a great mass following and, having achieved this, won over the support of the Army, the President of the Republic and the associations of big business - three "long-established institutions" of great power, which led to the chancellorship of Germany. The lessons learned in Vienna proved useful indeed.
Today it is difficult, if not impossible, for me to say when the word 'Jew ' first gave me ground for special thoughts. At home I do not remember having heard the word during my father's lifetime. I believe that the old gentleman would have regarded any special emphasis on this term as cultural backwardness. In the course of his life he had arrived at more or less cosmopolitan views which, despite his pronounced national sentiments, not only remained intact, but also affected me to some extent.
Likewise at school I found no occasion which could have led me to change this inherited picture. At the Realschule, to be sure, I did meet one Jewish boy who was treated by all of us with caution, but only because various experiences had led us to doubt his discretion and we did not particularly trust him; but neither I nor the others had any thoughts on the matter.
Not until my fourteenth or fifteenth year did I begin to come across the word 'Jew,' with any frequency, partly in connection with political discussions. This filled me with a mild distaste, and I could not rid myself of an unpleasant feeling that always came over me whenever religious quarrels occurred in my presence.
At that time I did not think anything else of the question. There were few Jews in Linz. In the course of the centuries their outward appearance had become Europeanized and had taken on a human look; in fact, I even took them for Germans. The absurdity of this idea did not dawn on me because I saw no distinguishing feature but the strange religion. The fact that they had, as I believed, been persecuted on this account sometimes almost turned my distaste at unfavorable remarks about them into horror.
Thus far I did not so much as suspect the existence of an organized opposition to the Jews. Then I came to Vienna. Preoccupied by the abundance of my impressions in the architectural field, oppressed by the hardship of my own lot, I gained at first no insight into the inner stratification of the people in this gigantic city. Notwithstanding that Vienna in those days counted nearly two hundred thousand Jews among its two million inhabitants, I did not see them. In the first few weeks my eyes and my senses were not equal to the flood of values and ideas. Not until calm gradually returned and the agitated picture began to clear did I look around me more carefully in my new world, and then among other things I encountered the Jewish question.
I cannot maintain that the way in which I became acquainted with them struck me as particularly pleasant. For the Jew was still characterized for me by nothing but his religion, and therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I maintained my rejection of religious attacks in this case as in others. Consequently, the tone, particularly that of the Viennese anti-Semitic press, seemed to me unworthy of the cultural tradition of a great nation. I was oppressed by the memory of certain occurrences in the Middle Ages, which I should not have liked to see repeated.
Since the newspapers in question did not enjoy an outstanding reputation (the reason for this, at that time, I myself did not precisely know), I regarded them more as the products of anger and envy than the results of a principled though perhaps mistaken, point of view.
I was reinforced in this opinion by what seemed to me the far more dignified form in which the really big papers answered all these attacks, or, what seemed to me even more praiseworthy, failed to mention them; in other words, simply killed them with silence.
I zealously read the so-called world press (Neue Freie Presse, Wiener Tageblatt, etc.) and was amazed at the scope of what they offered their readers and the objectivity of individual articles. I respected the exalted tone, though the flamboyance of the style sometimes caused me inner dissatisfaction, or even struck me unpleasantly. Yet this may have been due to the rhythm of life in the whole metropolis. Since in those days I saw Vienna in that light, I thought myself justified in accepting this explanation of mine as a valid excuse.
I was not in agreement with the sharp anti-Semitic tone (of the newspapers in Vienna), but from time to time I read arguments which gave me some food for thought.
At all events, these occasions slowly made me acquainted with the man and the movement, which in those days guided Vienna's destinies: Dr. Karl Lueger I and the Christian Social Party. When I arrived in Vienna, I was hostile to both of them. The man and the movement seemed 'reactionary' in my eyes.
My common sense of justice, however, forced me to change this judgment in proportion as I had occasion to become acquainted with the man and his work; and slowly my fair judgment turned to unconcealed admiration.
Today, more than ever, I regard this man as the greatest German mayor of all times.
How many of my basic principles were upset by this change in my attitude toward the Christian Social movement!
My views with regard to anti-Semitism thus succumbed to the passage of time, and this was my greatest transformation of all.
It cost me the greatest inner soul struggles, and only after months of battle between my reason and my sentiments did my reason begin to emerge victorious.
Two years later, my sentiment had followed my reason, and from then on became its most loyal guardian and sentinel.
At the time of this bitter struggle between spiritual education and cold reason, the visual instruction of the Vienna streets had performed invaluable services.
There came a time when I no longer, as in the first days, wandered blindly through the mighty city; now with open eyes I saw not only the buildings but also the people.
Once, as I was strolling through the Inner City, I suddenly encountered an apparition in a black caftan and black hair locks.
Is this a Jew? was my first thought.
For, to be sure, they had not looked like that in Linz. I observed the man furtively and cautiously, but the longer I stared at this foreign face, scrutinizing feature for feature, the more my first question assumed a new form: Is this a German?
As always in such cases, I now began to try to relieve my doubts by books.
For a few hellers I bought the first anti-Semitic pamphlets of my life.
Unfortunately, they all proceeded from the supposition that in principle the reader knew or even understood the Jewish question to a certain degree.
Besides, the tone for the most part was such that doubts again arose in me, due in part to the dull and amazingly unscientific arguments favoring the thesis.
I relapsed for weeks at a time, once even for months.
The whole thing seemed to me so monstrous, the accusations so boundless, that, tormented by the fear of doing injustice, I again became anxious and uncertain.
Yet I could no longer very well doubt that the objects of my study were not Germans of a special religion, but a people in themselves; for since I had begun to concern myself with this question and to take cognizance of the Jews, Vienna appeared to me in a different light than before.
Wherever I went, I began to see Jews, and the more I saw, the more sharply they became distinguished in my eyes from the rest of humanity.
Particularly the Inner City and the districts north of the Danube Canal swarmed with a people which even outwardly had lost all resemblance to Germans.
And whatever doubts I may still have nourished were finally dispelled by the attitude of a portion of the Jews themselves.
Among them there was a great movement, quite extensive in Vienna, which came out sharply in confirmation of the national character of the Jews: this was the Zionists.
It looked to be sure, as though only a part of the Jews approved this viewpoint, while the great majority condemned and inwardly rejected such a formulation.
But when examined more closely, this appearance dissolved itself into an unsavory vapor of pretexts advanced for mere reasons of expedience, not to say lies.
For the so-called liberal Jews did not reject the Zionists as non-Jews, but only as Jews with an impractical, perhaps even dangerous, way of publicly avowing their Jewishness. Intrinsically they remained unalterably of one piece.
In a short time this apparent struggle between Zionistic and liberal Jews disgusted me; for it was false through and through, founded on lies and scarcely in keeping with the moral elevation and purity always claimed by this people.
The cleanliness of this people, moral and otherwise, I must say, is a point in itself.
By their very exterior you could tell that these were no lovers of water, and, to your distress, you often knew it with your eyes closed.
Later I often grew sick to my stomach from the smell of these caftan-wearers. Added to this, there was their unclean dress and their generally un-heroic appearance.
All this could scarcely be called very attractive; but it became positively repulsive when, in addition to their physical uncleanliness, you discovered the moral stains on this 'chosen people.'
In a short time I was made more thoughtful than ever by my slowly rising insight into the type of activity carried on by the Jews in certain fields.
Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Jew involved in it?
If you cut even cautiously into such an abscess, you found, like a maggot in a rotting body, often dazzled by the sudden light - a kike!
What had to be reckoned heavily against the Jews in my eyes was when I became acquainted with their activity in the press, art, literature, and the theater.
All the unctuous reassurances helped little or nothing.
It sufficed to look at a billboard, to study the names of the men behind the horrible trash they advertised, to make you hard for a long time to come.
(1) Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich (1998) page 216
(2) Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936 (1998) page 34
(3) Konrad Heiden, Hitler: A Biography (1936) page 57
(4) Rudolf Olden, Hitler the Pawn (1936) page 56
(5) Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936 (1998) page 34
(6) Konrad Heiden, Hitler: A Biography (1936) page 57
(7) William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany (1959) page 40
(8) Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1925) page 94
(9) Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1925) page 55
(10) Rudolf Olden, Hitler the Pawn (1936) page 53
(11) Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936 (1998) page 36