Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Karl Lueger

(1844 – 1910)

Karl Lueger was the leader of the antisemitic Christian Social Party in Austria. Born in Vienna into a lower-middle-class family, he qualified as a lawyer. He began his political career with the left wing of the Progressive Party and was elected as its candidate to the city council in 1875. There he associated with Jewish members, among them Ignaz Mandl, a Jewish lawyer who remained his friend and political adviser even after Lueger had ousted him from the Democrats in 1889. In 1884 he sponsored the Democrats' electoral demand for "equality of all faiths." Elected to the parliament in 1885, he cooperated with the political antisemite Georg von *Schoenerer but denied being himself an antisemite. A year later, he berated the Liberal majority in the city council for refusing to deliver a congratulatory address to Adolf *Fischhof on the occasion of his 70th birthday. In spite of this, Lueger made a violently antisemitic speech in 1887 in support of Schoenerer's bill against Jewish immigration from Russia and Romania. After allying himself with Karl von *Vogelsang, in 1893, he united the different Christian factions into the Christian Social Party, which he led until his death. Lueger was extremely popular with the lower middle classes, largely because of his folksy and vulgar speeches uniting popular economic and religious antisemitic prejudices. He succeeded in forging a party that channeled social discontent, depicting capitalism and Marxism alike as products of the Jewish mind and fusing these new themes with the centuries-old hatred of the Jews stemming from Church doctrine. In 1897 *Francis Joseph I confirmed Lueger as mayor of Vienna after he had refused to do so on three previous occasions. In this office, which he held until his death, he effected many social reforms. His administration pursued discriminatory practices against Jews, mainly by not employing them in the city services and limiting their numbers in high school and the university. Nevertheless, he was in the habit of doing petty favors for poor Jews, even appearing in a synagogue wearing the mayoral chain. In his administration, he employed, besides Mandl (who was baptized at the age of 72), the partly Jewish vice mayor Julius Porzer and the renegade Max Anton Loew. He accepted invitations to Jewish homes and is reported to have said: "Werein Jude ist, bestimme ich" ("It is up to me to decide who is a Jew"). A collection of Lueger's papers, translated and edited by R.S. Geehr, was titled after this notorious phrase: "I Decide Who Is a Jew!" (1982).

Lueger's anti-Semitism was opportunistic rather than racist, but he had a profound influence on the young Adolf Hitler in his formative years and established on a firm footing the Viennese anti-Semitic tradition.


P.G.J. Pulzer, The Rise of Political Anti-semitism in Germany and Austria (1964), index; D. van Arkel, Anti-semitism in Austria (1966), 67–80 and passim; O. Karbach, in: Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden, 1 (1964), 1–8; 2–3 (1964), 103–16; 4 (1964), 169–78 – all passim; J.S. Bloch, My Reminiscences (1923), 227–58 and passim; J. Fraenkel (ed.), The Jews of Austria (1967), index; A. Fuchs, Geistige Stroemungen in Oesterreich 1867–1918 (1949), index; W.A. Jenks, Vienna and the Young Hitler (1960), index; F. Heer, Der Glaube des Adolf Hitler (1968), index; idem, Gottes erste Liebe (1967), index; S. Mayer, Wiener Juden (1917), index; K. Skalnik, Karl Lueger (Ger., 1954); T. Heuss, in: ESS, 9 (19542), 629–30; H. Halborn, A History of Modern Germany 1840–1945 (1969), 714. Add. Bibliography: J.W. Boyer, in: LBIYB, 26 (1981), 125–41; R.S. Wistrich, in: JJS, 45:3–4 (1983), 251–62; R.S. Geehr, Karl Lueger: Mayor of Fin de Siècle Vienna (1990).

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.