Latest News | 28. November 2022

Lueger’s lies

by Barbara Staudinger
At Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Platz in Vienna’s 1st district, the installation Lueger Temporary by the artists Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch, commissioned by Public Art Vienna (KÖR), was made available to the public in October 2022. Outlines of the buildings, busts and plaques that commemorate Karl Lueger in the urban realm were placed onto the square in front of the controversial monument to encourage discussion on how we, as a society, want to deal with the memory of the mayor of Vienna who was controversial because of his radical political antisemitism.
The installation, which will be on display for a year, is intended to provide a discussion area, a forum where different opinions can be exchanged and debated. Because the fact is that many opinions about Lueger and his monument exist and have now been contextualized in many colors.
What can a Jewish museum contribute to this discussion? Just a few years ago, it was common sense in Jewish museums that antisemitism was not the topic of a Jewish museum, since its protagonists were antisemites and not Jews. Not least, the commitment of the Austrian Union of Jewish Students shows that dealing with historical and current antisemitism is indeed an issue of Jewish identity then and now. With this in mind, a Jewish museum has to take a stand.
In the last few days, we have therefore collected voices of Jewish contemporary witnesses on Lueger’s antisemitism. These voices include that of Joseph Samuel Bloch, the rabbi of Floridsdorf, a member of the Imperial Assembly and passionate fighter against antisemitism, or the writer Felix Salten, which show that the Viennese Jews were very aware of the danger of Lueger’s political antisemitism –and urgently warned people about him. Most of the quotes we found in Jewish magazines on the compact memory platform, which can now be accessed via the digital collections of the Goethe University in Frankfurt on Main. If one searches for “Lueger” in the full-text search, those text passages that contain the word “Lüge” (“lie” in German) are also displayed in the hit list. The imprecision of the search function leads to a strange but obvious selection – since both terms are very often contained in the individual texts. They refer to Lueger’s lies regarding his hate speech against Viennese Jewish women and men.
The ten selected quotes were tagged with the hashtag #jüdischestimmenzulueger and are now being attached to the Lueger Temporary installation bit by bit– as a contribution from the Jewish Museum Vienna.