FellowMgr. PhD. Miloslav Szabó
Project NameA Comparative Study on the Evolution of Modern Antisemitism in Austria and Slovakia, 1918-1938
Host organisationInstitute of History
Duration of the project01.05.2015 - 30.04.2018

Abstract
The proposed study aims to compare two seemingly so different research areas as interwar anti-Semitism in Slovakia and Austria. This is necessary, because contrary to all widely shared historical assumptions, there are good reasons to compare unequal variables, such as these two countries, and it is also clear, that there is still plenty of room for meaningful comparative studies of modern antisemitism in Central and Eastern Europe. However, while comparing, we must avoid using the usual stereotypical images of “bad” Eastern or Nazi antisemitism versus the allegedly more “tolerate” religious or economic Judeophobia, respectively. Instead we should ask to what extent were those political tendencies similar which appeared during the increase of antisemitism in times of crisis both in Austria and Slovakia. The strongest factor which – being present in both countries – necessitates a comparative analysis is the role political Catholicism played in the establishment of antisemitic discourse and practice in this part of Europe. The proposed study will show the influence of political Catholicism on the so-called academic antisemitism through the anti-Jewish student riots in the interwar years. Another important phenomenon which necessitates a comparison between the Austrian and Slovak antisemitism can be observed in the areas of state, such as justice and administration and the Jewish response for anti-Semitism. Finally, the study will examine how the antisemitic propaganda of Nazi Germany was reflected by the Austrian and Slovak social and political actors.

Project Summary with Interim Results

The project compares interwar antisemitism in two seemingly different research areas: Slovakia and Austria. Intentional choice of these challenges a number of widely shared historical assumptions. The research which has been carried on so far, confirms reasonability of comparison of social environments of those two countries as unequal variables, , and it is also clear, that there is still plenty of room for meaningful comparative studies of modern antisemitism in Central and Eastern Europe. However, it is necessary to avoid falling into the trap of usual stereotypical images of “bad” Eastern or Nazi antisemitism versus the allegedly more “tolerate” religious or economic Judeophobia, respectively. Instead we should ask to what extent those political tendencies, which appeared during the increase of antisemitism in times of crisis both in Austria and Slovakia, were similar. Nevertheless, the project compares dynamics of the evolution of modern antisemitism in the chosen area within the broader Central European context.

The strongest factor of a comparative analysis – being present in both countries – is the role of political Catholicism in the establishment of antisemitic discourse and practice in this part of Europe. In which way Austrian and Slovak Catholic press and intellectual circles did reflect the antisemitic radicalization in the aftermath of World War I and during the raise of Nazism, respectively? Besides disputes on the Nazi racism and neopaganism, it should be examined how the antisemitic propaganda was disseminated by its Austrian and Slovak actors. Here, the question  to what extent Austrian and Slovak Catholics reacted to or even participated in antisemitic demonstrations and acts of anti-Jewish violence committed by students and fascist radicals, is of special interest. This aspect has already been thoroughly investigated. The draft of a scholarly article, which deals with the antisemitic demonstrations against “Jewish” films in Vienna and Bratislava in the 1930s was submitted for publication.

Another important phenomenon which necessitates a comparison between the Austrian and Slovak cases can be observed in the political division and power struggle between right and left. Here my research focuses mainly on campaigns against the so-called “Judeobolshevism” and the reactions of Social Democrats (Austria) and Communists (Slovakia) which were sometimes referred to as “left-wing” antisemitism. In this connection, the project discusses the Jewish defence/response against/for antisemitism arisen by those campaigns in both countries as well. Finally, related policies of the state, mainly those in the areas of justice and central and local administration, shall be analyzed.