The Usual Suspects – pan-Germanism’s many imaginary enemies

The most articulate dismantling of Wagner’s arguments in his 1869 tract ‘Jewishness in Music’ is provided by Eduard Hanslick in the ‘Neue Freie Presse’. I quote it at length in ‘Forbidden Music’. Hot on the heels of Wagner’s raving nonsense comes a leader in a pan-German Christian paper called ‘Fatherland’ (‘Vaterland’) from 31. March 1870 – so only 4 years after the Austrian defeat by the Prussians at Königgrätz, their resultant ejection from the German Federation and the formation of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867. This brought the December Constitution of 1867 which provided the rights by which Jews would achieve full emancipation. Yet no anti-Semitic arguments, including Wagner, struck me as far-fetched and paranoid as the one in ‘Fatherland’. This is the Neue Freie Presse’s answer to it and it drips with wit, sarcasm and occasionally the amnesia of the past, by which I mean, today’s readers struggle to make certain connections. It tells us a good deal about how Austrians and Prussians saw each other along with the relationships between Germany’s Protestants and Austria’s Catholics. A decade later, and unbeknown to the leader-writer of the Neue Freie Presse, (signed simply as ‘K’), the Austrian activist, Georg Ritter von Schönerer would insist that pan-German Austrians convert to Protestantism with the battle-cry ‘Away from Rome – Away from Vienna!’ This plan ultimately brought him down. Many German Austrians, especially those from the working class, wanted to be part of Greater Germany, but they weren’t keen on the conversion to Protestantism – perhaps the reasons for this can be inferred in the article below. Most of all, it tells us a great deal about the nature of what would develop into a murderous anti-Semitism. The abuse of history, the paranoia and the twisting of facts to come up with weird and wonderful conclusions left me, and obviously readers of the time, snapping jaws shut in amazement. The thinking is so unhinged that it can only be ridiculed – and rightly – ‘K’ from the Neue Freie Presse does just this – sadly his ridicule using the dialectic device of Jewish annihilation was to become a near literal representation of what would happen 70 years later.

"The usual suspects"

“The Usual Suspects”

Neue Freie Presse: 2. April, 1870. ‘Oh These Jews!’ 
(Photo entitled ‘The Usual Suspects’)

““No one is so insignificant as not to be Freedom’s instrument of choice” – and in this expression we encounter how the power of a noble idea can easily convert even its most relentless persecutors: Saul is turned into Paul; a simply monk named Luther becomes the great religious reformer; [Honoré-Gabriel Riqueti] Count Mirabeau [1749-1791],the defender of the common man; The Tory [George] Canning [1770-1827] the destroyer of the Holy Alliance [Between Prussia, Austria and Russia] and [Robert] Peel [1788-1850] the father of free-trade. And yet again, we are witnesses to Freedom’s ‘Miracle of Damascus’. Yes! And it’s happening right here in our un-holy, unworthy city of Vienna: ‘Fatherland’ [a Pan-German, Christian publication] is the flag-bearer of the ‘Freedom of German Thought’ and paints in stark colours the sins of our past, the heavy burden of guilt carried by the Jesuit tyranny, Metternich’s Imperial concordance with the Vatican -Indeed, ‘Fatherland’ is able to prove beyond any shadow of doubt how the Jesuits have suppressed our poor downtrodden German population into the servitude of the most odious of tyrants. In order to get our blood boiling, this servitude, imposed upon us by the world’s feudal powers, is painted in the lurid colours of carnage and destruction. And with the rage that ‘Fatherland’ has been able to incite in us, we may finally throw off the yoke under which we groan, as we trudge up the hill of cadavers in order to plant the tyrant’s flag of victory at its summit: indeed, it is as a stake through our very own hearts.

Unfortunately, just as we were about to congratulate ourselves as the city of Harmodius and Aristogeiton; [Tiberius] Gracchus; Spartacus, Tell, Hutten, Arndt or Körner – we noticed in the ‘Fatherland’ by-line of March 31st, 1870, not the name, as we anticipated, of a German-Austrian, but of a ‘Prussian National Liberal’. It is a noted characteristic of all of Bismarck’s admirers that they resent any of life’s pleasures in which we Austrians may delight. In the eyes of Berlin’s press office, the greatest sins that we, along with our South German brothers commit, is the unwillingness to tighten our belts. The technical term they use is ‘Phäakenleben’ or to live the carefree life dedicated to pleasure of the Phaeacians. Should we ever hope to find true grace in the eyes of the Bismarkians, then we need to find other uses for our most bountiful acres of farmland and set about reducing our waist sizes by an inch or two – preferably enough to fit into the smart uniforms worn by Prussian Lieutenant Guards. However, if one is to believe the lurid words of ‘Fatherland’ than we shall be tightening our belts regardless. The tyrant, to whom they refer, is in charge of our finances and takes the money out of the pockets of hard-working German Christians, while charging us extortionate interest rates. They double deal on the stock-markets, pay-off our rulers and rail services, use corrupt officials to acquire the most lucrative public contracts with the military and worst of all, replace silver with copper and scraps of paper.

Vienna no longer is the source of the noblest German spirit of chivalry, devout religious faith and the sense of natural justice that was once so admired by its Slavic and Latin neighbours. Instead, the city has become a centre of anti-German, unchristian financial speculation: ‘The most despicable capital of frivolity, pleasure and licentiousness.’ This shameless tyrant also controls our press, is able to deceive and neutralise our laws and courts of justice; they pawn our valuables, cheat, steal, ruin the owners of factories and shops as idle sport, deprive the farmer of home and hearth, suck the blood of people and is responsible for low tax revenues. And all the while, they pour gallons and gallons of corrosive poison onto the heads of the poor, or rather, ‘the ignorant and destitute of our nation’. They preach in the Alps, Carinthia and Styria as well as in the flatlands of Moravia, they seduce Christian virgins while cheerfully singing-up their use of the gallows and the rack, resulting in murder, assault, poisoning, theft and suicide. And – last not least – this tyrant writes appalling dramas for the theatre. The monsters responsible for all of these calamities? The Jews, of course.

Yes, these are the dreadful tyrants that take up three and a half columns of ‘Fatherland’ newsprint. It’s further filled with copied out passages of the writings of Jörg, Hengstenberg and Alban Stolz. To these are added a dose of vulgarity supplied by Roebuck along the ridiculous calumnies of the past that refer to such discredited notions as ‘lice-infested’, ‘rotting piles of compost ‘and of course, ‘manure’. The blood freezes in our veins as we read how we are martyred, defiled, plundered, sucked dry, poisoned, cheated, stolen from by the Jews. Yet paradoxically still have more to eat and drink than the official Prussian ‘stomach-monitor’ would deem permissible – in addition to enjoying ourselves more than would be approved of by a North German tax-payer. If there is one meagre crumb of comfort that we can reach for, it is the deepest sympathy that is felt on our behalf by all Bismarckians. And naturally, far be it from us to question the fortitude and decorousness of the circle of Prussian establishment figures who wag their fingers at our gluttony, debauchery, open displays of contentment along with our unbridled dancing and apparent willing subjugation to the Jews. As every clever doctor should, they look for a remedy and in their search try to establish a reason that Jews have turned into such monsters. By peering through history books, they finally light upon the cause: Of course! It’s the Jesuits!

‘The Government’ – and the writer of the editorial simply assumes that everything that has ever happened in Austria since the middle-ages must be the fault of the ‘Hafner education policies’ – these were the policies that came about after the genuinely needed reforms of the church in the 16th century. Yet they apparently overlooked their ultimate purpose and only kept to the Catholic version of Christianity while making no attempt to assure that ‘the Church would be filled with the guidance of the Holy Spirit’ After the Great Reformation, the Hafner policies should have returned to the heroic ideals of the Teutonic Middle Ages and taught the values of The German spirit throughout all the non-German lands held by Austria. This important conclusion by ‘Fatherland’s’ leader-writer is apparently the result of continuous theatre visits. His hatred of Jews has evidently brought him together with Richard Wagner and his ‘Meistersinger’. What a pity then that such a government guided by the Holy Spirit and fully in the position of choosing its own national poets was unable to imitate the Meistersinger – especially as said government is apparently in the pockets of anti-clerical [anti-church] bankers. Hans Sachs’s verses, especially his so-called ‘Wittemberg Nightingale’ [poem from 1523 about Martin Luther], greeted with such reverence, are even found in Protestant hymnals, [so are of no use] to the [Catholic] Church. Even [the 12th century poet] Gottfried of Straßburg [the source of Wagner’s ‘Tristan and Isolde’] who ridiculed both Church and superstition could not be used as Catholic propaganda. – And forget trying to employ the writings of the ultra-secularist Walter von der Vogelweide [Tannhäuser] whose spearhead of poetry would accompany the emperor into battle against the Pope. This only leaves Parsifal and Titurel [‘Parzival’ and ‘Titurel’: Romances from sometime after 1217 by Wolfram von Eschenbach] as plausible Wagnerian instruments of Catholicism, though these figures too had been forgotten by the dawn of the Renaissance. And one should not forget that it was through the efforts of heathens rather than churches or governments ‘led by the Holy Spirit’ that they were lifted out of the dust. Sadly, by this point it would seem, the Austrian people were already under the yoke of the Jews.

So – according to ‘Fatherland’ the future of the German language and its literature was left to Protestants. Austria’s youth were poorly educated and with the arrival of an enlightened age beyond our borders, this very same youth was subjected to the corruption of the literature of France and North Germany [Presumably meant here is Kant]. And with this, we suddenly had the Jewish tyranny on our back again. And of course this comes as no surprise since official Austrian ‘Oriental’ policy had always been to hand the advantage over to the Jew. We all know of course that Prince Eugene [of Savoy: 1663-1736] and [General Ernst Gideon von]Laudon [1717-1790]only worked under the instructions of the Jews. This is apparently the result of the Hafner policies of 300 years ago not fulfilling Titurel’s instructions – in other words, they didn’t ‘fill the church with the guidance of the Holy Spirit’. Instead, Hafner handed over the refinement and development of German language and literature to Protestants! But the [Catholic] Church has always ridiculed the German language, German art and poetry and German science – just as Berlin’s ‘Pietistic’ Protestants disparaged reason and exiled themselves to the Lüneburger pastures. But it is the Jesuits’ fault – according to the ‘Fatherland’ journalist, that corrupted Austria’s youth and it was at the German/Austrian borders that these Iberian scholars were kept at bay. It is therefore clear that it is the Jesuits who have become the defenders of Jewish tyranny. Does ‘Fatherland’ not find it strange that the rivers of German strength flow past great cities and only seem to sprout forth its harvests amongst Protestants? There is, however, a genuine means by which one can continue propagating German literature and language: one simply makes sure, by force if necessary, that German Protestants are not corralled into the swamp of bigotry that results in the Homeland’s best sons and daughters being driven away because of religious confession.

But the past is now over and done with: Prince Eugene of Savoy may have built bridges towards the Jews so that they could reach over to us and thus seize control of all of Austria. Since then, both Jesuits and politicians have cultivated the Jews along the principals that grass needs to be trampled in order to grow. One forced Jewish children to be frugal as marriage was only permitted if there was proof that they possessed great sums of money; this meant that they ended up wealthy. By leaving them only the commercial sector in which to live and thrive, they managed financially to over-power Christians, who since then have been bred by the Jesuits in continued ignorance.

So we must recognise the painful fact that misfortune has indeed befallen us: the dreadful tyranny of the Jews is such that the entire Austrian population – right up to its Russian borders, enjoys wine, beer, fried chicken, dumplings and Schnitzels. And it is these pleasures that are the leg-irons that we need to cast off in order to free ourselves from Jewish subjugation – As one can see, this would inevitably lead to belt-tightening. “Pay your taxes, push your stones up-hill and keep quiet” would be the only laws.

Only in this way, may we set up the pyre, and tie to its stakes all of the Jews along with all the symbols and attributes of Jewish tyranny: the palaces and mansions along the city’s main boulevards; the newspapers – including ‘Fatherland’ since before the appearance of Jews, people didn’t bother to read papers – even the pan-German Christian ones; ‘the linen and wool merchants – indeed cloth merchants of all types’ – not forgetting the theatre along with all of its dramas and poets – and of course there are the journalists who would need to burn – indeed, burn the whole lot on a bonfire so enormous that the smoke reaches Rome and Berlin and both the ‘Infallible’ of the Vatican and Prussia’s National Liberals may rejoice!”