The City without Jews: A Novel of Our Time - by the Austrian author Hugo Bettauer who was murdered for his worldview as expressed in the book - American edition, New York 1929 - Copy with special dedication to teacher Esther Zeidel of the Jewish synagogue in the “Bnei Brit” community.
The book was originally written in German in 1922 a year after the Nazi party was founded. In it the author depicts a scene that was imaginary at the time of writing - antisemitism brings Austria to expel all its Jews - the way the author describes the events remarkably matches what happened less than twenty years later. Hugo describes how on a bright day a law is passed in the great city of Vienna stating that all Jews must be expelled from the country. Not only Jews and Jewish converts have to leave, but also anyone of Jewish descent, meaning children of mixed marriages... The antisemitic law is strictly enforced... Merchants... workers... officials... must leave the country within three months of the law taking effect... After six months, the city remains without Jews. The book is written in a sarcastic and mocking tone towards antisemitism and shows the absurdity and inconsistency of its claims against Jews.
The novel was written in a satirical manner mocking the antisemitism then rampant in Central Europe. In the book, a fictional antisemitic politician named Emanuel Pfefferkorn orders the expulsion of all Viennese Jews. In horrifyingly prophetic scenes, Austria borrowed thirty cattle cars from neighboring countries to carry out the Eastward expulsion of Jews and their belongings. Viennese citizens are depicted celebrating the expulsion, but sentiments change after theaters, department stores, hotels and resorts collapse. The economy is severely damaged by the expulsion of Jews and a popular movement demanding the return of Jews arises. Meanwhile in the absence of Jews the antisemitic party goes bankrupt. The expulsion is eventually cancelled and Jews are welcomed back to Vienna in celebration. The book’s optimistic and naïve ending did not match reality at all when the time came. Nevertheless at that time “The City without Jews” sold 250,000 copies in its first year. It was Bettauer’s most talked about book, earning him fans and enemies alike. Supporters of Nazi movements attacked him and his works, denouncing him as a “red poet” and “corruptor of youth.”
Publication of the book made its author Bettauer a target of hatred among members of the Nazi party, and in 1925 Bettauer was the subject of a series of attacks in articles by Nazi party members calling for “radical self help action” and “lynch law against contaminators of our people”. On March 10, 1925 dental technician Otto Rothstock shot Bettauer several times. Bettauer was taken to hospital with serious wounds from which he died two weeks later. Even before his death, fierce debates bordering on violence erupted in Vienna’s city council regarding the assassin’s motives. It turned out Rothstock was formerly a member of the Nazi party which he left that March. He was supported by lawyers and supporters with close Nazi ties. The main motive for the act was the way Bettauer mocked antisemitism as expressed in the book and film “The City without Jews”. The court ordered Rothstock’s committal to a psychiatric hospital, from which he was released after 18 months.
VIII, 189 p. Good condition.