Jewish Heritage Expeditions


The City Without Jews (''Die Stadt ohne Juden'') a prophetic vision of the near future: growing anti-Semitism in the interbellum (1918 - 1939)

After the outbreak of World War I, 60,000 Jewish refugees arrived at Vienna and the relations of the Jews with the Christian population was put to the test. The refugees were poor and many “Ostjuden” (Eastern Jews) were the victims of negative prejudices. Vienna’s Jews were divided into two groups; the native born Jews who assimilated into Christian society and the traditional Orthodox Jews. Anti-Semitism became ever more pronounced during this period. Antisemitic organizations distributed their flyers and newspapers aimed at turning the Christian population against their Jewish neighbors.

The writer Hugo Bettauer was amongst those who recognized the signs of the time. The film “The City Without Jews” was first shown in 1924 in Vienna and is based on his novel. In the story, a relatively accurate allegorical vision of the near future was created: ''In Austria, the new Chancellor, a fanatical anti-Semite, passed a law forcing all Jews to leave the country. But after a short time a sober reality made itself felt. Cultural life became impoverished: in the theaters only boring plays were performed. Cafes were empty, or were converted into beer halls selling sausages. The economy declined, as business greatly diminished, and moved to other cities. Inflation and unemployment ran wild.'' The film offers an fascinating insight in to the growing anti-Semitism that existed during this period and was a frighteningly accurate vision of the approaching disaster of the Holocaust.

We'll study this film during our expedition to the Habsburg Empire. You can watch the film here: