Document Type and Release Option
Thesis (open access)
Brian K. Feltman
During the period between the First and Second World Wars, the people of the newly established Austrian Republic faced many changes: the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Habsburg Monarchy, economic hardships during and following the First World War, and the question of German ethnic nationalism and unification with Germany. The question of national identity was relevant to the entire Austrian population and Austrians had to make an important decision about their nationality: Austrian or German? For Austrian Jews, the dilemma was more complicated. Zionism promoted the idea of Jewish statehood and a solely Jewish identity. This thesis explores the diversity of the Jewish population and their answers to the national identity question in interwar Austria.
Using memoirs, questionnaires, and other personal writings from Austrian Jews, this thesis argues that the question of nationalism within the Austrian Jewish community was complicated, and a Jewish person’s experiences and background influenced their national identity. Jews who did not have an Orthodox upbringing tended to not align themselves with the Zionist Movement, and often favored an Austrian, German, or dual national identity rather than a solely Jewish one. Jews who grew up in an Orthodox household often favored either a dual or a solely Jewish national identity. The Austrian Jewish community was far from monolithic, and any telling of its interwar history must address this complexity.
Townsend, Sarah E., "Between Faith and Nation: The Complexities of Jewish Identity in Interwar Austria" (2023). Honors College Theses. 823.