The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 was just one link in a chain of events leading to World War I and the downfall of the Austro-Hungarian empire. By 1918, after nearly four hundred years of rule, the Habsburg monarchy was expunged in an instant of history. Remarkably, despite tales of decadence, ethnic indifference, and a failure to modernize, the empire enjoyed a renewed popularity in interwar narratives. Today, it remains a crucial point of reference for Central European identity, evoking nostalgia among the nations that once dismembered it.
The Afterlife of Austria-Hungary examines histories, journalism, and literature in the period between world wars to expose both the positive and the negative treatment of the Habsburg monarchy following its dissolution and the powerful influence of fiction and memory over history. Originally published in Polish, Adam Kozuchowski’s study analyzes the myriad factors that contributed to this phenomenon. Chief among these were economic depression, widespread authoritarianism on the continent, and the painful rise of aggressive nationalism. Many authors of these narratives were well-known intellectuals who yearned for the high culture and peaceable kingdom of their personal memory.
Kozuchowski contrasts these imaginaries with the causal realities of the empire’s failure. He considers the aspirations of Czechs, Poles, Romanians, Hungarians, and Austrians, and their quest for autonomy or domination over their neighbors, coupled with the wave of nationalism spreading across Europe. Kozuchowski then dissects the reign of the legendary Habsburg monarch, Franz Joseph, and the lasting perceptions that he inspired.
To Kozuchowski, the interwar discourse was a reaction to the monumental change wrought by the dissolution of Austria-Hungary and the fear of a history lost. Those displaced at the empire’s end attempted, through collective (and selective) memory, to reconstruct the vision of a once great multinational power. It was an imaginary that would influence future histories of the empire and even became a model for the European Union.
In turn-of-the-century Vienna, Karl Kraus created a bold new style of media criticism, penning incisive satires that elicited both admiration and outrage. Kraus’s spectacularly hostile critiques often focused on his fellow Jewish journalists, which brought him a reputation as the quintessential self-hating Jew. The Anti-Journalist overturns this view with unprecedented force and sophistication, showing how Kraus’s criticisms form the center of a radical model of German-Jewish self-fashioning, and how that model developed in concert with Kraus’s modernist journalistic style.
Paul Reitter’s study of Kraus’s writings situates them in the context of fin-de-siècle German-Jewish intellectual society. He argues that rather than stemming from anti-Semitism, Kraus’s attacks constituted an innovative critique of mainstream German-Jewish strategies for assimilation. Marshalling three of the most daring German-Jewish authors—Kafka, Scholem, and Benjamin—Reitter explains their admiration for Kraus’s project and demonstrates his influence on their own notions of cultural authenticity.
The Anti-Journalist is at once a new interpretation of a fascinating modernist oeuvre and a heady exploration of an important stage in the history of German-Jewish thinking about identity.
Although some statesmen and historians have pinned Austria’s—and the world’s—interwar economic implosion on financial colonialism, in this corrective history Nathan Marcus deemphasizes the negative role of external players and points to the greater impact of domestic malfeasance and predatory speculation on Austrian political and financial decline.
Today, predicting the impact of human activities on the earth’s climate hinges on tracking interactions among phenomena of radically different dimensions, from the molecular to the planetary. Climate in Motion shows that this multiscalar, multicausal framework emerged well before computers and satellites. Extending the history of modern climate science back into the nineteenth century, Deborah R. Coen uncovers its roots in the politics of empire-building in central and eastern Europe. She argues that essential elements of the modern understanding of climate arose as a means of thinking across scales in a state—the multinational Habsburg Monarchy, a patchwork of medieval kingdoms and modern laws—where such thinking was a political imperative. Led by Julius Hann in Vienna, Habsburg scientists were the first to investigate precisely how local winds and storms might be related to the general circulation of the earth’s atmosphere as a whole. Linking Habsburg climatology to the political and artistic experiments of late imperial Austria, Coen grounds the seemingly esoteric science of the atmosphere in the everyday experiences of an earlier era of globalization. Climate in Motion presents the history of modern climate science as a history of “scaling”—that is, the embodied work of moving between different frameworks for measuring the world. In this way, it offers a critical historical perspective on the concepts of scale that structure thinking about the climate crisis today and the range of possibilities for responding to it.
A figure of crucial importance to scholarship on western and eastern Europe alike, King Coloman (1208–1241) here receives long-overdue scholarly treatment as a key figure of the thirteenth century. The Árpád prince ruled over a vast area in Central Europe which remained largely affiliated to the Western Church, territories that comprise modern-day Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, and Bosnia. This study draws on Hungarian and other research that is inaccessible outside the region and places Coloman at the crossroads of Latin Christendom, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Mongol Empire.
In this sequel to Political Radicalism in Late Imperial Vienna, John Boyer picks up the history of the Christian Social movement after founder Karl Lueger's rise to power in Vienna in 1897 and traces its evolution from a group of disparate ward politicians, through its maturation into the largest single party in the Austrian parliament by 1907, to its major role in Imperial politics during the First World War.
Boyer argues that understanding the unprecedented success that this dissident bourgeois political group had in transforming the basic tenets of political life is crucial to understanding the history of the Central European state and the ways in which it was slowly undermined by popular electoral politics. The movement's efforts to save the Austrian Empire by trying to create an economically integrated but ethnically pluralistic state are particularly enlightening today in the shadow of ethnic violence in Sarajevo, where began the end of the Austrian Empire in 1914.
The most comprehensive account of any mass political movement in late-nineteenth century Central Europe, this two- volume work is crucial reading for anyone interested in Hapsburg history, German history or the history of social democracy.
Among the brilliant writers and thinkers who emerged from the multicultural and multilingual world of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were Joseph Roth, Robert Musil, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. For them, the trauma of World War I included the sudden loss of the geographical entity into which they had been born: in 1918, the empire was dissolved overnight, leaving Austria a small, fragile republic that would last only twenty years before being annexed by Hitler’s Third Reich. In this major reconsideration of European modernism, Marjorie Perloff identifies and explores the aesthetic world that emerged from the rubble of Vienna and other former Habsburg territories—an “Austro-Modernism” that produced a major body of drama, fiction, poetry, and autobiography.
Perloff explores works ranging from Karl Kraus’s drama The Last Days of Mankind and Elias Canetti’s memoir The Tongue Set Free to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s notebooks and Paul Celan’s lyric poetry. Throughout, she shows that Austro-Modernist literature is characterized less by the formal and technical inventions of a modernism familiar to us in the work of Joyce and Pound, Dada and Futurism, than by a radical irony beneath a seemingly conventional surface, an acute sense of exile, and a sensibility more erotic and quixotic than that of its German contemporaries. Skeptical and disillusioned, Austro-Modernism prefers to ask questions rather than formulate answers.
Recasting the birth of fascism, nationalism, and the fall of empire after World War I, Dominique Kirchner Reill recounts how the people of Fiume tried to recreate empire in the guise of the nation.
The Fiume Crisis recasts what we know about the birth of fascism, the rise of nationalism, and the fall of empire after World War I by telling the story of the three-year period when the Adriatic city of Fiume (today Rijeka, in Croatia) generated an international crisis.
In 1919 the multicultural former Habsburg city was occupied by the paramilitary forces of the flamboyant poet-soldier Gabriele D’Annunzio, who aimed to annex the territory to Italy and became an inspiration to Mussolini. Many local Italians supported the effort, nurturing a standard tale of nationalist fanaticism. However, Dominique Kirchner Reill shows that practical realities, not nationalist ideals, were in the driver’s seat. Support for annexation was largely a result of the daily frustrations of life in a “ghost state” set adrift by the fall of the empire. D’Annunzio’s ideology and proto-fascist charisma notwithstanding, what the people of Fiume wanted was prosperity, which they associated with the autonomy they had enjoyed under Habsburg sovereignty. In these twilight years between the world that was and the world that would be, many across the former empire sought to restore the familiar forms of governance that once supported them. To the extent that they turned to nation-states, it was not out of zeal for nationalist self-determination but in the hope that these states would restore the benefits of cosmopolitan empire.
Against the too-smooth narrative of postwar nationalism, The Fiume Crisis demonstrates the endurance of the imperial imagination and carves out an essential place for history from below.
After the ravages of World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Budapest was engulfed by revolution and marauding foreign armies in 1919. Factory workers, disillusioned ex-soldiers, landless peasants, artists, and intellectuals began forming grassroots councils to get the country back on its feet. This groundswell produced a unique cross-class alliance in pursuit of social justice, constitutionalism, and sustainable economic development, which quickly led to the formation of the Hungarian Republic of Councils. After only four months, however, this radically new experiment in self-government ended in tragedy. Over time, the revolution has not only been smeared by the Hungarian right wing but also misunderstood and largely forgotten by the rest of the world.
This volume will set the historical record straight on the heroic but tragic events of 1919, paying tribute to the working men and women who gave their lives to a tenacious and courageous idea. These essays bring together internationally respected scholars from Europe and North America, including Péter Csunderlik, Raquel Varela, Kari Polanyi Levitt, Magda Aranyossi, Lajos Csoma, Susan Zimmermann, Christopher Adam, András B. Göllner, Marie-Josée Lavallée, and Dimitrios Roussopoulos.
The illustrated three-volume Geographical Encyclopedia of the Holocaust in Hungary is a definitive, authoritative, and magisterial resource, thorough and exhaustive. It documents and chronicles the wartime fate of the Jewish communities in that country where virulent antisemitism is anything but dead, even today. With scores of detailed maps and hundreds of photographs, this reference work is organized alphabetically by county, each prefaced with a map and a contextual history describing its Jewish population up to and into 1944.
Entries track the demographic, cultural, and religious changes in even the smallest communities where Jews lived before their marginalization, dispossession, ghettoization, and, finally, deportation to labor and death camps. The encyclopedia endows scholars and lay researchers with both panoramic and microscopic views of the virtually last-minute destruction of most of the Jews of Hungary, until then the last sizable surviving Jewish community in occupied Europe.
This panoramic reappraisal shows why the Habsburg Empire mattered for so long to so many Central Europeans across divides of language, religion, and region. Pieter Judson shows that creative government—and intractable problems the far-flung empire could not solve—left an enduring imprint on successor states. Its lessons are no less important today.
First published in 1941, The Habsburg Monarchy has become indispensable to students of nineteenth-century European history. Not only a chronological report of actions and changes, Taylor's work is a provocative exploration into the historical process of the most eventful hundred years of the Habsburg monarchy.
What does it mean for someone or something to be Hungarian? People in Hungary grappled with this far-reaching question in the wake of the losses and transformation brought by World War I. Because the period also saw the rise of cinema, audiences, filmmakers, critics, and officials often looked at films with an eye to that question, too. Did the Hungary seen on screen represent the Hungary they knew from everyday life? And-crucially-did the major role played by Jewish Hungarians in the film industry make the sector and its creations somehow Jewish rather than Hungarian? Jews, it was soon decided, could not really be Hungarian, and acts of Parliament soon barred them from taking major roles in cinema production. This book tells the troubled story of that period in Hungarian cinematic history, taking it up through World War II.
Budapest at the fin de siècle was famed and emulated for its cosmopolitan urban culture and nightlife. It was also the second-largest Jewish city in Europe. Mary Gluck delves into the popular culture of Budapest’s coffee houses, music halls, and humor magazines to uncover the enormous influence of assimilated Jews in creating modernist Budapest between 1867 and 1914. She explores the paradox of Budapest in this era: because much of the Jewish population embraced and promoted a secular, metropolitan culture, their influence as Jews was both profound and invisible.
Karl Renner: Austria
Jamie Bulloch Haus Publishing, 2009 Library of Congress DB96.B76 2009 | Dewey Decimal 943.605
The Socialist politician Karl Renner (1870-1950) was prime minister of the government that took power in Vienna after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He lead the delegation to Paris, which had to face the difficult issue of reparations and war guilt, for which the Allies held the successor states to the Empire responsible for. Fortunately, Renner was a likeable man and a realist, and the Austrian delegation became quite popular in Paris. The new Austrian state was in a perilous condition in 1919, on the brink of starvation and revolution, and facing territorial demands from both Italy, which had its eyes on the Tyrol, and the new Yugoslavia. Many in the German-speaking rump of the Empire sought union with Germany, Anschluss, but the Allied Powers vetoed it. Austria is often overlooked as one of the successor states to the Habsburg Empire, but it was no less important in the postwar settlement than Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Balkan countries. Jamie Bulloch's account of Karl Renner's adroit handling of a difficult situation makes for fascinating reading.
White aster flowers, on sale on the streets of Budapest on the eve of All Souls' Day, are made the symbol of a revolution which brings Mihály Károlyi (1875-1955) to power at the head of a National Council. Károlyi concludes an armistice which leaves large areas of Hungarian territory under occupation by French, Romanian and Serbian forces. Following the King-Emperor's abdication in November 1918, Hungary is declared an independent republic with Károlyi as its President. He sets about meeting Hungary's most pressing social need, for land reform. But Károlyi's liberal regime is soon beset by strong opposition from the right and from the left. The Allies seal Károlyi's fate by refusing to end the economic blockade of Hungary and by imposing, even in advance of a peace settlement (Hungary is denied an invitation until the Conference is virtually over), even harsher armistice terms. Károlyi flinches from opposing these measures by force. The small socialist element in his government of well-meaning aristocrats defects and forms an alliance with Hungary's fledgling Communist Party. Károlyi resigns and chooses exile. The Communists, led by Bela Kun, take power. Kun raises a Red Army, which defeats a Czech invasion but fails to stem the Romanian advance, which enters Budapest in defiance of orders from Paris and engages in an orgy of pillage and destruction. The Peace Conference despatches a British diplomat, Sir George Clerk, to Budapest to broker a Romanian withdrawal. Clerk succeeds in forming a coalition government of right-wing parties, with token representation for the centre-left, which he recognises in the name of the Peace Conference and invites to send a delegation to Paris. It includes Counts István Bethlen (1874-1946) and Pál Teleki, both future prime ministers. The delegation is presented on arrival, on 6 January 1920, with the draft peace treaty for Hungary which the expert committees of the Conference have produced and which the Council has approved without amendment. The Hungarians are appalled to find that the treaty will deprive their country of two-thirds of her territory and over half of her population. The injustice of the Treaty will drive Hungary into the arms of Nazi Germany, a fatal alliance which will doom Hungary's Jews to annihilation and Hungary to defeat and destruction in the Second World War.
Wolfram Siemann tells a new story of Clemens von Metternich, the Austrian at the center of nineteenth-century European diplomacy. Known as a conservative and an uncompromising practitioner of realpolitik, in fact Metternich accommodated new ideas of liberalism and nationalism insofar as they served the goal of peace. And he promoted reform at home.
Viennese modernism is often described in terms of a fin-de-siècle fascination with the psyche. But this stereotype of the movement as essentially cerebral overlooks a rich cultural history of the body. The Naked Truth, an interdisciplinary tour de force, addresses this lacuna, fundamentally recasting the visual, literary, and performative cultures of Viennese modernism through an innovative focus on the corporeal.
Alys X. George explores the modernist focus on the flesh by turning our attention to the second Vienna medical school, which revolutionized the field of anatomy in the 1800s. As she traces the results of this materialist influence across a broad range of cultural forms—exhibitions, literature, portraiture, dance, film, and more—George brings into dialogue a diverse group of historical protagonists, from canonical figures such as Egon Schiele, Arthur Schnitzler, Joseph Roth, and Hugo von Hofmannsthal to long-overlooked ones, including author and doctor Marie Pappenheim, journalist Else Feldmann, and dancers Grete Wiesenthal, Gertrud Bodenwieser, and Hilde Holger. She deftly blends analyses of popular and “high” culture, laying to rest the notion that Viennese modernism was an exclusively male movement. The Naked Truth uncovers the complex interplay of the physical and the aesthetic that shaped modernism and offers a striking new interpretation of this fascinating moment in the history of the West.
Did socialist policies leave the economies of Eastern Europe unprepared for current privatization efforts? Under communist rule, were rural villages truly left untouched by capitalism? In this historical ethnography of rural Hungary, Martha Lampland argues not only that the transition to capitalism was well under way by the 1930s, but that socialist policies themselves played a crucial role in the development of capitalism by transforming conceptions of time, money, and labor.
Exploring the effects of social change thrust upon communities against their will, Lampland examines the history of agrarian labor in Hungary from World War I to the early 1980s. She shows that rural workers had long been subject to strict state policies similar to those imposed by collectivization. Since the values of privatization and individualism associated with capitalism characterized rural Hungarian life both prior to and throughout the socialist period, capitalist ideologies of work and morality survived unscathed in the private economic practices of rural society. Lampland also shows how labor practices under socialism prepared the workforce for capitalism. By drawing villagers into factories and collective farms, for example, the socialist state forced farmers to work within tightly controlled time limits and to calculate their efforts in monetary terms. Indeed, this control and commodification of rural labor under socialism was essential to the transformation to capitalism.
Turn-of-the century Vienna is remembered as an aesthetic, erotic, and intellectual world: the birthplace of Freud and psychoanalysis, the waltz, and novels of Schnitzler. The contexts of this cultural vibrancy, Chandak Sengoopta argues, were darker and more complex than we might imagine.
This provocative, enlightening study explores the milieu in which the philosopher Otto Weininger (1880-1903) wrote his controversial book Sex and Character. Shortly after its publication, Weininger committed suicide at the age of twenty-three. His book, which argued that women and Jews were mere sexual beings who lacked individuality, became a bestseller.
Hailed as a genius by intellectuals such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Kraus, Weininger was admired, not for his prejudices, but for his engagement with the central issues of the time—the nature and meanings of identity. Sengoopta pays particular attention to how Weininger appropriated scientific language and data to defend his views and examines the scientific theories themselves.
Today Austria is a small, neutral, and economically successful country in the heart of Europe. Yet modern Austria is the product of a complex and turbulent history. Following World War I, Vienna lost its position as the capital of a large continental and multiethnic empire and became an alpine republic surrounded by larger states. Anthony Bushell’s Polemical Austria examines this transition, asking how such an abrupt change has affected the way Austrians perceive themselves today. Bushell places particular emphasis on the role of language in Austrian national identity.
This is a groundbreaking study of the prestigious Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics during the Third Reich. Making extensive use of archival material, including some discussed here for the first time, Fritz Trümpi offers new insight into the orchestras’ place in the larger political constellation.
Trümpi looks first at the decades preceding National Socialist rule, when the competing orchestras, whose rivalry mirrored a larger rivalry between Berlin and Vienna, were called on to represent “superior” Austro-German music and were integrated into the administrative and social structures of their respective cities—becoming vulnerable to political manipulation in the process. He then turns to the Nazi period, when the orchestras came to play a major role in cultural policies. As he shows, the philharmonics, in their own unique ways, strengthened National Socialist dominance through their showcasing of Germanic culture in the mass media, performances for troops and the general public, and fictional representations in literature and film. Accompanying these propaganda efforts was an increasing politicization of the orchestras, which ranged from the dismissal of Jewish members to the programming of ideologically appropriate repertory—all in the name of racial and cultural purity.
Richly documented and refreshingly nuanced, The Political Orchestra is a bold exploration of the ties between music and politics under fascism.
John Boyer offers a meticulously researched examination of the social and political atmosphere of late imperial Vienna. He traces the demise of Vienna's liberal culture and the burgeoning of a new radicalism, exemplified by the rise of Karl Lueger and the Christian Socialist Party during the latter half of the nineteenth century. This important study paves the way for new readings of fin de siecle Viennese politics and their broader European significance.
"Offers a comprehensive, multicausal study of the rise of Christian Socialism in Vienna, that phenomenon which was experienced nowhere else in urban Central Europe and which culminated in the famous clash between the Austrian establishment and the colourful, domineering lead of the movement, Karl, Lueger."—R.J.W. Evans, History
"Boyer's analysis is masterful in terms of research, exposition, and organization. His use of available economic data is judicious, and his sense of the social structure of late nineteenth-century Vienna is formidable."—William A. Jenks, American Historical Review
"To understand Viennese and even imperial politics in the latter half of the nineteenth century, Boyer's book is absolutely essential.""—Robert Wegs, Review of Politics
A large number of enciphered documents survived from early modern Hungary. This area was a particularly fertile territory where cryptographic methods proliferated, because a large portion of the population was living in the frontier zone, and participated (or was forced to participate) in the network of the information flow. A quantitative analysis of sixteenth-century to seventeenth-century Hungarian ciphers (300 cipher keys and 1,600 partly or entirely enciphered letters) reveals that besides the dominance of diplomatic use of cryptography, there were many examples of ŸprivateŒ applications too. This book reconstructs the main reasons and goals why historical actors chose to use ciphers in a diplomatic letter, a military order, a diary or a private letter, what they decided to encrypt, and how they perceived the dangers threatening their messages.
In the late nineteenth century, scientists, psychiatrists, and medical practitioners began employing a new experimental technique for the study of neuroses: hypnotism. Though the efforts of the famous French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot to transform hypnosis into a laboratory science failed, his Viennese translator and disciple Sigmund Freud took up the challenge and invented psychoanalysis. Previous scholarship has viewed hypnosis and psychoanalysis in sharp opposition or claimed that both were ultimately grounded in the phenomenon of suggestion and thus equally flawed. In this groundbreaking study, Andreas Mayer reexamines the relationship between hypnosis and psychoanalysis, revealing that the emergence of the familiar Freudian psychoanalytic setting cannot be understood without a detailed analysis of the sites, material and social practices, and controversies within the checkered scientific and medical landscape of hypnotism.
Sites of the Unconscious analyzes the major controversies between competing French schools of hypnotism that emerged at this time, stressing their different views on the production of viable evidence and their different ways of deploying hypnosis. Mayer then reconstructs in detail the reception of French hypnotism in German-speaking countries, arguing that the distinctive features of Freud’s psychoanalytic setting of the couch emerged out of the clinical laboratories and private consulting rooms of the practitioners of hypnosis.
These books aim to present a synthesis of the currently available syntactic knowledge of the Hungarian language, rooted in theory but providing highly detailed descriptions, and intended to be of use to researchers, as well as advanced students of language and linguistics. As research in language leads to extensive changes in our understanding and representations of grammar, the Comprehensive Grammar Resources series intends to present the most current understanding of grammar and syntax as completely as possible in a way that will both speak to modern linguists and serve as a resource for the non-specialist.
Tangible Belonging presents a compelling historical and ethnographic study of the German speakers in Hungary, from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth century. Through this tumultuous period in European history, the Hungarian-German leadership tried to organize German-speaking villagers, Hungary tried to integrate (and later expel) them, and Germany courted them. The German speakers themselves, however, kept negotiating and renegotiating their own idiosyncratic sense of what it meant to be German. John C. Swanson’s work looks deeply into the enduring sense of tangible belonging that characterized Germanness from the perspective of rural dwellers, as well as the broader phenomenon of “minority making” in twentieth-century Europe.
The chapters reveal the experiences of Hungarian Germans through the First World War and the subsequent dissolution of Austria-Hungary; the treatment of the German minority in the newly independent Hungarian Kingdom; the rise of the racial Volksdeutsche movement and Nazi influence before and during the Second World War; the immediate aftermath of the war and the expulsions; the suppression of German identity in Hungary during the Cold War; and the fall of Communism and reinstatement of minority rights in 1993.
Throughout, Swanson offers colorful oral histories from residents of the rural Swabian villages to supplement his extensive archival research. As he shows, the definition of being a German in Hungary varies over time and according to individual interpretation, and does not delineate a single national identity. What it meant to be German was continually in flux. In Swanson’s broader perspective, defining German identity is ultimately a complex act of cognition reinforced by the tangible environment of objects, activities, and beings. As such, it endures in individual and collective mentalities despite the vicissitudes of time, history, language, and politics.
Vienna in the Age of Uncertainty traces the vital and varied roles of science through the story of three generations of the eminent Exner family, whose members included Nobel Prize–winning biologist Karl Frisch, the teachers of Freud and of physicist Erwin Schrödinger, artists of the Vienna Secession, and a leader of Vienna’s women’s movement. Training her critical eye on the Exners through the rise and fall of Austrian liberalism and into the rise of the Third Reich, Deborah R. Coen demonstrates the interdependence of the family’s scientific and domestic lives, exploring the ways in which public notions of rationality, objectivity, and autonomy were formed in the private sphere. Vienna in the Age of Uncertainty presents the story of the Exners as a microcosm of the larger achievements and tragedies of Austrian political and scientific life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, Vienna and Berlin were centers of scientific knowledge, accompanied by a sense of triumphalism and confidence in progress. Yet they were also sites of fascination with urban decay, often focused on sexual and criminal deviants and the tales of violence surrounding them. Sensational media reports fed the prurient public’s hunger for stories from the criminal underworld: sadism, sexual murder, serial killings, accusations of Jewish ritual child murder—as well as male and female homosexuality.
In Violent Sensations, Scott Spector explores how the protagonists of these stories—people at society’s margins—were given new identities defined by the groundbreaking sciences of psychiatry, sexology, and criminology, and how this expert knowledge was then transmitted to an eager public by journalists covering court cases and police investigations. The book analyzes these sexual and criminal subjects on three levels: first, the expertise of scientists, doctors, lawyers, and scholars; second, the sensationalism of newspaper scandal and pulp fiction; and, third, the subjective ways that the figures themselves came to understand who they were. Throughout, Spector answers important questions about how fantasies of extreme depravity and bestiality figure into the central European self-image of cities as centers of progressive civilization, as well as the ways in which the sciences of social control emerged alongside the burgeoning emancipation of women and homosexuals.