Karl Lueger

Karl Lueger

Ask a question about 'Karl Lueger'
Start a new discussion about 'Karl Lueger'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
Karl Lueger (ˈlu̯eːɡɐ, not * [ˈlyːɡɐ]) (October 24, 1844 – March 10, 1910) was an Austrian
Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

 politician and mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 of Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

. The populist
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 and anti-Semitic politics of his Christian Social Party are sometimes viewed as a model for Hitler's Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...



Born at Wieden
Wieden is the 4th municipal District of Vienna, Austria . It is near the center of Vienna and was established as a district in 1850, but borders changed later...

 (since 1850 the 4th district of Vienna) the son of an usher, Lueger came from a modest background. He nervertheless was able to attend the renowned Theresianum
This article is about the Theresian Academy in Vienna. For other uses of Theresianum, see Theresianum .Theresianum is a private boarding school governed by the laws for public schools in Vienna, which was founded by Maria Theresa of Austria in 1746.-History:-1...

 boarding school and graduated in law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 from the University of Vienna
University of Vienna
The University of Vienna is a public university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the German-speaking world...

, receiving his doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 in 1870. He established his own lawyer's office in Vienna and soon became known as a "little people's" counsel, a development that brought him into politics. In 1875 he was elected deputy of the city's Gemeinderat municipal assembly, strongly agitating against the government of liberal
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 mayor Cajetan Felder. In 1885 he achieved a seat in the Abgeordnetenhaus of the Austrian Reichsrat
Reichsrat (Austria)
The Imperial Council of Austria from 1867 to 1918 was the parliament of the Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was a bicameral legislature, consisting of the Herrenhaus and the Abgeordnetenhaus...


From the late 1880s onwards Lueger was a regular attendee at the influential circles of clerical social conservative
Social conservatism
Social Conservatism is primarily a political, and usually morally influenced, ideology that focuses on the preservation of what are seen as traditional values. Social conservatism is a form of authoritarianism often associated with the position that the federal government should have a greater role...

 politicians around Karl von Vogelsang
Karl Freiherr von Vogelsang
Karl Freiherr von Vogelsang , a journalist, politician and Catholic social reformer, was one of the mentors of the Christian Social movement in Austria-Hungary.-Life:...

. In view of the rising labour movement
Labour movement
The term labour movement or labor movement is a broad term for the development of a collective organization of working people, to campaign in their own interest for better treatment from their employers and governments, in particular through the implementation of specific laws governing labour...

, the participants on the basis of Catholic social teaching
Catholic social teaching
Catholic social teaching is a body of doctrine developed by the Catholic Church on matters of poverty and wealth, economics, social organization and the role of the state...

 developed ideas to overcome social polarisation by several measures of social security
Social policy
Social policy primarily refers to guidelines, principles, legislation and activities that affect the living conditions conducive to human welfare. Thus, social policy is that part of public policy that has to do with social issues...

 legislation and the common Catholic faith. Morevover, after a 1882 electoral reform had expanded the electorate suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

, Lueger focussed on petty bourgeois
Petite bourgeoisie
Petit-bourgeois or petty bourgeois is a term that originally referred to the members of the lower middle social classes in the 18th and early 19th centuries...

 tradespersons, who assumed the Jewish
History of the Jews in Vienna
The history of the Jews in Vienna, Austria, goes back over eight hundred years. There is evidence of a Jewish presence in Vienna from the 12th century onwards....

 competition to be the underlying cause of their precarious situation, and discovered that raising the "Jewish Question
Jewish Question
The Jewish question encompasses the issues and resolutions surrounding the historically unequal civil, legal and national statuses between minority Ashkenazi Jews and non-Jews, particularly in Europe. The first issues discussed and debated by societies, politicians and writers in western and...

" earned him enormous popularity.

In 1893 he founded and led the Christian Social Party (CS), which quickly rivaled with the Social Democrats
Social Democratic Party of Austria
The Social Democratic Party of Austria is one of the oldest political parties in Austria. The SPÖ is one of the two major parties in Austria, and has ties to trade unions and the Austrian Chamber of Labour. The SPÖ is among the few mainstream European social-democratic parties that have preserved...

 for the majority of votes. After the 1895 elections for the Vienna Gemeinderat it took political power from the ruling liberals and subsequently helped Lueger win the mayoralty. It did however take him two more years to prevail against the resistance of Prime-Minister Kasimir Felix Badeni
Count Kasimir Felix Badeni
Count Kasimir Felix Badeni was Minister-President of the Austrian half of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1895 until 1897...

 and three refusals by Emperor Franz Joseph
Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916.In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of...

 (who allegedly loathed him as a person). After personal intercession by Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

 his election was finally sanctioned in 1897.

Lueger served as mayor of Vienna until his early death from diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus, often simply referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced...

 in 1910. His mortal remains were buried in the crypt of the newly erected St Charles Borromeo Church at the Zentralfriedhof
The Zentralfriedhof is one of the largest cemeteries in the world, largest by number of interred in Europe and most famous cemetery among Vienna's nearly 50 cemeteries.-Name and location:...

 (also called Dr. Karl Lueger Memorial Church), whose groundbreaking ceremony he had performed himself.

Performance as Municipal Administrator

He was a zealous Catholic, and wished to “capture the university” for the Church. He would have neither Social Democrats nor Pan-Germans
German nationalism in Austria
German nationalism is a political ideology and a current in Austrian politics. It has its origins in the German National Movement of the 19th century, a nationalist movement of the German-speaking population in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and had striven for a closer connection of the...

 nor Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 in the municipal administration. He secured good treatment for Czech
Czech people
Czechs, or Czech people are a western Slavic people of Central Europe, living predominantly in the Czech Republic. Small populations of Czechs also live in Slovakia, Austria, the United States, the United Kingdom, Chile, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Russia and other countries...


In his incumbency, Lueger is credited with the extension of the public water supply by its second main aquifer (Hochquellwasserleitung), which provides tap water of mineral water quality to large parts of the city. He also pursued the municipalization
Municipalization is the transfer of corporations or other assets to municipal ownership. The transfer may be from private ownership or from other levels of government. It is the opposite of privatization and is different from nationalization.-Services:There have been two main waves of...

 of gas and electricity works as well as the establishment of a public transport system and numeorus institutions of social welfare, most of which strongly relied on debt financing.

He planned to make Vienna one of the most beautiful of garden cities
Garden City
- Places :Australia:*Toowoomba, Queensland, nicknamed "Garden City"*Garden City, a locality within Port Melbourne, Victoria* Westfield Garden City, a Westfield shopping centre in Upper Mount Gravatt, Brisbane...


A bachelor throughout his life, der schöne Karl ("handsome Karl") achieved tremendous popularity among the citizens. During his tenure, Vienna ultimately changed its appearance as the capital of a great power
Great power
A great power is a nation or state that has the ability to exert its influence on a global scale. Great powers characteristically possess military and economic strength and diplomatic and cultural influence which may cause small powers to consider the opinions of great powers before taking actions...

 of the pre-World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 era - an heritage that remained even in Red Vienna
Red Vienna
Red Vienna was the nickname of the capital of Austria between 1918 and 1934, when the Social Democrats had the majority and the city was democratically governed for the first time.-Social situation after World War I:...

 after the dissolution of Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 in 1918. A significant part of the infrastructure and organisations that are responsible for the high standard of living in the contemporary city were created during his terms of office.

Lueger and anti-Semitism

Lueger was known for his anti-Semitic
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 rhetoric and referred to himself as an admirer of Edouard Drumont
Edouard Drumont
Édouard Adolphe Drumont was a French journalist and writer. He founded the Antisemitic League of France in 1889, and was the founder and editor of the newspaper La Libre Parole.- Early life :...

, who founded the Antisemitic League of France
Antisemitic League of France
The Antisemitic League of France was founded in 1889 by the journalist Edouard Drumont. First known under the name of Ligue nationale antisémitique de France or Ligue antisémite française , this nationalist league was created in the midst of the Dreyfus Affair...

 in 1889. Decades later, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, a Vienna citizen from 1907 to 1913, saw him as an inspiration for his own virulent hatred of anything Jewish. Though not an explicit pan-Germanist
Pan-Germanism is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify the German-speaking populations of Europe in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland , where "German-speaking" was taken to include the Low German, Frisian and Dutch-speaking populations of the Low...

, Lueger advocated racist policies against non-German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 speaking minorities in Austria-Hungary and in 1887 voted for a bill proposed by his long-time opponent Georg von Schönerer
Georg Ritter von Schönerer
Georg Ritter von Schönerer was an Austrian politician active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a major exponent of German nationalism in Austria....

 to restrict the immigration of Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and Romanian
Kingdom of Romania
The Kingdom of Romania was the Romanian state based on a form of parliamentary monarchy between 13 March 1881 and 30 December 1947, specified by the first three Constitutions of Romania...

 Jews. He also overtly supported the völkisch movement
Völkisch movement
The volkisch movement is the German interpretation of the populist movement, with a romantic focus on folklore and the "organic"...

 of Guido von List
Guido von List
Guido Karl Anton List, better known as Guido von List was an Austrian/German poet, journalist, writer, businessman and dealer of leather goods, mountaineer, hiker, dramatist, playwright, and rower, but was most notable as an occultist and völkisch author who is seen as one of the most important...

 and created the nickname Judapest
Judapest is an Antisemitic nickname for Budapest, the capital of Hungary. It derived from German word Juden, meaning Jews . Its connotations are similar to New York City's antisemitic nickname Jew York City.-History:...

for the rivaling Hungarian capital. The historian Léon Poliakov
Leon Poliakov
Léon Poliakov was a French historian who wrote extensively on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.Born into a Russian Jewish family, Poliakov lived in Italy and Germany until he settled in France....

 wrote in The History of Anti-Semitism:

It soon became apparent that especially in Vienna any political group that wanted to appeal to the artisans had no chance of success without an anti-Semitic platform. [...] It was at that time that a well-known phrase was coined in Vienna: "Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools." The situation was exploited by the Catholic politician Karl Lueger, the leader of Austrian Christian-Social party with a program identical to that of the Berlin party of the same name led by Pastor Stoeker
Adolf Stoecker
Adolf Stoecker was the court chaplain to Kaiser Wilhelm II, a politician, and a German Lutheran theologian who founded one of the first Christian Social Gospel political parties in Germany, the Christian Social Party.-Life:Stoecker was born in Halberstadt, Province of Saxony.A staunch Protestant,...

. In 1887, Lueger raised the banner of anti-Semitism. [...] However the enthusiastic tribute that Hitler paid him in Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

does not seem justified, for the Jews did not suffer under his administration.

Other observers contend that Lueger's public racism was in large part a pose to obtain votes, being one of the first who made use of populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 as a political tool. Historian William L. Shirer
William L. Shirer
William Lawrence Shirer was an American journalist, war correspondent, and historian, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of Nazi Germany read and cited in scholarly works for more than 50 years...

 wrote that "…his opponents, including the Jews, readily conceded that he was at heart a decent, chivalrous, generous and tolerant man. So there is not a lot of evidence to support his large effect on the views of Adolf Hitler."
According to Amos Elon
Amos Elon
-Biography:Amos Elon was born in Vienna. He immigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1933. He studied law and history in Israel and England. He was married to Beth Elon, a New York-born literary agent, with whom he had one daughter, Danae. In the 1990s, Elon began to spend much of his time in Italy...

, "Lueger's anti-Semitism was of a homespun, flexible variety - one might almost say gemütlich
Gemütlichkeit is a German abstract noun that has been adopted into English. Its closest equivalent is the word "coziness"; however, rather than merely describing a place that is compact, well-heated and nicely furnished , Gemütlichkeit connotes the notion of belonging, social acceptance,...

. Asked to explain the fact that many of his friends were Jews, Lueger famously replied: 'I decide who is a Jew.' "
Viennese Jewish writer Stefan Zweig
Stefan Zweig
Stefan Zweig was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer. At the height of his literary career, in the 1920s and 1930s, he was one of the most famous writers in the world.- Biography :...

, who grew up in Vienna during Lueger's term of office, recalled that "His city administration was perfectly just and even typically democratic."

Further influence on Austrian politics

His general style of politics later inspired some of the right-wing leaders of the First Austrian Republic
First Austrian Republic
The Republic of Austria encompasses the period of Austrian history following the signing of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye of September 1919, the settlement after the end of World War I which put an end to the Republic of German Austria, continuing up to World War II...

 in 1918-1933, such as Ignaz Seipel
Ignaz Seipel
Ignaz Seipel was an Austrian prelate and politician who served as Chancellor during the 1920s.-Career:Seipel studied theology at the University of Vienna and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1899...

, Engelbert Dollfuss
Engelbert Dollfuss
Engelbert Dollfuss was an Austrian Christian Social and Patriotic Front statesman. Serving previously as Minister for Forest and Agriculture, he ascended to Federal Chancellor in 1932 in the midst of a crisis for the conservative government...

 and Kurt Schuschnigg
Kurt Schuschnigg
Kurt Alois Josef Johann Schuschnigg was Chancellor of the First Austrian Republic, following the assassination of his predecessor, Dr. Engelbert Dollfuss, in July 1934, until Germany’s invasion of Austria, , in March 1938...

, who led the Austrian society towards Austrofascism
Austrofascism is a term which is frequently used by historians to describe the authoritarian rule installed in Austria with the May Constitution of 1934, which ceased with the forcible incorporation of the newly-founded Federal State of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938...

. Unlike with Hitler, he did not so much inspire antisemitism in them (none of these three were particularly anti-Semitic), but rather provided one important role model for their generally combative, unrelenting stance towards ideological political opponents, which ultimately proved to be detrimental to the cohesion of the Austrian state.

In Vienna, Lueger has a square and a section of the Ringstraße
The Ringstraße is a circular road surrounding the Innere Stadt district of Vienna, Austria and is one of its main sights...

 named after him, and at least two statues were erected in his honour. It has been very difficult to decide what to do with monuments honoring historical figures whose reputation has been widely called into question as Europeans (and others) reflect on the historical background to the holocaust. With the Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

of Austria in 1938 street names carrying Jewish names or the names of pacifists were changed. After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Austria started a full-scale program of de-Nazification on both cultural and topographical levels. Nazified street signs were torn down and their names changed back from Nazi to Habsburg
Habsburg Monarchy
The Habsburg Monarchy covered the territories ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg , and then by the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine , between 1526 and 1867/1918. The Imperial capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague...

 heroes. Lueger's monuments present a difficult case because they are genuinely local, yet he was inspirational for the Nazis.

For some, the Lueger monuments show that Vienna has sacrificed its obligations to war crimes victims in exchange for keeping its nostalgic appeal as the grand Imperial City. For example, when Austrian-born neurobiologist Eric Kandel won the Nobel Prize in 2000, he "stuck it to the Austrians" by saying it was certainly not an Austrian Nobel, it was a Jewish-American Nobel. After that, he got a call from then Austrian president Thomas Klestil
Thomas Klestil
Thomas Klestil was an Austrian diplomat and politician. He was elected the tenth President of Austria in 1992 and was re-elected to the position in 1998...

 asking him, "How can we make things right?" Kandel said that first, Doktor-Karl-Lueger-Ring should be renamed. Kandel was offended that the address of the University of Vienna is on that street.

External links