Laboratory for World Destruction: Germans and Jews in Central Europe

Overview

Published and distributed for the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism

During the sixty years between the founding of Bismarck's German Empire and Hitler's rise to power, German-speaking Jews left a profound mark on Central Europe and on twentieth-century culture as a whole. How would the modern world look today without Einstein, Freud, or Marx? Without Mahler, Schoenberg, Wittgenstein, or Kafka? Without a whole galaxy of other outstanding Jewish ...

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Laboratory for World Destruction: Germans and Jews in Central Europe

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Overview

Published and distributed for the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism

During the sixty years between the founding of Bismarck's German Empire and Hitler's rise to power, German-speaking Jews left a profound mark on Central Europe and on twentieth-century culture as a whole. How would the modern world look today without Einstein, Freud, or Marx? Without Mahler, Schoenberg, Wittgenstein, or Kafka? Without a whole galaxy of other outstanding Jewish scientists, poets, playwrights, composers, critics, historians, sociologists, psychoanalysts, jurists, and philosophers? How was it possible that this vibrant period in Central European cultural history collapsed into the horror and mass murder of the Nazi Holocaust? Was there some connection between the dazzling achievements of these Jews and the ferocity of the German backlash?

Robert S. Wistrich's Laboratory for World Destruction is a bold and penetrating study of the fateful symbiosis between Germans and Jews in Central Europe, which culminated in the tragic denouement of the Holocaust. Wistrich shows that the seeds of the catastrophe were already sown in the Hapsburg Empire, which would become, in Karl Kraus's words, "an experimental station in the destruction of the world." Featured are incisive chapters on Freud, Herzl, Lueger, Kraus, Nordau, Nietzsche, and Hitler, along with a sweeping panorama of the golden age of Central European Jewry before the lights went out in Europe.

Robert S. Wistrich holds the Neuberger Chair of Modern Jewish History and since 2002 has been director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His book The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph won the Austrian State History Prize, and his book Hitler and the Holocaust has been translated into more than twenty languages.

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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Book World
“Wistrich argues that during the period between Bismarck’s German Empire and Hitler’s rise to power, the contributions made by German and Austrian Jews significantly imprinted the cultures of Central Europe. Beyond that period, however, he claims, the demise of this cultural history occurred, in part, due to the ‘social psychology of envy.’ . . . It is a collection that will further the reader’s understanding of the periods of social envy and racism.”—Jewish Book World
Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter

"Well researched with footnotes and bibliography, this book is essential for Jewish, Holocaust, and academic libraries."

—Hallie Cantor, Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter

New Jersey Jewish News

"An indispensible work that charts the course of events and ideas that ultimately led to the Holocaust." indispensable

—Jack Fischel, New Jersey Jewish News

European Historical Quarterly

"Wistrich's expertise and clear prose provide reliable information alongside deft analysis, and give food for thought for novice and expert alike."

—Daniel Mark Vyleta, European Historical Quarterly

German Studies Review
Laboratory for World Destruction is a useful and thoughtful collection of essays about a range of political and cultural figures and their influence on the ‘Jewish Question’ in the Habsburg Empire. . . . Wistrich’s portraits are valuable for illuminating the special circumstances and obstacles to Jewish life in the Late Habsburg Empire.”—German Studies Review
Prof. Gershon Shaked

“Robert Wistrich has written a book which is not only profound in its analysis of modern Jewish identity in central Europe and outstanding in its feel for nuance, but is also a study marked by a wonderful clarity of thought and expression.”

—Professor Gershon Shaked, Recipient of the Israel Prize in Modern Hebrew Literature

Prof. Shlomo Shoham

“I consider Professor Robert Wistrich to be the world’s leading authority on modern antisemitism. No one has explored more convincingly its impact on Jewish social and cultural history.”

—Professor Shlomo Shoham, Law Faculty, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Gershon Shaked
“Robert Wistrich has written a book which is not only profound in its analysis of modern Jewish identity in central Europe and outstanding in its feel for nuance, but is also a study marked by a wonderful clarity of thought and expression.”—Professor Gershon Shaked, Recipient of the Israel Prize in Modern Hebrew Literature
Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter - Hallie Cantor
"Well researched with footnotes and bibliography, this book is essential for Jewish, Holocaust, and academic libraries."—Hallie Cantor, Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter
New Jersey Jewish News - Jack Fischel
"An indispensible work that charts the course of events and ideas that ultimately led to the Holocaust." indispensable—Jack Fischel, New Jersey Jewish News
European Historical Quarterly - Daniel Mark Vyleta
"Wistrich's expertise and clear prose provide reliable information alongside deft analysis, and give food for thought for novice and expert alike."—Daniel Mark Vyleta, European Historical Quarterly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803211346
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2007
  • Series: Studies in Antisemitism Series
  • Pages: 410
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert S. Wistrich holds the Neuberger Chair of Modern Jewish History and since 2002 has been director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His book The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph won the Austrian State History Prize, and his book Hitler and the Holocaust has been translated into more than twenty languages.
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Table of Contents


Illustrations and Maps     x
Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction: Jews and Antisemitism in Central European Culture     1
Into the Crossfire
The Ethnic Cauldron of the Habsburg Empire     31
Adolf Fischof and the Tragedy of Liberalism     58
Austro-Marxist Interpretations of the "Jewish Question"     82
Rosa Luxemburg, Polish Socialism, and the Bund     99
The Strange Odyssey of Nathan Birnbaum     118
Max Nordau: From "Degeneration" to "Muscular Judaism"     154
Friedrich Nietzsche, Germany, and the Jewish "Superman"     175
From Herzl to Hitler
Theodor Herzl: Artist, Politician, and Social Utopian     205
In the Footsteps of "King Messiah"     239
The Last Testament of Dr. Sigmund Freud     258
Stefan Zweig and the "World of Yesterday"     282
Karl Kraus: An Anatomy of Self-Hatred     304
Karl Lueger and Catholic Judeophobia in Austria     325
Adolf Hitler: The Making of an Antisemite     352
Selected Bibliography     382
Index     390
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