Karl Lueger

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Karl Lueger (1897)

Karl Lueger [ luˈeːɡɐ ] (born October 24, 1844 in Wieden (now Vienna ), † March 10, 1910 in Vienna) was an Austrian politician and mayor of Vienna from 1897 to 1910. Because of its importance for the development of Vienna into a modern metropolis on the one hand and its anti-Semitism on the other, it is still the subject of heated controversies.


Former plaque at the birthplace of Karl Lueger. View from 2014. Accidentally painted over during renovation work in autumn 2015
View of this memorial plaque in 2017 after putting up an information plaque

Karl Lueger was born in Wieden as the son of Leopold Lueger from Neustadtl an der Donau and his wife Juliane. The house where he was born is in what is now the western part of the main building of the Technical University on Karlsplatz , where Lueger's father worked as a usher at the Vienna Polytechnic . Lueger came from a poor background and attended the Theresian Knight Academy (today's Theresianum ) in Vienna as an external. He then studied law and was awarded a Dr. jur. utr. PhD . He was a member of the Catholic student union KaV Norica Wien in the CV .

From 1874 Lueger worked as a lawyer with his own law firm and was considered a lawyer for the "common people". Following the example of the Jewish doctor and district politician Ignaz Mandl , who was considered the idol of the "common people" in Lueger's residential district Landstrasse , Lueger went into politics.

Karl Lueger in historical costume with medal of grace (painting by Hermann Nigg , 1876)
Ball in the Vienna City Hall with Mayor Karl Lueger (painting by Wilhelm Gause , 1904)

Early political career

From 1875 to 1876 and from 1878 to 1910 he was a councilor in Vienna. In 1885 and 1891 he was elected to the Reichsrat for the fifth district of Vienna . Since 1890 he sat in the Lower Austria state parliament .

Together with Karl von Vogelsang , Aloys von Liechtenstein and the theologian Franz Martin Schindler, he prepared the 2nd Austrian Catholic Day (1889). This led to the development of the “ Duck Evenings ”, named after the regular discussion rounds in the “Zur Goldenen Ente” hotel, Riemergasse 4 in the 1st district.

In 1888, the German Nationalists and Christian Socials joined forces in the Viennese municipal council elections to form an electoral community that later became known as the “United Christians”. What was striking about this movement was the strong emergence of the lower clergy. The thinking of these young chaplains was preoccupied with the social question, the existence of small businesses. They believed that they could clarify the social question by solving the " Jewish question ". An improvement in the living conditions of the craftsmen could only be achieved for them through anti-Jewish legislation against the Viennese Jews .

The leader of this new anti-Semitic party was Karl Lueger, who finally declared anti-Semitism in 1887. In 1893 he founded the Austrian Christian Social Party (CS). Based on the small and middle class , the CS combined reform goals with anti-Semitic and anti-liberal slogans. Lueger, who originally came from liberalism , founded the Christian Social Party as a modern mass party of the Viennese petty bourgeoisie, unsettled by industrialization and migratory movements, and with his anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic rhetoric gained wide popularity among them.

Mayor of Vienna

Lueger was mayor of Vienna from 1897 to 1910 . His term of office is characterized by numerous (mainly loan-financed) municipal large-scale projects, such as the Second Vienna High Spring Water Pipeline , municipalization of the gas and electricity supply and trams , and the construction of large social facilities such as the Lainz care home or the Steinhof psychiatric hospital . Lueger, however, used massive anti-Semitic propaganda to win elections with the help of his five guilder men under the conditions of a census suffrage .

In 1895 Lueger was first Vice Mayor of the City of Vienna under Mayor Raimund Grübl and later, when Grübl resigned from his office, his successor. Lueger already had the necessary majority (70 votes) on May 29, but rejected the election. The local council was dissolved, which also meant Lueger's mandate was extinguished. After an agitative campaign, Lueger was re-elected to the council and on October 29, with 93 votes, was elected mayor of Vienna. After Emperor Franz Joseph I , who saw the equal rights of all citizens not guaranteed under a Mayor Lueger, had refused the necessary confirmation, the council voted again on November 13th with a clear majority for Lueger. On the advice of Prime Minister Kasimir Felix Badeni , high aristocrats and his girlfriend Katharina Schratt, however, the emperor remained in his refusal, even when, after the renewed dissolution of the council, Lueger was elected mayor again on April 18, 1896. However, after an audience with the Kaiser on April 27, he resigned from the office. Josef Strobach , who was elected on May 6, was confirmed by the Emperor, Lueger was approved as Vice Mayor. On April 8, 1897, Lueger was re-elected mayor. Only after the request of Pope Leo XIII. On April 16, 1897, the monarch finally gave his consent to appoint Lueger to office. On the occasion of this agreement, small medals were minted.

Medal for the confirmation of Lueger by Franz Joseph
Back of the medal

As a result, Lueger and his followers established an efficient communal power system, which was also based heavily on patronage .

Vienna, cemetery church of St. Karl Borromeo (formerly: Dr. Karl Lueger Memorial Church)

During Lueger's time as mayor, major reforms and building projects were carried out by the city administration, with which Vienna was to be prepared for its planned function as a European metropolis of around four million inhabitants. Due to the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy and the subsequent shrinking of the Viennese population, the corresponding projects continued to have an impact for decades and contributed to a "Lueger cult" that was cultivated in the circles of his followers. After Lueger's premature death as a result of diabetes , however, the popularity of his movement decreased considerably. Lueger also owed his electoral successes in Vienna to an unequal curia and census suffrage . Even before the First World War , the Social Democrats, which Lueger had always bitterly opposed, won an absolute majority of votes in Vienna, but remained excluded from municipal government responsibility until 1919 for reasons of electoral law.

After Karl Lueger's death, hundreds of thousands of Austrians, including Adolf Hitler , attended his funeral. Lueger is buried in the church crypt 6 of the so-called “mayor's crypt” of the cemetery church of St. Karl Borromeo (formerly: Dr. Karl Lueger Memorial Church ) on the Vienna Central Cemetery.

Anti-Semitism as a program

Alongside Karl Hermann Wolf and Georg von Schönerer, Lueger is seen as one of the politicians from whom the young Hitler copied his political craft. Although Lueger was loyal to the emperor as a Christian Socialist, Emperor Franz Joseph prevented Lueger's appointment as mayor four times because of his anti-Semitism .

Anti-Semitic election poster of the Christian Social Party for the National Council election in 1920 .
Karl Lueger with Mayor's Chain (
Alois Delug around 1900)

Lueger cleverly played off individual groups of immigrants against each other - so he concentrated his hostile rhetoric on the Jews, who at that time experienced a strong social rise in Viennese trade and the liberal professions, while he explicitly protected the predominantly proletarian and Catholic “Bohemians”. In a speech on July 20, 1899 to the Christian-Social Workers' Association in Vienna, Lueger said:

"Here in our fatherland Austria the situation is such that the Jews have gained an influence that goes beyond their number and importance. (Interjection: Very true!) In Vienna the poor craftsman has to go begging on Saturday afternoon in order to use the work of his hands, he has to beg at the Jewish furniture dealer. (Very correct!) With us, the influence on the masses is in the hands of the Jews, the largest part of the press is in their hands, the vast majority of capital and especially big business is in the hands of the Jews, and the Jews practice terrorism here how he can't be thought of anger. For us, in Austria, it is primarily about the liberation of the Christian people from the predominance of Judaism. (Lively bravo! Speaker with a raised voice :) We want to be free men on the soil of our fathers and the Christian people should rule where their fathers bleed. (Thunderous applause.) All the quarrels, including those that prevail here in Austria, are therefore sparked by the Jews; all hostility to our party is due to the fact that we have finally come to grips with the rule of the Jews. That is why Jews, Soci and German Nationals are now at work to overthrow the hated man (Hoch Lueger!) And to plant their flags again on the town hall tower. (Bravo!)"

Towards the end of his last term as mayor, he presented his anti-Semitism as a political strategy, as Alexander Spitzmüller reports:

“Yes, you know, anti-Semitism is a very good means of agitation to get up in politics; but when one is at the top, one can never use him; because dös i [s'] a rabble sport! "

In retrospect, Heinrich Mann rebukes the apolitical haute-vie of the art scene as he sees it represented in Arthur Schnitzler , and reflects it in the figure of Lueger, Vienna and the Austrian situation:

"Anti-Semitism, this stuck socialism of the" stupid fellow of Vienna ", as they said at the time of Mayor Lueger, has finally become the whole - the whole - intellectual basis of an attempted world conquest."

Lueger's policy was influenced by Karl von Vogelsang and Aloys von Liechtenstein , among others . The more propagandistic and religiously motivated anti-Semitism of Lueger differed from the ethnic-racist oriented of his intimate enemy Georg von Schönerer , whom he counted as one of his models, although he fought his “ pan-German ” politics with their Greater German aspirations. Later anti-Semitic writings by Édouard Drumont and Adolf Hitler cited both Schönerer and Lueger as initiators. Lueger is therefore seen, alongside Karl Hermann Wolf and Georg von Schönerer, as one of the politicians from whom the young Hitler copied his political craft. Hitler himself wrote about Lueger:

“In any case, I slowly got to know the man and the movement that determined Vienna's fate at the time: Dr. Karl Lueger and the Christian Social Party. When I came to Vienna I was hostile to both of them. The man and the movement were seen as 'reactionary' in my eyes. The usual sense of justice, however, had to change this judgment just as much as I had the opportunity to get to know man and work; and slowly the fair judgment grew to undisguised admiration. Today I see the man as the most powerful German mayor of all time, even more than before. "

- Adolf Hitler : My struggle . Pp. 54-65.

The historian John W. Boyer summarizes Lueger's anti-Semitism as follows:

“The anti-Semitic rhetoric, which Lueger used in public, was crude, insulting and often heartless. [...] That public picking on Jews was a hideous practice, that it placed a psychological burden on innocent people [...] and that it set an example for future politicians who had a much stronger tendency to take things literally a burden that Austrian 'Christian Socialism' will have to drag around with it for eternity. "

- John W. Boyer : Karl Lueger - Christian-Social Policy as a Profession, Vienna 2010
Monument from 1926 on Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Platz on Vienna's Ringstrasse

The historian Brigitte Hamann judged Lueger's anti-Semitism:

“Politically it is irrelevant whether and how many Jewish friends Lueger may have had privately. The only thing that matters is the effect of his inflammatory speeches - and this was devastating. [...] Even if no Jew was murdered, the people who were confirmed by their revered idol in old prejudices were brutalized. "


Lueger himself, as one of the most significant political figures at the time of the emergence of the mass parties, practiced the creation of legends and a cult around his person that was innovative at the time. The illusion of “availability” that he gave his female followers through his celibacy and the secrecy of his relationships - Karl Lueger remained unmarried, but not least because of this was considered a swarm of many women - was a cornerstone of his “adoration”. Lueger's characteristic beard was symptomatic and made it easily recognizable in images. There are numerous portraits of him, such as Wilhelm Gause , there were also postcards , caricatures , reliefs and much more. Lueger was even immortalized on altarpieces, mostly by the painter Hans Zatzka , whose brother Ludwig Zatzka was city ​​architect in Lueger's cabinet, for example in the churches in Lainz and Hietzing . The Dr. Karl Lueger Memorial Church (Karl Borromäus Church) at the Vienna Central Cemetery was built in 1908–1911 by Max Hegele . On the wall painting The Last Judgment (also by Hans Zatzka), Lueger is shown in a death shirt. Lueger was also the subject of literary works during his lifetime, for example by Andreas Eckhart and Karl Conte Scapinelli.

For Karl Lueger, who was also called “Herrgott von Wien”, leaflets distributed a creed in 1896 , which with the words “I believe in Dr. Lueger, Creator of Christian Vienna “ begins, and a Lueger Our Father: Father Lueger, who lives in Vienna, praised be your name, protect our Christian people (...) but deliver us from the evil of the Jews. Amen. Eduard Nerradt composed the “Lueger March” in 1893, which was played on various occasions.

There were so-called "Lueger plates" which were distributed at election campaign events as a base for sausages with mustard and which, through a portrait of Lueger on the plate, indicated to the eater who they owed the meal to after consumption.

The nimbus and popularity of the “beautiful Karl”, even after his death, are exemplarily reflected in the so-called “Lueger Song” (“Doctor Lueger once reached out to me”), a chanson from the operetta “Essig und Oil ”by Robert Katscher (1932), which became famous in the interpretation of Hans Moser . Significantly, the singer, an old grocer ( Greißler ), is addressed by the mayor as a “tax bearer” and is therefore one of those privileged by the census suffrage.

The mammoth drama "Lueger, the great Austrian" by Hans Naderer was performed in 1934 as an expression of the Austro-Fascist regime at the Vienna Volkstheater and promoted in a large-scale advertising campaign at the request of Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg and Cardinal Innitzer .

2 shilling coin from 1935

Lueger's name shaped and shaped the public space in Vienna, for example through the renaming of the Rathausplatz in 1907 to Karl-Lueger-Platz (until 1926), the 1926 so named Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Platz with the Lueger monument by Josef Müllner , other monuments and busts as well as numerous panels on buildings with the inscription "Erected under Mayor Karl Lueger". The Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring of the Vienna Ringstrasse with Burgtheater , City Hall and University of Vienna , so named from 1934 to 2012, was renamed Universitätsring in 2012 after years of disputes . In 2009 , the University of Applied Arts Vienna announced a competition to transform the Lueger memorial on Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Platz into a memorial against racism and anti-Semitism. In April 2010 over 150 suggestions had already been received. On June 17, 2016, the Vienna City Councilor for Culture Andreas Mailath-Pokorny and the District Chairman of the Inner City Markus Figl unveiled an additional plaque at the Karl Lueger Memorial , which indicates that the former Mayor of Vienna used anti-Semitism. The text comes from the historian Oliver Rathkolb .

In 1943 the Nazi propaganda film " Vienna 1910 " (Karl Lueger, Mayor of Vienna) was made in the Rosenhügel studios in Vienna , directed by EW Emo with Rudolf Forster (Lueger), Heinrich George ( Georg Ritter von Schönerer ), Rosa Albach-Retty , Lil Dagover and OW Fischer , a transfiguration of Karl Lueger as Hitler's forerunner. A re-screening of the film in the Vienna Bellaria cinema in the 1970s led to violent protests.



Memorial church

Memorial plaques

  • Karlsplatz, on the western part of the main building of the technical university


  • Klagenfurt: Luegerstraße (from Villacher Straße to Obirstraße)
  • Vienna: Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring (1934–2012)
  • Graz: Doktor-Karl-Lueger-Strasse


  • Two shilling coin (1935)


“Now you have to know that in Austria (as well as in Hungary and Germany) there are Jewish surnames that are identical to the names of princely houses. [...] It is said that Mayor Lueger, who was once informed of the visit of Prince Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg in the middle of an important study of files , sent his secretary out a little absent-mindedly with the words: 'Say S' to the three Jews, they should wait. '"

- Friedrich Torberg, Aunt Jolesch's heirs


  • Helmut Andics : Lueger time. Black Vienna until 1918 . Jugend und Volk, Vienna 1984, ISBN 3-7141-6542-8 .
  • John W. Boyer: Karl Lueger (1844-1910). Christian social politics as a profession . Böhlau, Vienna 2010, ISBN 978-3-205-78366-4 .
  • John W. Boyer: Political Radicalism in the Late Imperial Vienna. Origins of the Christian-Social Movement 1848-1897 , Chicago 1981; ND Chicago 1995.
  • Felix Czeike : Liberal, Christian Social and Social Democratic Local Politics (1861-1934) . 1962
  • Anna Ehrlich : Karl Lueger - The two faces of power . Amalthea, Vienna 2010, ISBN 978-3-85002-700-7 .
  • Walter GoldingerLueger, Karl. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 15, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-428-00196-6 , p. 464 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Brigitte Hamann : Hitler's Vienna. Apprenticeship as a dictator . Piper, Munich 1996 ISBN 3-492-03598-1
  • Johannes Hawlik : The Citizen Emperor. Karl Lueger and his time . Herold, Vienna 1985 ISBN 3-7008-0286-2
  • Richard Kralik : Karl Lueger and Christian Socialism . Vogelsang, Vienna 1923
  • Rudolf Kuppe: Karl Lueger. Personality and work . Hollinek, Vienna 1947
  • Rudolf Kuppe: Karl Lueger and his time . Austrian folk writings, Vienna 1933
  • Anton Pelinka : Karl Lueger - Myth and Counter-Myth . In: Democracy and History: Yearbook of the Karl von Vogelsang Institute for Research into the History of Christian Democracy in Austria . 13/14 (2010) 1, pp. 45-48.
  • Felix Salten : Lueger , in: The Austrian face. Essays . S. Fischer Verlag Berlin, 2nd edition 1910. pp. 127–142 archive.org
  • Heinrich Schnee: Karl Lueger. Life and work of a great social and local politician. Outlines of a political biography . Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1960 (first as: Karl Lueger. Life and work of a great German. Paderborn 1936.)
  • Karl Schwarz:  Karl Lueger. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 5, Bautz, Herzberg 1993, ISBN 3-88309-043-3 , Sp. 394-396.
  • Kurt Skalnik : Dr. Karl Lueger. The man between the times . 1954
  • Richard Soukup: Lueger and his Vienna . ÖVP, Vienna 1953
  • Rudolf Spitzer: Mayor Lueger's rags and tax authorities . Vienna 1988
  • Leopold Tomola: Our Mayor Dr. Karl Lueger. Festschrift . Gerlach & Wiedling, Vienna 1904
  • Robert S. Wistrich : Karl Lueger and the Ambiguities of Viennese Antisemitism. In: Jewish Social Studies. 45, 1983, pp. 251-262

Web links

Commons : Karl Lueger  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Lueger board accidentally painted over. ORF , January 15, 2016, accessed on August 11, 2018 .
  2. ^ Karl Lueger:  Dr. Lueger's speech to the mayor. In:  Grazer Volksblatt , No. 250/1895 (XXVIIIth year), October 31, 1895, p. 9 (unpaginated). (Online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / gre.
  3. ^ A b Brigitte Hamann: Hitler's Vienna. Munich 1998, p. 496 f.
  4. ^ Weiningers Nacht , Europa-Verlag, Vienna 1989
  5. Alexander Spitzmüller: And also has a reason to live it. Frick, 1955, p. 74 restricted preview in Google book search
  6. ^ Heinrich Mann: An age is visited. Fischer, 3rd edition 2001, p. 261.
  7. ^ John W. Boyer: Karl Lueger (1844-1910). Böhlau Verlag Wien, 2010, ISBN 978-3-205-78366-4 , p. 208. Restricted preview in the Google book search
  8. ^ Brigitte Hamann: Hitler's Vienna. Apprenticeship as a dictator. Piper Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-492-22653-1 , p. 418.
  9. Harald D. Gröller: The many facets of the personality cult around Karl Lueger.
  10. ^ Eva Philippoff: The dual monarchy Austria-Hungary. A political reader. Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2002, ISBN 2-85939-739-6 . Page 123 limited preview in Google Book search
  11. Burgenland folk songs: The collection. Böhlau Verlag Wien, 2005, ISBN 978-3-205-77265-1 , p. 170. Restricted preview in the Google book search
  12. Florian Bayer, Sarah Dyduch: Universitätsring in Vienna: First street sign revealed. In: derstandard.at . July 9, 2012, accessed December 29, 2014 .
  13. ↑ Call for tenders to redesign the Lueger monument into a memorial against anti-Semitism and racism in Austria.
  14. Lueger Memorial: Over 150 ideas submitted (ORF Vienna, April 6, 2010)
  15. ^ Additional panel for the Karl Lueger Monument , wien.orf.at of June 17, 2016, accessed on June 18, 2016.
  16. Online in the Internet archive in rather poor quality.
  17. Billy Wilder . In: Der Spiegel . No. 19 , 1988 ( online ).
  18. ^ Friedrich Torberg: The heirs of Aunt Jolesch. (Unabridged edition). Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 1981, ISBN 3-423-01644-2 , p. 52 f.