YEARS OF STUDY AND SUFFERING IN VIENNA
my mother died, Fate, at least in one respect, had made its
In the last months of her sickness, I had gone to Vienna to
take the entrance examination for the Academy. I had set out
with a pile of drawings, convinced that it would be child's
play to pass the examination. At the Realschule I had
been by far the best in my class at drawing, and since then
my ability had developed amazingly; my own satisfaction caused
me to take a joyful pride in hoping for the best.
sometimes a drop of bitterness put in its appearance: my talent
for painting seemed to be excelled by my talent for drawing,
especially in almost all fields of architecture. At the same
time my interest in architecture as such increased steadily,
and this development was accelerated after a two weeks' trip
to Vienna which I took when not yet sixteen. The purpose of
my trip was to study the picture gallery in the Court Museum,
but I had eyes for scarcely anything but the Museum itself.
From morning until late at night, I ran from one object of interest
to another, but it was always the buildings which held my primary
interest. For hours I could stand in front of the Opera, for
hours I could gaze at the Parliament; the whole Ring Boulevard
seemed to me like an enchantment out of The Thousand-and-One-Nights.
I was in the fair city for the second time, waiting with burning
impatience, but also with confident self-assurance, for the
result of my entrance examination. I was so convinced that I
would be successful that when I received my rejection, it struck
me as a bolt from the blue. Yet that is what happened. When
I presented myself to the rector, requesting an explanation
for my non-acceptance at the Academy's school of painting, that
gentleman assured me that the drawings I had submitted incontrovertibly
showed my unfitness for painting, and that my ability obviously
lay in the field of architecture; for me, he said, the Academy's
school of painting was out of the question, the place for me
was the School of Architecture. It was incomprehensible to him
that I had never attended an architectural school or received
any other training in architecture. Downcast, I left von Hansen's
magnificent building on the Schillerplatz, for the first time
in my young life at odds with myself. For what I had just heard
about my abilities seemed like a lightning flash, suddenly revealing
a conflict with which I had long been afflicted, although until
then I had no clear conception of its why and wherefore.
a few days I myself knew that I should some day become an architect.
be sure, it was an incredibly hard road; for the studies I had
neglected out of spite at the Realschule were sorely
needed. One could not attend the Academy's architectural school
without having attended the building school at the Technik,
and the latter required a high-school degree. I had none of
all this. The fulfillment of my artistic dream seemed physically
after the death of my mother I went to Vienna for the third
time, to remain for many years, the time which had meanwhile
elapsed had restored my calm and determination. My old defiance
had come back to me and my goal was now clear and definite before
my eyes. I wanted to become an architect, and obstacles do not
exist to be surrendered to, but only to be broken. I was determined
to overcome these obstacles, keeping before my eyes the image
of my father, who had started out as the child of a village
shoemaker, and risen by his own efforts to be a government official.
I had a better foundation to build on, and hence my possibilities
in the struggle were easier, and what then seemed to be the
harshness of Fate, I praise today as wisdom and Providence.
While the Goddess of Suffering took me in her arms, often threatening
to crush me, my will to resistance grew, and in the end this
will was victorious.
owe it to that period that I grew hard and am still capable
of being hard. And even more, I exalt it for tearing me away
from the hollowness of comfortable life; for drawing the mother's
darling out of his soft downy bed and giving him 'Dame Care'
for a new mother; for hurling me, despite all resistance, into
a world of misery and poverty, thus making me acquainted with
those for whom I was later to fight.
this period my eyes were opened to two menaces of which I had
previously scarcely known the names, and whose terrible importance
for the existence of the German people I certainly did not understand:
Marxism and Jewry.
me Vienna, the city which, to so many, is the epitome of innocent
pleasure, a festive playground for merrymakers, represents,
I am sorry to say, merely the living memory of the saddest period
of my life.
today this city can arouse in me nothing but the most dismal
thoughts. For me the name of this Phaeacian city represents
five years of hardship and misery. Five years in which I was
forced to earn a living, first as a day laborer, then as a small
painter; a truly meager living which never sufficed to appease
even my daily hunger. Hunger was then my faithful bodyguard;
he never left me for a moment and partook of all I had, share
and share alike. Every book I acquired aroused his interest;
a visit to the Opera prompted his attentions for days at a time;
my life was a continuous struggle with this pitiless friend.
And yet during this time I studied as never before. Aside from
my architecture and my rare visits to the Opera, paid-for in
hunger, I had but one pleasure: my books.
that time I read enormously and thoroughly. All the free time
my work left me was employed in my studies. In this way I forged
in a few years' time the foundations of a knowledge from which
I still draw nourishment today.
even more than this:
this period there took shape within me a world picture and a
philosophy which became the granite foundation of all my acts.
In addition to what I then created, I have had to learn little;
and I have had to alter nothing.
I am firmly convinced that basically and on the whole all creative
ideas appear in our youth, in so far as any such are present.
I distinguish between the wisdom of age, consisting solely in
greater thoroughness and caution due to the experience of a
long life, and the genius of youth, which pours out thoughts
and ideas with inexhaustible fertility, but cannot for the moment
develop them because of their very abundance. It is this youthful
genius which provides the building materials and plans for the
future, from which a wiser age takes the stones, carves them
and completes the edifice, in so far as the so-called wisdom
of age has not stifled the genius of youth.
life which I had hitherto led at home differed little or not
at all from the life of other people. Carefree, I could await
the new day, and there was no social problem for me. The environment
of my youth consisted of petty-bourgeois circles, hence of a
world having very little relation to the purely manual worker.
For, strange as it may seem at first glance, the cleft between
this class, which in an economic sense is by no means so brilliantly
situated, and the manual worker is often deeper than we imagine.
The reason for this hostility, as we might almost call it, lies
in the fear of a social group, which has but recently raised
itself above the level of the manual worker, that it will sink
back into the old despised class, or at least become identified
with it. To this, in many cases, we must add the repugnant memory
of the cultural poverty of this lower class, the frequent vulgarity
of its social intercourse; the petty bourgeois' own position
in society, however insignificant it may be, makes any contact
with this outgrown stage of life and culture intolerable.
the higher classes feel less constraint in their dealings with
the lowest of their fellow men than seems possible to the 'upstart.'
anyone is an upstart who rises by his own efforts from his previous
position in life to a higher one.
this struggle, which is often so hard, kills all pity. Our own
painful struggle for existence destroys our feeling for the
misery of those who have remained behind.
this respect Fate was kind to me. By forcing me to return to
this world of poverty and insecurity, from which my father had
risen in the course of his life, it removed the blinders of
a narrow petty-bourgeois upbringing from my eyes. Only now did
I learn to know humanity, learning to distinguish between empty
appearances or brutal externals and the inner being.
the turn of the century, Vienna was, socially speaking, one
of the most backward cities in Europe.
riches and loathsome poverty alternated sharply. In the center
and in the inner districts you could really feel the pulse of
this realm of fifty-two millions, with all the dubious magic
of the national melting pot. The Court with its dazzling glamour
attracted wealth and intelligence from the rest of the country
like a magnet. Added to this was the strong centralization of
the Habsburg monarchy in itself.
offered the sole possibility of holding this medley of nations
together in any set form. But the consequence was an extraordinary
concentration of high authorities in the imperial capital.
not only in the political and intellectual sense was Vienna
the center of the old Danube monarchy, but economically as well.
The host of high of officers, government officials, artists,
and scholars was confronted by an even greater army of workers,
and side by side with aristocratic and commercial wealth dwelt
dire poverty. Outside the palaces on the Ring loitered thousands
of unemployed, and beneath this Via Triumphalis of old
Austria dwelt the homeless in the gloom and mud of the canals.
hardly any German city could the social question have been studied
better than in Vienna. But make no mistake. This 'studying'
cannot be done from lofty heights. No one who has not been seized
in the jaws of this murderous viper can know its poison fangs.
Otherwise nothing results but superficial chatter and false
sentimentality. Both are harmful. The former because it can
never penetrate to the core of the problem, the latter because
it passes it by. I do not know which is more terrible: inattention
to social misery such as we see every day among the majority
of those who have been favored by fortune or who have risen
by their own efforts, or else the snobbish, or at times tactless
and obtrusive, condescension of certain women of fashion in
skirts or in trousers, who 'feel for the people.' In any event,
these gentry sin far more than their minds, devoid of all instinct,
are capable of realizing. Consequently, and much to their own
amazement, the result of their social 'efforts' is always nil,
frequently, in fact, an indignant rebuff, though this, of course,
is passed off as a proof of the people's ingratitude.
minds are most reluctant to realize that social endeavor has
nothing in common with this sort of thing; that above all it
can raise no claim to gratitude, since its function is not to
distribute favors but to restore rights.
was preserved from studying the social question in such a way.
By drawing me within its sphere of suffering, it did not seem
to invite me to 'study,' but to experience it in my own skin.
It was none of its doing that the guinea pig came through the
operation safe and sound.
attempt to enumerate the sentiments I experienced in that period
could never be even approximately complete; I shall describe
here only the most essential impressions, those which often
moved me most deeply, and the few lessons which I derived from
them at the time.
actual business of finding work was, as a rule, not hard for
me, since I was not a skilled craftsman, but was obliged to
seek my daily bread as a so-called helper and sometimes as a
I adopted the attitude of all those who shake the dust of Europe
from their feet with the irrevocable intention of founding a
new existence in the New World and conquering a new home. Released
from all the old, paralyzing ideas of profession and position,
environment and tradition, they snatch at every livelihood that
offers itself, grasp at every sort of work, progressing step
by step to the realization that honest labor, no matter of what
sort, disgraces no one. I, too, was determined to leap into
this new world, with both feet, and fight my way through.
I soon learned that there was always some kind of work to be
had, but equally soon I found out how easy it was to lose it.
The uncertainty of earning my daily bread soon seemed to me
one of the darkest sides of my new life.
'skilled' worker does not find himself out on the street as
frequently as the unskilled; but he is not entirely immune to
this fate either. And in his case the loss of livelihood owing
to lack of work is replaced by the lock-out, or by going on
In this respect the entire economy suffers bitterly from the
individual's insecurity in earning his daily bread.
peasant boy who goes to the big city, attracted by the easier
nature of the work (real or imaginary), by shorter hours, but
most of all by the dazzling light emanating from the metropolis,
is accustomed to a certain security in the matter of livelihood.
He leaves his old job only when there is at least some prospect
of a new one. For there is a great lack of agricultural workers,
hence the probability of any long period of unemployment is
in itself small. It is a mistake to believe that the young fellow
who goes to the big city is made of poorer stuff than his brother
who continues to make an honest living from the peasant sod.
No, on the contrary: experience shows that all those elements
which emigrate consist of the healthiest and most energetic
natures, rather than conversely. Yet among these 'emigrants'
we must count, not only those who go to America, but to an equal
degree the young farmhand who resolves to leave his native village
for the strange city. He, too, is prepared to face an uncertain
fate. As a rule he arrives in the big city with a certain amount
of money; he has no need to lose heart on the very first day
if he has the ill fortune to find no work for any length of
time. But it is worse if, after finding a job, he soon loses
it. To find a new one, especially in winter, is often difficult
if not impossible. Even so, the first weeks are tolerable. He
receives an unemployment benefit from his union funds and manages
as well as possible. But when his last cent is gone and the
union, due to the long duration of his unemployment, discontinues
its payments, great hardships begin. Now he walks the streets,
hungry; often he pawns and sells his last possessions; his clothing
becomes more and more wretched; and thus he sinks into external
surroundings which, on top of his physical misfortune, also
poison his soul. If he is evicted and if (as is so often the
case) this occurs in winter, his misery is very great. At length
he finds some sort of job again. But the old story is repeated.
The same thing happens a second time, the third time perhaps
it is even worse, and little by little he learns to bear the
eternal insecurity with greater and greater indifference. At
last the repetition becomes a habit.
so this man, who was formerly so hard-working, grows lax in
his whole view of life and gradually becomes the instrument
of those who use him only for their own base advantage. He has
so often been unemployed through no fault of his own that one
time more or less ceases to matter, even when the aim is no
longer to fight for economic rights, but to destroy political,
social, or cultural values in general. He may not be exactly
enthusiastic about strikes, but at any rate he has become indifferent.
open eyes I was able to follow this process in a thousand examples.
The more I witnessed it, the greater grew my revulsion for the
big city which first avidly sucked men in and then so cruelly
they arrived, they belonged to their people; after remaining
for a few years, they were lost to it.
too, had been tossed around by life in the metropolis - in my
own skin I could feel the effects of this fate and taste them
with my soul. One more thing I saw: the rapid change from work
to unemployment and vice versa, plus the resultant fluctuation
of income, end by destroying in many all feeling for thrift,
or any understanding for a prudent ordering of their lives.
It would seem that the body gradually becomes accustomed to
living on the fat of the land in good times and going hungry
in bad times. Indeed, hunger destroys any resolution for reasonable
budgeting in better times to come by holding up to the eyes
of its tormented victim an eternal mirage of good living and
raising this dream to such a pitch of longing that a pathological
desire puts an end to all restraint as soon as wages and earnings
make it at all possible. The consequence is that once the man
obtains work he irresponsibly forgets all ideas of order and
discipline, and begins to live luxuriously for the pleasures
of the moment. This upsets even the small weekly budget, as
even here any intelligent apportionment is lacking; in the beginning
it suffices for five days instead of seven, later only for three,
finally scarcely for one day, and in the end it is drunk up
in the very first night.
Often he has a wife and children at home. Sometimes they, too,
are infected by this life, especially when the man is good to
them on the whole and actually loves them in his own way. Then
the weekly wage is used up by the whole family in two or three
days; they eat and drink as long as the money holds out and
the last days they go hungry. Then the wife drags herself out
into the neighborhood, borrows a little, runs up little debts
at the food store, and in this way strives to get through the
hard last days of the week. At noon they all sit together before
their meager and sometimes empty bowls, waiting for the next
payday, speaking of it, making plans, and, in their hunger,
dreaming of the happiness to come.
so the little children, in their earliest beginnings, are made
familiar with this misery.
ends badly if the man goes his own way from the very beginning
and the woman, for the children's sake, opposes him. Then there
is fighting and quarreling, and, as the man grows estranged
from his wife, he becomes more intimate with alcohol. He is
drunk every Saturday, and, with her instinct of self-preservation
for herself and her children, the woman has to fight to get
even a few pennies out of him; and, to make matters worse, this
usually occurs on his way from the factory to the barroom. When
at length he comes home on Sunday or even Monday night, drunk
and brutal, but always parted from his last cent, such scenes
often occur that God have mercy!
have seen this in hundreds of instances. At first I was repelled
or even outraged, but later I understood the whole tragedy of
this misery and its deeper causes. These people are the unfortunate
victims of bad conditions!
Even more dismal in those days were the housing conditions.
The misery in which the Viennese day laborer lived was frightful
to behold. Even today it fills me with horror when I think of
these wretched caverns, the lodging houses and tenements, sordid
scenes of garbage, repulsive filth, and worse.
was - and still is - bound to happen some day, when the stream
of unleashed slaves pours forth from these miserable dens to
avenge themselves on their thoughtless fellow men F
thoughtless they are!
they let things slide along, and with their utter lack of intuition
fail even to suspect that sooner or later Fate must bring retribution,
unless men conciliate Fate while there is still time.
How thankful I am today to the Providence which sent me to that
school! In it I could no longer sabotage the subjects I did
not like. It educated me quickly and thoroughly.
I did not wish to despair of the men who constituted my environment
at that time, I had to learn to distinguish between their external
characters and lives and the foundations of their development.
Only then could all this be borne without losing heart. Then,
from all the misery and despair, from all the filth and outward
degeneration, it was no longer human beings that emerged, but
the deplorable results of deplorable laws; and the hardship
of my own life, no easier than the others, preserved me from
capitulating in tearful sentimentality to the degenerate products
of this process of development.
this is not the way to understand all these things!
then I saw that only a twofold road could lead to the goal of
improving these conditions:
deepest sense of social responsibility for the creation of better
foundations for our development, coupled with brutal determination
in breaking down incurable tumors.
as Nature does not concentrate her greatest attention in preserving
what exists, but in breeding offspring to carry on the species,
likewise, in human life, it is less important artificially to
alleviate existing evil, which, in view of human nature, is
ninety-nine per cent impossible, than to ensure
from the start healthier channels for a future development.
my struggle for existence in Vienna, it had become clear to
activity must never and on no account be directed toward philanthropic
flim-flam, but rather toward the elimination of the basic deficiencies
in the organization of our economic and cultural life that must
- or at all events can - lead to the degeneration of the individual
difficulty of applying the most extreme and brutal methods against
the criminals who endanger the state lies not least in the uncertainty
of our judgment of the inner motives or causes of such contemporary
uncertainty is only too well founded in our own sense of guilt
regarding such tragedies of degeneration; be that as it may,
it paralyzes any serious and firm decision and is thus partly
responsible for the weak and half-hearted, because hesitant,
execution of even the most necessary measures of self-preservation.
when an epoch ceases to be haunted by the shadow of its own
consciousness of guilt will it achieve the inner calm and outward
strength brutally and ruthlessly to prune off the wild shoots
and tear out the weeds.
the Austrian state had practically no social legislation or
jurisprudence, its weakness in combating even malignant tumors
do not know what horrified me most at that time: the economic
misery of my companions, their moral and ethical coarseness,
or the low level of their intellectual development.
often does our bourgeoisie rise in high moral indignation when
they hear some miserable tramp declare that it is all the same
to him whether he is a German or not, that he feels equally
happy wherever he is, as long as he has enough to live on!
lack of 'national pride' is most profoundly deplored, and horror
at such an attitude is expressed in no uncertain terms.
many people have asked themselves what was the real reason for
the superiority of their own sentiments?
many are aware of the infinite number of separate memories of
the greatness of our national fatherland in all the fields of
cultural and artistic life, whose total result is to inspire
them with just pride at being members of a nation so blessed?
many suspect to how great an extent pride in the fatherland
depends on knowledge of its greatness in all these fields?
our bourgeois circles ever stop to consider to what an absurdly
small extent this prerequisite of pride in the fatherland is
transmitted to the 'people'?
us not try to condone this by saying that 'it is no better in
other countries,' and that in those countries the worker avows
his nationality 'notwithstanding.' Even if this were so, it
could serve as no excuse for our own omissions. But it is not
so; for the thing that we constantly designate as 'chauvinistic'
education; for example among the French people, is nothing other
than extreme emphasis on the greatness of France in all the
fields of culture, or, as the Frenchman puts it, of 'civilization
The fact is that the young Frenchman is not brought up to be
objective, but is instilled with the most subjective conceivable
view, in so far as the importance of the political or cultural
greatness of his fatherland is concerned.
education will always have to be limited to general and extremely
broad values which, if necessary, must be engraved in the memory
and feeling of the people by eternal repetition.
to the negative sin of omission is added in our country the
positive destruction of the little which the individual has
the good fortune to learn in school. The rats that politically
poison our nation gnaw even this little from the heart and memory
of the broad masses, in so far as this has not been previously
accomplished by poverty and suffering.
for instance, the following scene:
a basement apartment, consisting of two stuffy rooms, dwells
a worker's family of seven. Among the five children there is
a boy of, let us assume, three years. This is the age in which
the first impressions are made on the consciousness of the child
Talented persons retain traces of memory from this period down
to advanced old age. The very narrowness and overcrowding of
the room does not lead to favorable conditions. Quarreling and
wrangling will very frequently arise as a result. In these circumstances,
people do not live with one another, they press against one
another. Every argument, even the most trifling, which in a
spacious apartment can be reconciled by a mild segregation,
thus solving itself, here leads to loathsome wrangling without
end. Among the children, of course, this is still bearable;
they always fight under such circumstances, and among themselves
they quickly and thoroughly forget about it. But if this battle
is carried on between the parents themselves, and almost every
day in forms which for vulgarity often leave nothing to be desired,
then, if only very gradually, the results of such visual instruction
must ultimately become apparent in the children. The character
the) will inevitably assume if this mutual quarrel takes the
form of brutal attacks of the father against the mother, of
drunken beatings, is hard for anyone who does not know this
milieu to imagine. At the age of six the pitiable little boy
suspects the existence of things which can inspire even an adult
with nothing but horror. Morally poisoned, physically undernourished,
his poor little head full of lice, the young 'citizen' goes
off to public school. After a great struggle he may learn to
read and write, but that is about all. His doing any homework
is out of the question. On the contrary, the very mother and
father, even in the presence of the children, talk about his
teacher and school in terms which are not fit to be repeated,
and are more inclined to curse the latter to their face than
to take their little offspring across their knees and teach
them some sense. All the other things that the little fellow
hears at home do not tend to increase his respect for his dear
fellow men. Nothing good remains of humanity, no institution
remains unassailed; beginning with his teacher and up to the
head of the government, whether it is a question of religion
or of morality as such, of the state or society, it is all the
same, everything is reviled in the most obscene terms and dragged
into the filth of the basest possible outlook. When at the age
of fourteen the young man is discharged from school, it is hard
to decide what is stronger in him: his incredible stupidity
as far as any real knowledge and ability are concerned, or the
corrosive insolence of his behavior, combined with an immorality,
even at this age, which would make your hair stand on end
position can this man - to whom even now hardly anything is
holy, who, just as he has encountered no greatness conversely
suspects and knows all the sordidness of life - occupy in the
life into which he is now preparing to emerge?
three-year-old child has become a fifteen-year-old despiser
of all authority. Thus far, aside from dirt and filth, this
young man has seen nothing which might inspire him to any higher
only now does he enter the real university of this existence.
he begins the same life which all along his childhood years
he has seen his father living. He hangs around the street corners
and bars, coming home God knows when; and for a change now and
then he beats the broken-down being which was once his mother,
curses God and the world, and at length is convicted of some
particular offense and sent to a house of correction.
he receives his last polish.
his dear bourgeois fellow men are utterly amazed at the lack
of 'national enthusiasm' in this young 'citizen.'
by day, in the theater and in the movies, in backstairs literature
and the yellow press, they see the poison poured into the people
by bucketfuls, and then they are amazed at the low 'moral content,'
the 'national indifference,' of the masses of the people.
though trashy films, yellow press, and such-like dung could
furnish the foundations of a knowledge of the greatness of our
fatherland! - quite aside from the early education of the individual.
I had never suspected before, I quickly and thoroughly learned
in those years:
question of the 'nationalization' of a people is, among other
things, primarily a question of creating healthy social conditions
as a foundation for the possibility of educating the individual.
For only those who through school and upbringing learn to know
the cultural, economic, but above all the political, greatness
of their own fatherland can and will achieve the inner pride
in the privilege of being a member of such a people. And I can
fight only for something that I love, love only what I respect,
and respect only what I at least know.
my interest in the social question was aroused, I began to study
it with all thoroughness. It was a new and hitherto unknown
world which opened before me.
the years 1909 and 1910, my own situation had changed somewhat
in so far as I no longer had to earn my daily bread as a common
laborer. By this time I was working independently as a small
draftsman and painter of watercolors. Hard as this was with
regard to earnings - it was barely enough to live on - it was
good for my chosen profession. Now I was no longer dead tired
in the evening when I came home from work, unable to look at
a book without soon dozing off. My present work ran parallel
to my future profession. Moreover, I was master of my own time
and could apportion it better than had previously been possible.
painted to make a living and studied for pleasure.
I was able to supplement my visual instruction in the social
problem by theoretical study. I studied more or less all of
the books I was able to obtain regarding this whole field, and
for the rest immersed myself in my own thoughts.
believe that those who knew me in those days took me for an
all this, as was only natural, I served my love of architecture
with ardent zeal. Along with music, it seemed to me the queen
of the arts: under such circumstances my concern with it was
not 'work.' but the greatest pleasure. I could read and draw
until late into the night, and never grow tired. Thus my faith
grew that my beautiful dream for the future would become reality
after all, even though this might require long years. I was
firmly convinced that I should some day make a name for myself
as an architect.
addition, I had the greatest interest in everything connected
with politics, but this did not seem to me very significant.
On the contrary: in my eyes this was the self-evident duty of
every thinking man. Anyone who failed to understand this lost
the right to any criticism or complaint.
this field, too, I read and studied much.
'reading,' to be sure, I mean perhaps something different than
the average member of our so-called 'intelligentsia.'
know people who 'read' enormously, book for book, letter for
letter, yet whom I would not describe as 'well-read.' True they
possess a mass of 'knowledge,' but their brain is unable to
organize and register the material they have taken in. They
lack the art of sifting what is valuable for them in a book
from that which is without value, of retaining the one forever,
and, if possible, not even seeing the rest, but in any case
not dragging it around with them as useless ballast. For reading
is no end in itself, but a means to an end. It should primarily
help to fill the framework constituted by every man's talents
and abilities; in addition, it should provide the tools and
building materials which the individual needs for his life's
work, regardless whether this consists in a primitive struggle
for sustenance or the satisfaction of a high calling; secondly,
it should transmit a general world view. In both cases, however,
it is essential that the con tent of what one reads at any time
should not be transmitted to the memory in the sequence of the
book or books, but like the stone of a mosaic should fit into
the general world picture in its proper place, and thus help
to form this picture in the mind of the reader. Otherwise there
arises a confused muddle of memorized facts which not only are
worthless, but also make their unto fortunate possessor conceited.
For such a reader now believes himself in all seriousness to
be 'educated,' to understand something of life, to have knowledge,
while in reality, with every new acquisition of this kind of
'education,' he is growing more and more removed from the world
until, not infrequently, he ends up in a sanitarium or in parliament.
Never will such a mind succeed in culling from the confusion
of his 'knowledge' anything that suits the demands of the hour,
for his intellectual ballast is not organized along the lines
of life, but in the sequence of the books as he read them and
as their content has piled up in his brain. If Fate, in the
requirements of his daily life, desired to remind him to make
a correct application of what he had read, it would have to
indicate title and page number, since the poor fool would otherwise
never in all his life find the correct place. But since Fate
does not do this, these bright boys in any critical situation
come into the most terrible embarrassment, cast about convulsively
for analogous cases, and with mortal certainty naturally find
the wrong formulas.
this were not true, it would be impossible for us to understand
the political behavior of our learned and highly placed government
heroes, unless we decided to assume outright villainy instead
of pathological propensities.
the other hand, a man who possesses the art of correct reading
will, in studying any book, magazine, or pamphlet, instinctively
and immediately perceive everything which in his opinion is
worth permanently remembering, either because it is suited to
his purpose or generally worth knowing. Once the knowledge he
has achieved in this fashion is correctly coordinated within
the somehow existing picture of this or that subject created
by the imaginations it will function either as a corrective
or a complement, thus enhancing either the correctness or the
clarity of the picture. Then, if life suddenly sets some question
before us for examination or answer, the memory, if this method
of reading is observed, will immediately take the existing picture
as a norm, and from it will derive all the individual items
regarding these questions, assembled in the course of decades,
submit them to the mind for examination and reconsideration,
until the question is clarified or answered.
this kind of reading has meaning and purpose.
orator, for example, who does not thus provide his intelligence
with the necessary foundation will never be in a position cogently
to defend his view in the face of opposition, though it may
be a thousand times true or real. In every discussion his memory
will treacherously leave him in the lurch; he will find neither
grounds for reinforcing his own contentions nor any for confuting
those of his adversary. If, as in the case of a speaker, it
is only a question of making a fool of himself personally, it
may not be so bad, but not so when Fate predestines such a know-it-all
incompetent to be the leader of a state.
my earliest youth I have endeavored to read in the correct way,
and in this endeavor I have been most happily supported by my
memory and intelligence. Viewed in this light, my Vienna period
was especially fertile and valuable. The experiences of daily
life provided stimulation for a constantly renewed study of
the most varied problems. Thus at last I was in a position to
bolster up reality by theory and test theory by reality, and
was preserved from being stifled by theory or growing banal
this period the experience of daily life directed and stimulated
me to the most thorough theoretical study of two questions in
addition to the social question.
knows when I would have immersed myself in the doctrines and
essence of Marxism if that period had not literally thrust my
nose into the problem!
I knew of Social Democracy in my youth was exceedingly little
and very inaccurate.
was profoundly pleased that it should carry on the struggle
for universal suffrage and the secret ballot. For even then
my intelligence told me that this must help to weaken the Habsburg
régime which I so hated. In the conviction that the Austrian
Empire could never be preserved except by victimizing its Germans,
but that even the price of a gradual Slavization of the German
element by no means provided a guaranty of an empire really
capable of survival, since the power of the Slavs to uphold
the state must be estimated as exceedingly dubious, I welcomed
every development which in my opinion would inevitably lead
to the collapse of this impossible state which condemned ten
million Germans to death. The more the linguistic Babel corroded
and disorganized parliament, the closer drew the inevitable
hour of the disintegration of this Babylonian Empire, and with
it the hour of freedom for my German-Austrian people. Only in
this way could the Anschluss with the old mother country
this activity of the Social Democracy was not displeasing to
me. And the fact that it strove to improve the living conditions
of the worker, as, in my innocence, I was still stupid enough
to believe, likewise seemed to speak rather for it than against
it. What most repelled me was its hostile attitude toward the
struggle for the preservation of Germanism, its disgraceful
courting of the Slavic 'comrade,' who accepted this declaration
of love in so far as it was bound up with practical concessions,
but otherwise maintained a lofty and arrogant reserve, thus
giving the obtrusive beggars their deserved reward.
at the age of seventeen the word 'Marxism' was as yet little
known to me, while 'Social Democracy' and socialism seemed to
me identical concepts. Here again it required the fist of Fate
to open my eyes to this unprecedented betrayal of the peoples.
to that time I had known the Social Democratic Party only as
an onlooker at a few mass demonstrations, without possessing
even the slightest insight into the mentality of its adherents
or the nature of its doctrine; but now, at one stroke, I came
into contact with the products of its education and 'philosophy.'
And in a few months I obtained what might otherwise have required
decades: an understanding of a pestilential whore, cloaking
herself as social virtue and brotherly love, from which I hope
humanity will rid this earth with the greatest dispatch, since
otherwise the earth might well become rid of humanity.
first encounter with the Social Democrats occurred during my
employment as a building worker.
the very beginning it was none too pleasant. ;My clothing was
still more or less in order, my speech cultivated, and my manner
reserved. I was still so busy with my own destiny that I could
not concern myself much with the people around me. I looked
for work only to avoid starvation, only to obtain an opportunity
of continuing my education, though ever so slowly. Perhaps I
would not have concerned myself at all with my new environment
if on the third or fourth day an event had not taken place which
forced me at once to take a position. I was asked to join the
knowledge of trade-union organization was at that time practically
non-existent. I could not have proved that its existence was
either beneficial or harmful. When I was told that I had to
join, I refused. The reason I gave was that I did not understand
the matter, but that I would not let myself be forced into anything.
Perhaps my first reason accounts for my not being thrown out
at once. They may perhaps have hoped to convert me or break
down my resistance in a few days. In any event, they had made
a big mistake. At the end of two weeks I could no longer have
joined, even if I had wanted to. In these two weeks I came to
know the men around me more closely, and no power in the world
could have moved me to join an organization whose members had
meanwhile come to appear to me in so unfavorable a light.
the first days I was irritable.
noon some of the workers went to the near-by taverns while others
remained at the building site and ate a lunch which, as a rule
was quite wretched. These were the married men whose wives brought
them their noonday soup in pathetic bowls. Toward the end of
the week their number always increased, why I did not understand
until later. On these occasions politics was discussed.
drank my bottle of milk and ate my piece of bread somewhere
off to one side, and cautiously studied my new associates or
reflected on my miserable lot. Nevertheless, I heard more than
enough; and often it seemed to me that they purposely moved
closer to me, perhaps in order to make me take a position. In
any case, what I heard was of such a nature as to infuriate
me in the extreme. These men rejected everything: the nation
as an invention of the 'capitalistic' (how often was I forced
to hear this single word!) classes; the fatherland as an instrument
of the bourgeoisie for the exploitation of the working class;
the authority of law as a means for oppressing the proletariat;
the school as an institution for breeding slaves and slaveholders;
religion as a means for stultifying the people and making them
easier to exploit; morality as a symptom of stupid, sheeplike
patience, etc. There was absolutely nothing which was not drawn
through the mud of a terrifying depth.
first I tried to keep silent. But at length it became impossible.
I began to take a position and to oppose them. But I was forced
to recognize that this was utterly hopeless until I possessed
certain definite knowledge of the controversial points. And
so I began to examine the sources from which they drew this
supposed wisdom. I studied book after book, pamphlet after pamphlet.
then on our discussions at work were often very heated. I argued
back, from day to day better informed than my antagonists concerning
their own knowledge, until one day they made use of the weapon
which most readily conquers reason: terror and violence. A few
of the spokesmen on the opposing side forced me either to leave
the building at once or be thrown off the scaffolding. Since
I was alone and resistance seemed hopeless, I preferred, richer
by one experience, to follow the former counsel.
went away filled with disgust, but at the same time so agitated
that it would have been utterly impossible for me to turn my
back on the whole business. No, after the first surge of indignation,
my stubbornness regained the upper hand. I was determined to
go to work on another building in spite of my experience. In
this decision I was reinforced by Poverty which, a few weeks
later, after I had spent what little I had saved from my wages.
enfolded me in her heartless arms. I had to go back whether
I wanted to or not. The same old story began anew and ended
very much the same as the first time.
wrestled with my innermost soul: are these people human, worthy
to belong to a great nation?
painful question; for if it is answered in the affirmative,
the struggle for my nationality really ceases to be worth the
hardships and sacrifices which the best of us have to make for
the sake of such scum; and if it is answered in the negative,
our nation is pitifully poor in human beings.
such days of reflection and cogitation, I pondered with anxious
concern on the masses of those no longer belonging to their
people and saw them swelling to the proportions of a menacing
what changed feeling I now gazed at the endless columns of a
mass demonstration of Viennese workers that took place one day
as they marched past four abreast! For neatly two hours I stood
there watching with bated breath the gigantic human dragon slowly
winding by. In oppressed anxiety, I finally left the place and
sauntered homeward. In a tobacco shop on the way I saw the Arbeiter-Zeitung,
the central organ of the old Austrian Social Democracy. It was
available in a cheap people's café, to which I often went to
read newspapers; but up to that time I had not been able to
bring myself to spend more than two minutes on the miserable
sheet, whose whole tone affected me like moral vitriol. Depressed
by the demonstration, I was driven on by an inner voice to buy
the sheet and read it carefully. That evening I did so, fighting
down the fury that rose up in me from time to time at this concentrated
solution of lies.
than any theoretical literature, my daily reading of the Social
Democratic press enabled me to study the inner nature of these
what a difference between the glittering phrases about freedom,
beauty, and dignity in the theoretical literature, the delusive
welter of words seemingly expressing the most profound and laborious
wisdom, the loathsome humanitarian morality - all this written
with the incredible gall that comes with prophetic certainty
- and the brutal daily press, shunning no villainy, employing
every means of slander, lying with a virtuosity that would bend
iron beams, all in the name of this gospel of a new humanity.
The one is addressed to the simpletons of the middle, not to
mention the upper, educated, 'classes,' the other to the masses.
me immersion in the literature and press of this doctrine and
organization meant finding my way back to my own people.
What had seemed to me an unbridgable gulf became the source
of a greater love than ever before.
a fool can behold the work of this villainous poisoner and still
condemn the victim. The more independent I made myself in the
next few years the clearer grew my perspective, hence my insight
into the inner causes of the Social Democratic successes. I
now understood the significance of the brutal demand that I
read only Red papers, attend only Red meetings, read only Red
books, etc. With plastic clarity I saw before my eyes the inevitable
result of this doctrine of intolerance.
psyche of the great masses is not receptive to anything that
is halfhearted and weak.
the woman, whose psychic state is determined less by grounds
of abstract reason than by an indefinable emotional longing
for a force which will complement her nature, and who, consequently,
would rather bow to a strong man than dominate a weakling, likewise
the masses love a commander more than a petitioner and feel
inwardly more satisfied by a doctrine, tolerating no other beside
itself, than by the granting of liberalistic freedom with which,
as a rule, they can do little, and are prone to feel that they
have been abandoned. They are equally unaware of their shameless
spiritual terrorization and the hideous abuse of their human
freedom, for they absolutely fail to suspect the inner insanity
of the whole doctrine. All they see is the ruthless force and
brutality of its calculated manifestations, to which they always
submit in the end.
Social Democracy is opposed by a doctrine of greater truth,
but equal brutality of methods, the latter will conquer,
though this may require the bitterest struggle.
two years had passed, the theory as well as the technical methods
of Social Democracy were clear to me.
understood the infamous spiritual terror which this movement
exerts, particularly on the bourgeoisie, which is neither morally
nor mentally equal to such attacks; at a given sign it unleashes
a veritable barrage of lies and slanders against whatever adversary
seems most dangerous, until the nerves of the attacked persons
break down and, just to have peace again, they sacrifice the
the fools obtain no peace.
game begins again and is repeated over and over until fear of
the mad dog results in suggestive paralysis.
the Social Democrats best know the value of force from their
own experience, they most violently attack those in whose nature
they detect any of this substance which is so rare. Conversely,
they praise every weakling on the opposing side, sometimes cautiously,
sometimes loudly, depending on the real or supposed quality
of his intelligence.
fear an irnpotent, spineless genius less than a forceful nature
of moderate intelligence.
with the greatest enthusiasm they commend weaklings in both
mind and force.
know how to create the illusion that this is the only way of
preserving the peace, and at the same time, stealthily but steadily,
they conquer one position after another, sometimes by silent
blackmail, sometimes by actual theft, at moments when the general
attention is directed toward other matters, and either does
not want to be disturbed or considers the matter too small to
raise a stir about, thus again irritating the vicious antagonist.
is a tactic based on precise calculation of all human weaknesses,
and its result will lead to success with almost mathematical
certainty unless the opposing side learns to combat poison gas
with poison gas.
is our duty to inform all weaklings that this is a question
of to be or not to be.
I achieved an equal understanding of the importance of physical
terror toward the individual and the masses.
too, the psychological effect can be calculated with precision.
at the place of employment, in the factory, in the meeting hall,
and on the occasion of mass demonstrations will always be successful
unless opposed by equal terror.
this case, to be sure, the party will cry bloody murder; though
it has long despised all state authority, it will set up a howling
cry for that same authority and in most cases will actually
attain its goal amid the general confusion: it will find some
idiot of a higher official who, in the imbecilic hope of propitiating
the feared adversary for later eventualities, will help this
world plague to break its opponent.
impression made by such a success on the minds of the great
masses of supporters as well as opponents can only be measured
by those who know the soul of a people, not from books, but
from life. For while in the ranks of their supporters the victory
achieved seems a triumph of the justice of their own cause,
the defeated adversary in most cases despairs of the success
of any further resistance.
more familiar I became, principally with the methods of physical
terror, the more indulgent I grew toward all the hundreds of
thousands who succumbed to it.
makes me most indebted to that period of suffering is that it
alone gave back to me my people, taught me to distinguish the
victims from their seducers.
results of this seduction can be designated only as victims.
For if I attempted to draw a few pictures from life, depicting
the essence of these 'lowest' classes, my picture would not
be complete without the assurance that in these depths I also
found bright spots in the form of a rare willingness to make
sacrifices, of loyal comradeship, astonishing frugality, and
modest reserve, especially among the older workers. Even though
these virtues were steadily vanishing in the younger generation,
if only through the general effects of the big city, there were
many, even among the young men, whose healthy blood managed
to dominate the foul tricks of life. If in their political activity,
these good, often kind-hearted people nevertheless joined the
mortal enemies of our nationality, thus helping to cement their
ranks, the reason was that they neither understood nor could
understand the baseness of the new doctrine, and that no one
else took the trouble to bother about them, and finally that
the social conditions were stronger than any will to the contrary
that may have been present. The poverty to which they sooner
or later succumbed drove them into the camp of the Social Democracy.
on innumerable occasions the bourgeoisie has in the clumsiest
and most immoral way opposed demands which were justified from
the universal human point of view, often without obtaining or
even justifiably expecting any profit from such an attitude,
even the most self-respecting worker was driven out of the trade-union
organization into political activity.
of workers, I am sure, started out as enemies of the Social
Democratic Party in their innermost soul, but their resistance
was overcome in a way which was sometimes utterly insane; that
is, when the bourgeois parties adopted a hostile attitude toward
every demand of a social character. Their simple, narrow-minded
rejection of all attempts to better working conditions, to introduce
safety devices on machines, to prohibit child labor and protect
the woman, at least in the months when she was bearing the future
national comrade under her heart, contributed to drive the masses
into the net of Social Democracy which gratefully snatched at
every case of such a disgraceful attitude. Never can our political
bourgeoisie make good its sins in this direction, for by resisting
all attempts to do away with social abuses, they sowed hatred
and seemed to justify even the assertions of the mortal enemies
of the entire nation, to the effect that only the Social Democratic
Party represented the interests of the working people
to begin with, they created the moral basis for the actual existence
of the trade unions, the organization which has always been
the most effective pander to the political party.
my Viennese years I was forced, whether I liked it or not, to
take a position on the trade unions.
I regarded them as an inseparable ingredient of the Social Democratic
Party as such, my decision was instantaneous and - mistaken.
flatly rejected them without thinking.
in this infinite]y important question, as in so many others,
Fate itself became my instructor.
result was a reversal of my first judgment.
my twentieth year I had learned to distinguish between a union
as a means of defending the general social rights of the wage-earner,
and obtaining better living conditions for him as an individual,
and the trade union as an instrument of the party in the political
fact that Social Democracy understood the enormous importance
of the trade-union movement assured it of this instrument and
hence of success; the fact that the bourgeoisie were not aware
of this cost them their political position. They thought they
could stop a logical development by means of an impertinent
'rejection,' but in reality they only forced it into illogical
channels. For to call the trade-union movement in itself unpatriotic
is nonsense and untrue to boot. Rather the contrary is true.
If trade-union activity strives and succeeds in bettering the
lot of a class which is one of the basic supports of the nation,
its work is not only not anti-patriotic or seditious, but 'national'
in the truest sense of the word. For in this way it helps to
create the social premises without which a general national
education is unthinkable. It wins the highest merit by eliminating
social cankers, attacking intellectual as well as physical infections,
and thus helping to contribute to the general health of the
the question of their necessity is really superfluous.
long as there are employers with little social understanding
or a deficient sense of justice and propriety, it is not only
the right but the duty of their employees, who certainly constitute
a part of our nationality, to protect the interests of the general
public against the greed and unreason of the individual; for
the preservation of loyalty and faith in a social group is just
as much to the interest of a nation as the preservation of the
of these are seriously menaced by unworthy employers who do
not feel themselves to be members of the national community
as a whole. From the disastrous effects of their greed or ruthlessness
grow profound evils for the future.
eliminate the causes of such a development is to do a service
to the nation and in no sense the opposite.
no one say that every individual is free to draw the consequences
from an actual or supposed injustice; in other words, to leave
his job. No ! This is shadow-boxing and must be regarded as
an attempt to divert attention. Either the elimination of bad,
unsocial conditions serves the interest of the nation or it
does not. If it does, the struggle against then must be carried
on with weapons which offer the hope of success. The individual
worker, however, is never in a position to defend himself against
the power of the great industrialist, for in such matters it
cannot be superior justice that conquers (if that were recognized,
the whole struggle would stop from lack of cause) - no, what
matters here is superior power. Otherwise the sense of justice
alone would bring the struggle to a fair conclusion, or, more
accurately speaking, the struggle could never arise.
if the unsocial or unworthy treatment of men calls for resistance,
this struggle, as long as no legal judicial authorities have
been created for the elimination of these evils, can only be
decided by superior power. And this makes it obvious that the
power of the employer concentrated in a single person can only
be countered by the mass of employees banded into a single person,
if the possibility of a victory is not to be renounced in advance.
trade-union organization can lead to a strengthening of the
social idea in its practical effects on daily life, and thereby
to an elimination of irritants which are constantly giving cause
for dissatisfaction and complaints.
this is not the case, it is to a great extent the fault of those
who have been able to place obstacles in the path of any legal
regulation of social evils or thwart them by means of their
as the political bourgeoisie did not understand, or rather did
not want to understand, the importance of trade-union organization,
and resisted it, the Social Democrats took possession of the
contested movement. Thus, far-sightedly it created a firm foundation
which on several critical occasions has stood up when all other
supports failed. In this way the intrinsic purpose was gradually
submerged, making place for new aims.
never occurred to the Social Democrats to limit the movement
they had thus captured to its original task.
that was far from their intention.
a few decades the weapon for defending the social rights of
man had, in their experienced hands? become an instrument for
the destruction of the national economy. And they did not let
themselves be hindered in the least by the interests of the
workers. For in politics, as in other fields, the use of economic
pressure always permits blackmail, as long as the necessary
unscrupulousness is present on the one side, and sufficient
sheeplike patience on the other.
which in this case was true of both sides.
the turn of the century, the trade-union movement had ceased
to serve its former function. From year to year it had entered
more and more into the sphere of Social Democratic politics
and finally had no use except as a battering-ram in the class
struggle. Its purpose was to cause the collapse of the whole
arduously constructed economic edifice by persistent blows,
thus, the more easily, after removing its economic foundations,
to prepare the same lot for the edifice of state. Less and less
attention was paid to defending the real needs of the working
class, and finally political expediency made it seem undesirable
to relieve the social or cultural miseries of the broad masses
at all, for otherwise there was a risk that these masses, satisfied
in their desires could no longer be used forever as docile shock
leaders of the class struggle looked on this development with
such dark foreboding and dread that in the end they rejected
any really beneficial social betterment out of hand, and actually
attacked it with the greatest determination.
they were never at a loss for an explanation of a line of behavior
which seemed so inexplicable.
screwing the demands higher and higher, they made their possible
fulfillment seem so trivial and unimportant that they were able
at all times to tell the masses that they were dealing with
nothing but a diabolical attempt to weaken, if possible in fact
to paralyze, the offensive power of the working class in the
cheapest way, by such a ridiculous satisfaction of the most
elementary rights. In view of the great masses' small capacity
for thought, we need not be surprised at the success of these
bourgeois camp was indignant at this obvious insincerity of
Social Democratic tactics, but did not draw from it the slightest
inference with regard to their own conduct. The Social Democrats'
fear of really raising the working class out of the depths of
their cultural and social misery should have inspired the greatest
exertions in this very direction, thus gradually wrestling the
weapon from the hands of the advocates of the class struggle.
however, was not done.
of attacking and seizing the enemy's position, the bourgeoisie
preferred to let themselves be pressed to the wall and finally
had recourse to utterly inadequate makeshifts, which remained
ineffectual because they came too late, and, moreover, were
easy to reject because they were too insignificant. Thus, in
reality, everything remained as before, except that the discontent
a menacing storm-cloud, the 'free trade union' hung, even then,
over the political horizon and the existence of the individual.
was one of the most frightful instruments of terror against
the security and independence of the national economy, the solidity
of the state, and personal freedom.
chiefly this was what made the concept of democracy a sordid
and ridiculous phrase, and held up brotherhood to everlasting
scorn in the words: 'And if our comrade you won't be, we'll
bash your head in - one, two, three !'
that was how I became acquainted with this friend of humanity.
In the course of the years my view was broadened and deepened,
but I have had no need to change it.
The greater insight I gathered into the external character of
Social Democracy, the greater became my longing to comprehend
the inner core of this doctrine.
The official party literature was not much use for this purpose.
In so far as it deals with economic questions, its assertions
and proofs are false; in so far as it treats of political aims,
it lies. Moreover, I was inwardly repelled by the newfangled
pettifogging phraseology and the style in which it was written.
With an enormous expenditure of words, unclear in content or
incomprehensible as to meaning, they stammer an endless hodgepodge
of phrases purportedly as witty as in reality they are meaningless.
Only our decadent metropolitan bohemians can feel at home in
this maze of reasoning and cull an 'inner experience' from this
dung-heap of literary dadaism, supported by the proverbial modesty
of a section of our people who always detect profound wisdom
in what is most incomprehensible to them personally. However,
by balancing the theoretical untruth and nonsense of this doctrine
with the reality of the phenomenon, I gradually obtained a clear
picture of its intrinsic will.
such times I was overcome by gloomy foreboding and malignant
fear. Then I saw before me a doctrine, comprised of egotism
and hate, which can lead to victory pursuant to mathematical
laws, but in so doing must put an end to humanity.
I had learned to understand the connection between this doctrine
of destruction and the nature of a people of which, up to that
time, I had known next to nothing.
a knowledge of the Jews provides the key with which to comprehend
the inner, and consequently real, aims of Social Democracy.
erroneous conceptions of the aim and meaning of this party fall
from our eyes like veils, once we come to know this people,
and from the fog and mist of social phrases rises the leering
grimace of Marxism.
it is difficult, if not impossible, for me to say when the word
'Jew' first gave me ground for special thoughts. At home I do
not remember having heard the word during my father's lifetime.
I believe that the old gentleman would have regarded any special
emphasis on this term as cultural backwardness. In the course
of his life he had arrived at more or less cosmopolitan views
which, despite his pronounced national sentiments, not only
remained intact, but also affected me to some extent.
at school I found no occasion which could have led me to change
this inherited picture.
the Realschule, to be sure, I did meet one Jewish boy
who was treated by all of us with caution, but only because
various experiences had led us to doubt his discretion and we
did not particularly trust him; but neither I nor the others
had any thoughts on the matter.
until my fourteenth or fifteenth year did I begin to come across
the word 'Jew,' with any frequency, partly in connection with
political discussions. This filled me with a mild distaste,
and I could not rid myself of an unpleasant feeling that always
came over me whenever religious quarrels occurred in my presence.
that time I did not think anything else of the question.
were few Jews in Linz. In the course of the centuries their
outward appearance had become Europeanized and had taken on
a human look; in fact, I even took them for Germans. The absurdity
of this idea did not dawn on me because I saw no distinguishing
feature but the strange religion. The fact that they had, as
I believed, been persecuted on this account sometimes almost
turned my distaste at unfavorable remarks about them into horror.
far I did not so much as suspect the existence of an organized
opposition to the Jews.
I came to Vienna.
by the abundance of my impressions in the architectural field,
oppressed by the hardship of my own lot, I gained at first no
insight into the inner stratification of the people in this
gigantic city. Notwithstanding that Vienna in those days counted
nearly two hundred thousand Jews among its two million inhabitants,
I did not see them. In the first few weeks my eyes and my senses
were not equal to the flood of values and ideas. Not until calm
gradually returned and the agitated picture began to clear did
I look around me more carefully in my new world, and then among
other things I encountered the Jewish question.
cannot maintain that the way in which I became acquainted with
them struck me as particularly pleasant. For the Jew was still
characterized for me by nothing but his religion, and therefore,
on grounds of human tolerance, I maintained my rejection of
religious attacks in this case as in others. Consequently, the
tone, particularly that of the Viennese anti-Semitic press,
seemed to me unworthy of the cultural tradition of a great nation.
I was oppressed by the memory of certain occurrences in the
Middle Ages, which I should not have liked to see repeated.
Since the newspapers in question did not enjoy an outstanding
reputation (the reason for this, at that time, I myself did
not precisely know), I regarded them more as the products of
anger and envy than the results of 4 principled though perhaps
mistaken, point of view.
was reinforced in this opinion by what seemed to me the far
more dignified form in which the really big papers answered
all these attacks, or, what seemed to me even more praiseworthy,
failed to mention them; in other words, simply killed them with
zealously read the so-called world press (Neue Freie Presse,
Wiener Tageblatt, etc.) and was amazed at the scope of
what they offered their readers and the objectivity of individual
articles. I respected the exalted tone, though the flamboyance
of the style sometimes caused me inner dissatisfaction, or even
struck me unpleasantly. Yet this may have been due to the rhythm
of life in the whole metropolis.
in those days I saw Vienna in that light, I thought myself justified
in accepting this explanation of mine as a valid excuse.
what sometimes repelled me was the undignified fashion in which
this press curried favor with the Court. There was scarcely
an event in the Hofburg which was not imparted to the readers
either with raptures of enthusiasm or plaintive emotion, and
all this to-do, particularly when it dealt with the 'wisest
monarch' of all time, almost reminded me of the mating cry of
a mountain cock.
me the whole thing seemed artificial.
my eyes it was a blemish upon liberal democracy.
curry favor with this Court and in such indecent forms was to
sacrifice the dignity of the nation.
was the first shadow to darken my intellectual relationship
with the 'big' Viennese press.
I had always done before, I continued in Vienna to follow events
in Germany with ardent zeal, quite regardless whether they were
political or cultural. With pride and admiration, I compared
the rise of the Reich with the wasting away of the Austrian
state. If events in the field of foreign politics filled me,
by and large, with undivided joy, the less gratifying aspects
of internal life often aroused anxiety and gloom. a he struggle
which at that time was being carried on against William II did
not meet with my approval. I regarded him not only as the German
Emperor, but first and foremost as the creator of a German fleet.
The restrictions of speech imposed on the Kaiser by the Reichstag
angered me greatly because they emanated from a source which
in my opinion really hadn't a leg to stand on, since in a single
session these parliamentarian imbeciles gabbled more nonsense
than a whole dynasty of emperors, including its very weakest
numbers, could ever have done in centuries.
was outraged that in a state where every idiot not only claimed
the right to criticize, but was given a seat in the Reichstag
and let loose upon the nation as a 'lawgiver,' the man who bore
the imperial crown had to take 'reprimands' from the greatest
babblers' club of all time.
I was even more indignant that the same Viennese press which
made the most obsequious bows to every rickety horse in the
Court, and flew into convulsions of joy if he accidentally swished
his tail, should, with supposed concern, yet, as it seemed to
me, ill-concealed malice, express its criticisms of the German
Kaiser. Of course it had no intention of interfering with conditions
within the German Reich - oh, no, God forbid - but by placing
its finger on these wounds in the friendliest way, it was fulfilling
the duty imposed by the spirit of the mutual alliance, and,
conversely, fulfilling the requirements of journalistic truth,
etc. And now it was poking this finger around in the wound to
its heart's content.
such cases the blood rose to my head.
was this which caused me little by little to view the big papers
with greater caution.
on one such occasion I was forced to recognize that one of the
anti-Semitic papers, the Deutsches Volksblatt, behaved
thing that got on my nerves was the loathsome cult for France
which the big press, even then, carried on. A man couldn't help
feeling ashamed to be a German when he saw these saccharine
hymns of praise to the 'great cultural nation.' This wretched
licking of France's boots more than once made me throw down
one of these 'world newspapers.' And on such occasions I sometimes
picked up the Volksblatt, which, to be sure, seemed to
me much smaller, but in these matters somewhat more appetizing.
I was not in agreement with the sharp anti-Semitic tone, but
from time to time I read arguments which gave me some food for
all events, these occasions slowly made me acquainted with the
man and the movement, which in those days guided Vienna's destinies:
Dr. Karl Lueger and the Christian Social Party.
I arrived in Vienna, I was hostile to both of them.
man and the movement seemed 'reactionary' in my eyes.
common sense of justice, however, forced me to change this judgment
in proportion as I had occasion to become acquainted with the
man and his work; and slowly my fair judgment turned to unconcealed
admiration. Today, more than ever, I regard this man as the
greatest German mayor of all times.
many of my basic principles were upset by this change in my
attitude toward the Christian Social movement!
views with regard to anti-Semitism thus succumbed to the passage
of time, and this was my greatest transformation of all.
cost me the greatest inner soul struggles, and only after months
of battle between my reason and my sentiments did my reason
begin to emerge victorious. Two years later, my sentiment had
followed my reason, and from then on became its most loyal guardian
the time of this bitter struggle between spiritual education
and cold reason, the visual instruction of the Vienna streets
had performed invaluable services. There came a time when I
no longer, as in the first days, wandered blindly through the
mighty city; now with open eyes I saw not only the buildings
but also the people.
as I was strolling through the Inner City, I suddenly encountered
an apparition in a black caftan and black hair locks. Is this
a Jew? was my first thought.
to be sure, they had not looked like that in Linz. I observed
the man furtively and cautiously, but the longer I stared at
this foreign face, scrutinizing feature for feature, the more
my first question assumed a new form:
this a German?
always in such cases, I now began to try to relieve my doubts
by books. For a few hellers I bought the first anti-Semitic
pamphlets of my life. Unfortunately, they all proceeded from
the supposition that in principle the reader knew or even understood
the Jewish question to a certain degree. Besides, the tone for
the most part was such that doubts again arose in me, due in
part to the dull and amazingly unscientific arguments favoring
relapsed for weeks at a time, once even for months.
whole thing seemed to me so monstrous, the accusations so boundless,
that, tormented by the fear of doing injustice, I again became
anxious and uncertain.
I could no longer very well doubt that the objects of my study
were not Germans of a special religion, but a people in themselves;
for since I had begun to concern myself with this question and
to take cognizance of the Jews, Vienna appeared to me in a different
light than before. Wherever I went, I began to see Jews, and
the more I saw, the more sharply they became distinguished in
my eyes from the rest of humanity. Particularly the Inner City
and the districts north of the Danube Canal swarmed with a people
which even outwardly had lost all resemblance to Germans.
whatever doubts I may still have nourished were finally dispelled
by the attitude of a portion of the Jews themselves.
them there was a great movement, quite extensive in Vienna,
which came out sharply in confirmation of the national character
of the Jews: this was the Zionists.
looked to be sure, as though only a part of the Jews approved
this viewpoint, while the great majority condemned and inwardly
rejected such a formulation. But when examined more closely,
this appearance dissolved itself into an unsavory vapor of pretexts
advanced for mere reasons of expedience, not to say lies. For
the so-called liberal Jews did not reject the Zionists as non-Jews,
but only as Jews with an impractical, perhaps even dangerous,
way of publicly avowing their Jewishness.
they remained unalterably of one piece.
a short time this apparent struggle between Zionistic and liberal
Jews disgusted me; for it was false through and through, founded
on lies and scarcely in keeping with the moral elevation and
purity always claimed by this people.
cleanliness of this people, moral and otherwise, I must say,
is a point in itself. By their very exterior you could tell
that these were no lovers of water, and, to your distress, you
often knew it with your eyes closed. Later I often grew sick
to my stomach from the smell of these caftan-wearers. Added
to this, there was their unclean dress and their generally unheroic
this could scarcely be called very attractive; but it became
positively repulsive when, in addition to their physical uncleanliness,
you discovered the moral stains on this 'chosen people.'
a short time I was made more thoughtful than ever by my slowly
rising insight into the type of activity carried on by the Jews
in certain fields.
Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural
life, without at least one Jew involved in it?
you cut even cautiously into such an abscess, you found, like
a maggot in a rotting body, often dazzled by the sudden light
- a kike!
had to be reckoned heavily against the Jews in my eyes was when
I became acquainted with their activity in the press, art, literature,
and the theater. All the unctuous reassurances helped little
or nothing It sufficed to look at a billboard, to study the
names of the men behind the horrible trash they advertised,
to make you hard for a long time to come. This was pestilence,
spiritual pestilence, worse than the Black Death of olden times,
and the people was being infected with it! It goes without saying
that the lower the intellectual level of one of these art manufacturers,
the more unlimited his fertility will be, and the scoundrel
ends up like a garbage separator, splashing his filth in the
face of humanity. And bear in mind that there is no limit to
their number; bear in mind that for one Goethe Nature easily
can foist on the world ten thousand of these scribblers who
poison men's souls like germ-carriers of the worse sort, on
their fellow men.
was terrible, but not to be overlooked, that precisely the Jew,
in tremendous numbers, seemed chosen by Nature for this shameful
this why the Jews are called the 'chosen people'?
now began to examine carefully the names of all the creators
of unclean products in public artistic life. The result was
less and less favorable for my previous attitude toward the
Jews. Regardless how my sentiment might resists my reason was
forced to draw its conclusions.
fact that nine tenths of all literary filth, artistic trash,
and theatrical idiocy can be set to the account of a people,
constituting hardly one hundredth of all the country's inhabitants,
could simply not be tanked away; it was the plain truth.
I now began to examine my beloved 'world press' from this point
the deeper I probed, the more the object of my former admiration
shriveled. The style became more and more unbearable; I could
not help rejecting the content as inwardly shallow and banal;
the objectivity of exposition now seemed to me more akin to
lies than honest truth; and the writers were - Jews.
thousand things which I had hardly seen before now struck my
notice, and others, which had previously given me food for thought,
I now learned to grasp and understand.
now saw the liberal attitude of this press in a different light;
the lofty tone in which it answered attacks and its method of
I killing them with silence now revealed itself to me as a trick
as clever as it was treacherous; the transfigured raptures of
their theatrical critics were always directed at Jewish writers,
and their disapproval never struck anyone but Germans. The gentle
pinpricks against William II revealed its methods by their persistency,
and so did its commendation of French culture and civilization.
The trashy content of the short story now appeared to me | as
outright indecency, and in the language I detected the accents
0 of a foreign people; the sense of the whole thing was so obviously
hostile to Germanism that this could only have been intentional.
who had an interest in this?
all this a mere accident?
I became uncertain.
development was accelerated by insights which I gained into
a number of other matters. I am referring to the general view
of 1. ethics and morals which was quite openly exhibited by
a large part of the Jews, and the practical application of which
could be seen.
again the streets provided an object lesson of a sort which
was sometimes positively evil.
relation of the Jews to prostitution and, even more, to the
white-slave traffic, could be studied in Vienna as perhaps in
no other city of Western Europe, with the possible exception
of the southern French ports. If you walked at night through
the streets and alleys of Leopoldstadt, at every step you witnessed
proceedings which remained concealed from the majority of the
German people until the War gave the soldiers on the eastern
front occasion to see similar things, or, better expressed,
forced them to see them.
thus for the first time I recognized the Jew as the cold-hearted,
shameless, and calculating director of this revolting vice traffic
in the scum of the big city, a cold shudder ran down my back.
then a flame flared up within me. I no longer avoided discussion
of the Jewish question; no, now I sought it. And when I learned
to look for the Jew in all branches of cultural and artistic
life and its various manifestations, I suddenly encountered
him in a place where I would least have expected to find him.
I recognized the Jew as the leader of the Social Democracy,
the scales dropped from my eyes. A long soul struggle had reached
in my daily relations with my fellow workers, I observed the
amazing adaptability with which they adopted different positions
on the same question, sometimes within an interval of a few
days, sometimes in only a few hours. It was hard for me to understand
how people who, when spoken to alone, possessed some sensible
opinions, suddenly lost them as soon as they came under the
influence of the masses. It was often enough to make one despair.
When, after hours of argument, I was convinced that now at last
I had broken the ice or cleared up some absurdity, and was beginning
to rejoice at my success, on the next day to my disgust I had
to begin all over again; it had all been in vain. Like an eternal
pendulum their opinions seemed to swing back again and again
to the old madness.
this I could understand: that they were dissatisfied with their
lot and cursed the Fate which often struck them so harshly;
that they hated the employers who seemed to them the heartless
bailiffs of Fate; that they cursed the authorities who in their
eyes were without feeling for their situation; that they demonstrated
against food prices and carried their demands into the streets:
this much could be understood without recourse to reason. But
what inevitably remained incomprehensible was the boundless
hatred they heaped upon their own nationality, despising its
greatness, besmirching its history, and dragging its great men
into the gutter.
struggle against their own species, their own clan, their own
homeland, was as senseless as it was incomprehensible. It was
was possible to cure them temporarily of this vice, but only
for days or at most weeks. If later you met the man you thought
you had converted, he was just the same as before.
old unnatural state had regained full possession of him.
gradually became aware that the Social Democratic press was
directed predominantly by Jews; yet I did not attribute any
special significance to this circumstance, since conditions
were exactly the same in the other papers. Yet one fact seemed
conspicuous: there was not one paper with Jews working on it
which could have been regarded as truly national according to
my education and way of thinking.
swallowed my disgust and tried to read this type of Marxist
press production, but my revulsion became so unlimited in so
doing that I endeavored to become more closely acquainted with
the men who manufactured these compendiums of knavery.
the publisher down, they were all Jews.
took all the Social Democratic pamphlets I could lay hands on
and sought the names of their authors: Jews. I noted the names
of the leaders; by far the greatest part were likewise members
of the 'chosen people,' whether they were representatives in
the Reichsrat or trade-union secretaries, the heads of organizations
or street agitators. It was always the same gruesome picture.
The names of the Austerlitzes, Davids, Adlers, Ellenbogens,
etc., will remain forever graven in my memory. One thing had
grown dear to me: the party with whose petty representatives
I had been carrying on the most violent struggle for months
was, as to leadership, almost exclusively in the hands of a
foreign people; for, to my deep and joyful satisfaction, I had
at last come to the conclusion that the Jew was no German.
now did I become thoroughly acquainted with the seducer of our
single year of my sojourn in Vienna had sufficed to imbue me
with the conviction that no worker could be so stubborn that
he would not in the end succumb to better knowledge and better
explanations. Slowly I had become an expert in their own doctrine
and used it as a weapon in the struggle for my own profound
almost always favored my side.
great masses could be saved, if only with the gravest sacrifice
in time and patience.
a Jew could never be parted from his opinions.
that time I was still childish enough to try to make the madness
of their doctrine clear to them; in my little circle I talked
my tongue sore and my throat hoarse, thinking I would inevitably
succeed in convincing them how ruinous their Marxist madness
was; but what I accomplished was often the opposite. It seemed
as though their increased understanding of the destructive effects
of Social Democratic theories and their results only reinforced
more I argued with them, the better I came to know their dialectic.
First they counted on the stupidity of their adversary, and
then, when there was no other way out, they themselves simply
played stupid. If all this didn't help, they pretended not to
understand, or, if challenged, they changed the subject in a
hurry, quoted platitudes which, if you accepted them, they immediately
related to entirely different matters, and then, if again attacked,
gave ground and pretended not to know exactly what you were
talking about. Whenever you tried to attack one of these apostles,
your hand closed on a jelly-like slime which divided up and
poured through your fingers, but in the next moment collected
again. But if you really struck one of these fellows so telling
a blow that, observed by the audience, he couldn't help but
agree, and if you believed that this had taken you at least
one step forward, your amazement was great the next day. The
Jew had not the slightest recollection of the day before, he
rattled off his same old nonsense as though nothing at all had
happened, and, if indignantly challenged, affected amazement;
he couldn't remember a thing, except that he had proved the
correctness of his assertions the previous day.
I stood there thunderstruck.
didn't know what to be more amazed at: the agility of their
tongues or their virtuosity at lying.
I began to hate them.
this had but one good side: that in proportion as the real leaders
or at least the disseminators of Social Democracy came within
my vision, my love for my people inevitably grew. For who, in
view of the diabolical craftiness of these seducers, could damn
the luckless victims? How hard it was, even for me, to get the
better of thus race of dialectical liars ! And how futile was
such success in dealing with people who twist the truth in your
mouth who without so much as a blush disavow the word they have
just spoken, and in the very next minute take credit for it
The better acquainted I became with the Jew, the more forgiving
I inevitably became toward the worker. In my eyes the gravest
fault was no longer with him, but with all those who did not
regard it as worth the trouble to have mercy on him, with iron
righteousness giving the son of the people his just deserts,
and standing the seducer and corrupter up against the wall.
by the experience of daily life, I now began to track down the
sources of the Marxist doctrine. Its effects had become clear
to me in individual cases; each day its success was apparent
to my attentive eyes, and, with some exercise of my imagination,
I was able to picture the consequences. The only remaining question
was whether the result of their action in its ultimate form
had existed in the mind's eye of the creators, or whether they
themselves were the victims of an error.
felt that both were possible.
the one case it was the duty of every thinking man to force
himself to the forefront of the ill-starred movement, thus perhaps
averting catastrophe; in the other, however, the original founders
of this plague of the nations must have been veritable devils;
for only in the brain of a monster - not that of a man - could
the plan of an organization assume form and meaning, whose activity
must ultimately result in the collapse of human civilization
and the consequent devastation of the world.
this case the only remaining hope was struggle, struggle with
all the weapons which the human spirit, reason, and will can
devise, regardless on which side of the scale Fate should lay
I began to make myself familiar with the founders of this doctrine,
in order to study the foundations of the movement. If I reached
my goal more quickly than at first I had perhaps ventured to
believe, it was thanks to my newly acquired, though at that
time not very profound, knowledge of the Jewish question. This
alone enabled me to draw a practical comparison between the
reality and the theoretical flimflam of the founding fathers
of Social Democracy, since it taught me to understand the language
of the Jewish people, who speak in order to conceal or at least
to veil their thoughts; their real aim is not therefore to be
found in the lines themselves, but slumbers well concealed between
or me this was the time of the greatest spiritual upheaval I
have ever had to go through.
had ceased to be a weak-kneed cosmopolitan and become an anti-Semite.
once more - and this was the last time - fearful, oppressive
thoughts came to me in profound anguish.
over long periods of human history I scrutinized the activity
of the Jewish people, suddenly there rose up in me the fearful
question whether inscrutable Destiny, perhaps Or reasons unknown
to us poor mortals, did not with eternal and immutable resolve,
desire the final victory of this little nation.
it possible that the earth had been promised as a reward to
this people which lives only for this earth?
we an objective right to struggle for our self-preservation,
or is this justified only subjectively within ourselves?
I delved more deeply into the teachings of Marxism and thus
in tranquil clarity submitted the deeds of the Jewish people
to contemplation, Fate itself gave me its answer.
Jewish doctrine of Marxism rejects the aristocratic principle
of Nature and replaces the eternal privilege of power and strength
by the mass of numbers and their dead weight. Thus it denies
the value of personality in man, contests the significance of
nationality and race, and thereby withdraws from humanity the
premise of its existence and its culture. As a foundation of
the universe, this doctrine would bring about the end of any
order intellectually conceivable to man. And as, in this greatest
of ail recognizable organisms, the result of an application
of such a law could only be chaos, on earth it could only be
destruction for the inhabitants of this planet.
with the help of his Marxist creed, the Jew is victorious over
the other peoples of the world, his crown will be the funeral
wreath of humanity and this planet will, as it did thousands
of years ago, move through the ether devoid of men.
Nature inexorably avenges the infringement of her commands.
today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will
of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the
Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.