Bettauer, Hugo

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BETTAUER, HUGO (1872–1925), Viennese journalist and novelist. Bettauer converted to Protestantism at the age of 18 and after a period in Zurich went to the United States, where he first worked in business and later taught German literature. In 1899 he returned to Europe as an American citizen, settled in Berlin, and became a journalist for the Berliner Morgenpost, a newspaper of the *Ullstein publishing house. He was several times imprisoned for offending Emperor William ii and the Prussian police, causing him finally to be expelled from the country. Back in New York, he worked on German newspapers published by the Hearst group. In 1908 he returned to Vienna, where he worked for the Zeit and the Neue Freie Presse. He wrote several novels, successful in their time, which were also filmed, the most noteworthy of these being Stadt ohne Juden (1922; The City without Jews, 1926). The novel dealt with the extreme antisemitic atmosphere in Vienna after World War i, which was mainly directed at Jewish war refugees from Eastern Europe: A utopian state, akin to the first Austrian republic, expels all Jews for economic and antisemitic reasons; as a result it breaks down completely and decides to call its Jewish population back. The novel, as well as the film version by Hans Karl Breslauer (1924), aroused controversy in Vienna and Berlin. In 1924 Bettauer founded the periodical Er und Sie: Wochenschrift fuer Erotik und Lebenskultur (later Bettauers Wochenschrift), advocating sex education, abortion, and homosexuality, but also calling attention to unemployment and poverty. His views made him the focus of attacks from right-wing newspapers. In March 1925 he was murdered in his office by the National-Socialist Otto Rothstock.


M.G. Hall, Der Fall Bettauer (1978); F. Krobb, "Vienna Goes to Pot without Jews: Hugo Bettauer's Novel Die Stadt ohne Juden," in: The Jewish Quarterly 42 (1994), 17–20. add. bibliography: Die Stadt ohne Juden, ed. G. Geser and A. Loacker (2000).

[Mirjam Triendl (2nd ed.)]