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Union, Oesterreichisch-Israelitische

UNION, OESTERREICHISCH-ISRAELITISCHE

UNION, OESTERREICHISCH-ISRAELITISCHE (Union of Austrian Jews, later Union oesterreichischer Juden ), association representing the interests of the Jews of the Austrian Empire and standing for implementation of their equal rights. It was founded in 1882 in part as an outgrowth of J.S. Bloch's battle against a rising tide of antisemitism. The union operated a legal office which kept a watchful eye on every violation of equality in all the provinces, supporting legal action up to the highest courts, exposing and prosecuting calumnies against Jews, and intervening against any administrative discrimination. It believed that the only legally relevant criterion of a Jew was his religion, following the same line as the Central-Verein Deutscher Staatsbuerger Juedischen *Glaubens in Germany. This tenet brought it into conflict with Jewish aspirations for national autonomy. The union rejected the creation of any special category for the Jews, pointing to the fact that this was the aspiration of the antisemitic parties in order to deprive the Jews of equality in the professions and the economy. After the partition of old Austria, the union limited its activity to the Austrian Republic. It welcomed the Balfour *Declaration and supported colonization in Palestine but remained unalterably opposed to nationalist domestic policy. It lost its majority in the Vienna religious community in 1932, but in general elections the Jewish electorate did not support the Jewish national candidates. The union published an annual, Kalender fuer Israeliten (1892ff.), a weekly, Die Wahrheit (1899ff.), and a monthly, Mitteilungen (1888f.). After the 1938 Anschluss, the union and its publications ceased to exist.

bibliography:

J. Kreppel, Juden und Judentum von heute (1925); Festschrift zur Feier des 50 jaehrigen Bestandes der Union oesterreichischer Jude (1937); H. Gold, Geschichte der Juden in Wien (1966).

[Hugo Knoepfmacher]

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