The City of Vienna is renaming a section of a prominent downtown boulevard that
bears the name of a late mayor known for his anti-Semitic views.
officials say Karl Lueger Ring, on the Ringstrasse (Ring Boulevard), will be
renamed “Universiaetsring” on Thursday, after the university on that section of
Lueger was mayor from 1897 until 1910. He openly espoused
anti-Semitic sentiments, and Adolf Hitler, who lived in Vienna for part of
Lueger’s tenure, saw him as an inspiration for his hatred of Jews.
1887, he voted to restrict the immigration of Russian and Romanian Jews. Once
asked to explain the fact that many of his friends were Jews, Lueger famously
replied, “I decide who is a Jew.”
Vienna Councillor for Culture Andreas
Mailath-Pokorny of the governing Social Democrat- Greens coalition announced the
name change on Thursday, saying the city “should not act as if there were no
dark spots” in its history.
At the same time, he said, statues and other
reminders of Lueger’s tenure throughout the city will remain.
representatives in the city hailed the decision, but Austria’s rightist party,
the country’s second-strongest political force, denounced it.
Party leader Heinz- Christian Strache called it a scandal.
socialists set up a memorial for a foreign mass murderer like Che Guevara, but
an excellent Viennese mayor is stripped of a street name,” he said.
Deutsch, who represents Vienna’s Jewish community – numbering around 7,000 and
dating back to the 12th century – welcomed the move.
Alluding to the
Freedom Party, he said the name change should “also serve as a warning [to] our
present politicians who frivolously and reprehensibly use anti-Semitic, racially
motivated and xenophobic slogans.”
The centrist People’s Party – which
governs together with the Social Democrats nationally – agreed that Lueger’s
heritage needed to be examined critically.
People’s Party chief Manfred
Juraczka echoed Strache, saying the municipal coalition government did not have
the moral authority to decide on a name change after commemorating “the
Greens official Alexander Van der Bellen
described Lueger as a “great communal politician” whose image was nonetheless
besmirched with “his expressions of anti-Semitism.”