Vienna to change street named for anti-Semitic mayor

Karl Lueger Ring 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.

April 20, 2012 04:52
1 minute read.
Vienna to change street named for anti-Semitic mayor

vienna trams 224 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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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.

City officials say Karl Lueger Ring, on the Ringstrasse (Ring Boulevard), will be renamed “Universiaetsring” on Thursday, after the university on that section of the avenue.

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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.

In 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.

Jewish representatives in the city hailed the decision, but Austria’s rightist party, the country’s second-strongest political force, denounced it.

Freedom Party leader Heinz- Christian Strache called it a scandal.

“The 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.

Oskar 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 mass-murderer” Guevara.

Greens official Alexander Van der Bellen described Lueger as a “great communal politician” whose image was nonetheless besmirched with “his expressions of anti-Semitism.”

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