Dollfuss War on Hitlerism Lifts Load from Austrian Jewry, Observer Reports
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Dollfuss War on Hitlerism Lifts Load from Austrian Jewry, Observer Reports

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“We in America can never realize the profound effect the victory of Hitlerism in Germany had upon the Jews of Austria,” said Dr. Samuel R. Wachtell, who has just returned from an extended business trip through Austria and Hungary. “Upon the minds and consciousness of the Jews of Austria was imprinted the dreadful fear that they would share the fate of their German brethren. They felt that they were living literally on the edge of the abyss. Now that fear is lifted and they are catching their breath.”

Dr. Wachtell is a member of the legal firm of Wachtell, Mannheim and Grouf, which represents many Austrian and Hungarian clients in this country.

“When I reached Paris,” he said, “I went to the railroad station to arrange my passage to Vienna. I knew that there were two routes, one that went through Germany and another through Switzerland. Naturally I chose the Swiss route, but found it difficult to obtain a reservation, the trains that avoided Germany being crowded to capacity.


“Finally I got a ticket and boarded the train. About four the next morning I was awakened by a horrid dream in which Storm Troopers had seized me and were going to show me exactly what would happen to an American advocate of the anti-German boycott. When I drew the blind of the sleeper, I saw that we were in Stuttgart, Germany, and the porter informed me that we would reach Austria at noon. That morning I fasted, but none the less the Reichsbahn [German railroad system] received money that had never been intended for them.

“Everywhere I went, both in Austria and Hungary,” declared Dr. Wachtell, “the sole topic of conversation among Jews and even Gentiles was Hitlerism. This is true today when the situation has cleared considerably and Hitlerism is no longer the menace it was, in Austria.”

Dr. Wachtell brought back the news that Chancellor Dollfuss is extremely popular in Austria today, primarily as a result of the excellent press he received in the various countries of Europe. “The Austrians, like all civilized people, are somewhat cynical and sceptical of their contemporary great men. But they have suddenly awakened to the fact that the world thinks Dollfuss a great man. Now they also think so. Dollfuss’s prestige has won over the straddlers and Hitlerism in Austria is on the down-grade. Another important factor in the situation has been the attitude of the responsible spokesmen of the Catholic Church in Austria, who took a very reasonable and liberal position. The Jews are swimming along with this powerful current, so that at the present time, their position is secure.

“The Austrian Jews, even those who were farthest from Judaism, are now race conscious and proudly so.

“Another effect of Hitlerism has been the creation of an ironclad boycott of all German goods in Vienna and all Austria,” said Dr. Wachtell. “German goods are not even being shown in many places. I went to a department store in company with some Gentile friends in order to purchase a gift for a friend. The saleslady showed us a beautiful umbrella of a type formerly made in Germany and before I even had a chance to ask, said very quickly, ‘I assure you this was not made in Germany’. Only one store in all Vienna still carries the once familiar sign, ‘Jewish patronage is not desired’ and when I inquired I was told that they are doing very little business.”

Dr. Wachtell told of a conversation with Dr. Richard Beer-Hoffmann, the great Austrian-Jewish poet. Dr. Hoffmann’s books were burned in the Berlin bonfire. For some time the poet went around in a daze, utterly unable to realize the full implications of what had happened. Then Dr. Hoffman became desperately ill. Now, upon his convalescent bed, he declared “there are two gains to be counted as the result of Hitlerism: a heightened Zionist consciousness and a heightened sense of racial pride and consciousness.”


“And if you want to know what some of the Germans think of Hitlerism,” said Dr. Wachtell, “let me tell you of a conversation related to me by a great Austrian industrialist. This gentleman had a conference with one of his important German customers, also a manufacturer.

“After their business was concluded, the German asked the Viennese, ‘What are you doing about Hitler?’ The Austrian, terribly embarrassed and afraid to lose a customer, mumbled something about Dollfuss taking some steps to maintain Austrian independence. ‘You fools,’ exclaimed the German, ‘don’t you see what has happened to us? We German industrialists supported Hitler, thinking he would save us from Bolshevism. Now we have something worse than Bolshevism. If you have any sense you will fight as though your backs were against the wall. Otherwise our fate will be yours’.”

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