This paper discusses discourses and commemorative activities of the Austrian “Federation of Jewish War Veterans” (Bund jüdischer Frontsoldaten/BJF). It is based on the analysis of the journal “Jewish Front” (Jüdische Front) as well as on archival sources. A remarkable increase in anti-Semitic activities as well as acts of violence committed by the National Socialists led former Jewish soldiers of the Austrian army to found the BJF in 1932. The aim of the BJF was to defend Austrian Jewry against anti-Semitic accusations as well as to strengthen their Jewish self-consciousness by focusing on the remembrance of Jewish military service during the Great War and on an idealized and exaggerated war experience. To reach their objectives, the BJF was organized hierarchically and militarily. The members wore uniforms, and the BJF organized military inspections, spread propaganda via the journal “Jewish Front” and initiated the erection of Jewish war memorials in several Austrian cities. Due to the fact that the BJF wanted to unify Austrian Jewry under its leadership, it claimed to be above all party lines and propagandized a common Austrian Jewish identity.
Author: Gerald Lamprecht