exhibition folder
Jewish Museum Vienna

Jewish Museum Vienna, April 20 - July 4, 2005

Now He"s Upset, this Tennenbaum
The 2nd Republic and Its Jews


Now he"s Upset, this Tennenbaum is a quotation from Helmut Qualtinger"s and Carl Merz" "Der Herr Karl" (Mr. Karl), a satirical one-man play that reveals the Austrian petit bourgeois as a perpetual opportunist. Tennenbaum, who has returned after 1945, holds a grudge against Herr Karl for the "pranks" he played on him in March 1938 and does not return his greetings. Herr Karl"s reaction clearly displays the specifically Austrian self-image after 1945, which is the subject of the exhibition Now He"s Upset, this Tennenbaum. The 2nd Republic and Its Jews. This is not only about individual narrow-mindedness and a basic anti-Semitic attitude in Austrian society, but also about decades of ideological dishonesty on the part of the political parties, lack of historical awareness or deliberate suppression of history as well as linguistic inconsistencies and ambiguities.

Especially in Austria"s socio-political environment of today this lack of awareness becomes apparent time and again. However, this is not an original invention of the current Austrian coalition government. Not even the blatant agitation against members of the Jewish Community is an innovation of the FP (Austrian Freedom Party). One has only to dip into history"s pocket to produce some "time-tested" stereotypes, which just have to be wrapped in fashionable clothes. Xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and concurrent hatred of Communists have never been the monopoly of the political Conservative, but have been put to political use by Liberals and Socialists alike. The present political and atmospheric situation is in the fore only insofar as it emphasizes to the extreme, where party power politics, ideological hypocrisy, and suppression or even decade-long distortion of history can lead to. It provides quasi an "ideal" case study on the consequences of the fact that a substantial portion of the new political, economic, scientific, and cultural elites after 1945 was recruited from the old elites.

Curators: Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Gerhard Milchram, Nico Wahl

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