Upcoming Seminar in Jewish History at CJH
Jewish Remigration to the Postwar Viennese Cabaret
Thursday, January 25, 4 PM
After 1945, a small but significant minority of Viennese Jews returned to Vienna from far-flung places of exile. Due to their reliance on the German-language and German-speaking audiences, cabaret artists featured prominently among the remigrants. In postwar Austria, cabaret artists hoped to resurrect the careers, theaters, and satirical brand of humor that they had established before 1938. However, the performers found that they had returned to a city transformed by National Socialism and the genocide of Jews.
This paper explores the variety of strategies that Jewish cabaret artists employed to navigate this stifling postwar landscape. The Vienna cabaret provides a unique and neglected opportunity to think about the interrelations between the Jewish post-genocide experience and postwar national identities in Austria. The work of the cabaret artists serves as one of the most adequate and longstanding attempts to rebuild the type of multiethnic, urban culture that had existed in the pre-Nazi period. The struggle of this group to assert a Jewish presence points to efforts to normalize Jews and Jewishness in Austrian culture already in the early postwar period. And yet, non-Jewish audiences often misunderstood the cultural work of the remigrants. Their responses lay bare the limitations of a context where German-speaking Jews, though still present in small numbers, were imagined as absent or as outsiders, and Austria was imagined as ethnically homogeneous.
Frances Tanzer is a PhD candidate at Brown University studying Jewish Vienna in the aftermath of the Holocaust. She currently holds a Dr. Sophie Bookhalter Fellowship in Jewish Culture at the Center for Jewish History.
Atina Grossmann, who will respond to Frances Tanzer’s presentation, is Professor of History in the faculty of Humanities and Social Science at the Cooper Union.
Please RSVP by emailing Judah Bernstein (email@example.com) in order to receive Frances’s pre-circulated paper. Attached please also find the seminar schedule for the spring.
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