Anti-Semitism & Tourism in Austria:
Jews in Austria′s 19th century spa towns - Part II

Back to anti-Semitism, back to 1897: This is the year, when Kitzbühel decided to ignore bookings from Jewish customers. The town even advertised this in its brochures. Other places in Styria, like Schladming, and almost the entire Wachau (popular for short visits from Vienna) followed and declared Jews as "unwanted". According to the Salzburger Nachrichten, at some point the number of spa towns that rejected Jews was twice as high in Austria than in all of Germay.

Similar to Ischgl today, several spa towns did not participate in this and did actually make a fair amount of money by earning themselves a reputation for accepting Jewish customers. This applied to Bad Ischl and Bad Aussee in the Salzkammergut and today′s Bad Gastein in the Alps of Salzburg. In 1920, an association of teachers in Upper Austria publicly criticised Bad Ischl for having so many Jewish guests.

One needs to see all these events in the background of its days - Jewish people have had decades to assimilate and many actively refused, considered their Jewish identity to be both religious and national. This does not go well in an age in which national ideas fuel the bonding of people like no other force before. Anti-Semitism appears to be a rather logical result, and it was not a typically Austrian feature - other European nations were very similar. Even in the United States, up to JFK′s presidency, many hotels denied access to Jewish or black customers. In Austria, ironically the Catholic Fascists that ruled the country between 1933 and 1938 released the first anti-discrimination laws that banned hotels from such actions.

Jewish Tourism & Travel in Austria Today

Probably because they wanted to underline the difference to Germany, possibly also because of the high number of financially potent and influential Jews among Vienna′s population. In any case, today′s Austrian tourism industry has no scruples whatsoever to pimp out the country′s Jewish and Nazi heritage.

There is a Kosher ski hotel in Saalbach-Hinterglemm and I know of a hotel in Vienna that serves kosher food to appeal to Jewish tourists - the latter one likes to keep this quiet, because it is worried to be marked as a "Jewish hotel" (it is run by an non-Jewish Austrian family) and become the target of anti-Semitic actions. And tour guides, books and parts of the Austrian Jewish community ruthlessly sell every single mark that Jews have left in Austria - ideally to wealthy North American visitors.

For that, they often shamelessly exaggerate the significance of the Jewish community in Austria, which up to the 19th century was relatively small - once again imposing a role and underlining the aspect of "them being different" But then again, I am nothing better than that - considering the whole bunch of articles on that deal with Jewish-Austrian Vienna, history and sightseeing - it is an alliance between mostly American tourists of Jewish descent, the fascination of evil represented by Austria′s Nazi past and the tourism industry that is happy to sell whatever sells well. Enjoy!

Return to "Anti-Semitism in Austrian Spa Towns - Part I"

back to "background"

Further Reading

A Jewish History of Austria

Jewish Sightseeing in Vienna

Jewish Sightseeing in Austria

Interview on Austrian anti-Semitism