Lukas Waltl, MA

  • Posted on: 13 September 2015
  • By: marijke
About the participant: 

Lukas Waltl is a Ph.D. student at the University of Graz, where he also received his MA in German Literature and Linguistics. His dissertation project focuses on the war discourse in Austrian-Jewish periodicals during World War I. Further research interests include spatiality in literature, narratology and the author Joseph Roth. He was a part of the project "GermanJewish Literature in the Context of World War I" (funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF) and is currently working as a postgraduate researcher at the Centre for Jewish Studies (Research Core Area "Cultural History and Interpretation of Europe") at the Karl-FranzensUniversität Graz

Title of lecture: 
The Real Enemy - The Eastern Front in Austrian Jewish Periodicals

While the eastern theatre of war was a general focal point of the Austrian war effort, it held additional significance for Jewish citizens of the Habsburg Monarchy. Galicia, northeasternmost province of the Austrian state and home to more than 800.000 Jews, most of them living in very humble circumstances, became one of the battlefields of the war. Furthermore, war against Russia was seen by many Jewish Austrians as an opportunity to demonstrate allegiance to the Austrian empire as well as to fight a tsarist regime that was widely associated with pogroms and the oppression of its Jewish people. At the same time though, they were faced with a very high likelihood of having to shoot at Russian Jewish soldiers themselves when fighting in the Austrian army. Given such ambivalent constellations and the special importance the eastern front, for various reasons, held for Austrian Jewry, Jewish periodicals with different programmes reacted with the production of various narratives which were separate from but not independent of the official propaganda. Thanks to "Compact Memory", an online archive dedicated to digitalised German-language Jewish periodicals from the 19th and early 20th century, the wartime issues of many Austrian Jewish periodicals are easily available today. Yet, most approaches to them have remained either rather superficial or selective. While trying to give an insight into an Austrian Jewish reading of the eastern theatre of war, I particularly want to discuss questions of methodology and mediality one is faced with when dealing with such periodicals.