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Austrian Jews and the Idea of Europe: Reformulating Multinationalism as a Response to the Disintegration of the habsburg Empire, 1880-1939

Sorrels, Katherine Elizabeth (2009) Austrian Jews and the Idea of Europe: Reformulating Multinationalism as a Response to the Disintegration of the habsburg Empire, 1880-1939. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The process of European political unification that began in the mid-twentieth century has taken for granted a certain idea. This is that Europe is composed of ethnonational units. My research shows that some of the central, though largely unexplored intellectual roots of the European Union challenged this idea. German-speaking Jews from the Habsburg Empire, in the period between the 1880s and the Second World War, formulated an idea of Europe that was intended to cut across enthnonational distinctions. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, German nationalism had been the gateway for Central European Jews to membership in a European civilization defined by liberal Enlightenment values. Yet the crisis of liberalism at the close of the nineteenth century saw liberal national movements turn into exclusive, ethnonational ones. The cosmopolitan, Enlightenment idea of Europe gave way to an idea of Europe whose membership was confined to sovereign ethnonational components. The multinational Austrian dynastic state and its Jews had little to gain from this development: Jews were not only unwelcome in the ethnically-defined nation state, but by extension, in all of Europe. I show that in response to the national disintegration of the Habsburg Empire, Austrian Jewish liberals, pacifists, Zionists, Diaspora nationalists, and Austro-Marxists formulated a strikingly similar cluster of European ideas. All conceived of Europe as a cultural and intellectual community constituted on the basis of a decentralized, multinational polity in which national affiliation(s) or lack thereof would be defined by individual choice. Though they offered divergent immediate solutions to antisemitism, their shared dilemma and common intellectual and cultural resources united them in imagining Europe as the long-term solution to the Jewish predicament.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Sorrels, Katherine
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairThum, Gregor
Committee CoChairScott, Jonathan
Committee MemberShear, Adam
Committee MemberOrbach, Alexander
Committee MemberDeciu Ritivoi, Andreea
Committee MemberScher, Seymour
Date: 1 October 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 14 April 2009
Approval Date: 1 October 2009
Submission Date: 15 June 2009
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alfred Fried; Austria; Cosmopolitanism; Habsburg Monarchy; Hans Kohn; Idea of Europe; Jewish History; Joseph Roth; Nathan Birnbaum; Nationalism; Oscar Jászi; Otto Bauer; Stefan Zweig; Theodor Herzl
Other ID:, etd-06152009-160801
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:47
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:44


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