The Compromise of Return
Viennese Jews after the Holocaust
The Compromise of Return: Viennese Jews after the Holocaust explores the motivations and expectations that inspired Viennese Jews to reestablish lives in their hometown after the devastation and trauma of the Holocaust. Elizabeth Anthony investigates their personal, political, and professional endeavors, revealing the contours of their experiences of returning to a post-Nazi society, with full awareness that most of their fellow Austrians had embraced the Nazi takeover and their country’s unification with Germany—clinging to a collective national identity myth as "first victim" of the Nazis. Anthony weaves together archival documentation with oral histories, interviews, memoirs, and personal correspondence to craft a multilayered, multivoiced narrative of return focused on the immediate postwar years. The book consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 begins with setting the historical scene and political context to elucidate the backdrop for the role and position of Jews in Austrian and Viennese society. Chapter 2 begins just before the Soviet conquest of Vienna in April 1945 and with the story of the last Jews murdered in Vienna. Chapter 3 deals with the second group of returning Jews—concentration camp survivors—and outlines their varied processes and journeys, as they also followed their impulse to go to their familial home. Chapter 4 presents how their parties shaped their motivations and expectations of home while they lived abroad after fleeing from the Nazis. Chapter 5 illuminates the return and rerooting of Austrian Jewish professionals, including their struggles and successes. Chapter 6 expounds common challenges encountered by all groups of returnees while relaunching their lives in Vienna, with a focus on developing postwar identity concepts—both Viennese Jewish identity and Austrian national identity. The Compromise of Return is the first such social history to depict how survivors—individually and collectively—navigated postwar Vienna’s political and social setting. This book will be of special interest to scholars, students, and readers of Holocaust and European studies.