History in Vienna 1900


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In 1900 Vienna was the capital of a Habsburg empire that had become a political dinosaur in the world of industrial modernism. Its emperor, Franz Joseph, had come to power over fifty years earlier, following the revolutions of 1848, and he would rule for another sixteen years. In the two hundred years between 1700 and 1910, the population of Vienna grew by a factor of twenty, from a mere 123,000 to well over 2 million. As governing city of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Vienna was a vastly heterogeneous, multi-ethnic metropolis, made up of ethnic Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Poles, Russians, Romanians, Italians, to name just the principal groups. Vienna 1900 was in this sense the prototype of the "global village," and as such it was a city wrought by political tensions, giving rise to the remark by the city's premier political satirist, Karl Kraus, that it was "the proving ground of world destruction"-a prediction that would seemingly come true in the conflagration of the First World War, which was incited by the assassination of the successor to the imperial throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo in June 1914. From 1897 to 1910 Vienna was governed by the highly popular (and populist)German nationalist, anti-Semitic mayor Karl Lueger. Among those who imbibed the tenets of political anti-Semitism from the atmosphere in Vienna at this time was the young Adolf Hitler.