The Vienna Jewish Museum is currently holding a special exhibition highlighting the Jewish role in the creation of the Soviet Union and Communism, titled “Comrade Jew: We Only Wanted Paradise on Earth” (Genosse. Jude. Wir wollten nur das Paradies auf Erden) using a Soviet era cartoon of Karl Marx in a Moses pose holding tablets inscribed with “Das Kapital” and the “Communist Manifesto.”
According to the Museum’s official website, the exhibition marks the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, and runs until May 1, 2018.
According to the write up which accompanies the official leaflet, the exhibition focusses on the fact that the Communists “attracted many Jews seeking a radical break after centuries of anti-Semitism in the Czarist empire,” and that the “utopian idea of an egalitarian society prompted them to support the new state.”
In Austria, the museum adds in its write up, “antisemitism in the bourgeois parties in particular made the workers’ movement into a political option for Jews, and there were close links between Russian and Austrian Marxists.
“The exhibition focuses on the failed dream of a better world. We look at the idea of an egalitarian society from an Austrian Jewish perspective and trace diplomatic, political, social, and cultural connections,” the exhibition introduction states.
A New York Times report (“The Jews who Dreamed of Utopia”) on the exhibition provides some additional details, telling its readers that visitors to the exhibition are “greeted by a bust of Karl Marx” who is described as “wild-haired” and presiding over “the first gallery of an ambitious, searching show on religion and revolution, uniting paintings, posters, propaganda, film clips, and a fair amount of Soviet kitsch.”
The display is, the NYT continues, an “extensive overview of the dreams and nightmares of communism and international socialism, as seen through the lives and work of Jewish politicians, philosophers and artists: not just Marx, but also Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, El Lissitzky, and many others.”
The NYT journalist, Jason Farago, feels obligated to tell his readers that “You don’t need me to tell you that this is still hot stuff, a hundred years on. That many communists were Jews has, with horrible frequency, been twisted to imply that all Jews were communists.
“The Nazis cast ‘Jewish Bolshevism’ as a single scourge, and the return this decade of the far right has also witnessed a hideous return of anti-Semitism, not just in Europe but in the United States as well.”
Even though Farago has just claimed that it was not true that “all Jews were Communists”—even though many Communists were Jews—he goes straight on to confirm the accuracy of the Nazi allegation, saying that “Jews did make up a disproportionate percentage of leftist utopians.
“To this show’s list, we could add Karl Kautsky, Gyorgy Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Isaac Deutscher, and many Americans.
“And for poor East European Jews — especially the millions in western Russia who faced political repression and frequent pogroms — the international workers’ movement offered a tantalizing freedom.
From the Jewish Museum in Vienna: A Ukranian election poster in Yiddish from 1917 reads “Vote for the United Jewish Socialist Workers’ Party.
“A red flag in the exhibit screams ‘Down with the Tsarist constitution!’ in Yiddish.
“Election banners advocate the Poale Zion, a Jewish party aligned with the Mensheviks.
The Poale Zion banner on display at the Jewish Museum in Vienna. Poale Zion was the communist Jewish Zionist movement, which later went on to be the movement which founded the present day Israeli Labour Party, and which is the ideological grandfather of all “socialist” parties in Europe which are pro-Zionist.
“A copy of the Russian newspaper Pravda, edited by the exiled Trotsky (born Lev Davidovich Bronstein) from Vienna, bellows for workers of the world to unite.
The image of Leon Trotsky (real name Bronstein) on display in the Jewish Museum in Vienna. Bronstein was the foremost advocate of the “world socialism” view which is the ideological grandfather of present-day Trotskyites, or far left Socialists, who tend to be anti-Zionist because of the intrinsically nationalist nature of Zionism.
“In the early days of the Soviet Union, Jews not only held top political positions but also occupied central positions in the artistic avant-garde,” the article continues.
“The director Dziga Vertov, in films like ‘Man With a Movie Camera,’ set about creating a cinematic language for a new world.
“El Lissitzky, who earlier printed folksy lithographs of Passover stories, now painted geometric collisions such as ‘Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge’ (1920).”
The NYT article then goes on to detail the later split between Communist Jews and the Zionist socialists, which then sped up after the establishment of the state of Israel—a nationalist sentiment which clashed directly with the supposed international socialist worldview of Communism.
The NYT journalist of course cannot complete the article without referring to the “danger” of Austria’s Freedom Party. As it says:
“But downstairs, in the Jewish Museum’s permanent collection display, I saw something I have never before seen in a historical museum: a screenshot of a Facebook post, presented with the same care and regard as centuries’ worth of Judaica.
“The post features an image of a fat, sweaty banker, with a hooked nose and stars on his cuff links, gorging on delicacies while a starving fellow diner, labeled “the people,” has only a bone to eat.
“The man who posted it is Heinz-Christian Strache: the leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party and, since December, the country’s vice chancellor. A specter is haunting Europe today, and it is not the one these comrades foresaw.”