Courts of Injustice

Lisa Silverman

in Becoming Austrians

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199794843
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950072 | DOI:
Courts of Injustice

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter examines four murder trials that became stages upon which tensions between city and province intertwined with Jewishness, revealing its function as a deeply engrained system used to shape contemporary interpretations of unexpected events in unstable times. Philipp Halsmann was tried and convicted twice for the murder of his father Max, a dentist from Riga, who was bludgeoned to death while the two were climbing in the Alps. The dramatic rhetoric used during the trial, along with the lack of evidence or viable motive, evoked centuries-old accusations against Jews for blood libel. These trials mirrored two other interwar murder trials in Vienna that are now interpreted as two egregious examples of antisemitic violence: the public assassinations of author Hugo Bettauer and philosophy professor Moritz Schlick. However, their non-Jewish assassins avoided heavy punishment by engaging more modern forms of antisemitism to legitimate their violent acts.

Keywords: Philipp Halsmann; Moritz Schlick; Hugo Bettauer; antisemitism; murder; trials

Chapter.  15786 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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