“Souslov reports to the CPSU Central Committee on Zionist activities, asserting that the Vienna government has not given up on establishing a Judenreich in the Habsburg Empire. He points to the Six-Day War as evidence of his assertions, suspecting that it was a preparation for the takeover of Slovenia, Bohemia, Slovakia, and Hungary. The events in Warsaw and Prague are said to have been provoked by Zionist elements under orders from Vienna.”
“The 1953 war ended in military victory, but no treaty recognizes the Jewish state’s occupation of the security strip along the borders with Hungary and Czechoslovakia. A continuous line of barbed wire separates the two Communist countries from the Republic of the Jewish People. Gunboats still block the Danube, prohibiting all river access to Bratislava. Czechoslovakia and Hungary no longer issue visas to nationals of the Republic of the Jewish People. Silence envelops Prague’s old Jewish quarter, and there are no more pilgrims at the Maharal’s grave or flowers in front of Kafka’s house.”
“After Stalin’s speech and the arrests in Prague and Moscow, the Jewish government in Vienna puts its armed forces on high alert. Abba Eban, the government’s delegate to the Allies, tirelessly travels to Western capitals to obtain arms and military equipment.”
“The idea of the State of the Jews was born right here in Vienna. The city where Theodor Herzl founded Zionism is today becoming the capital of the first sovereign Jewish state since the destruction of the Kingdom of Judea. I therefore proclaim the independence of the Danube Republic of the Jewish people. As these people are referred to in its historic language as Israel, we hereby solemnly proclaim the independence of Israel.”
“By the end of 1947, the Jewish Agency estimates the number of Jews living in the Judenstaat at three million. The Soviet troops withdraw, as agreed, in line with the population transfers. At the beginning of May 1948, only a handful of regiments remain, stationed on the outskirts of Vienna. Marshal Koniev assumes their command and suspends the withdrawal on February 25, in order to be in a position to provide “fraternal assistance” to the Communists who had just seized power in Prague.”
“Rabbis were easily found to sweep away the objections of traditionalists attached to the ancestral land, with the help of Talmudic quotations. Max Brod takes on the task of convincing the Tel Aviv intellectuals gathered for the occasion in the Habima Theater. A return to Vienna, as in the days when he roamed the Graben in the company of Franz Kafka, his joyride companion, was beyond hope! Especially if the heads of the Jewish Agency agreed to make the reconstruction of the Burgtheater and the Opera a priority, in addition to the reopening of the cafés.”
“- Zionism as an idea comes from Vienna. It was an Austrian journalist, Theodor Herzl, who launched it. That’s why, with the agreement of our great comrade Stalin, I’ve come to propose that we give Austria to the Jews so that they can build their state.
—But, Churchill exclaims, what are you going to do with the Austrians?
—That hardly matters, sneers Beria… The Austrian Nazis will go to Germany like all the others… on whatever piece of territory we’re willing to leave to those German dogs. Hitler is an Austrian, you’re not going to pity his kind…”
“Longing” was first published in Yiddish in the New York online magazine ‘Yiddish branzhe’. It is the epilogue of a novel in Yiddish that Ber Kotlerman, professor of Yiddish language and literature at Bar-Ilan University, will soon publish with the Swedish publisher Olniansky Tekst. Ber Kotlerman, who was born in Irkutsk in 1971, has the distinction of having grown up in Birobidzhan. The “autonomous Jewish region” founded in 1934 as part of the USSR is the backdrop to his book.
“The discordance between them, latent since her American years, became manifest when, the previous year, she published in a “Jewish magazine” – as he had said in a reproachful tone – her story “Mamie-louche” about her grandmother and her Marrano Jewishness. Since then, a fault line has opened up, gradually separating two people who believed in the eternity of their dance together.”
With the support of:
Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.