This corresponded exactly to the instruction that had been received in all newspaper editors on 7 November: „In one’s own comments it should be pointed out that the assassination of the Jews must have grave consequences for the Jews in Germany,“ was one of the demands enumerated therein. The use of words like „plague“ and „defensive combat“ did not dictate the order.
„Especially nasty and horrible“
Why journalists in Austria sometimes wrote „particularly nasty and horrible“, can be difficult to answer in retrospect, says Hausjell. Certainly, even before the seizure of power by the Nazis in Austria, there was a pronounced anti-Semitism. After March 1938, some „people simply gave up“. Some might also have tried to prove that they are one hundred percent convinced of the regime, the media historian suspects. In November 1938 many journalists were still checking the Reich Press Chamber for their political reliability.
In addition, the Viennese newspaper landscape had been decimated until the autumn of 1938. The subsidy ban for the press led to a clear-cutting, so Hausjell. „Then many newspapers disappear from the scene.“ This should also make room for the newly founded newspapers and those leaves, which are now completely in the possession of the NSDAP. The „Wiener Zeitung“ was once again under pressure. The Viennese branch of the „Volkischer Beobachter“ had kept an eye on the official statements of the „Wiener Zeitung“.
Criminalization as a goal
It was not until the days before the pogrom that the newspapers wrote nationwide against the Jews in Germany. Their alleged criminality was referred where possible. Every small offense that could be associated with Jewish citizens was widely broked in the media. In the last week of October, the newspapers reported across the pages of a raid on a German tour group in Antwerp. The suspected perpetrators are said to have been Jews.
On November 9, the „Wiener Zeitung“ raised a report on „extensive weapons finds by Berlin Jews“ on the title page. Directly above it was to be read in a short message of „spontaneous demonstrations of the population in Kurhessen against Jews“. According to Hausjell, the order came from Berlin to lift the message on the front page.
Silence on victims and violence
As much as the newspapers had drummed up the violence, so marginal was the coverage of the actual atrocities. Thousands of Jewish businesses were demolished and plundered in the entire „German Reich“. Jews were dragged out of their homes, humiliated and mistreated. Nearly 30,000 people were arrested by the Nazi terror apparatus, and most were deported to concentration camps. For Vienna alone, the deportation of 4,000 Jews to the Dachau concentration camp is proven. Officially, 91 people were killed – in fact, the number of murdered should be significantly higher. For Austria only, historian Botz goes from 20 to 30 murdered Jews to the revision of the Vienna death register.
There was nothing to read in the newspapers. According to Hausjell, there was absolutely nothing in the supraregional media about concrete riots. Here the regime had world politics in mind. In the regional newspapers has been a bit reported to satisfy the „need of the population,“ says Hausjell. The „Volkischer Beobachter“ has already brought some fine reports. They have to name and describe the incalculable destruction work „, notes Botz.
Propaganda against pity
The radio reportage by Eldon Wali, which was recorded on 10 November in front of the ruins of the synagogue in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt, achieved notoriety. The reporter is happy about the destruction, taunts the Jews and blames them for the violence. In his cynicism, the radio contribution may once again stand out. In his argument, he is for Hausjell but „nothing out of the ordinary“.
For one thing, the propaganda strategy was about not pitying the Jews. On the other hand, the media had said, „the Jews do not do anything, they are treated properly anyway,“ says the media historian. Quick references to incidents elsewhere in the world were also at hand. States that criticized violence in the „German Reich“ were branded hypocrites. In „summary reports“, the newspapers assembled anti-Semitic incidents from around the world by press release.
Hausjell speaks of a „post-processing phase that lasts for an astonishingly long time, lasting several weeks and blending into the further steps of systematic disenfranchisement“. Already on 11 November all newspapers had printed the edict of Joseph Goebbels. In it, the propaganda minister called for an end to the riots and announced: „The final answer to the assassination in Paris will be granted by law or regulation to Judaism.“ Three years later began the systematic mass murder of Europe’s Jews.