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Georg Ritter von Schönerer was imprisoned because of his raid on the office of a newspaper which had reported the death of Kaiser Wilhelm I prematurely. While doing so, he was drunk, hence this caricature.

Georg Ritter von Schönerer (17 July 1842 - 14 August 1921) was an Austrian politician active in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Born in Vienna as Georg Heinrich Schönerer, when his father (railroad pioneer Matthias Schönerer) was knighted in 1860 Georg too was entitled to add the noble particle von to his surname, and unofficially but by custom, also the knightly title Ritter. When his wealthy father died in 1881, he also inherited the title in his own right, thus becoming Georg (Knight of) Schönerer.

As a young man he became a political activist and got elected to Austria’s Reichsrat (Parliament) in 1873. Originally a liberal, Schönerer became more nationalist as his career progressed, and by the peak of his career had transformed into a far right politician, considered by left-leaning liberals to be even a conservative. Schönerer developed a political philosophy that featured elements of violent anti-Semitism, anti-Slavism, anti-Catholicism, authoritarianism, popular solidarism, nationalism, and Pan-Germanism, themes which appealed to many lower class Viennese. As such, Schönerer rapidly became a popular and powerful political figure. In 1879 he formed the Pan-German Party, which would become a considerable force in Austrian politics.

During these years, while the Kulturkampf divided Imperial Germany, Schönerer founded the Away from Rome! (de:Los-von-Rom-Bewegung) movement, which advocated the conversion of all Roman Catholic German speakers of Austria to Lutheran Protestantism, or, in some cases, to the Old Catholic Churches.

In 1888, Schönerer was temporarily imprisoned for ransacking a Jewish-owned newspaper office and assaulting its employees. This action increased Schönerer’s popularity and helped members of his party get elected to the Austrian Parliament. The prison sentence also resulted in the loss of his status as a noble. Schönerer himself was reelected to the Reichsrat in 1897, and later that year helped orchestrate the expulsion of Prime Minister Kasimir Felix Graf Badeni from office. Badeni had proclaimed that civil servants in Austrian-controlled Bohemia would have to know the Czech language, an ordinance which prevented many ethnic German-speakers (the majority of whom could not speak Czech) in Bohemia from applying for governmental jobs. Schönerer staged mass protests against the ordinance and disrupted parliamentary proceedings, actions which eventually caused Emperor Franz Joseph to dismiss Badeni.

Schönerer became even more powerful in 1901, when 21 members of his party gained seats in the Parliament. His career crumbled rapidly thereafter, however, due to his forceful views and personality. His party suffered as well, and had virtually disintegrated by 1907. But his views and philosophy would go on to greatly influence Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party as a whole.

Schönerer died at his castle Rosenau at Zwettl, Lower Austria on 14 August 1921. An admirer of Otto von Bismarck, he arranged to be buried near von Bismarck's mausoleum on his estate at Friedrichsruh in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany.

Notes

Regarding personal names: Ritter is a title, translated approximately as Knight, not a first or middle name. There is no equivalent female form.

He spearheaded an anti-Catholic movement under the slogan "away from Rome" and coined the pseudo-medieval greeting "Hail," or "Heil." His followers called him "the Leader" (Führer), another term which his movement most likely introduced into the vocabulary of nationalist politics.

See also

Further reading

  • Whiteside, Andrew G. (1975). The Socialism of Fools: Georg Ritter von Schönerer and Austrian Pan-Germanism. University of California Press. 
  • The Coming of the Third Reich/ Richard J. Evans (Pages 42–45) Publisher=Penguin Group, ISBN 1-59420-004-1 (hc.), ISBN 0 14 30.3469 (pmk.)
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