This article explores the Jewish question in the context of the 1907 Romanian Peasants’ Revolt through the novels of the Austrian Jewish communist Leo Katz. Katz witnessed the uprising as a youth from his native village situated on the border between the Habsburg Empire, Romania, and Tsarist Russia. He wrote two novels about the revolt: one in 1940 and the other in 1946. The present study examines the violent clashes that unfolded at the border and how the writer approached the concept of antisemitism in the context of the revolt. Relying mainly on Katz’s personal papers, the article shows that Katz’s understanding of antisemitism was related to his communist beliefs. This changed following debates on antisemitism that he and other German-speaking communists had while in exile in Mexico, where Katz spent most of World War Il. Although Katz includes more details on antisemitism in his second novel, he does not address the anti-Jewish violence perpetrated by the rural masses, which is an aspect otherwise well documented by the Austro-Hungarian border authorities. Katz’s novels are the most comprehensive Jewish narratives on the 1907 Romanian Peasants’ Revolt and represent a Jewish intellectual’s struggle to make sense of the rising antisemitism in that tri-border area at the turn of the twentieth century.
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Kaltenbrunner, A. “Burning Villages”: Leo Katz’s Novels on the 1907 Romanian Peasants’ Revolt and the Question of Antisemitism. JEW HIST 36, 337–364 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10835-022-09442-6
- Leo Katz
- German-speaking communists
- Habsburg Empire
- Romanian Peasants’ Revolt, 1907
- Jewish refugees