The Meaning of Jewish-Catholic Encounter in the Austrian Refugee Camps


  • James P. Niessen



antisemitism, Austria, Catholic Church, Friedrich Heer, Jews, Leopold Ungar, György Kis, refugees


This study takes its point of departure from reports of antisemitic incidents among Hungarians in Austrian refugee camps at the end of 1956. These incidents may have been provoked by agents from Communist Hungary who had penetrated the camps and found ground for provocation among the refugees. The author argues their true significance should be sought in the contemporary history of Catholic Hungary and Austria. Special attention is given to the biography of the journalist and historian, Friedrich Heer, and the priest, Leopold Ungar, who challenged the Austrian church to greater openness. An additional analysis is provided of the confrontation with the Catholic Jewish question conducted by Fathers György Kis, John Österreicher, and Alois Eckert. The engagement of Eckert and Ungar with the Hungarian refugees emerges as a prelude to the reconciliation of the Catholic Church with Judaism in the constitution Nostra Aetate of the Second Vatican Council.






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