Jewish Museum Vienna Opens "The Viennese Rothschilds. A Thriller"

More+Photo Galleries ♦ Published: December 17, 2021; 16:14 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Jewish Museum Vienna has opened a new exhibition entitled "The Viennese Rothschilds. A thriller," which covers the history of the Rothschild family in Austria. Learn more about the new exhibit and see some pictures from inside.

Part of the new exhibition "The Viennese Rothschilds. A thriller," at the Jewish Museum Vienna. / Picture: © Magistrat der Stadt Wien / PID / David Bohmann

The Jewish Museum Vienna is presenting a new exhibition entitled “The Viennese Rothschilds. A thriller.”

The museum believes that many people have forgotten the achievements of the Rothschild family in Vienna and wants to remind people of their history and accomplishments with this exhibition.

A Jewish success story and anti-Semitic hostility

The rise of the Rothschild family began at the beginning of the 19th century. In the beginning, there was Mayer Amschel Rothschild, a Frankfurt Jew from a humble background. He made a career through hard work and sent his five sons into the world.

One of his sons, Salomon von Rothschild, went to Vienna and became the banker of the Austrian State Chancellor Metternich and quickly rose to become one of Austria's leading entrepreneurs.

The name Rothschild became a positive symbol for a Jewish success story but also a negative cliché in anti-Semitic propaganda.

The history of the Rothschilds in Vienna and Austria reads like a thriller at times. They had to assert themselves against competitors, became involved in conflicts, and were confronted with anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Again and again, they stood up for their oppressed and persecuted fellow believers and founded many educational and charitable foundations for the general public.

In 1938, the Gestapo arrested Louis Rothschild and held him hostage for a year in order to extort the Rothschild’s fortune.

After the end of World War II, a large part of their stolen property was restituted, but they had to “dedicate” important works to Austrian museums. As reported by Vindobona, the restitution procedure continues to this day.

Yet the story of the Rothschilds in Austria continues. A commission of experts appointed by the Vienna State Parliament investigated the history of the Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild Foundation for the Mentally Ill, but only until 1963. In November 2021, the commission recommended the installation of memorial plaques on the pavilions on the Rosenhügel.

Top-class and surprising objects

The exhibition in the Jewish Museum Vienna is also characterized by special objects and loans.

For example, there is a painting by the most important Dutch portrait painter of the 17th century, Franz Hals.

Loans from Austrian museums include a model of the Vienna Nordbahnhof from the Technical Museum and a crocodile that was shot on a safari and was handed over to the Natural History Museum by the Rothschild family in 1930.

A stone sphinx, which greets visitors at the beginning of the exhibition, was part of the former palace on Prinz-Eugen-Straße and is representative of the often forgotten history of the Rothschilds in Vienna.

Exhibition can be seen until June 5, 2022

“The Viennese Rothschilds. A thriller” is currently on display and can be seen until June 5, 2022, at the Jewish Museum Vienna.

A catalog for the exhibition, curated by Gabriele Kohlbauer-Fritz and Tom Juncker and designed by Schuberth and Schuberth, will be published by Amalthea Verlag at a price of € 29.90.

The Jewish Museum Vienna is located at Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Vienna. It is open from Sunday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

City of Vienna

Jewish Museum Vienna