Jewish identity in the long 19th Century

The period of Austrian administration in Dalmatia began with the development of steam navigation, the clustering of transport, trade and industry in large urban centers and with the companies with large capital. Austria supported the development of Trieste as its main port; Hungary had the same policy toward Rijeka.
Split and Dubrovnik became isolated and slowly fell into disrepair. As the most prosperous families of the Dalmatian Jews moved mainly to Trieste, the poorer families of Bosnian Sephardic Jews took their place; they were mostly small artisans and traders.
With the Austro-Hungarian occupation and the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Ashkenazi Jews started to settle there. In addition to Dalmatia, the Sephardic Jews especially settled in Zagreb. The occupation and the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina brought new organization, administration, new trading rules, a new official language, etc. All this prompted Bosnian Jews, to turn toward the Western countries and to educate their children in Austrian and Hungarian cities.

The Edict of Tolerance of Joseph II was guided by the idea of the necessity of the improvement of the Jews, or of turning the Jews into useful citizens; in addition to social and economic reforms it banished traditional Jewish self-government. The Maskilim functioned on a similar premise, the need for Jewish self-improvement, in order to become useful and acceptable members of society.
Finally, Haskalah occurred in the areas where there had been no Jewish emancipation. Haskalah was followed by the Reform movement and the orthodox reaction to it. In Croatia and Slavonia reform/neologists prevailed, while Dalmatian communities were too small and within other context to experience these processes.
In this very complex period the permanent settlement of Jews in Croatia and Slavonia had begun. Creation of a modern Jewish identity, in the entire Monarchy, was complicated by the nationality conflicts. The Jews that settled Croatia and Slavonia at the time of settlement and throughout the 19th Century spoke German and Hungarian, that were perceived as the languages of the dominant nations in the Monarchy in that period.
However, after the settlement, the integration-assimilation concept prevailed. There were even Jews members of Croatian national movement; the role model, but not the only example for this conception is Vid Haj Morpurgo from Austrian Dalmatia.
At the same time Jewish national movements appeared in the Monarchy and by end of 19th and especially in the 20th century the Zionist ideology engages mainly middle class, the students and intelligentsia, while the poorest classes remained apolitical in the beginning. Later, a large number of them became involved with the left-wing political movements, especially in the inter-war period.
This article was presented at The International Historico-Cultural Symposium;
Mogersdorf, Austria, 2009.
(c) Naida Michal Brandl