Olga Neuwirth: ‘Austria is always the trailblazer for hatred’


A 1924 silent movie that predicted the horrors of anti-semitism has a new score by the Austrian Jewish composer. She explains why the bitter satire resonates so powerfully today

“Antisemitism is in the DNA of Austrians,” says Olga Neuwirth. “Maybe it skipped a generation but now it’s back – along with hatred for refugees.” We are speaking in a hotel bar in Vienna ahead of the premiere of the Austrian composer’s score for an extraordinary silent movie from 1924 called The City Without Jews, and she is worried about how it will go down with the locals.

After all, she says, it’s not long ago that anti-Muslim protesters interrupted a performance at Vienna University of a play about refugees, storming the stage to unfurl a banner reading “multi-culturalism kills”.

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