Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, Europe is threatened by a relapse into nationalistic and xenophobic ideologies.
The European imperative of “Never Again!” is being challenged by many, also here in Austria. At the same time, Europe’s nationalists are discovering their own fantasy of the “Christian-Jewish Occident”—as a battle cry against immigration and integration. The values of the Enlightenment, which constituted the foundation of European rapprochement in the wake of the catastrophes of the 20th century, are reversed into their opposite and turned into means of seclusion and marginalization.
Starting point for the exhibition “The Last Europeans. Jewish Perspectives on the Crises of an Idea” is a donation to the Jewish Museum Hohenems consisting of letters and documents, memorabilia and everyday objects from the Brunner family who left Hohenems for Trieste in the first half of the 19th century to contribute to the rapid development of the Habsburg metropolis in the Mediterranean region. The family’s steep social and cultural ascent ended in Europe’s evolution into a continent of mutual hatred and two world wars.
Before this background, the Jewish Museum Hohenems looks at Jewish individuals who, in light of Europe’s destruction and the attempted annihilation of the European Jews, transcended national and cultural borders and vehemently demanded the universal application of human rights once again. Based on their commitment to a united and peaceful Europe, this exhibition explores at the same time the threats facing it anew. At the same time, it will be the location of an open debate on the future of Europe scheduled to be held—in collaboration with the Central European University in Vienna—at the Jewish Museum Hohenems in 2020 and 2021. Thus, for one year, Hohenems will turn into a “Very Central European University.”