The House of Wittgenstein

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
The House of Wittgenstein
'The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end'

to view images full size click on image and open in a new tab

The Jewish Wittgensteins were one of Europe's richest families - living in a vast palace in Vienna.
At one point Karl Wittgenstein was one of the richest men in Europe.
According to a family tree, prepared in Jerusalem after World War II, Wittgenstein's paternal great-grandfather was Moses Meier, a Jewish land agent who lived with his wife, Brendel Simon, in Bad Laasphe in the Principality of Wittgenstein, Westphalia.

In July 1808, Napoleon issued a decree that everyone, including Jews, must adopt an inheritable family surname, and so Meier's son, also Moses, took the name of his employers, the Sayn-Wittgensteins, and became Moses Meier Wittgenstein.
His son, Hermann Christian Wittgenstein - who took the middle name "Christian" to distance himself from his Jewish background - married Fanny Figdor, also Jewish, who converted to Protestantism just before they married, and the couple founded a successful business trading in wool in Leipzig.
Ludwig Wittgenstein's grandmother, Fanny Figdor, was a first cousin of the famous violinist Joseph Joachim.
They had 11 children - among them Wittgenstein's father.
Karl Wittgenstein (1847–1913) became an industrial tycoon, and by the late 1880s was one of the richest men in Europe, with an effective monopoly on Austria's steel cartel.
Thanks to Karl, the Wittgensteins became the second wealthiest family in Austria-Hungary, behind only the infamous Rothschilds.
As a result of his decision in 1898 to invest substantially in the Netherlands and in Switzerland, as well as overseas, particularly in the US, the family was to an extent shielded from the hyperinflation that hit Austria in 1922.
However, their wealth diminished due to post-1918 hyperinflation, and subsequently during the Great Depression, although even as late as 1938 they owned 13 (!) mansions in Vienna alone.

Karl Wittgenstein
and Leopoldine Kalmus
Ludwig Wittgenstein's mother was Leopoldine Kalmus, known among friends as Poldi.
Her father was a Bohemian Jew, (a Jew from Böhmen), and her mother was Austrian-Slovene Catholic - she was Wittgenstein's maternal grandmother, and the only non-Jewish grandparent, whose ancestry was Austrian and so, by Jewish law, Wittgenstein was not Jew in the religious sense, although he was Jewish racially.

Familie Wittgenstein - Neuwaldegg - 1899
Paul (right) and Ludwig (left) in sailor suites
She was an aunt of the Nobel Prize laureate Friedrich Hayek on her maternal side. 
Wittgenstein was born at 8:30 pm on 26 April 1889 in the 'Wittgenstein Palace' at Alleegasse 16, now the Argentinierstrasse, near the Karlskirche.
Karl and Poldi had nine children in all.
There were four girls: Hermine, Margaret (Gretl), Helene, and a fourth daughter who died as a baby; and five boys: Johannes (Hans), Kurt, Rudolf (Rudi), Paul - who became a rather eccentric concert pianist, despite losing an arm in World War 1 - and Ludwig, who was the youngest of the family.
The children were baptized as Catholics, and raised in an exceptionally 'intense' environment.
The family was at the center of Vienna's cultural life; Bruno Walter described the life at the Wittgensteins' palace as an "all-pervading atmosphere of humanity and culture".

The Secession Building - Wien
Karl was a leading patron of the arts, commissioning works by Auguste Rodin, and financing the city's exhibition hall and art gallery, the Secession Building.

Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt painted Wittgenstein's sister for her wedding portrait, and Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler gave regular concerts in the family's numerous music rooms.

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d'art. Klimt's primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by a frank eroticism. In addition to his figurative works, which include allegories and portraits, he painted landscapes.
Margaret "Gretl"

Margaret "Gretl" Stonborough-Wittgenstein (September 19, 1882 – September 27, 1958), of the prominent and wealthy Viennese Wittgenstein family, was a sister of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the pianist Paul Wittgenstein.
She was the subject of a famous 1905 portrait painted for her wedding by the artist Gustav Klimt (Stonborough-Wittgenstein and other members of the Wittgenstein family were among Klimt's most important patrons), which was sold in 1960 by her son Thomas and may now be seen in the Neue Pinakothek gallery in Munich.

Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was a late-Romantic Austrian composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation.  After graduating from the Vienna Conservatory in 1878, he held a succession of conducting posts of rising importance in the opera houses of Europe, culminating in his appointment in 1897 as director of the Vienna Court Opera (Wiener Hofoper). Mahler's innovative productions, and insistence on the highest performance standards ensured his reputation as one of the greatest of opera conductors, particularly as an interpreter of the stage works of Wagner.

For Ludwig Wittgenstein, who valued precision and discipline, contemporary music was never acceptable.

Johannes Brahms
"Music", he said in 1930, "came to a full stop with Brahms; and even in Brahms I can begin to hear the noise of machinery."
Ludwig Wittgenstein himself, it is claimed, had absolute pitch, and his devotion to music remained vitally important to him throughout his life: he made frequent use of musical examples and metaphors, and was unusually adept at whistling lengthy and detailed musical passages.
He also learnt to play the clarinet in his thirties.
A fragment of music (three bars), composed by Wittgenstein, was discovered in one of his 1931 notebooks.

Karl Wittgenstein's aim, understandably, was to turn his sons into captains of industry; they were not sent to school lest they acquire bad habits, but were educated at home to prepare them for work in Karl's industrial empire.
Three of the five brothers would later commit suicide.
Karl was undoubtedly a harsh perfectionist who lacked empathy, and Leopoldine was anxious and insecure, and unable to stand up to her husband.
Johannes Brahms said of the family, whom he visited regularly: "They seemed to act towards one another as if they were at court". (did he mean at court, or in court ?)
The family appeared to have a strong streak of depression, and subsequently insanity, running through it.
Anthony Gottlieb tells a story about Paul practicing on one of the seven (!) grand pianos in the Wittgensteins' main family mansion, when he suddenly shouted at Ludwig in the next room: "I cannot play when you are in the house, as I feel your skepticism seeping towards me from under the door !"

 'Palais Wittgenstein'
The family 'Palais' (palace) housed seven grand pianos, and each of the siblings pursued music "with an enthusiasm that, at times, bordered on the pathological".
The eldest brother, Hans, was hailed as a musical prodigy.
At the age of four Hans could identify the Doppler effect in a passing siren as a quarter-tone drop in pitch, and at five started crying "Wrong ! Wrong !" when two brass bands in a carnival played the same tune in different keys.
But he died in mysterious circumstances in May 1902, when he ran away to America, and disappeared from a boat in Chesapeake Bay, most likely having committed suicide.
Two years later, aged 22, and studying chemistry at the Berlin Academy, the third eldest brother, Rudi, committed suicide in a Berlin bar.

 Music Room - 'Palais Wittgenstein'
He had asked the pianist to play Thomas Koschat's "Verlassen, verlassen, verlassen bin ich" ("Forsaken, forsaken, forsaken am I"), before mixing himself a drink of milk and potassium cyanide.
He had left several suicide notes, one to his parents that said he was grieving over the death of a friend, and another that referred to his "perverted disposition".

 Entrance to Palais Wittgenstein
It was reported at the time that he had sought advice from the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, an organization that was campaigning against Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code, which prohibited homosexual sex.
His father forbade the family from ever mentioning his name again.
The second eldest brother, Kurt, an officer and company director, shot himself on 27 October 1918 at the end of World War I, when the Austrian troops he was commanding refused to obey his orders and deserted en masse.
Hermine, his sister, had said Kurt seemed to carry "the germ of disgust for life within himself".
Later Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote: "I ought to have... become a star in the sky. Instead of which I have remained stuck on earth."

Ludwig Wittgenstein, the youngest son, was taught by private tutors at home until he was fourteen years old.

Subsequently, for three years, he attended a school.
After the deaths of Hans and Rudi, Karl relented, and allowed Paul and Ludwig to be sent to school.

K.u.k. Realschule - Linz
At the time it was too late for Wittgenstein to pass his exams for the more academic Gymnasium in Wiener Neustadt; having had no formal schooling, he failed his entrance exam and only barely managed after extra tutoring to pass the exam for the more technically oriented K.u.k. Realschule in Linz, a small state school with 300 pupils.

The German phrase kaiserlich und königlich - Imperial and Royal, typically abbreviated as K. u. K, K. und K., in German (in all cases the "und" is always spoken unabbreviated). Some modern authors restrict its use to the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary from 1867 to 1918. During that period, it indicated that the Habsburg monarch reigned simultaneously as the Emperor of Austria and as the King of Hungary, while the two territories were joined in a real union (akin to a two-state federation in this instance). The acts of the common government, which only was responsible for the Imperial & Royal ("I&R") Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the I&R Ministry of War and the I&R Ministry of Finance (financing only the two other ministries), were carried out in the name of "His Imperial and Royal Majesty" and the central governmental bodies had their names prefixed with k. u. k.

In 1903, when he was 14, he began his three years of formal schooling there, lodging nearby in term time with the family of a Dr. Srigl, a master at the local gymnasium, the family giving him the nickname Luki.

Linz  is the third-largest city of Austria - and is situated on the River Danube. Linz is well known for the Linzer torte, which is said to be the oldest cake in the world, with its first recipe dating from 1653. The city was founded by the Romans, who called it Lentia. The name Linz was first recorded in AD 799.

On starting at the Realschule, Wittgenstein had been moved forward a year.
He stood out from the other boys in that he spoke an unusually pure form of High German, with a stutter, dressed elegantly, and was sensitive and unsociable.
In his leaving certificate, he received a top mark in religious studies; a 2 for conduct and English, 3 for French, geography, history, mathematics and physics, and 4 for German, chemistry, geometry and freehand drawing.
He had particular difficulty with spelling, and failed his written German exam because of it.
He wrote in 1931: 'My bad spelling in youth, up to the age of about 18 or 19, is connected with the whole of the rest of my character (my weakness in study)'.
It was while he was at the Realschule that he decided he had lost his faith in God.
He nevertheless believed in the importance of the idea of confession.
He wrote in his diaries about having made a major confession to his oldest sister, Hermine, while he was at the Realschule which may have been about his loss of faith, or possibly his homosexuality.
He also discussed his concerns with Gretl, his other sister, who directed him to Arthur Schopenhauer's 'Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung'.

Adolf Hitler - when at school
There is much debate about the extent to which Wittgenstein and his siblings, who were of 3/4 Jewish descent, saw themselves as Jews, and the issue has arisen in particular regarding Wittgenstein's schooldays because, strangely enough, Adolf Hitler attended the same school as Ludwig Wittgenstein.

It is overwhelmingly probable that the boys met often.
It must be said, however, that Hitler may well have disliked Wittgenstein, who many of the boys saw as a stammering, precocious, precious, aristocratic upstart.
It is irresponsible and uninformed, however, that Wittgenstein's wealth and unusual personality may have fed Hitler's antisemitism, particularly as there is no indication that Hitler would have seen Wittgenstein as in any way Jewish.

Adolf Hitler and Ludwig Wittgenstein
at Realschule in Linz
Wittgenstein and Hitler were born just six days apart, and they were both at the school during the early 1900s. 
There is also a school photograph which shows Hitler, and almost certainly Wittgenstein in the lower left corner.
As regards his Jewishness, in his own writings Wittgenstein frequently referred to himself as Jewish, at times as part of an apparent self-flagellation.
For example, while berating himself for being a "reproductive" as opposed to "productive" thinker, he attributed this to his own Jewish sense of identity, writing: "Even the greatest Jewish thinker is no more than talented. (Myself for instance)."
While Wittgenstein would later claim that "my thoughts are 100% Hebraic", if so, his was a self-doubting Judaism, which had always the possibility of collapsing into a destructive self-hatred (as it did in Weininger's case - see below).

As a teenager, Wittgenstein adopted Schopenhauer's epistemological idealism, however, after his study of the philosophy of mathematics, he abandoned epistemological idealism for Gottlob Frege's conceptual realism.

Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege (8 November 1848 – 26 July 1925) was a German mathematician, logician and philosopher. He is considered to be one of the founders of modern logic, and made major contributions to the foundations of mathematics. He is generally considered to be the father of analytic philosophy, for his writings on the philosophy of language and mathematics. While he was mainly ignored by the intellectual world when he published his writings, Giuseppe Peano (1858–1932) and Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) introduced his work to later generations of logicians and philosophers. 

In later years, Wittgenstein was highly dismissive of Schopenhauer, describing him as an ultimately "shallow" thinker: "Schopenhauer has quite a crude mind... where real depth starts, his comes to an end". (this comment reveals, quite clearly, Ludwig's unbalanced (one would almost say psychotic) state of mind.

Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his book, 'Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung', in which he showed that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied Will, continually seeking satisfaction. The influence of "transcendental ideality" led him to choose atheism. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation,  'Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde', which examined the four distinct aspects of experience in the phenomenal world; consequently, he has been influential in the history of phenomenology. He has influenced many thinkers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Erwin Schrödinger, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, and Thomas Mann,  among others.

Wittgenstein's faith would undergo developmental transformations over time, much like his philosophical ideas.

Otto Weininger
While a student at the Realschule, Wittgenstein was influenced by the strange Austrian philosopher Otto Weininger's 1903 book 'Geschlecht und Charakter' (Sex and Character).
Weininger (1880–1903), who was also Jewish, argued that the concepts male and female exist only as 'Platonic forms', and that Jews tend to embody the platonic femininity.

Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. When used in this sense, the word form or idea is often capitalized. Plato suggests that these Forms are the only true objects of study that can provide us with genuine knowledge. Plato spoke of Forms in formulating a possible solution to the problem of universals.

Whereas men are basically rational, women operate only at the level of their emotions and sexual organs.
Jews, Weininger argued, are similar, saturated with femininity, with no sense of right and wrong, and no soul.
Weininger argues that man must choose between his masculine and feminine sides, consciousness and unconsciousness, Platonic love and sexuality.
Love and sexual desire stand in contradiction, and love between a woman and a man is therefore doomed to misery or immorality.
The only life worth living is the spiritual one - to live as a woman or a Jew means one has no right to live at all; the choice is genius or death.
Weininger committed suicide - (yes, another one), shooting himself in 1903, shortly after publishing the book.
Many years later, at Cambridge, Wittgenstein distributed copies of Weininger's book to his bemused academic colleagues.
In considering the suicides of his brothers, and Ludwig's often contemplated suicide, it is almost certain that there was a strong streak of insanity in the family - later well expressed in Ludwig's supposed 'philosophy'.
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was a sometime philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, like his deceased three brothers, and his other brother Paul, contemplated suicide on a number of occasions.
He served as an officer on the front line during World War I, where he was decorated a number of times for his courage.
He taught, controversially and unsuccessfully, in schools in remote Austrian villages, hitting children when they made mistakes in mathematics - in one case knocking a boy unconscious (he died shortly afterwards).
It was only his family's vast wealth and influence that saved him from the full vigor of the law - although, not surprisingly, he was never permitted to teach again.
He also worked as a hospital porter during World War II in London, where he told patients not to take the drugs they were prescribed (!).
From 1929–1947, Wittgenstein taught at the University of Cambridge.
During his lifetime he published just one slim book, the 75-page 'Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus' (1921), one article, one book review, and a children's dictionary.
His voluminous manuscripts were edited and published posthumously.
'Philosophical Investigations' appeared as a book in 1953.

 to be continued......

Dr Josef Goebbels
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015

'The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end.
The breakthrough of the German revolution has again cleared the way on the German path.....
The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character.
It is to this end that we want to educate you.
As a young person, to already have the courage to face the pitiless glare, to overcome the fear of death, and to regain respect for death - this is the task of this young generation. 
Here the intellectual foundations of the November Republic are sinking into the ground, but from this wreckage the phoenix of a new spirit will triumphantly rise.'

Josef Goebbels - Speech to Students - Berlin - May 1933