Doktor Ascher und Seine Väter: Stefan Pollatschek's last Novel1


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    Stefan Pollatschek, Doktor Ascher und seine Väter, hrsg. und bearbeitet von Konstantin Kaiser und Ulrike Oedl mit einem Nachwort von Gerda Hoffer, Vienna 2004. References in the text will be to this edition by page number..For a brief account of Stefan Pollatschek's life and literary career see Gerda Hoffer ‘Zum hundertsten Geburtstag von Stefan Pollatschek 1890–1942’, Mit der Ziehharmonika, 7 (1990), 1–2.


The Austrian writer Stefan Pollatschek published several novels in the 1930s, his greatest success being John Law. Roman der Banknote, Vienna 1936, based on the life of the Scotsman who became the first millionaire and the richest man in the world. After the ‘Anschluss’ Pollatschek, as a Socialist and Jew, like many of his friends and colleagues was forced to leave Austria for exile in England. Pollatschek had never enjoyed good health but, despite this, in exile he devoted his energies to a vast historical novel about the persecution of the Jews through the ages. After his early death in Epsom in 1942 his last novel remained unpublished for many years, but it has now been edited and made available in printed form as Doktor Ascher und seine Väter. Though the novel shows structural and stylistic weaknesses, the theme of the sustaining faith of the Jews in the coming of the Messiah and his ‘tausendjähriges Reich’, and the travesties of that belief both within Judaism and in its resentful, vengeful Gentile imitators are very powerfully conveyed.