Karl Lueger (24th October 1844 – 10th March 1910) was an Austrian Christian Socialist politician, mayor of Vienna, and leader and co-founder of the Austrian Christian Social Party. Lueger was born at Wieden (since 1850 the 4th district of Vienna) to Leopold Lueger of Neustadtl an der Donau and his wife Juliane. He studied law at the University of Vienna, receiving his doctorate in 1870. At university he was a member of the Catholic Student Association (Katholische akademische Verbindung Norica Wien, K.A.V. Norica Wien), part of the Österreichische Cartellverband (ÖCV) fraternities. Lueger established his own lawyer’s office in Vienna in 1874 and soon became known as a “little people’s” („kleinen Leute“) advocate. Lueger’s early political life was associated with the German National Party and his concern lay with ethnic German tradesmen, who saw the Jewish competition undermining their already precarious situation. In 1875 Lueger was elected as a deputy of Vienna’s City Council (Gemeinderat). He was a member from 1875 to 1876 and from 1878 to 1910. In 1885 he was elected to the lower house (Abgeordnetenhaus) of the Austrian Imperial Parliament (Reichsrat), representig the Fifth District of Vienna, and was returned in the 1891 election. From 1890 he was also a member of the Lower Austria parliament (Landtag). After the 1895 elections for the Vienna Gemeinderat the Christian Socialists took political power from the ruling Liberals with two thirds of the seats and subsequently helped Lueger win the mayoralty. He was a zealous Catholic, and wished to “capture the university” for the Church. He would have neither Social Democrats nor Jews in the municipal administration. He secured good treatment for Czech migrants. In his incumbency, Lueger is credited with the extension of the public water supply by its second main aquifer (Hochquellwasserleitung), which provides tap water of mineral water quality to large parts of the city. He also pursued the municipalization of gas and electricity works as well as the establishment of a public transport system introducing streetcars, and numerous institutions of social welfare, most of which strongly relied on debt financing. He incorporated the suburbs, and built parks and gardens, and hospitals and schools. Der schöne Karl (“handsome Karl”) achieved tremendous popularity among the citizens and a significant part of the infrastructure and organisations that are responsible for the high standard of living in the contemporary city were created during his terms of office. Lueger referred to himself as an admirer of Edouard Drumont, who founded the Antisemitic League of France in 1889. Lueger served as mayor of Vienna until his early death from in 1910. Hundreds of thousands of Austrians, including Adolf Hitler, participated in his funeral. He was buried in the crypt of the newly erected St Charles Borromeo Church at the Zentralfriedhof (the so called Dr. Karl Lueger Memorial Church), whose ground-breaking ceremony he performed.
Hitler wrote about Lueger:
“At all events, these occasions slowly made me acquainted with the man and the movement, which in those days guided Vienna’s destinies: Dr. Karl Lueger I and the Christian Social Party. When I arrived in Vienna, I was hostile to both of them. The man and the movement seemed ‘reactionary’ in my eyes. My common sense of justice, however, forced me to change this judgment in proportion as I had occasion to become acquainted with the man and his work; and slowly my fair judgment turned to unconcealed admiration. Today, more than ever, I regard this man as the greatest German mayor of all times” Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf, page 54-65