Austrian Film Foretelling Nazism Discovered in Paris Flea Market 90 Years After Disappearance

After it premiered in 1924, the Jewish author of the novel the inspired 'The City Without Jews' was murdered by a Nazi. Now, the film will be digitally restored and aired with a new live score thanks to an unprecedented crowdfunding campaign.

A scene from the film "The City Without Jews."
A scene from the film "The City Without Jews." Screenshot, YouTube

"The City Without Jews," an Austrian silent film that premiered in 1924 and arguably foretold Nazi persecution that led to the Holocaust, will be aired in autumn 2017 in Vienna after having been lost for over 90 years, according to The Guardian.

The movie, based on a novel by Jewish publicist Hugo Bettauer, tells of a city in economic ruin after World War I whose politicians demand the expulsion of the local Jewish population, only to watch the city decline further in their absence. 

Bettauer was murdered by a Nazi after the film's release and the original footage disappeared during World War II, only recently resurfacing by chance at a flea market in Paris. Now the film is scheduled to be digitally restored and aired with a new live score thanks to an unprecedented crowdfunding campaign by the Austrian Film Archive.

The campaign raised nearly $80,000 days before its deadline, making it the most successful crowdfunding attempt ever in Austria's culture sector. A spokesman for the Austrian Film Archive told the Guardian that the campaign had benefitted from a major donation from an anonymous American-Jewish foundation after Donald Trump's successful presidential campaign, adding that the number of donations had doubled since a far-right candidate unsuccessfully ran for Austria's presidency.

"The message we want to send out is that this is not just a film about the past, but an anti-Nazi statement," Nikolaus Wostry, director of collections at the Austrian Film Archive said.

Archivists had discovered a damaged version of the film at the Dutch film museum in 1991 and suspected that the film had also been deliberately tampered with for censorship.