Why do we never slag off the Austrians ?

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by Owen, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    On this forum we always have a go at the Germans & their history regarding WW2.
    But no-one has a pop at the Austrians .
    Why is that ?
  2. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Good question.

    On my travels, I had a slightly inappropriate (and should have known better type) conversation once with an Austrian, who when I mentioned that my father had spent 9 (largely very relaxing) months in the Villach area from June 1945 to March 1946, told me that it was, of course, the "British" (and the Italians and the Germans and just about anyone who was not Austrian) who were the true losers as a consequence of the Second World War ..he told me that Austria had largely been neither touched nor bankrupted by the war. He seemed to hold this up as a badge of honour.. I wouldn't suggest this is/was a typical sentiment but it was good that my Dad and his mates weren't around to continue the conversation.

  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    How about this:

    A. Schwarzenegger in the Mail on Sunday's Live magazine, 20 Jan 2013.

    I suspect that The Sound of Music has a lot to answer for.
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Do the Austrians blame the Germans for getting them into it?

    I remember as a lad watching the film 'Hannibal Brokes' & the 'good' German soldier is an Austrian.
    Post-war did they try & make out they were forced into it?
  5. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Wouldn't have thought so - better to keep shtum and let everybody believe Adolf was a German!
    The Cooler King likes this.
  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Austria does not draw the historical insight as Germany, the reason being was that the United Nations saw Austria as a victim of Nazi aggression although it had its members of the Austrian Nazi Party who sought union with Germany and for the purposes of the war economy and the waging of war.was a willing partner in aggression.Austria soon had its freedom from occupation by Soviet and British forces and was allowed to resume its status as an independent neutral,unoccupied nation by agreement between the Soviet Union and the British in 1955.

    Union or Anschluss with Germany was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles but this became a fierce issue among Austrians for union with Germany. A coup d'etat had already been attempted and failed by Austrian Nazis in July 1934 when Dollfuss was murdered.Then later after Hitler had recognised Austria's independence in 1936,the Austrian Nazis led by Seyss-Inquart ,the leader of the illegal Austrian Nazi Party and having the backing of Hitler, tried to seize power from Schuschnigg..When Schuschnigg resigned in March 1938 in favour of Sesss- Inquart, after pressure from Hitler,Goering encouraged Seyss-Inquart to request for assistance from Germany to maintain "law and order".German troops marched into Austria and a plebiscite was held on a union (anschluss) with Germany in April 1938 across both countries.,A total vote of 99.07% voted for union with Germany from an electorate of 99.59%(Note German electorate included in the vote)

    Seyss-Inquart and Kaltenbrunner, who succeeded Heydrich were the two leading Austrian Nazis who found themselves in the dock at Nuremberg to answer for war crimes whiile in the service of the Third Reich.Of course the leading Austrian Nazi was missing from the proceedings at Nuremberg.
  7. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    There aren't any good slurs for them in English, for one thing. Remember when the Pythons had a slur competition for the Belgians?
  8. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    I forget. Where was Adolf from? ;)
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Can only agree with Harry as the Austrians were duped very early in the 30's and led into Nazism by what were traitors to the State...but ALL Austrians paid for that in the ten repressive years of the Russian atrocities - and they were real

    nothing escaped their violence - they even tried it on with the Agile and Sufferins of 78th Div ..but lost that one....the A& S were sent sent down to Spittal to keep them out of the way.....in the nearly two years after the war in various spots in

    Austria - after the initial three months or so - we were treated with great respect as opposed to the Russians - and we had a very friendly time with all we came in contact with - especially after the Vienna Tattoo when we raised some 400 K

    Schilling - enough to send 2400 children into the countryside for fresh air and good food....see my Articles on Strassburg 1.2.3 on the BBc series below...

  10. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery



    Absorption of Austria into the Third Reich
    Most Austrian proponents of the Anschluss had foreseen a gradual coordination and merger of the two German states that would preserve some semblance of Austrian identity. But, influenced by the tumultuous welcome he received on his arrival, Hitler made an impromptu decision for quick and total absorption of Austria into the Third Reich.
    The Anschluss violated various international agreements, but the European powers offered only perfunctory opposition. Italy had acquiesced to the invasion beforehand, and in return Hitler later agreed to allow Italy to retain the South Tirol despite his aggressive policies elsewhere to bring all German populations into the Third Reich. Britain was following a policy of appeasement in 1938 and was unwilling to risk war over Austria's independence, while France, traditionally the strongest foe of German unification, was incapable of unilateral military action.
    To provide a legal facade for the Anschluss, Hitler arranged a plebiscite for April 10, 1938. The Nazis portrayed the plebiscite as a vote on pan-Germanism and claimed a 99.7 percent vote in favor of the Anschluss. Although the outcome was undoubtedly influenced by Nazi intimidation, the Anschluss enjoyed broad popular support. Nevertheless, the positive vote reflected the Austrians' desire for change far more than it did widespread support for Hitler and Nazism. Unification offered a way out of the political turmoil of the First Republic, and ties with the larger German economy promised economic revitalization. Many Austrians probably also harbored unrealistic notions of Austria's position within the Third Reich, expecting an arrangement similar to the Dual Monarchy in which Austria and Germany would be equal partners. And the full dimensions of Nazi barbarism were not yet apparent. Underlying these factors, however, was the widespread appeal of pan-Germanism that cut across political lines. Austrians had traditionally thought of themselves as Germans, and the Austrian nationalism cultivated by Dollfuss and Schuschnigg had not taken root. Although the SDAP had moderated its long-standing support for unification when Hitler came to power in Germany, Karl Renner urged a yes vote in the Nazi-organized plebiscite. Once unification was a fact, other Socialist leaders felt that the Nazi regime was not sufficient reason to reject the fulfillment of what they viewed as a progressive goal of German nationalism.
    Hitler moved quickly to suppress what little independent identity and national unity Austria had. The name Austria was banned, provinces were freed of central administration from Vienna, and provincial loyalty and identification were cultivated. In addition, Austrian Nazis and Nazi sympathizers who might have become effective national leaders were transferred to relatively unimportant jobs in the administration of the Third Reich or, after World War II began, were sent to administer the occupied territories. Thus, a disproportionate number of Austrians came to be in charge of the bureaucracy overseeing the implementation of the Nazis' extermination of the Jews and other peoples and groups deemed undesirable.
  11. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    I have held back, so far, from commenting on this subject, despite the fact that I was stationed in Austria between May 16th & September 16th 1945. Even now I question my own motives for joining in this thorny discussion.

    I finally decided that my reluctance in posting was because, even at the time in question (May 1945), I was having my own doubts about my own actions in becoming friendly with an Austrian family.

    The background is as follows:

    When my unit, the 4th QOH initially moved up into Austria it was only days after the fighting had ceased in Italy and the official line was "No Fraternisation" a principle to which I readily kept, as I had little love for the Germans of the Third Reich. Within a month however the "No Fraternisation" policy was amended to allow contact but I still felt that I would need no reminders.

    Things changed however when my unit was posted to Trieben and we were given the role of hunting down known war criminals. One of our jobs was manning a road block that controlled the road between Trieben & Hohentaurn and at the Trieben end there was a small house nearby in which an Austrian family lived.

    We used to have two men guarding the road barrier at the "lower" end of the road at Trieben and one day a young boy, probably about 10 or 11 years old, brought us out a jug of milk to drink and as a direct result of this action I found myself visiting the house in the evening where I was able to relax, unwind and brush up on my use of the German language.

    In those days there was no such thing as GOOGLE & the internet so I had to rely on my memory of what had happened during the Anshluss but I admit that it was all to easy for me to consider that the Austrians had been "taken over" by the Germans and therefore to some extent were victims themselves. Subsequent education since those days has to a large extent changed my views, but, at the time in question, namely June '45, I selfishly used the offer of hospitality to lighten the load I had to bear during my daytime activities.

    After the war I received a letter from the family and this I pasted into my Army Album but, after a single reply. I simply let the correspondence lapse.

    Now, 68 years later, it all seems like a dream.

    Attached Files:

  12. MLW

    MLW Senior Member

    No doubt, the Austrians got off the hook for their particiaption in World War II as did some other nations that we now know were also culpable, or at least not so neutral during the war (e.g., Switzerland). To me, after the anschluss, Austria was part of Germany. They wanted it that way and they participated as if they were. After the war, it was easy to separate Austria from Germany, and as a result, they have never had to seriously address their part in the Third Reich.
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    When I was in Germany and Austria in 2010 I found it odd that some Austrians (just over the border) were flying the German flag.
  14. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    There are two things I hate:

    1) Racism
    2) Austrians

    School-yard joke from way back when.

    All the best

  15. Sussex by the Sea

    Sussex by the Sea Senior Member

    I don't think we should slag anyone off, this asn't ARRSE.

    Wills likes this.
  16. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    In the spirit of a Second World War forum, how about reviewing the respective psyche and attitudes of pre and post war Austria by comparing Lime and Von Trapp, Edelweiss and the zither,, convents and sewers...FIGHT.

    once that is over with, we should review the influences on western culture of the cuckoo clock and the Renaissance.


    How about this:

    A. Schwarzenegger in the Mail on Sunday's Live magazine, 20 Jan 2013.

    I suspect that The Sound of Music has a lot to answer for.[/quote]
  17. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Just a quickie but not digress from seriuos discussion,I note that Vienna was in the first top ten of he best places to live,a recent suvey revealed.

    Interestingly,Melbourne,Sydney and Adelaide were also placed in the top 10.

    Vienna ,it would appear has always been attractive to certain elements.Didn't Hitler take it as his home when he was attempting to be recorded in history as an artist....always paid due deference to artists throughout his life.
  18. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    To get back to the subject as regards the ideological past of the Austrians...In 1980s,an acquaintance of mine was involved in an engineering project in Austria..accommodation was at one of those delightful Gaststatte. However the lodgers became aware that the landlord was an unrepentant Nazi,an assessment made without difficulty since his conversation was completely open on the subject....his ideological spirit lived on and he could not shake off.

    I am not aware of any dissent from the Austrians as nation or from individuals serving in the Third Reich but I would think that military dissenters would have paid the supreme penalty.I am thinking about the 5000, or so, Germans reported as being executed during the war for rejecting military service.

    Then I can only say that I knew of a man who as a schoolboy who experienced the brutality of a German occupation.His father was one of 7000 civilians murdered by the Germans in pursuance of their ideology aided by fellow citizens who denounced the victims and did the legwork of the SD.....led to the first War Criminal Trials of the Second World War in July 1943.One reflection he made was that on a individual basis, they were far better treated by Austrian soldiers than the Germans.
  19. Smithy2690

    Smithy2690 Member

    The main reasons the West don't see the Austrians as culpable are, as has been mentioned, the Anschluss was "forced" on Austrians and the Cold War.
    First the majority of Austrians welcomed the Nazis joining them with their Germanic cousins. Germany was a powerhouse and going places (Unfortunately Belsen was one). If you don't believe this, see the newsreels of the tens of 1'000s of people cheering in Vienna when Hitler turns up soon after. (Obviously Socialists, Jews and many Intellectuals would have been opposed, but as a minority they could not stop it). Also films of the border towns when the Wermacht drives in - people throwing flowers and cheering them. What's more it took them no time at all to round up the Jews and other undesireables to the Nazi regime, and send them off to their deaths. The Austrians were absolutely involved and culpable with the Germans in the Nazi takeover and the following Holocaust. Without majority support the uniting of the 2 countries could not have happend. There was no fight on the border and it wasn't an invasion, they opened the gates.
    Second, after the war we (the West) needed friends to fight the Soviets and oppose Communism. All past crimes by the Nazi's stooges were forgotten and they were now on our side vs the Reds. It was easier for the Allies to claim Austria was violated and they were innocent while the Germans were the evil ones.
    When i was at school in the 80s (height of the new Cold War) we had a group of Austrian kids from one of their schools come over for a trip. As me and my mates were obsessed by WW2, we asked them what they thought about it. Every one said "we were invaded and didn't like the Germans. It was forced on our country". They had been brainwashed by the Western propoganda taught at their schools - victimhood and not a mention of the bad things that Austria had participated in. Just like in Japan where everything they did is whitewashed from history (genocide, torture, war crimes etc etc), they are victims of atomic war - the terrible Yanks and their bombs!
    I don't think people who were not alive in WW2 should feel guilty about this stuff, but to pretend their ancestors didn't do it and to forget the horrors or claim they actually were totally innocent is pretty disgraceful. They should learn from their history, not forget and possibly repeat the mistakes.
  20. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Don't forget that it was Hitler's vision to reunite all German speaking nations under the umbrella of the Greater German Reich and the union with Austria fulfilled that desire.Before the union with Austria,the Sudetenland fell to the same ideology....remember the talks which discussed the future of a nation without the participation of the subject nation.

    As regards the Czechs,formerly a part of the Austro - Hungarian Empire,there were those in the Czech Nazi Party who gave their allegiance to Nazi Germany.

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