German nationalism in Austria | Wikipedia audio article

German nationalism in Austria | Wikipedia audio article


German nationalism (German: Deutschnationalismus)
is a political ideology and historical current in Austrian politics. It arose in the 19th
century as a nationalist movement amongst the German-speaking population of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire. It favours close ties with Germany, which it views as the nation-state for all
ethnic Germans, and the possibility of the incorporation of Austria into a Greater Germany.
Over the course of Austrian history, from the Austrian Empire, to Austria-Hungary, and
the First and the Second Austrian Republics, several political parties and groups have
expressed pan-German nationalist sentiment. National liberal and pan-Germanist parties
have been termed the “Third Camp” (German: Drittes Lager) of Austrian politics, as they
have traditionally been ranked behind mainstream Catholic conservatives and socialists. The
Freedom Party of Austria, a far-right political party with representation in the Austrian
parliament, has pan-Germanist roots. After the Second World War, both pan-Germanism and
the idea of political union with Germany were discredited by their association with Nazism,
and by the rising tide of a civic Austrian national identity.==During the imperial period==Within the context of rising ethnic nationalism
during the 19th century in the territories of the multi-ethnic Austrian Empire, the “German
National Movement” (German: Deutschnationale Bewegung) sought the creation of a Greater
Germany, along with the implementation of anti-semitic and anti-clerical policies, in
an attempt to entrench the German ethnic identity. Starting with the revolutions of 1848, many
ethnic groups under imperial rule, including the Serbs, Czechs, Italians, Croats, Slovenes,
and Poles, amongst others, demanded political, economic, and cultural equality. Traditionally,
the German-speaking population of the Empire enjoyed societal privileges dating back to
the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, and that of her son, Joseph II. German was considered
the lingua franca of the Empire, and Empire’s elite consisted primarily of German-speakers.
The struggle between the many ethnic groups of the Empire and German-speakers defined
the social and political landscape of the Empire from the 1870s, after the Compromise
of 1867, which granted renewed sovereignty to the Kingdom of Hungary, until the dissolution
of the Empire after the First World War. After the Austrian defeat in the Battle of
Königgrätz of 1866, and the unification of what was then known as “Lesser Germany”
under Prussian stewardship in 1871, the German Austrians in the Austro-Hungarian Empire felt
that they had wrongly been excluded from the German nation-state, whilst other ethnicities
within the Empire were tearing at its fabric. Conflict between Germans and Czechs grew particularly
tense in 1879, when minister-president Viscount Taaffe did not include the German-Liberal
Party (German: Deutschliberale Partei) in the government of Cisleithania. This party
was considered the main representative of the German-speaking middle class, and as such,
the German National Movement went on to accuse the Party of not fighting for the rights of
German-speakers within the Empire. The “German School League” (German: Deutscher Schulverein)
was formed in 1880 to protect German-language schools in parts of the Empire where German
speakers were a minority. It promoted the establishment of German-language schools in
communities where public funding was used for non-German schools. A consortium of German nationalist groups
and intellectuals published the Linz Program in 1882, which demanded the recognition of
German predominance in the Empire, along with the complete Germanisation of the Empire.
This manifesto was signed by the radical German nationalist Georg von Schönerer, Vienna’s
populist, pro-Catholic, and royalist mayor Karl Lueger, and the Jewish social democrat
Victor Adler. The diverse signatories of the Linz manifesto split ideologically after Schönerer
revised it to add an “Aryan paragraph” in 1885.Schönerer founded the “German-National
Association” (Deutschnationaler Verein), and later, in 1891, the “Pan-German Society”.
He demanded the annexation of all German-speaking territories of Austria-Hungary to the Prussian-led
German Empire and rejected any form of Austrian pan-ethnic identity. His radical racist German
nationalism was especially popular amongst the well-educated intelligentsia: professors,
grammar school teachers, and students. School administrations tried to counteract these
sentiments by encouraging civic pride, along with a “cult of personality” around the Emperor,
but these efforts were largely unsuccessful. Vienna mayor Karl Lueger even tried to dismiss
all “Schönerians” from city school administrations, but this too failed. National-minded students
rather identified with the Prussian-led German Empire than with the multiethnic Dual Monarchy.
Many idolised the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, victor in the Battle of Königgrätz. Members of the pan-German movement wore blue
cornflowers, known to be the favourite flower of German Emperor William I, in their buttonholes,
along with cockades in the German national colours (black, red, and yellow). Both symbols
were temporarily banned in Austrian schools. Like Schönerer, many Austrians hoped for
an Anschluss with Germany. However, although many Austrians accepted the ideas of the various
pan-German movements and felt part of the German nation, they accepted the existence
of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were loyal to the Habsburg dynasty, and wanted to preserve
the sovereignty of Austria.German nationalists protested vehemently against minister-president
Kasimir Count Badeni’s language decree of 1897, which made German and Czech co-official
languages in Bohemia and required new government officials to be fluent in both languages.
This meant in practice that the civil service would almost exclusively hire Czechs, because
most educated Czechs knew German, but not the other way around. The support of ultramontane
Catholic politicians and clergy for this reform triggered the launch of the “Away from Rome”
(German: Los-von-Rom) movement, which was initiated by supporters of Schönerer and
called on “German” Christians to leave the Roman Catholic Church.From the 1880s, the
pan-Germanist movement was fragmented into several splinter parties and factions. The
most radical was the German Workers’ Party, formed in 1903, which later transformed into
the Austrian wing of the Nazi Party. Other pan-Germanist parties that contested elections
during the first decade of the 20th century include the German People’s Party and the
German Radical Party. A broad coalition of all ethnic German national and liberal political
parties known as the Deutscher Nationalverband (lit. German National Association) was formed
to contest the 1911 election to the Cisleithanian Imperial Council. It went on to gain the most
seats in lower house of the Council, the House of Deputies (German: Abgeordnetenhaus), replacing
the previously dominant Christian Social Party. Despite this victory, the German National
Association was always a very loose coalition with little unity amongst its ranks, and collapsed
in 1917 at the height of First World War. It disintegrated into seventeen scattered
German liberal and national parties. This disintegration, combined with dissolution
of Austria-Hungary at the end of the First World War, led to the total fragmentation
of pan-Germanist movement.==Dissolution of Austria-Hungary (1918–1919)
==After the end of the First World War, which
saw the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, German-speaking parts of the former Empire
established a new republic under the name “German Austria” (German: Deutsch-Österreich).
The republic was proclaimed on the principle of self-determination, which had been enshrined
within American president Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points. A provisional national assembly
was convened on 11 November, at which the Republic of German Austria was proclaimed.
The assembly drafted a constitution that stated that “German Austria is a democratic republic”
(Article 1) and “German Austria is a component of the German Republic” (Article 2). This
phrase referenced the establishment of the Weimar Republic in the former lands of the
German Empire, and intended to unite German-speaking Austrians with the German nation-state, completing
the Greater Germany plan. Plebiscites held in Tyrol and Salzburg yielded majorities of
98% and 99% respectively in favour of unification with Germany.
Despite this, the victors of the First World War, who drafted the Treaty of Versailles
and the Saint-Germain-en-Laye, strictly forbid any attempt by German Austria to unify with
Germany. They also gave some lands that had been claimed by German Austria to newly formed
nation-states. An example of this was the giving of the provinces of German Bohemia
and the Sudetenland to the Czecho-Slovak Republic. These lands, having German-speaking majorities,
were prevented from being within their own nation-state. Instead, they were trapped in
the nation-states of other ethnicities. This grievance would play a fundamental part in
the rise of pan-Germanism during the Interwar period. Karl Renner, a member of the Social
Democratic Workers’ Party, served as chancellor of German Austria. Renner himself was a proponent
of the idea of “Greater Germany”, and penned the unofficial anthem Deutschösterreich,
du herrliches Land (“German Austria, you wonderful country”). Renner was born in southern Moravia,
which was one of the lands claimed by German Austria, but instead given to the Czecho-Slovak
Republic. Despite his background, however, he signed the Treaty of Saint-Germain on 10
September 1919, which established the Allied-drawn borders of the new Austrian republic, and
formally forbid any attempt to unify the German-speaking lands of the former Austria-Hungary with Germany.
The name “German Austria” was changed to “Austria”, removing any hint of pan-Germanist sentiment
from the name of the state. Nevertheless, the Social Democrats would not forget their
pan-Germanist roots. To them, the Weimar Republic was regarded with “exaggerated sympathy”,
whilst the Czecho-Slovak Republic was viewed with “exaggerated suspicion”.==During the First Republic and Austrofascist
period (1919–1938)==During the First Austrian Republic, pan-Germanists
were represented by the Greater German People’s Party and the agrarian Landbund. Although
initially influential, these two groups soon lost most of their voters to the Christian
Social Party and the Social Democratic Party. Both the Christian Socials and the Social
Democrats accepted that unification between Austria and Germany was forbidden by the Treaty
of Saint-Germain. A conflict would develop, however, between those who supported an Austrian
national identity, such as the Christian Socials, and those rooted in German nationalism, such
as the Social Democrats. One of the foundational problems of the First
Republic was that those who had supported the concept of a democratic republic from
the German Austria period onward, such as the Social Democrats, did not consider themselves
“Austrian”, but instead were German nationalists. Those who supported an Austrian national identity,
an Austria without the word “German” attached, were conservative and largely undemocratic
in persuasion: former Imperial bureaucrats, army officers, priests, aristocrats, and affiliated
with the Christian Social Party. In the words of historian A. J. P. Taylor, “The democrats
were not ‘Austrian’; the ‘Austrians’ were not democrats.” These two groups, the German
nationalist democrats, and the Austrian nationalist conservatives, would squabble throughout the
first decade of the First Republic. Ultimately, the Austrian nationalist faction would overthrow
the democratic republic in 1934 and establish a regime rooted in “Austrofascism” under the
protection of Fascist Italy.While most of right-wing Heimwehren paramilitary groups
active during the First Republic were rooted in Austrian nationalism, and either affiliated
with the conservative Christian Socials, or inspired by Italian Fascism, there was also
a German nationalist faction. This faction was most notable within the Styrian Heimatschutz
(“homeland protection”). Its leader, Walter Pfrimer, attempted a putsch against a Christian
Social government in September 1931. The putsch was directly modelled on the Benito Mussolini’s
March on Rome, but failed almost instantly due to lack of support from other Heimwehr
groups. Pfrimer subsequently founded the “German Heimatschutz”, which would later merge into
the Nazi Party.The idea of an Anschluss (union between Austria and Germany to form a Greater
Germany), was one of the principle ideas of the Austrian branch of the National Socialist
(Nazi) Party. Nazism can be seen as descended from the radical branches of the pan-Germanist
movement. In 1933, the Nazis and the Greater German People’s Party formed a joint working-group,
and eventually merged. During the period while the Nazi Party and its symbols were banned
in Austria, from 1933 to 1938, Austrian Nazis resumed the earlier pan-Germanist tradition
of wearing a blue cornflower in their buttonhole. The Nazis firmly fought the Austrofascist
regime of chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, and orchestrated his assassination. They continued
this battle against his successor, Kurt Schuschnigg. Austrofacism was strongly supported by Benito
Mussolini, leader of Fascist Italy. Mussolini’s support for an independent Austria can be
seen in a discussion he had with Prince Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg, an important Austrian
nationalist and Heimwehr leader. He said that “an Anschluss with Germany must never be permitted
… Austria is necessary to the maintenance of Europe … the day that Austria falls and
is swallowed up by Germany will mark the beginning of European chaos.” The Austrofascist party,
Fatherland Front, would echo the sentiments of Mussolini, and continue to struggle for
an independent Austria. Nazis in both Germany and Austria intended that the German Reich
would quickly annex Austria, the homeland of its leader, Adolf Hitler. They attempted
to bribe many low-ranking Heimwehr leaders, and also attempted to bring Starhemberg into
their fold, in effect merging the Heimwehr with the Nazi Freikorps. Gregor Strasser,
an early, prominent Nazi figure, was charged with this effort. When Starhemberg, a fervent
believer in an independent Austria, rejected his merger proposal, Strasser said “Don’t
talk to me about Austria. There is no Austria … there was once a living corpse which called
itself Austria … that this Austria collapsed in 1918 was a blessing … particularly for
the German people, who were thereby given the chance to create a Greater Germany.”After
this, tensions between the Nazis and Austrofascists worsened, culminating in the July Putsch of
1934, when Nazis attempted to overthrow the government. Whilst they managed to assassinate
chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, the putsch was quickly crushed by the police, army, and
Heimwehren. In the aftermath of the putsch, conflict between the Social Democrats and
the ruling Austrofascists led to the Austrian Civil War later in the year. After their defeat,
the Social Democratic Party was outlawed entirely. This, in tandem with a continued a campaign
of violence and propaganda by the Nazis, destabilised the Austrofascist regime, and rallied many
to support the idea of Anschluss.The Nazi campaign was ultimately successful, and Hitler
would go on to annex Austria in 1938 with the Anschluss. Hitler’s journey through his
home country Austria became a triumphal tour that reached its climax in Vienna on 15 March
1938, when around 200,000 cheering German Austrians gathered around the Heldenplatz
(Square of Heroes) to hear Hitler say that “The oldest eastern province of the German
people shall be, from this point on, the newest bastion of the German Reich” followed by his
“greatest accomplishment” (completing the annexing of Austria to form a Greater German
Reich) by saying: “As leader and chancellor of the German nation and Reich I announce
to German history now the entry of my homeland into the German Reich.” After the Anschluss,
Hitler remarked as a personal note: “I, myself, as Führer and Chancellor, will be happy to
walk on the soil of the country that is my home as a free German citizen.”Hitler responded
to the foreign press regarding the Anschluss by saying: “Certain foreign newspapers have
said that we fell on Austria with brutal methods. I can only say: even in death they cannot
stop lying. I have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my people, but
when I crossed the former frontier (into Austria) there met me such a stream of love as I have
never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators.”Following the Anschluss,
the historical aim of the German nationalists who supported the union between Austria and
Germany was completed. The pan-Germanists were then fully absorbed into the Nazi Party
(NSDAP).==During the Second Republic (since 1945)
==After the end of the Second World War, when
Austria was re-established as an independent state, the German nationalist movement was
discredited because of its links to the former Nazi regime. The dominant parties of the new
republic were the Christian conservative Austrian People’s Party and the Socialist Party. Both
promoted Austrian independence, and considered the idea of a “Greater Germany” an anachronism.
All former members of the Nazi party were banned from any political activity, and disenfranchised.
The pan-Germanist and liberal “Third Camp” was later revived in the form of the Federation
of Independents (German: Verband der Unabhängigen), which fought de-Nazification laws imposed
by the Allies, and represented the interests of former Nazis, Wehrmacht, and SS soldiers.
In 1956, the Federation was transformed into the Freedom Party of Austria. In the 1950s
and 1960s, the German nationalist movement, represented by the Freedom Party and its affiliated
organisations, was very active in universities, where the Burschenschaften, a type of student
fraternity, helped spread German nationalist and liberal views. Inside the Freedom Party,
the liberal wing grew to overtake the pan-Germanist wing, and Austrian patriotism was gradually
incorporated into the party’s ideology. During Norbert Steger’s party leadership during 1980–1986,
and the Freedom Party’s participation in a coalition government with the Social Democrats,
the pan-Germanist faction was weakened further.By contrast, Jörg Haider’s assumption of party
leadership in 1986 was considered a triumph by the German nationalist faction. However,
Haider’s right-wing populism did not stress pan-Germanist traditions, as doing so would
have cost votes. In 1987, only six percent of Austrian citizens identified themselves
as “Germans”. While Haider had branded Austrian national identity as an ideological construct,
going so far to refer to it as a “monstrosity” (German: Mißgeburt) in 1988, he launched
the “Austria First” petition in 1993, and claimed two years later that the Freedom Party
was a “classical Austrian patriotic party”, expressly renouncing his earlier “monstrosity”
statement. The influence of German nationalism was still present, however, and could be seen
in hostile actions against Slavic minorities in Austria, such as in conflicts over bilingual
road sign with the Carinthian Slovenes, along with hostility to immigration and European
integration. Traditional Greater German ideas have therefore been replaced by a German-Austrian
concept (i.e. only considering Austrians of German origin and tongue as “real” Austrians).
This may be summarised as an “amalgamation of traditional German nationalism with Austrian
patriotism”.Presently, the pan-Germanist wing is only a minor faction within the Freedom
Party. In 2008, fewer than seventeen percent of the Freedom Party’s voters questioned the
existence of a unique Austrian national identity. German nationalists, including Andreas Mölzer
and Martin Graf, now refer to themselves as “cultural Germans” (Kulturdeutsche), and stress
the importance of their identity as ethnic Germans, in contrast to the distinct Austrian
national identity. In 2006, FPÖ members of parliament reaffirmed the party’s root in
the pan-Germanist tradition, at least symbolically, by wearing blue cornflowers in their buttonholes,
along with ribbons in Austria’s national colours (red and white), during the initial meeting
of the National Council. This caused controversy, as the media interpreted the flower as a former
Nazi symbol

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