VIRTUALLY unknown two years ago, Dr. Engelbert Dollfuss has become the political darling of Western Europe. Two years ago you might have seen him in the chambers of the Austrian parliament which he subsequently killed -- his cherubic little face gleaming, his small, sturdy fists a-flutter -- and wondered what sort of career awaited a politician so personally inconspicuous. This year London and Geneva as well as Vienna have done him homage. Whence this sudden and dramatic rise? Partly it derives from his personal qualities, which are considerable; partly it is because events made him Europe's first bulwark against Hitler, a sort of Nazi giant-killer. And stature came to him paradoxically because he is four feet eleven inches high.
Dollfuss was born a peasant and with belief in God. These two facts are paramount in his character. They have contributed much to his popularity, because Austria is three-fifths peasant, with a population 93 percent Roman Catholic. Much of his personal charm and force comes from his extreme simplicity of manner; his modesty and directness amount almost to naïveté. Here is no iron statue like Mustapha Kemal, no fanatic evangelist like Hitler. A foreigner approaching Dollfuss with a compliment will hear a broad farmer's accent in reply, "Ach . . . aber gehen Sie . . ." ("Oh, go on . . .") His speeches are extraordinarily unsophisticated. He listens to speeches of other members of his cabinet, like Dr. Buresch, the Finance Minister, with the respectful attention of a child in school. When he speaks himself, he is tense, awkward, overworked, sincere. There is no pomp or cant in him. He enjoys jokes about his size. And his deep religious faith gives him something of the curious innocence of old, wise priests, an innocence as impregnable to the wiles of adversaries as the most glittering sophistication.
His smallness, too, makes him popular. Affection seems to come easily for anyone four feet eleven. Let no one, however, mistake this "Millimetternich" for a weakling. When he took office people laughed at him,
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