In This Review

Hitler's Austria: Popular Sentiment in the Nazi Era, 1938-1945
Hitler's Austria: Popular Sentiment in the Nazi Era, 1938-1945
By Evan Burr Bukey
University of North Carolina Press, 2000, 320 pp.

A thorough account of the Austrian embrace of Hitler and Nazism, with some interesting parallels to the present. Nazism was especially strong in Carinthia, the province currently governed by Jörg Haider, and it succeeded because many Austrians had grown weary of authoritarian Christian Democratic rule -- just as Haider's far-right Freedom Party now benefits from the electorate's rejection of the Catholic-Socialist spoils system. Bukey also describes the turf wars among bureaucrats, regions, and Nazi factions and highlights the reasons for Hitler's support. Skyrocketing unemployment led many workers to acquiesce to Nazism; even the leading Social Democrat Karl Renner supported the annexation of Austria by Germany. But what was open and ugly then is submerged (although not dead) today: rabid antisemitism rooted in the national psyche. Indeed, antisemitism was much more integral to Nazi support in Austria than in Germany. Having mistakenly expected Italy's surrender to detach Austria from Hitler, the Allies published on November 1, 1943, the declaration that called Austria "the first free country to fall victim" to Hitler -- a total misreading of history that let Austria avoid facing its past after the war. Later, de-Nazification ground to a halt when the postwar government realized that one-third of the population had been either registered Nazis or their dependents.