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  #1  
Old 03-12-2008, 02:44 AM
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Archduke Otto calls Austria the biggest victim of the Nazis: March 2008

Dr. Otto von Habsburg, a member for the Christian Democrats in the Austrian parlament, has called Austria the biggest victim of the Nazi's in a speech to parlament. He was applauded by some though his remarks are highly controversial as some point out that they do not think Austria was a victim at all, but as a country co-responsible with Germany for Nazism.

Dr. Otto's party, the OVP is defending him now, read the article in German here.

An article in German about the speech, here.
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Old 03-12-2008, 07:11 AM
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Dr. Otto von Habsburg, a member for the Christian Democrats in the Austrian parlament, has called Austria the biggest victim of the Nazi's in a speech to parlament. He was applauded by some though his remarks are highly controversial as some point out that they do not think Austria was a victim at all, but as a country co-responsible with Germany for Nazism.

Dr. Otto's party, the OVP is defending him now, read the article in German here.

An article in German about the speech, here.
Just a short correction: Otto von Habsburg is not a member of the Austrian parliament, he was an invited guest of the Christian Democrats party. He had been member of the European Parliament for the Christian Social Democrats, the Bavarian branch of the German Christian Democrats party, as he has both the Austrian and German citizenship.
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Old 03-12-2008, 07:09 PM
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The opponents of the Archduke's speech are absolutely correct. Sadly for Austria, far too many Austrians were only too glad to embrace Hitler & Nazism.

Like many countries who collaborated with Nazi Germany, Austria is only too willing to draw a curtain over its past, preferring instead to emphasize the Soviet occupation from 1945-1955.
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Old 03-13-2008, 06:53 AM
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The opponents of the Archduke's speech are absolutely correct. Sadly for Austria, far too many Austrians were only too glad to embrace Hitler & Nazism.

Like many countries who collaborated with Nazi Germany, Austria is only too willing to draw a curtain over its past, preferring instead to emphasize the Soviet occupation from 1945-1955.
True.Unlike Germany,Austria was never de-nazified,meaning,they,older generation,fail/can't/refuse/ to see,still,they were on the wrong end of the straw.

They prefer leaving everything as it is,to continue to eat their Sachertorte under a clear blue sky,and dream of days gone by,be it the
Empire or their fellow countryman AH.

Apart from the above,nice people,wonderfull country and Vienna is an Imperial bonbonbox,lovely.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:50 AM
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I am sure there are many exceptions Lucien, note that Otto's speech is controversial in Autria too and he only received the support of a few (and a lot of critisism). Didn't he make some controversial speech a few years ago too, probably something related to Islam?
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:58 AM
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The opponents of the Archduke's speech are absolutely correct. Sadly for Austria, far too many Austrians were only too glad to embrace Hitler & Nazism.

Like many countries who collaborated with Nazi Germany, Austria is only too willing to draw a curtain over its past, preferring instead to emphasize the Soviet occupation from 1945-1955.
I doubt an expression as "absolutely" correct can be used to describe the past, as the past is a tapestry of actions, reactions, events, plans working and plans gone wrong.

So while I personally doubt that the view the archduke has on the year 1938 and the things that happened then is overall correct, I don't think it is possible to say the exact opposite, that Austria was no victim at all.

The country had suffered so much at the end of WWI, the strong ties to Hungary and Bohemia/Moravia/Slovakia (the Czech republic) which had shaped Austria for centuries were severed: ties that were not only political, but economical. The Czechslowac republic alone inherited 60 percent of the k.u.k econical power, while Hungary got further 30. South-Tyrolia, Trentino and Friuli went the way the other Habsburg-possessions on Italian ground were gone - to Italy. Austria alone was not really an industrialised state, more depending on farming and trade. Trade which had lost his platform. Plus the new laws really went against the former Upper Class of nobility and staff of the former emperor, thus forcing a lot of educated and financially capable people out of the country. Add the economical crisies which worldwide hit the countries, even the peaceful US.

All this happening while the neighbor next door obviously bloomed under the rule of the Nazis, who were trying to add the former "Cisleithanien"-parts of the k.u.k. empire to the new Germany on pointing out that the Germans had always been the leading people in the western part of Austria-Hungaria-Bohemia - I don't really wonder why so many Austrians thought it would be a good idea to be part of a greater state again after what they went through these last 20 years since the end of WWI.

It was only the problem for Austria that the Nazis didn't think for a moment to regard Austria as something special, that they took it and used it and forced it into the war with them, offering mentally or socially disturbed people power over the others in order to terrorize those who didn't want what was starting to happen there as well as in the Czech area.

So I can understand the opinion of the archduke. I doubt that he meant that putting Austria into the position of a victim would erase the responsibility for their misdeeds under the reign of the Nazis. It's just that Austria really had had a hard time after WWI and this explains a lot. Who said that victims come out of their ordeals as innocents? That simply doesn't happen when terror, violence and war had a part in the victim's history.
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Old 03-13-2008, 08:20 AM
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I am sure there are many exceptions Lucien, note that Otto's speech is controversial in Autria too and he only received the support of a few (and a lot of critisism). Didn't he make some controversial speech a few years ago too, probably something related to Islam?
There are always exceptions,but within the elderly generation,there's a stronger emotion/rift.

I am with Jo of Palatine┤s comment.
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Old 03-14-2008, 06:55 AM
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There are always exceptions,but within the elderly generation,there's a stronger emotion/rift.

I am with Jo of Palatine┤s comment.
Thank you, Lucien. Just wanted to add that I did a bit of reading about the background of the happenings leading up to Austria's entry to Nazi-Germany and found that the Austrian politicians of that time had been aware that the Germans were willing to take over by sheer force, even though the Nazis prefered to peacefully take over control of their "Brudervolk". The Austrians knew they had no chance to win. So they gave up before their citizens could be hurt. Just remember that in 1938 the later allies still believed that this was all Hitler wanted: to control the Germanic parts of Europe. If only they had known or realised what Hitler and the Nazis were capable of.

One should not forget that it was Otto of Habsburg's constant political influence on the allies which helped Austria to be considered an independant country after the war, that this was the message he didn't stop to deliver in Washington, London, Moscow and Paris till Austria got his chance. It was grossly unfair that the allies then allowed the Sowjets who feared the Habsburg-influence on Hungary, Czechoslowakia, Ucraine, Romania etc. to force Austria to include the Anti-Habsburg laws (which had been sharped by the Nazis after 1938) into their constitution, so they are valid till today, apart from those who differed to superior EU-laws.
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Old 03-14-2008, 08:25 AM
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Thank you, Lucien. Just wanted to add that I did a bit of reading about the background of the happenings leading up to Austria's entry to Nazi-Germany and found that the Austrian politicians of that time had been aware that the Germans were willing to take over by sheer force, even though the Nazis prefered to peacefully take over control of their "Brudervolk". The Austrians knew they had no chance to win. So they gave up before their citizens could be hurt. Just remember that in 1938 the later allies still believed that this was all Hitler wanted: to control the Germanic parts of Europe. If only they had known or realised what Hitler and the Nazis were capable of.

One should not forget that it was Otto of Habsburg's constant political influence on the allies which helped Austria to be considered an independant country after the war, that this was the message he didn't stop to deliver in Washington, London, Moscow and Paris till Austria got his chance. It was grossly unfair that the allies then allowed the Sowjets who feared the Habsburg-influence on Hungary, Czechoslowakia, Ucraine, Romania etc. to force Austria to include the Anti-Habsburg laws (which had been sharped by the Nazis after 1938) into their constitution, so they are valid till today, apart from those who differed to superior EU-laws.
True,the later allies,especially the brits were as blind/shortsighted as was "humanly" possible.The Munich treaty between the brits and the germans comes to mind,in which Tjechoslawakia/Sudetenland was given away just to make the nazi's happy and hoping that would be all.

On Austria,the Austrian Chancellor Dreyfuss was assasinated to make way for the "Anschluss" in 1938 I believe from the top of my head.

On the other hand,the austrians were the very worst within nazi ranks,more fanatic then others,I've always been told by others,especially someone who was a close witness,my own father while doing forced labour work in Sachsenhausen and later Dachau.

So,taking into consideration that several "austrian regiments" fought on the East front,and that they were not the kindest of folks within the ranks,the russians didn't forget and squeezed them out like a lemon as a repercussion.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Austria remembers Nazi annexation
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Old 03-14-2008, 06:30 PM
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"On Austria,the Austrian Chancellor Dreyfuss was assasinated to make way for the "Anschluss" in 1938 I believe from the top of my head."

Dreyfuss was in france (I believe from the top of my head). The murdered Austrian Chancellors name is Dollfuss.



"... a close witness,my own father while doing forced labour work in Sachsenhausen and later Dachau."

Lucien, your father was in the "Concentration Camp" KZ Sachsenhausen and KZ Dachau. Was he in the resistance in Holland?
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Old 03-14-2008, 08:07 PM
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That was Chancellor Dollfuss who was murdered, in 1934 I believe.
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Old 03-15-2008, 04:51 AM
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"On Austria,the Austrian Chancellor Dreyfuss was assasinated to make way for the "Anschluss" in 1938 I believe from the top of my head."

Dreyfuss was in france (I believe from the top of my head). The murdered Austrian Chancellors name is Dollfuss.



"... a close witness,my own father while doing forced labour work in Sachsenhausen and later Dachau."

Lucien, your father was in the "Concentration Camp" KZ Sachsenhausen and KZ Dachau. Was he in the resistance in Holland?
Thank you Franz,yes ofcourse it was Dollfuss,sorry,mixed up with Devils Island."Tops of Heads,and the Idus Martae"...grin

Yes I know Franz.He wasn't in the resistance,he,an 18 year old at the time in 1942,was on his way to college when there was one of those feared razzia's here in Amsterdam,fetching men from the streets at random for forced labour duty,"Arbeidseinsatz", in germany.
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Old 03-15-2008, 05:23 AM
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From this article:

"Otto von Habsburg, 95, the son of Austria's last emperor, told a commemorative meeting that no state in Europe had "a greater right than Austria to call itself a victim".
But the president of the lower house of parliament, Barbara Prammer, told lawmakers that Austrians were complicit in Nazi crimes."

Don't they realise that these two people quoted are talking about two different things? Otto von Habsburg talks about the State of Austria which was annexed by Germany. Barbara Prammer talks about Austrian citizens who were Nazis and who had commited crimes.

Thus the State could be a victim even though some of the citizens were willing helpers of the Nazis.
In the current issue of Germany's political magazine DER SPIEGEL is an interesting and somewhat disturbing article about what kind of people the Nazi killers were. In it it says that Russian prisoners of war were among the most cruel helpers of the Germans at Auschwitz concentration camp. That
shows IMHO to what violence and war can reduce humans: they become blood-thirsty animals.
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Old 03-15-2008, 11:11 PM
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What is the purpose of Dr. Otto Habsburg's comment now?
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:04 AM
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He's 95 years old. He's probably lost the majority if not all of his "marbles" . I wouldn't get riled up over anything he says.
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:22 PM
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What is the purpose of Dr. Otto Habsburg's comment now?
He was invited to give a lecture about the events of 1938 - because that was 70 years ago and he is one of very few keyplayers from these days who are still alive.

The archduke even had offered to become part of a restitution of the monarchy in order to keep the Nazis away from Austria but the government thought it was too dangerous and so it happened as it did- Austria was annexed by Germany.

Still - as we discussed before a state can become a victim of another even though a lot of its citizens think it is okay what happened. Plus in Austria the name Habsburg alone is able to bring up emotions and critizism, no matter what the archduke would say. Here's an article in English about the background:

English News from Austria

Otto Habsburg in Nazi 'victims' row


The week commemorating the 70th anniversary of the "Anschluss" or German annexation of Austria in 1938 has proven to be a sensitive occasion as it invokes a period of history that many Austrians would prefer to forget.
Otto Habsburg, the son of the last Austrian Emperor Karl I, has aroused controversy because of his remarks at an ÍVP event commemorating the Anschluss.
Habsburg, 95, claimed that "there is no country in Europe that has a better claim to be a victim of the Nazis." Habsburg added that it was natural that so many Austrians had turned out to hear Hitler speak at the Heldenplatz on March 13, 1938 since people had been curious about him....



End of quote - more interesting material in the article.



And no, I don't have the impression that the archduke does not know what he is talking about. He still has all of his marbles...
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Old 03-16-2008, 01:35 PM
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A quotation from famous Austrian-US-director Billy Wilder came into my mind:
The Austrians are brilliant people. They made the world believe that Adolf Hitler was a German and Ludwig van Beethoven an Austrian."

Let's be serious: There is no black and white in history, there are many shades of grey. Like most Germans, most Austrians did nothing against the Hitler-regime. Many were very willing supporters and many others went into some sort of "inner emigration" and waited until the "1000-jńhrige Reich" was over. Very few people were in the open resistance.

In the first years Austria copied fascistic elements from Germany and Italy and was some sort of "milde dictatorship". But then Hitler forced the politicians to co-operate more and then from March 1938 on, there was almost no difference between Austria and Germany left.

But from a certain point of view of course Austria was a victim of WWII. Germany was a victim, too. Remember how many civilians died when allied bombs fell on Dresden or other big cities. Remember how many people lost their home in areas like Silesia, East Prussia, Pomerania, etc. And how many lost there lives when trying to escape from there. And of course: Remember how many German and Austrian Jews, Communists, gipsies or other opponents of the Nazi-regime were killed.

Nevertheless, most Germans elected that man from Austria and later wondered what happened. And there were enough people in Germany and Austria who supported that system. So in my point of view Austria was co-responsible. But also some sort of victim.

It is very difficult for us, the younger generations (even my parents were born after the war ended) to understand what happened. And - even more difficult - to understand how it could happen. But it happened. I think it is very good and it is the right time to talk about the victims among the civil population in Germany and Austria. But we shall not forget that Germany and Austria (then as a part of the Deutsche Reich) started the war.
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Old 03-16-2008, 07:21 PM
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... there was one of those feared razzia's here in Amsterdam,fetching men from the streets at random for forced labour duty,"Arbeidseinsatz", in germany.
{Edit colourful language} I have visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam a few years ago.
That was a really bad time in history. I hope these things never come back.

What a pleasure it is to live in Europe nowadays, having peace such a long time.
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Old 03-17-2008, 04:31 AM
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THe wasn't in the resistance,he,an 18 year old at the time in 1942,was on his way to college when there was one of those feared razzia's here in Amsterdam,fetching men from the streets at random for forced labour duty,"Arbeidseinsatz", in germany.
Lucien, for me the really obscene thing is that after the war the companies who had profited from these working slaves were not willing to pay for the victims. In 1942, the Nazis had "ran out" of jews and political prisoners (they were already killed or transported to the murdering camps in the East) and simply snatched young man from the occupied countries, these young men were used as working slaves for the weapon's industry. Sachsenhausen close to Berlin and Dachau in between Munich and Augsburg were the centers from which each company could "rent" slaves and use them as workers in their factories. MAN, BMW, Varta etc. a lot of companies still existing and some still owned by the family who had owned them back then do not much to at least recognized what they were a part of.

There was a TV-documentation about the Quandt-family of Varta and BMW (the Quandts back then were two half-brothers, one the son of Magda Goebbels from her first marriage) and afterwards the children of these two men really feigned ignorance and astonishment about what former slaves told the TV-team. Come on, you have to know about such things, you should have asked yourself the question what did my family do during these terrible times, is there something we should be aware of?

I feel for your father and I hope he did not get any health problems back then. Maybe he even met some helpful and human Germans back then, so does not believe all of the Germans living back then were evil and cruel.

My father was shot at Stalingrad and on board the last Red Cross-train the Russians let leave the "cauldron". So when Germany was freed, he was still hospitalized in the American zone and quite well treated. But when it was time to realise him, the Americans checked where he was from. Unfortunately though he was born in Mannheim in the American zone (right embankment of the river Rhein) he actually lived in Ludwigshafen, Mannheim's twin town on the other bank of the river. This was French territory and the Americans gave him over to the French. So he was deported to a prisoner of war camp in Marseille which he barely survived. Conventions of Geneva? Forget it.

When he told me about what had happened there, he said that the time in the camp had managed to convince him of the fact that there is pure evil in mankind, something the war hadn't been able before. He said he had started to believe all he was told about the mass murder, destruction and cruelties of the Nazis because he had seen in Marseille what potential mankind had of commiting evil against helpless prisoners. He never palyed the violin after coming back, because he felt he had been part of crimes to terrible to forget and that as a murderer he had no longer a right to enjoy music.

But hwat shall we make of this: that it's right to commit the same crimes because the victims are former perpetrators? That they even might learn form it?

For myself I learned that mankind are as much beast as other animals and that we need the community's strict will to not allow these evil tendencies to turn out in action in order to live a positive and safe life.
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:51 PM
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Well it seems that Dr. Habsburg's words were mischosen. If he had said that Austria had lost a great deal of its identity and individual purpose with the Anschlu▀, I doubt if anyone would have questioned him; it was that word 'victim' was bound to set off a torrent of protest.
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