In the Twilight of Socialism: A History of the Revolutionary Socialists of Austria

In the Twilight of Socialism: A History of the Revolutionary Socialists of Austria

In the Twilight of Socialism: A History of the Revolutionary Socialists of Austria

In the Twilight of Socialism: A History of the Revolutionary Socialists of Austria

Excerpt

You cannot understand the famous unless you feel the pulse of the obscure.

Franz Grillparzer

Chapter One:
ORIGIN

Fascist Attack

IT WAS MONDAY, February 12, 1934. At half-past eight in the morning Otto Leichter, an editor of the Vienna Arbeiter-Zeitung , called his friend and editor-in-chief, Oskar Pollak, at the office to ask what was new. Leichter, half-dressed, was at home having breakfast, the telephone receiver in one hand and the coffee cup in the other; his whole body, as oddly agile as his mind, registered utter impatience. Coming from Leichter, this question was not a mere figure of speech. To find out what was new in the world was more than his business; it had become a vital necessity to his insatiably curious nature. An urge to know at all times what was said, planned, thought, and done around him was the most conspicuous of his many passions. It was a dull day when he did not know before breakfast the big and little things that had happened to the world overnight. Hardly awake, he would be at the telephone quickly to catch up with what he had missed while asleep.

Besides, on that February morning there were other grounds for Leichter's worried curiosity. They had nothing to do with his personality and occupation. For both content and sustenance of life, this thirty-six-year-old, restlessly active man depended on the Austrian Social Democratic labor movement, for some months in danger of destruction. The clash had long been predicted by extremists as well as appeasers of every political hue, in indictments, intimidation attempts, or appeals to reason. Any day could turn the civil war talk from a bugbear of political leaders into the bloody lot of their followers. Pious village boys armed and led by the Fascist Heimwehr were mass-

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