The Tragedy of Austria

The Tragedy of Austria

The Tragedy of Austria

The Tragedy of Austria

Excerpt

This book tells the story of' the rise, decline and fall of the Republic and the birth of another. It describes a tragedy of the inter-war years and the painful beginnings of a new hope. The same tale in roughest outline can be told of many countries on the Continent. In that sense the experience is not unique; the bare bones of the record are familiar. And yet there is one aspect of this recital which gives it a peculiar poignancy and, for Socialists, a heightened and especial interest. If any people in Europe in this epoch deserved a better fate it was the workers of Vienna. Austrian Socialism had a quality of its own which Socialists everywhere rightly envied. Its achievements against terrific odds were exceptional, and the men who led the movement were not giants, but brave, upstanding, civilised leaders. "These are deeds which should not pass away and names that must not wither."

It is good, therefore, that this tragic, but heroic, chapter in Socialist history should be faithfully recorded. The Austrian Socialists did not fail in the task of constructive endeavour. They did not fail in courage at the decisive moment. They did not become cynical and sedate. They did not procrastinate and appease. No doubt they made errors. But any fair-minded observer will agree that it was not their own faults which were the cause of their undoing. The responsibility rested in the main with others who denied to Austria and Austrian Socialism the means to live. This fact makes the acts of the Austrian workers shine forth all the brighter. It makes a story of which no Socialist need be ashamed. Indeed, if we were to show respect for the great traditions of our movement, we should treasure this alongside the other epics of working-class struggle. "Red Vienna" won its place in history. Here the full account is given by a man who played a leading and honourable part in a great company. As long as the record of great deeds is one of the most potent forces inspiring others to fresh endeavours we should turn eagerly to the annals of Vienna's martyrdom.

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