Remembering and Forgetting Nazism: Education, National Identity, and the Victim Myth in Postwar Austria

By Peter Utgaard | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
REMEMBERING AND FORGETTING
WORLD WAR II, THE HOLOCAUST,
AND THE RESISTANCE

[D]a war a Jud im Gemeindebau, a gewisser Tennenbaum… sonst a
netter Mensch…da ham’s so Sachen gegen die Nazi g’schrieben
g’habt auf de Trottoir…auf die Gehsteige…und der Tennenbaum hat
des aufwischen müassn…net er allan… de andern Juden eh aa…
hab i ihm hing’führt, daß ers aufwischt…und der Hausmasta hat
zuag’schaut und hat g’lacht…er war immer bei aner Hetz dabei
…Nachn Kriag is er z’ruckkumma, der Tennenbaum. Is eahm eh
nix passiert.

— Der Herr Karl1

[A]ll opposition in the Third Reich must be rated as an act of resist-
ance even where it was merely a case on the part of individuals to
“remain decent.”

— Karl Stadler, Austrian historian2

Austrians were full participants in World War II. One million two hundred eighty-six thousand Austrians served in the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, and Kriegsmarine, fighting on every front.3 After the annexation, the Austrian economy merged with the German economy, supplied the war effort, and joined in the economic exploitation of occupied Europe. The Austrian vehicle manufacturer Steyr A.G., for example, established subsidiaries throughout occupied Eastern Europe.4 Austria also became the site for key wartime industrial facilities, including aircraft factories and plants building the deadly “wonder weapons,” such as the V-1 and V2 rockets. Most significantly, Austrians also fully participated in crimes of National Socialism, not only in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, but also on Ostmark soil, especially at the Mauthausen concentration camp and its subcamps (Nebenlager). The war record challenges the Austria-as-victim myth, but until the mid 1980s, the participation of Austrians in the Nazi

-90-

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