From World War to Waldheim: Culture and Politics in Austria and the United States

By Arens, Katherine | German Quarterly, January 1, 2000 | Go to article overview

From World War to Waldheim: Culture and Politics in Austria and the United States


Arens, Katherine, German Quarterly


Good, David F., and Ruth Wodak, eds. From World War to Waldheim: Culture and Politics in Austria and the United States. Austrian History, Culture, and Society 2. New York: Berghahn, 1999.248 pp $49.95.

The volume offers expanded versions of papers presented at a conference entitled "A Small State in the Shadow of a Superpower: Austria and the Unites States since 1945," organized by the Center for Austrian Studies at the University of Minnesota in 1994. Its recurring themes are power and cultural representation in situations of unequal partners, where too-simple models about cultural imperialism cannot be applied. The result is an interdisciplinary "good read" that should appeal to scholars and more general readers alike.

A total of nine essays are organized into three groups, one on politics, one on Austria's impact on the United States, and one on "America and Austrian Political Culture." An introduction by Reinhold Wagenleitner sets the stage for these fine and readable discussions.

In the first section, John Bunzel outlines the political image that Austria has had in the US since the Second World War, arguing that the Waldheim case was by no means the first contentious moment in this relationship. Oliver Rathkolb counters with an essay on "Bruno Kreisky's Perceptions of the United States," a case study showing how Kreisky conceived of the US as an anticommunist force from the Second World War on. After that, Richard Mitten gets the juicy topic of "Bitburg, Waldheim, and the Politics of Remembering and Forgetting," outlining what was at stake in these political contretemps.

The middle section of the book starts with Egon Schwarz's 1994 Robert Kann Lecture, which tells his own story as an emigrant Germanist. …

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