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The Rehabilitated Austrians and the Borodajkewycz Affair

  • Rafael Milan Kropiunigg
Extract

Ladies and Gentlemen! Where are we living? What age are we living in? Is this the Democratic Republic of Austria or a part of the Third Reich? Have we got twenty years of reconstruction and new construction of our fatherland behind us, or do we stand before the year 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War Two? Has all the terror, all fright, completely bypassed such educators of the youth? Has nothing made an impression on them that would have changed them?

Just as a Socialist parliamentarian spoke these words on 31 March 1965, an affair surrounding the Viennese University Professor Taras (von) Borodajkewycz culminated in the Second Republic's most violent street fights and allegedly sole political death to date. In the course of the early 1960s, the professor's antidemocratic references and nostalgic statements on the Third Reich in his lectures had also come to the attention of the wider public. Clashes in March between Rightist and Leftist students ensued, and the Borodajkewycz Affair finally reached its height when on that last day in March the right-wing student Günther Kümel delivered a deadly blow to a 67-year-old Communist.

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rafael.kropiunigg@gmail.com
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1 Dr. Max Neugebauer (SPÖ) addresses National Council, 31 Mar. 1965, Nationalrat X. GP. 76. Sitzung, 4215-6, Parlamentsarchiv der Republik Österreich, Vienna.

2 An exemplary analysis of SS-doctor Sigbert Ramsauer's Austrian network in a recent biographical account—the chapter of which is entitled “Ramsauers österreichisches Netzwerk, oder: Das Who is Who der ÖVP”—speaks volumes to the social, political, and legal support that many former Nazis enjoyed until and beyond the early 1990s: Rettl, Lisa and Pirker, Peter, “Ich war mit Freunden dabei”: Der KZ-Arzt Sigbert Ramsauer; Eine österreichische Geschichte (Vienna, 2010), 272–87.

3 For a discussion on the microhistorical method, see: Levi, Giovanni, “On Microhistory,” in New Perspectives on Historical Writing, ed. Burke, Peter (Cambridge, 1991), 93113 ; Peltonen, Matti, “Clues, Margins, and Monads: The Micro-Macro Link in Historical Research,” History and Theory 40 no. 3 (2001): 347–59; Szijártó, István, “Four Arguments for Microhistory,” Rethinking History 6, no. 2 (2002): 209–15.

4 Broadly speaking, Vergangenheitsbewältigung is the process of coming to terms with the past. Vergangenheitsbewältigung is expressed in this article as an analysis of the changing nature (over time) of the political and cultural struggle over Austria's problematic past.

5 Gerard Kasemir, “Die Borodajkewycz-Affäre 1965: Spätes Ende für ‘wissenschaftlich’ vorgetragenen Rassismus” (PhD diss., Vienna University, 1994), 10–11; Maria Zimmermann, “Die Affäre Borodajkewycz: Höhe- und Wendepunkt eines antisemitischen und antidemokratischen Hochschulskandals im Jahr 1965 - inhaltsanalytisch untersucht am Beispiel von sechs österreichischen Tageszeitungen” (PhD diss., Vienna University, 2001).

6 Gerard's account circumvents the larger picture on three levels, and some of his assumptions ought to be refuted from the outset. Firstly, Borodajkewycz faced no significant consequences for his antidemocratic and latently anti-Semitic statements in lectures—other than a forced retirement shortly before it was due. Not only did the professor himself initiate the very same disciplinary inquiry into his lectures that ultimately led to his retirement; the absolute majority of his students and colleagues also supported his case. Secondly, the Affair only made apparent who the critical mass was: these were not newly radicalized students; rather, they represented the same anti-Fascist minority of individuals who had already been active in, for example, organizing concentration camp commemorations. Furthermore, the anti-Borodajkewycz camp was not much larger than its pro-Borodajkewycz counterpart. Thirdly, amnesties of actual war criminals continued, while throughout the entirety of his second term as justice minister (1960–66; 1970–83), Christian Broda ensured that new court cases against former Nazis would not be initiated.

7 Art, David, The Politics of the Nazi Past in Germany and Austria (Cambridge, 2006), 111–13.

8 In pursuing this vein of historical simplification, it appears not altogether surprising that Art makes a number of false assumptions regarding the Affair: Art mistakes Borodajkewycz's Ukrainian background for Polish ancestry and claims that two of the professor's students (Ferdinand Lacina and Heinz Fischer) were taking notes in his lecture, although Fischer, who no longer studied, graduated from a different university and had never attended Borodajkewycz's lectures. Further factual errors present themselves in his account of the anti-Borodajkewycz protests. Art claim that Ernst Kirchweger, who received a fatal blow from the right-wing student Günther Kümel, was a concentration camp survivor and that Kümel was a boxer and RFS member. These factual and analytical uncertainties are challenged in the course of this article.

9 Stiefel, Dieter, Entnazifizierung in Österreich (Vienna, 1981), 172–73.

10 Keller, Fritz, Wien, Mai 68: Eine heiße Viertelstunde (Vienna, 2008).

11 Ebner, Paulus and Vocelka, Karl, Die Zahme Revolution: '68 und was davon blieb (Vienna, 1998).

12 I obtained oral testimonies in Vienna Austria from the following subjects: Borodajkewycz, Olaf, 11 May 2011; Bronner, Oscar, 3 May 2011; Bruckmüller, Ernst, 10 May 2011; Czipke, Gertrude, 27 Apr. 2011; Frischenschlager, Friedhelm, 2 May 2011; Gelbard, Rudolf, 16 May 2011; Kriechbaum, Gerald, 10 May 2011; Konecny, Albrecht, 4 May 2011; Lacina, Ferdinand, 28 Apr. 2011; Portisch, Hugo, 4 May, 2011; Rathkolb, Oliver, 12 May 2011; Rehak, Günter, 27. Apr. 2011; Tambornino, Karl, 6 May 2011; Tobisch, Lotte, 27 Apr. 2011. I received written testimonies from the following individuals who responded to 26 interview questions via e-mail: Fischer, Heinz, Vienna, 17 May 2011; Kümel, Günther, location confidential, 11 May 2011; Pelinka, Anton, Budapest, 23 May 2011; Steger, Norbert, Vienna, 1 May 2011.

13 Ferdinand Lacina, lecture notes, in “Vorlesungsmitschrift 1961/62,” 1 Dec. 1961, in Einer im Vordergrund, ed. Fischer, 36.

14 Ferdinand Lacina, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 28 Apr. 2011.

15 Ibid.

16 Lacina, lecture notes, in “Vorlesungsmitschrift,” 1 Dec. 1961, in Einer im Vordergrund, ed. Fischer, 36–37.

17 Mozetic, Gerald, “Outsiders and True Believers: Austrian Sociologists Respond to Fascism,” in Sociology Responds to Fascism, ed. Turner, Stephen and Käsler, Dirk (London, 1992), 2224 , 94–95.

18 Lacina, lecture notes, in “Vorlesungsmitschrift,” 9 Mar. 1962 and 23 Mar. 1962, in Einer im Vordergrund, ed. Fischer, 37, 40.

19 Lacina, discussion.

20 This very same driven and politically astute student, who sat in the professor's lectures on World War II precisely half a century ago, would later join the Social Democratic party (SPÖ) and become Austria's longest-serving finance minister.

21 Ibid.

22 Lacina, lecture notes, in “Vorlesungsmitschrift,” 18 May 1962, in Einer im Vordergrund, ed. Fischer, 42–43.

23 Gerald Kriechbaum, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 10 May 2011.

24 Ibid.

25 Lacina, lecture notes, in “Vorlesungsmitschrift,” 18 May 1962, in Einer im Vordergrund, ed. Fischer, 42–43.

26 Heinz Fischer, “Die Situation an Österreichs Hochschulen,” in Die Zukunft, Apr. 1962, 109–10.

27 Heinz Fischer, e-mail message with document to author, 17 May 2011.

28 Arbeiter-Zeitung, 27 June 1962.

29 Lacina, discussion.

30 Albrecht Konecny, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 4 May 2011.

31 Fischer, e-mailed document.

32 Lacina, discussion.

33 Konecny, discussion.

34 Taras Borodajkewycz, “Vernehmung als Zeuge vor dem Strafbezirksgericht Wien,” 29 Oct. 1962 and 17 Jan. 1963, in Einer im Vordergrund, ed. Fischer, 68, 70, 67.

35 Olaf Borodajkewycz, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 11 May 2011.

36 SS-Hauptsturmführer Aktenvermerk, 25 June 1942, DÖW 21.348/4, Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstandes, Vienna.

37 Borodajkewycz, “Vernehmung als Zeuge,” 29 Oct. 1962 and 17 Jan. 1963, in Fischer, Einer im Vordergrund, 75, 68, 70.

38 Strafbezirksgericht Wien, “Das Urteil,” 25 Nov. 1963, in Einer im Vordergrund, ed. Fischer, 82, 79.

39 Konecny, discussion.

40 Fischer, e-mailed document.

41 Dr. Kummer addresses National Council, 6 Dec. 1957, VIII. GP. 44. Sitzung, 1853, Parlamentsarchiv, Vienna.

42 National Council request by Mark, Dr. Stella Klein-Löw and associates, 20 Jan. 1965, X. GP. 72. Sitzung, 3850, Parlamentsarchiv.

43 Austrian Presse Agentur (APA), 20 Jan. 1965.

44 Ibid., 21 Jan. 1965.

45 Tiroler Tageszeitung, 27 Mar. 1965.

46 Olaf Borodajkewycz Private Source Collection, Vienna, “Taras Borodajkewycz Sachverhaltsdarstellung zum Auslieferungsantrag,” 29 Mar. 1965.

47 Oscar Bronner, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 3 May 2011.

48 Olaf Borodajkewycz Private Source Collection, “Sachverhaltsdarstellung.”

49 Olaf Borodajkewycz, discussion.

50 Press Conference, 23 Mar. 1965, Senat GZ 284 from 1964/65, 1-4, Archiv der Universität Wien, Vienna.

51 Karl Tambornino, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 6 May 2011.

52 Press Conference, 1–4.

53 Lacina, discussion.

54 Press Conference, 5.

55 Ibid., 12, 9.

56 Ibid.

57 Beschluß-(Resolutions-)Antrag des Wiener Gemeinderates, 26 Mar. 1965, Senat GZ 284 from 1964/65, Archiv der Universität Wien.

58 Die Studentengruppe im Internationalen Versöhnungsbund (flyer), Mar. 1965, Senat GZ 284 from 1964/65, Archiv der Universität Wien.

59 Ernst Koref, “Offener Brief,” 30 Mar. 1965, in Einer im Vordergrund, ed. Fischer, 118–20.

60 APA, 26 Mar. 1965.

61 Olaf Borodajkewycz, discussion.

62 Neues Österreich, 27 Apr. 1965.

63 Abend Express, 26 Mar. 1965.

64 Konecny, discussion.

65 Lacina, discussion.

66 Neues Österreich, 27 Apr. 1965.

67 Tiroler Tageszeitung, 27 Mar. 1965.

68 Kurier, 25 Mar. 1965.

69 Hugo Portisch, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 4 May 2011.

70 Tiroler Tageszeitung, 27 Mar. 1965.

71 Tagblatt, 27 Mar. 1965.

72 Die Presse, 30 Mar. 1965.

73 APA, 29 Mar.1965.

74 Rudolf Gelbard, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 16 May 2011.

75 Lacina, discussion.

76 Die Presse, 30 Mar. 1965.

77 Ibid., 31 Mar. 1965.

78 APA, 29 March 1965.

79 Dr. Nemecz addresses National Council, 31 Mar. 1965, Nationalrat X. GP. 76. Sitzung, 4220, Parlamentsarchiv

80 Norbert Steger, e-mail message with document to author, 1 May 2011.

81 Tambornino, discussion.

82 Die Presse, 1 Apr. 1965.

83 Konecny, discussion.

84 Gerard Kasemir, “Die Borodajkewycz-Affäre 1965: Spätes Ende für ‘wissenschaftlich’ vorgetragenen Rassismus” (PhD diss., University of Vienna, 1994), 88.

85 Günther Kümel, e-mail message with document to author, 11 May 2011.

86 Ibid.

87 Konecny, discussion.

88 Anton Pelinka, e-mail message with document to author, 23 May 2011.

89 Gelbard, discussion.

90 Lacina, discussion.

91 Lotte Tobisch, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 27 Apr. 2011.

92 Bronner, discussion.

93 Ibid.

94 Konecny, discussion.

95 Friedhelm Frischenschlager, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 2 May 2011.

96 Volksstimme, 9 Apr. 1965.

97 Ibid.

98 Ibid.

99 Volksstimme, 1 Apr. 1965.

100 Ibid., 9 Apr. 1965.

101 Heinz-Christian Strache, in Wiener Zeitung, 9 February 2012. “[Konecny wurde von] seinen aus der BRD geholten linken Gewaltdemonstranten irrtümlicherweise für einen [...] ,Burschenschafter' gehalten.”

102 Exekutive des Hauptausschusses stellt fest, Mar. 1965, Senat GZ 284 from 1964/65, Archiv der Universität Wien.

103 Fischer, e-mailed document.

104 Stellungnahme der Evangelischen Studentengemeinschaft, 31 Mar. 1965, Senat GZ 284 from 1964/65, Archiv der Universität Wien.

105 Steger, e-mailed document.

106 Tobisch, discussion.

107 Die Zeit, 2 Apr. 1965.

108 Die Furche, 21 May 1966.

109 Lacina, discussion.

110 Kozlik, Adolf, Wie wird wer Akademiker? Zum österreichischen Schul- und Hochschulwesen (Vienna, 1965).

111 Gertrude Czipke, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 27 Apr. 2011.

112 Bruckmüller, discussion.

113 Kriechbaum, discussion.

114 Bruckmüller, discussion.

115 Konecny, discussion.

116 Lacina, discussion.

117 Konecny, discussion.

118 Oliver Rathkolb, in discussion with the author, Vienna, 12 May 2011.

119 Portisch, discussion.

120 Bronner, discussion.

121 Ibid.

122 Bruckmüller, discussion.

123 Ibid.

124 Bronner, discussion.

125 Czipke, discussion.

126 Lacina, discussion.

127 Bruckmüller, discussion.

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