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Challenging Political Culture in Postwar Austria: Veterans' Associations, Identity, and the Problem of Contemporary History

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2008

Matthew Paul Berg
John Carroll University


This observation, registered by Marianne Enigl and Herbert Lackner, points to an incontestable and compelling feature of contemporary Austrian political culture: during the 1980s and 1990s, the first meaningful steps toward an Austrian Vergangenheitsbewältigung developed out of a discussion of Austrians' military service during the Nazi era and its highly problematic association with wartime atrocities and genocide. Exploration of this important theme had been avoided throughout the period of the Second Republic by a carefully cultivated expression of public memory. The inherent tension between the internationally sanctioned notion of Austrian victimization during the Nazi years and the pride of many Austrian veterans in having performed their soldierly duties (Wehrpflichterfüllung) had been a taboo subject.

Copyright © Conference Group for Central European History of the American Historical Association 1997

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This article developed from a paper presented at the Twentieth Annual Conference of the German Studies Association Seattle, 10–13 October 1996. I would like to thank Oliver Rathkolb, Anton Pelinka, and Günter Bischof for their comments and suggestions. Thanks are also due to Pamela Mason for her critical reading of an earlier draft.

1. Enigl, Marianne and Lackner, Herbert, “Die verschüttete Geschichte,” Profil 6 (3 02 1996): 21. All translations are mine, unless otherwise noted.Google Scholar

2. Among the important contributions to a reexamination of this repressed past are Botz, Gerhard, “Österreich und die NS-Vergangenheit: Verdrängung, Pflichterfüllung, Geschichtsklitterung” in Ist der Nationalsozialismus Geschichte? Zu Historisierung und Historikerstreit, ed. Diner, Dan, (Frankfurt am Main, 1987), 141–52;Google ScholarMattl, Siegfried and Stuhlpfarrer, Karl, “Abwehr und Inszenierung im Labyrinth der Zweiten Republik,” in NS-Herrschaft in Österreich 1938–1945, ed. Tálos, Emmerich, Hanisch, Ernst, and Neugebauer, Wolfgang (Vienna, 1988), 601–24;Google ScholarMitten, Richard, The Politics of Antisemitic Prejudice: The Waldheim Phenomenon in Austria (Boulder, 1992);Google ScholarZiegler, Meinrad and Kannonier-Finster, Waltraud, Österreichs Gedächtnis: Über Erinnern und Vergessen der NS-Vergangenheit (Vienna, 1993);Google ScholarBotz, Gerhard and Sprengnagel, Gerald, eds., Kontroversen um Österreichs Zeitgeschichte: Verdrängte Vergangenheit, Österreich-Identität, Waldheim und die Historiker (Frankfurt am Main, 1994).Google Scholar

3. Bailer-Galanda, Brigitte, Haider wörtlich (Vienna, 1995), 102; cited originally in Kärtner Nachrichten, 13 10 1985.Google Scholar

4. For a survey of the integration of the First Republic's Bundesheer into the Wehrmacht and Austrian participation in the Third Reich's armed forces, see WalterManoschek and HansSafrian, “Österreicher in der Wehrmacht,” in Tálos, et al., NS-Herrschaft, 331–60. The essay focuses on the war in the Balkan theater.

5. Developed originally as a psychological weapon by British officials and supported by their American counterparts to exploit “anti-Prussian” sentiment within Austria, the Moscow Declaration, Robert Keyserlingk explains, “came to be considered a gauge of Allied wartime intentions”—particularly with the emergence of the Cold War—concerning the restoration of Austria and was integrated into the legal-political basis of the Second Austrian Republic.” Keyserlingk, , Austria in World War II: An Anglo-American Dilemma (Kingston, Ontario, 1988), 4.Google Scholar See also Bischof, Günter, “Die Instrumentalisierung der Moskauer Erklärung nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg,” Zeitgeschichte 20 (1993): 345–66. Bischof's essay is both a thoughtful discussion of how Austrian politicians exploited the notion of victimization, particularly during the 1940s and 1950s, and a fine historiographical contribution.Google Scholar

6. Albrich, Thomas, “‘Es gibt keine jüdische Frage’: Zur Aufrechterhaltung des österreichischen Mythos,” in Der Umgang mit dem Holocaust: Europa—USA—Israel, ed., Steininger, Rolf (Vienna, 1994), 147f.Google Scholar

7. See Pelinka, Anton and Weinzierl, Erika, eds., Das grosse Tabu: Österreichs Umgang mit seiner Vergangenheit (Vienna, 1987),Google Scholar as well as Botz, Gerhard, “Geschichte und kollektives Gedächtnis in der Zweiten Republik:‘Opferthese,’ ‘Lebenslüge’ und Geschichtstabu in der Zeitgeschichtsschreibung” in Inventur 45/55: Österreich im ersten Jahrzehnt der Zweiten Republik, ed. Kos, Wolfgang and Rigele, Georg (Vienna, 1996), 5185. To place Austrian circumstances regarding the delicate, yet highly-charged matters of denazification, dealing with collaborators, and Vergangenheitsbewältigung in a broader European context,Google Scholar see Stiefel, Dieter, Entnazifizierung in Österreich (Vienna, 1981);Google ScholarMeissl, Sebastian, Mulley, Klaus-Dieter, and Rathkolb, Oliver, eds., Verdrängte Schuld, verfehlte Sühne: Entnazifizierung in Österreich (Bad Vöslau, 1986);Google ScholarUhl, Heidemarie, Zwischen Versöhnung und Verstörung: Eine Kontroverse um Österreichs historische Identität f¨nfzig Jahre nach dem “Anschluss” (Vienna. 1992);Google ScholarHenke, Klaus-Dietmar and Woller, Hans, eds., Politische Säuberung in Europa: Die Abrechnung mit Faschismus und Kollaboration nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg (Munich, 1991);Google ScholarRusso, Henry, The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944 (Cambridge, MA, 1991).Google Scholar

8. Knight, Robert Graham, “Besiegt oder befreit? Eine völkerrechtliche Frage historisch betrachtet,” in Die bevormundete Nation: Österreich und die Allierten, 1945–1949, ed. Bischof, Günter and Leidenfrost, Josef (Innsbruck, 1988), 77.Google Scholar

9. The notion of the Austrian soldier-as-victim was underscored in the first parliamentary session of the Second Republic. “Those who had always condemned this [National Socialist] regime and the war,” declared Chancellor Leopold Figl (ÖVP), “now return with the stigma of having fought for this regime. We know that during the war each of the Allied powers had already made the distinction between these victims of terror and those who stood behind them, in order to drive them to the front.” Figl's speech met with wildly enthusiastic response from Volkspartei, Socialist, and Communist delegates, while the high commanders of the four occupation forces looked benignly from the loges upon the assembly. Sten.Prot.NR, V.G.P., 2nd Session, 21 December 1945, 19.

10. On the repression of memory, see Ziegler and Kannonier-Finster, Österreichs Gedächtnis.

11. This notion is adapted from Clifford Geertz's assertion that an interpretive theory of culture has the twofold task of discerning “the conceptual structures that inform our subjects' acts, the ‘said’ of social discourse, and to construct a system of analysis in whose terms what is generic to those structures, what belongs to them because they are what they are, will stand out against the other determination of human behavior.” Geertz, , The Interpretaion of Cultures, (New York, 1973), 27.Google Scholar

12. Pro-Anschluss sentiment had existed since the end of the monarchy, however, and in the case of the German National camp from as early as the late nineteenth century. On Anschluss thought prior to the Nazi takeover see Konard, Helmut, ed., Sozialdemokratie und “Anschluss”: HistorischeWurzeln des Anschlusses 1918 und 1938 (Vienna, 1978)Google Scholar and Suval, Stanley, The Anschluss Question in the Weimar Era: A Study of Nationalism in Germany and Austria, 1918–1932 (Baltimore, 1974).Google Scholar

13. Kostelka, PeterSchulterschluss unerwünscht,” Wiener Journal 189 (06 1996): 10. This point was made in conjunction with an evaluation of Austro-German relations in the mid-1990s. Although he was at least as concemed with the pervasive problem of contemporary Austrian-style parliamentary gridlock as with skirting around the morass of highly-charged historical memory, Kostelka's comment corroborates the notion that petty disputes have become a substitute for substantive debate over issues which might compel one to discuss issues related to a volatile past.Google Scholar

14. The latter source is a particularly informative one. FPÖ parliamentary representatives (a great number of them had been Nazis, and were denied their political liberty until 1949), as officials freely-elected by a decriminalized constituency, sought to impart an air of legitimacy to Kameradschaftsbund membership that conflicted with the governing parties' attempts to sweep them under the rug—lest the occupation forces (particularly the USSR and France) find grounds to reexamine the validity of the Austrian Opferthese.

15. For the Austrian case see Gärtner, Reinhold and Rosenberger, Sieglinde, Kriegerdenkmäler (Innsbruck, 1991);Google ScholarRiesenfellner, Stefan and Uhl, Heidemarie, eds., Todeszeichen: Zeitgeschichtliche Denkmalkultur in Graz und in der Steiermark vom Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts bis zur Gegenwart (Vienna, 1994);Google ScholarUhl, Heidemarie, “Erinnerung als Versöhnung: Zur Denkmalkultur und Geschichtspolitik der Zweiten Republik,” Zeitgeschichte 23 (1996): 146–60.Google Scholar A more comprehensive European study is Mosse, George L., Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars (Oxford, 1990).Google Scholar On the politics of veterans' associations as interest group lobbies within the sphere of social welfare policy, see Diehl, James M., The Thanks of the Fatherland: German Veterans after the Second World War (Chapel Hill, 1993).Google Scholar

16. See, for example, Leed, Eric J., No Man's Land: Combat and Identily in World War I (Cambridge, 1979);Google ScholarEksteins, Modris, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (New York, 1989);Google ScholarWhalen, Robert W., Bitter Wounds: German Victims of the Great War, 1914–1939 (Ithaca, 1984);Google ScholarWinter, Jay, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (Cambridge, 1995).Google Scholar

17. Eksteins, Rites of Spring, 232.

18. Leed, No Man's Land, 3, 8ff.

19. Turner, , The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Ithaca, 1991 [originally 1969]), 94103 and 127–40, particularly 132. Within this liminal, or transitional phase, the fellowship of neophytes results in the creation of a special, temporary community at the margins of normative society, referred to byGoogle ScholarTurner, as existential communitas; idem, Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca, 1994 [originally 1974]), 169.Google Scholar

20. Leed, No Man's Land, 25.

21. The new experience of combat as a product of new weaponry is too large a topic to address here, but a fine corpus of scholarly work has been devoted to the subject. See, for example, Ellis, John, Eye-Deep in Hell: Trench Warfare in World War I (Baltimore, 1976);Google ScholarWinter, Denis, Death's Men: Soldiers of the Great War (Harmondsworth, 1979);Google ScholarEksteins, , Rites of Spring; Ulrich, Bernd and Ziemann, Benjamin, eds., Frontalltag im Ersten Weltkrieg: Wahn und Wirklichkeit (Frankfurt am Main, 1994).Google Scholar

22. Bartov, Omer, Hitlers Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich (Oxford, 1992), 60. My emphasis.Google Scholar See also Diehlo, The Thanks of the Fatherland, 45f and Fritz, Stephen G., Frontsoldaten: The German Soldier in World War II (Lexington, KY, 1995), 188–90, 207–8, 217–18.Google Scholar

23. On the issue of solidarity see also Shils, Edward A. and Janowitz, Morris, “Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II,” Public Opinion Quarterly 12 (1948): 280309. This classic essay, the best of early work on the source of the Wehrmacht's internal strength as well as its limits, advances a version of the “rational actor” Model of individual and group behavior. While persuasive in many respects, it fails to develop sufficiently the importance of the central concept of comradeliness, without which the Frontgemeinschaft could not have existed. Solidarity. I suggest, can not be easily accounted for in a rational-choice influenced approach.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

24. Bartov, Omer, “The Conduct of War: Soldiers and the Barbarization of Warfare,” Journal of Modern History 64 (Supplement, 1992): 42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

25. See, in particular, Rempel, Gerhard, Hitler's Children: The Hitler Youth and the SS (Chapel Hill, 1989), 173204, esp. 184,Google Scholar and Stachura, Peter D., “Das Dritte Reich und die Jugenderziehung: Die Rolle der Hitlerjugend 1933–1939,” in Nationalsozialistische Diktatur 1933–1945: Eine Bilanz, ed. Bracher, Karl Dietrich, Funke, Manfred, and Jacobsen, Hans-Adolf (Bonn, 1986), 224–44.Google Scholar “To serve a Volksgemeinschaft, to live a life of camaraderie, to believe in the German people and Hitler as the German Führer,” explains Stephen Fritz, “these were ideals pressed into the minds and souls of German youth.” Fritz, Frontsoldaten, 161.

26. Turner, The Ritual Process, 103.

27. “We were never mercenaries, but—to use the hackneyed phrase—defenders of the Fatherland. There are certainly those among our ranks who fight for the idea of National Socialism, and others who fight for the fatherland, that spot on the map for which risking one's life remains self-evident. We lie together in the tent.” This statement, authored by the young Landser Egon Freitag in August 1941, is a representative example of the fine line between them. Cited in Bartov, Hitler's Army, 34.

28. Leed, No Man's Land, 33.

29. Turner, Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors, 169; Turner, The Ritual Process, 132.

30. , Mosse, Soldiers, Fallen, 217. West German popular film and literature of the 1950s,Google Scholar Mosse points out, “pictured German soldiers, officers in particular, as decent men of honor who were not to blame for the crimes of Hitler or the loss of the war. Such decency, now central to the ideal of camaraderie, was a counterweight to a war fought in a bad cause.”

31. Ibid., 7ff.

32. “When fulfillment of duty is spoken of in connection with combat action for the NS Regime, it would be appropriate to rethink the notion of ‘duty’ in this context. If instead of ‘duty,’ ‘compulsion’ were employed, then an understanding of the activities of German Welhrmacht soldiers would be more easily possible, then the self-imposed justificatory ideal of former soldiers of the NS-Regime of this kind would no longer be necessary either,” In Gärtner and Rosenberger, Krigerdenkmäler, 94, See also Heidemarie Uhl's contest analysis of several recent articles written by Ingomar Pust in the Carinthian ÖVO's Neue Vilkszeitung. Pust lamented the fate of the civil population in fire-bombed Dresden (17 February 1988) and the heroic German army at Stalingrad (30 January 1988), and justified brutal action on the part of the Wehrmacht against the “Tito-Partisans” (whom he lumped together with Slovenian resistance fighters) and Communists in the Blakans (13 and 18 February 1988) in Uhl, Zwischen Versöheung und Verstöung, 388–89.

33. , 139. Uhl spares no criticism for those who appropriated the late Andreas Hillgruber's argement in order to advance that Austrians, like the Germans, had defended “Volk und Vaterland” against murder, rape, plunder, and dislocation (ibid., 138). See aslo Hillgruber, , Zweuerlei Untergang: Die Zerschlangung des Deutschen Reiches und das Ende des euroäischen Judentums (Berlin, 1986),Google Scholar as well as Ziegler and Lanonnier-Finster. The author's case studies provide analyses of the self-representations of average Austrians whose experiences as soldiers, police officers, or civilians had led them to conculde that they had been vicitms—consistent with the notion of the Moscow Declaration-as Magna Carta on the one hand, or agent of memory repression on the other.

34. ÖStA/AdR, BKA 40, 141–2/. Parlimentary deprties approved the Uniform-Verbostgestz on 21 December 1945, not quite one full month after the Second Republic's first democratic elections; it went into effect on 15 January 1946 as BGB1. 1945/12. Punishment for conviction carried a fine of up to ÖS 2,000 or a prison stay as long as two months. The law was not enforced consistently across provincial borders, or even within the same province.

35. Enderle-Burcel, Gertrude, Jeràbek, Rudolf, and Kammerhofer, Leopold, eds., Protokolle des Kabinettsrates der Provisorischen Regierung Karl Renner 1945, vol. 1: 29. April bis 10. Juli 1945 (Vienna, 1995), 3034.Google Scholar This section of the text refers to the discussion of StGB1. 1945/13, 13 May 1945. See also Stiefel, Entnazifizierung, 81–88.

36. On the evolution of this legislation, see Stiefel, Entnazifizierung, 81–88.

37. Svoboda, Wilhelm, “‘…vorbehaltlos meine Pflicht erfüllt’: Das Internierungslager Glasenbach (Camp ‘Marcus W.Orr’),” Zeitgeschichte 22 (1995); esp. 1215.Google Scholar Svoboda's essay examines the reintroduction into civic life of former Nazis held at the Glasenbach detention camp, including the reconstitution of the German-national/liberal camp and the commemorative activities of veterans. See also Albrich, “‘Es gibt keine jüdische Frage,’” 155–59. Albrich points out that because the Western Allies' had insisted firmly that Austria's status as victim be recognized in State Treaty negotiations beginning in 1947, many of the Minderbelasteten given amnesty and reintegrated into Austrian society felt entitled to argue that they had been victimized twice over—once by the great “Prussian swindle,” then by the Allies' insistence that they be marginalized after the war. An effect of this development was that Austrian Jews were denied a particular victim status when pursuing restitution claims; the Austrian government, in the interest of “fairness” to amnestied former Nazis, refused to recognize distinctions among its citizens, all of whom were to be regarded equally as victims of the National Socialist regime. Austrian Jews were not permitted to pursue reparations until well after the State Treaty was signed in 1955. On the notion of politics of memory and victimization in the West German context, see Moeller, Robert G., “War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany,” American Historical Review 101 (1996): 1008–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

38. Uhl, Heidemarie, “The Politics of Memory: Austria's Perception of the Second World War and the National Socialist Period,” Contemporary Austrian Studies 5 (1996): 75.Google Scholar

39. ÖStA/AdR, BMLV 3.556-Präs/I/57. Sicherheitsdirektion für das Bundesland Salzburg. Übersicht über die im Amtsbereiche der Bundespolizeidirektion und Bezirkshauptmannschaft Salzburg-Umgebung mit dem Stande vom 1.8.1956 bestehenden Kameradschafts-, Krieger-, Schützen- und Vereinen ähnlicher Art sowie von Vereinen, die sich mit dem Flugwesen befassen.

40. The Verband der Unabhängigen (VdU) was a curious combination of former Nazis and Deutschnationale types, as well as old-time Liberals who felt they could not find a home on the right wing of the SPÖ or the left wing of the ÖVP.

41. ÖStA/AdR, BMLV 3.556-Präs/I/57. “Statuten des österreichischen Kameradschaftsbundes, Landesverband Salzburg, Kameradschaft Maxglan, 27; Statuten des österreichischen Kameradschaftsbundes, Landesverband Salzburg, Kameradschaft Pfarrwerfen, 225.

42. Mosse, Fallen Soldiers, 217.

43. ÖStA/AdR, BMI 56.779–9/1948, Bundesgesetz über die Fürsorge für Kriegsgräber und für Kriegerdenkmäler aus dem 2. Weltkrieg, Referententwurf. See also BGB1. 1948/176, 670: Bundesgesetz vorn 7. Juli 1948 über die Fürsorge und den Schutz der Kriegsgräber und Kriegerdenicmäler aus dern zweiten Weltkrieg für Angehörige der Alliierten, Vereinten Nationen und für Opfer des Kampfes urn em freies, demokratisches Österreich und Opfer politischer Verfolgung.

44. BGB1. 1948/175, 669–70: Bundesgesetz vom 7. Juli 1948 über die Furgsorge für Kriegsgräber aus dem ersten und zweiten Weltkrieg. On the commemoration of First World War veterans through mornuments and heroes groves, see also Stefan Riesenfeliner, “Todeszeichen: Zeitgeschichrliche Denkmalkukur am Beispiel von Kriegerdenkmälern in Graz und in der Steierrnark von 1867–1934,” in Riesenfellner and Uhl, Todeszeichen, esp. 17–69.

45. See Grassegger, Friedrich, “‘Auch Tote stehn in unsern Reihn’: Nationalsozialistische Denkmäler des Totengedenkens in der Steiermark (19381945)”Google Scholar in Riesenfellner and Uhl, Todeszeichen, 99–110.

46. Gärtner and Rosenberger, Kriegerdenkmäler, 28–29. Uhl, “Erinnerung und Versöhnung,” 147f.

47. Leed, No Man's Land, 212.

48. The linkage between Turner's understanding of the medieval pilgrimage as traditional, religious social drama and the personal and social-political nature of the Soldatentreffen as quasi-religious social drama is compelling. See Turner, Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors, 175–77.

49. Gärtner and Rosenberger, Kriegerdenkmāler, 67–84, 107, 118ff. For an Examination of elements of continuity from post-First World War to post-1945 commemoration, see Winter, Sites of Memory, 82s–98. The impressive breadth of Winter's study addresses this theme in a pan-European context.

50. Uhl, “Erinnerung und Versöhnung” idem, “Erinnern und Vergessen: Denkmäler zur Erinnerung an die Opfer der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft und an die Gefallenen des zweiten Weltkriegs in Graz und in der Steiermark,” in Riesenfellner and Uhls, Todeszeichen, 111–95.

51. Ernst Hanisch, “Die Präsenz des Dritten Reiches in der Zweiten Republik,” in Kos and Regele, Inventur 45/55, 45f.

52. Gärtner and Rosenberger, Kriegerdenkmäler, 49–50.

53. “Ehrenrettung des Soldaten,” Sonntagspost, 30 November 1952. Newspaper articles cited in this essay do not include page numbers; the clipped citations were researched in the files of the Arbeiterkammer für Wien—Dokumentation.

54. ÖStA/AdR, BKA 6.478–III/SEC/51, Control Agreement for Austria, 28 June 1946, Articles 3c) and e). See also the Executive Council's discussion over censorship of the Deutsche-SoldatenZeitung in EXCO/P(52)41 (no minute number), 16 April 1952, and the follow-up meeting, EXCO/P(52)41, Minute #1565, 16 May 1952.

55. StBKA, VII, Staatssekretär, Mappe “Deutschland,” 1–2.

56. Ibid., 2

57. StBKA, VII, Staatssekretär, Mappe “Deutschland:” Box-BMfAA Bonn, Österreichbezüge I, Mappe 5, 2–3. See also ALCO/7(54)218, Minute #1868f. 14 05 1954, in which the Russian High Commissioner Ilichev raised pointed objections against the “further and considerable strengthening of fascistic and militaristic tendencies in Austria,” through Kameradschaftsbünde led by former Nazi generals, “in uniforms of the Hitler-Wehrmacht with decorations and rank designations,” as well as against the extension of these connections between like-minded bodies in the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria. The French High Commissioner Payart expressed similar concerns to Müller-Graaf, particularly with respect to the fanfare generated by the Kameradschaftsbünde to accompany the Kesseiring visit.

58. Raab, , “Erklärung der Bundesregierung,” Sten.Prot.NR, VII.G.P., 39th Session, 19 May 1954, 1, 626.Google Scholar

59. Ibid., 1, 627. The ÖVP parliamentarian Lujo Toncic-Sorinj added the measured comment “[We must appreciate the fact] that the soldiers of both world wars want to meet and to exchange their shared experiences. There is hardly an event that continues to affect a man's soul as that of the war- and front experience. We are, of course, entirely opposed to the misuse of these soldiers' reunions for any other purposes. The participants of these meetings should also ask themselves whether, aside from their admittedly legitimate interests in keeping alive a shared tradition, they contribute something positive to the present Austrian state. One cannot live only in the past, and especially former soldiers have the duty to consider whether, through these activities, they may cause trouble for Austria.” Sten.Prot.NR, VII. GE, 39th Session, 19 May 1954, 1, 636. For a critical ÖVP perspective on Kameradschaftsbünde and Soldatentreffen, see also the ÖVP magazine Der Aufbruch (1958/1959): 28, in which the politically moderate author criticizes the cultivation of tradition in veterans' associations:”…here and there stir the spirits of those who dwell in the past. Not only in Germany, but in Austria too. Out of every corner and crack they creep forward in many forms and recount their old songs: of Reich, of death, of glory. They prattle their half-truths in taverns and at Kameradschaftstreffen. They confuse heroism with megalomania, readiness to sacrifice with heroic death on the field of their interests. They abuse, in order to win the youth, the dead of the last war, for their ‘new concept’.” Cited in Sten.Prot.NR, VIII. G.E., 69th Session, 3 December 1958, 3, 185.

60. Stendebach, Sten.Prot.NR, VII. G.P., 39th Session, 19 May 1954, 1, 651.

61. Ibid.

62. Soviet representatives to the Allied Commission took extreme interest in the censorship of the Austrian press, where their American, British, and French counterparts, reluctant to introduce controls without absolute certainty that books and newspapers in question possessed pro-Nazi, pan-German revanchist, militaristic, or anti-Allied content, frequently checked Soviet designs. See discussion of the periodical Berichte und Informationen and the newspapers Echo der Heimat and Wochen Echo in EXCO/M(51)182, Minute #2319, 2 March 1951 and EXCO/P(51)185, Minute #2354, 20 April 1951, as well as review of von Cholitz's Soldat unter Soldaten, EXCO/P(53)43, Minute #2823, 17 April 1953 and von Papen's Die Wahrheit: Eine Gasse, EXCO/P(53)40, Minute #2812, 2 April 1953. Echo der Heimat was eventually banned under ACA orders when its editor crossed the line separating cautious apology from outright glorification of Nazi foreign policy. See EXCO/P(52)50, Minute #2595, 7 May 1952.

63. In this light, the selfsame certitude of the “ultimately victorious” veterans in 1955 was expressed in the fervor of a junior Wehrmacht officer trapped in Stalingrad in late 1942: “This war compels us again to make the deepest exertion of all of our powers…. But still we want to hold on because we know: it must be done for our own, for our children's, and our people's future…” Cited in Fritz, Frontsoldaten, 214.

64. Stüber, Fritz, Sten.Prot.NR, VII. G.P., 77th Session, 7 September 1955, 3, 491. My italics. For many of the former Nazis and SS men who had been held in what they designated exaggeratedly as the “concentration camps” of Glasenbach and Wolfsberg—detention facilities for war criminals, Minderbelastete, and prominent Nazis operated by the U.S. and British occupation authorities, respectively, into the later 1940s—the State Treaty may very well have been regarded as a victory over the Anglo-Americans as well. See Svoboda, “Das Internierungslager Glasenbach.”Google Scholar

65. Zechmann, Heinrich, Sten.Prot.NR, VII. G.P., 69th Session, 3 December 1958, 3, 183.Google Scholar

66. Leed, No Man's Land, 196.

67. “Zwischen ‘Ohne uns’ und ‘08/15,’” Österreichische Neue Tageszeitung, 24 May 1955. The event occurred on May 23rd.

68. ÖStA/AdR, BMLV 44.542–Wpol/58. The Bundesheer's political division regularly monitored such reports. The case was reported by both the communist Volksstimme, 23 August 1958 and the moderate Salzburger Tageblatt, 23 August 1958.

69. ÖStA/AdR, BMLV PID/III/5d/58.

70. A hearty repect for martial values was a common sentiment among a great many conservative Catholics. Part of their emotional compensation for Austria's status as a small, divided state was the glorification of the power and majesty of the Habsburg Empire, including its military tradition.

71. On the KPÖ's resistance activity, see Luza, Radomir, The Resistance in Austria (Minneapolis, 1984), 99155.Google Scholar

72. See for example ÖStA/AdR, BMLV (BKA/ALV) 241.751–Präs/56. Sicherheitsdirektion für das Bundesland Niederösterreich (Z1. 7.754/1 -SD), betr. Bildung von Kameradschafts-und Schützenvereinen; Meldung, 25 September 1956. Statuten der Heimkehrervereinigung Obritz (Bezirk Hollabrunn)§3, 2.

73. See again Uhl, “Erinnerung als Versöhnung,” esp. 149ff.

74. Neues Österreich, 6 May 1959. The Interior Ministry refused to sanction the distribution of weapons to private associations. These “local defense associations,” in turn, rejected a suggestion that they be incorporated into the Bundesheer as as kind of reserve corps, not unlike the National Guard in the United States.

75. See FritzKonir and Anton Mayrhauser, SPÖ-PTP 1953, 94–95 and 97, respectively.

76. Probst conveyed the party leadership's position, drafted a month earlier, to the assembled conference delegates: Probst, PTP 1953, 110. Those who shared his perspectives added that Socialists had served admirably as soldiers since 1934, and suggested that if the organizations were politically inoculated through SPÖ members, such associations might provide useful locations for the cultivation of pro-Austrian sentiment. See also the statement delivered by the Salzburg-Stadt representative Kurt Preussler, a decorated Social Democratic veteran, SPÖ-PTP 1953, 104f.

77. The KPÖ party chief Johann Koplenig criticized the tendency of participants at festive veterans' reunions, with their fond reminiscences of the war years, to represent a conflict in which millions died and many more suffered as a kind of “Sozialtourismus in field gray [feldgrau].” Sten.Prot.NR, VIII. G.P., 42nd Session, 4 December 1957, 1, 735.

78. See Svoboda, “Das Internierungslager Glasenbach,” 12–16.

79. Volksstimme editorials and the statements of Communist politicians were couched routinely in accusatory fashion, often expressed as rhetorical questions: “The Landser who had spent so many years with each other and had lain in the mud together would like to see one another again, exchange their memories and what has become of their ‘buddies.’ Yet why are these mass meetings necessary if they want to see friends again? A private reunion gives, indeed, far more opportunity to exchange memories. And why do Kameradschaftstreffen almost always become political demonstrations?” “Biertisch, Westerwald, und Hakenkreuz,” Ösrerreichische Volksstimnse, 10 August s1958.

80. Bundesheer soldiers who participated in reunions, marches, or demonstrations did not initially or consistently comply with §36 paragraphs 2 and 4 of the Wehrgesetz, which granted soldiers the full rights of nonuniformed citizens, but prevented them from participating in political activity in uniform. See ÖStA/AdR, BMLV 234.843-I/Präs/56, Vereine zur Pflege der militärischen Kameradachaft; Mitgliedschaft und Tragen der Uniform bei Veranstaltungen, 27 August 1956. Chancellory officials expressed greater concern that the Austrian soldiers might be brought into closer contact with “West German institutions,” forbidden under §4 of the State Treaty Raab's staff seemed to indicate thereby that they were far less concerned with the enthusiasm for Soldatentreffen emanating from Austrians, and focused instead on the international legal ramifications of connections between veterans on both sides of the border; to direct attention to the former issues would have been to admit that certain residual pan-German, if not necessarily Nazi sentiment persisted in the Second Republic, in contradiction to his assertion that no affinity for closer connection with Germany existed in Austria. See ÖStA/AdR, BMLV 501.098-RB/55. BKA/ALV an das BMIGDÖS, 20 Septembers 1955.

81. The ÖVP representative Alfons Gorbach expressed the opinion that because Austrians had always been valiant soldiers, they should be allowed to wear medals won during the Second World War, and if these decorations bore the swastika this was no longer a living symbol, but a reminder. He was not at all clear, however, as to what sort of reminder this would be, and did not recognize the inconsistency in wearing medals as a grim keepsake to celebrate the glory of fallen soldiers. Sten.Prot.NR, VIII. G.P., 15th Session, 6 December 1956, 512–23. This contradiction was pointed out by the SPÖ's Marie Emhart, ibid., 527–28.

82. BGBI. 1960/84, 611.

83. See for example the complaint forwarded to Raab by SPÖ deputies Rudolf Singer, Rudolf Appel, and Kurt Preussler regarding the presence of high-ranking, uniformed Bundesheer officers at a festival honoring the Austrian dead of both world wars at the Prandtauer-Kirche in St. Pölten, Lower Austrian on 12 May 1957. Two uniformed Bundesheer soldiers also served as the honor guard. ÖStA/AR, BMLV 26.547-Wpol/57, 23 May 1957, 3–4, as well Die Arbeiter-Zeitung, 25 May 1957. For Minister Graf's devensive response, see ÖStA/AdR-BMLV 26.547-Wpol/57, 24 May 1957, 5–6, as well as the following reports in ÖVP newspapers: “Eine überflüssige SPÖ-Anfrage. Keine Parteipolitik im Bundesheer,” Kleines Volksblatt, 26 May 1957; “Heldenehrung ist keine Partcipolitik,” Linzer Volksblatt, 27 May 1957.

84. Victor Turner reminds us that such examples of normative communitas are formed “under the influence of time, the need to mobilize and organize resources to keep the members of a group alive and thriving, and the necessity of social control among those members in pursuance of these and other collective goals…” Turner, Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors, 169.

85. Associations representing the interests of Austrian veterans who returned home between the late 1940s and 1955 from Soviet POW camps should not be confused with Kameradschaftsbünde in this respect, although Heimkehrer representation in veterans' associations was not entirely unusual.

86. Leed, No Man's Land, 200.

87. See, for example, Bischof, Günter, “‘Austria looks to the West’: Kommunistische Putschgefahr, geheime Wiederbewaffnung und Westorientierung am Anfang der fünfziger Jahre” in Östereich in den Fünfzigern, ed. Albrich, Thomas, Eisterer, Klaus, Gehler, Michael, and Steininger, Rolf (Innsbruck, 1995), 183209.Google Scholar

88. See the Herr Lang case study in ZieglerKannonier-Finster, Österreichs Gedächtnis, 173–92.

89. Gärtner and Rosenberger, Kriegerdenkmäler, 115.

90. Ziegler and Kannonier-Finster, Österreichs Gedächtnis, 87ff.

91. Two examples illustrate this point. First, in reaction to the increased presence of “undesirable” foreigners from the eastern Mediterranean and southern or eastern Europe in Austria in the 1980s and early 1990s taking jobs and putting Austrians out of work, Haider presented a speech praising the “orderliness” and “efficiency” of Nazi Beschäftigungspolitik. His comments were received enthusiastically by most FPÖ supporters, but the embarrassment and consternation it provoked prompted Haider to step down from his position as provincial governor of Carinthia in June 1991, after a tenure of little more than two years. The foreign presence in Austria is less than 10 percent of the total population, and their employment is overwhelmingly in tasks and physical labor highly undesirable to most Austrian citizens. The second example pertains to the discovery of skeletal remains dated, initially, from the early-mid 1940s at a construction site in Lambach, Upper Austria in late January 1996. The find prompted the following remarks from some of the town's residents: “Where are the Jews in there, then?”; “Is it known for certain that those are Jews? Or are they our German soldiers?” Cited in “Lambacher Skelettfunde: ‘Sans eh unsere deutschen Soldaten’?” Profil 6 (3 February 1996): 23.