In Volume I of Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' Adolf Hitler writes at length about the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
|Flagge der österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie|
In addition many of the conflicts and problems which Hitler raises and discusses had become anachronistic after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the 'Große Krieg' (the First World War).
However, it is helpful to have some understanding of these problems when reading 'Mein Kampf', as they do relate to the question of anti-Semitism in the Third Reich, and the eventual Austrian Anschluß in 1938.
|Congress of Vienna|
These changes consisted in the exclusion of Austria from the German Confederation, the administrative separation of Hungary from Austria, and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in the Austrian, or western half of the empire.
|Wappen Heiliges Römisches Reich|
The German Confederation had been created by the Congress of Vienna to replace the Heiliges Römisches Reich (Holy Roman Empire), and lasted from 1815 to 1866; it consisted of a union of 39 German states, with 35 monarchies and four free cities.
Its main organ was a central Diet, under the presidency of Austria, however, the establishment of the confederation failed to meet the aspirations of German nationalists, who had hoped for a consolidation of these small monarchies into a politically unified Greater Germany.
As a step towards the ascendancy of Prussia over Austria and the unification of Germany under Prussian dominance, Otto von Bismarck provoked the Austro-Prussian War in June 1866, using the dispute over the administration of Schleswig-Holstein as a pretext.
|Fürsten von Bismarck|
Otto Eduard Leopold, Fürsten von Bismarck, Herzog von Lauenburg (1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), was a Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs with his conservative policies from the 1860s to his dismissal in 1890 by Kaiser Wilhelm II. In 1871, after a series of short victorious wars, he unified most of the German states (excluding Austria) into a powerful German Empire under Prussian leadership. He then created a balance of power that preserved peace in Europe from 1871 until 1914.
As Minister President of Prussia 1862–90, Bismarck provoked wars that made Prussia dominant over Austria and France, and lined up the smaller German states behind Prussia. In 1867 he also became Chancellor of the North German Confederation. Otto von Bismarck became the first Chancellor of a united Germany in 1871, and largely controlled its affairs until he was removed by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890. His diplomacy of Realpolitik and powerful rule gained him the nickname the "Iron Chancellor".
|Seven Week's War|
Austria was excluded from German affairs in the Treaty of Prague (August 1866).
The war notwithstanding, Bismarck considered Austria a potential future ally and so avoided unnecessarily weakening the state, settling for the annexation of Hanover, Hesse, Nassau, Frankfurt and Schleswig-Holstein. (These moderate peace terms were to facilitate the Austro-German alliance of 1879.)
|Wappen des Norddeutschen Bundes|
The defeat of Austria was an additional blow to German nationalism: Austrian Germans found themselves isolated within the Habsburg Empire, with its multitude of national and ethnic groups.
A look at the political divisions within the empire will give some idea of the extent of its multiculturalism.
They included Austria; the kingdoms of Bohemia, Dalmatia and Galicia-Lodomeria; the archduchies of Lower Austria and Upper Austria; the duchies of Bukovina, Carinthia, Carniola Salzburg and Styria; the margraviates of Istria and Moravia; the counties of Gorizia-Gradisca, Tyrol and Vorarlberg; the crownland of Austrian-Silesia; Bosnia-Hercegovina; Lombardy (transferred to Italy in 1859), Modena (transferred to Italy in 1860), Tuscany (transferred to Italy in 1860) and Venetia (transferred to Italy in 1866); and the town of Trieste.
|Ausgleich (Compromise) of 1867|
This in turn resulted in the emergence of two principal nationalist movements: volkisch nationalism and the Pan-German movement.
The second major change was the Ausgleich (Compromise) of 1867, whereby the Habsburgs set up the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.
The intention was to curb the nationalist aspirations of Slavs in both states, inspired by Slavs in the Ottoman Empire (including Serbs, Montenegrins and Albanians) who had taken advantage of the Turkish decline to establish their own states.
The former revolutionaries of 1848 - German and Magyar - became de facto 'peoples of state', each ruling half of a twin country united only at the top through the King-Emperor, and the common Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of War, however the 'Ausgleich' only served to make matters worse:
There was no chance that the German-speaking elite could impose its culture throughout Austria, let alone extend it to the whole of the Dual Monarchy.
After all, Austria was a Slav house with a German facade.
In practice the three 'master races' - the Germans, the Magyars, and the Galician Poles - were encouraged to lord it over the others.
|kleines Wappen von Ungarn|
So pressures mounted as each of the excluded nationalities fell prey to the charms of nationalism.
The 'Ausgleich' resulted in aspirations towards autonomy among a number of groups within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The empire as a whole was home to eleven major nationalities: Magyars, Germans, Czechs, Poles, Ruthenians, Slovaks, Serbs, Romanians, Croats, Slovenes and Italians.
The largest ,and most restless minority consisted of about 6.5 million Czechs living in Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia, however, their desires for autonomy were constantly frustrated by the Hungarian determination to preserve the political structure established by the 'Ausgleich'.
German nationalism had been frustrated on two main occasions in the first half of the nineteenth century: at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and after the revolutions of 1848.
As a result of this slow progress towards political unification, Germans increasingly came to conceive of national unity in cultural terms.
This tendency had begun in the late eighteenth century, when writers of the pre-Romantic 'Sturm und Drang' movement had expressed the common identity of all Germans in folk-songs, customs, and literature.
|Johann Georg Hamann|
|Schiller und Goethe|
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was also a notable proponent of the movement, though he and Friedrich Schiller ended their period of association with it by initiating what would become Weimar Classicism.
An idealized image of medieval Germany was invoked to prove her claim to spiritual unity, even if there had never been political unity. This emphasis on the past and traditions conferred a strongly mythological character upon the cause of unification.
|kleines Wappen des Königreichs Preußen|
Hopes for a 'Groß-Deutschland' - (Greater Germany) had been dashed in 1866, when Bismarck consolidated the ascendancy of Prussia through the military defeat of Austria, forcing her withdrawal from German affairs.
The position of German nationalists in Austria-Hungary was henceforth problematic.
In 1867 the Hungarians were granted political independence within a dual state.
The growth of the Pan-German movement in Austria in the following decades reflected the dilemma of Austrian Germans within a state of mixed German and Slav nationalities.
|der Anschluß Österreichs|
Such an arrangement was ultimately realized by the 'Anschluß' of Austria into the Third Reich in 1938.
The idealised, romantic image of a rural, quasi-medieval Germany suffered under the programme of rapid modernisation and industrialisation undertaken by the Second Reich.
For many, who saw their traditional communities destroyed by the spread of towns and industries, the foundations of their mystical unity had become threatened.
In addition, these anti-modernist sentiments resulted in the rejection of both liberalism and rationalism, while paradoxically hijacking the scientific concepts of anthropology, linguistics and Darwinist evolution to prove the superiority of the German race.
|Ideal Aryan Male|
While the Aryans (and thus the Germans) were blue-eyed, blond-haired, tall and well-proportioned, they were also noble, honest, and courageous.
The Darwinist idea of evolution through struggle was also taken up in order to prove that the superior pure races would prevail over the mixed inferior ones.
Racial thinking facilitated the rise of political anti-Semitism, itself so closely linked to the strains of modernization.
Feelings of conservative anger at the disruptive consequences of economic change could find release in the vilification of the Jews, who were blamed for the collapse of traditional values and institutions.
Racism indicated that the Jews were not just a religious community but biologically different from other races.
The Völkisch Movement and Pan-Germanism
The fears and aspirations of German nationalists led to the formation of two highly influential movements, völkisch nationalism and Pan-Germanism.
The intention of the völkisch movement was to raise the cultural consciousness of Germans living in Austria, particularly by playing on their fears for their identity within the provinces of mixed nationality in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The word völkisch is not easy to translate, containing as it does elements of both nationalism and a profound sense of the importance of folklore.
The main principles of völkisch thought were the importance of living naturally (including a vegetarian diet); an awareness of the wisdom of one's ancestors, expressed through the appreciation of prehistoric monuments; and an understanding of astrology and cosmic cycles.
The ideas of the völkisch movement were propagated through educational and defence leagues called Vereine.
In 1886, Anton Langgassner founded the Germanenbund, a federation of Vereine, at Salzburg under the banner of Germanic Volkstum (nationhood).
The Vereine were particularly popular amongst young people and intellectuals; such was their popularity, in fact, that an unsettled Austrian government dissolved the Germanenbund in 1889, although it re-emerged in 1894 as the Bund der Germanen. Goodrick-Clarke estimates that by 1900, as many as 150,000 people were influenced by völkisch propaganda.
|Ancient Teutonic Gods|
Nations might endure such foreign elements, but a Volk was an organic unity with a common biological inheritance.
The culture-bearing Volk of the world, incomparably superior among the races, was the German; therefore, the only proper function of a German state was to administer on behalf of the Volk; everything international was inferior and to be rejected.
A sound economy would be based on agriculture rather than on industry with its international, especially Jewish influences; and in religion, a German God would have to replace the Jewish God.
|Georg von Schonerer|
Jews were consistently attacked from two directions: völkisch anticlerical groups linked them with the reactionary Church, while clerical anti-Semites linked them with völkisch heathenism.
Jews were therefore seen as either godless socialists or capitalist exploiters, and the hidden, international rulers of financial and intellectual life.
One Catholic paper, 'Die Tiroler Post', wrote in 1906 that the goal of the Jew was world domination, while another, the 'Linzer Post' (Linz was the town that Hitler always thought of as his home), defended anti-Semitism as no more than 'healthy self-preservation'.
In the same year, the völkisch 'Deutsche Tiroler Stimmen' called for the extermination of the Jewish race.
If the völkisch movement attempted to raise German national and cultural consciousness, Pan- Germanism operated in a more political context, beginning with the refusal of Austrian Germans to accept their exclusion from German affairs after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.
|Friedrich Ludwig Jahn|
These groups advocated 'kleindeutsch' (little German) nationalism, which called for the incorporation of German Austria into the Bismarckian Reich.
This cult of Prussophilia led to a worship of strength.
Georg von Schonerer's involvement with Pan-Germanism transformed it from a nebulous 'cult of
Prussophilia' into a genuine revolutionary movement.
Following his election to the Reichsrat in 1873, Schonerer followed a progressive Left agenda for about five years, before making demands for a German Austria without the Habsburgs, and politically united with the German Reich.
Schonerer's Pan-Germanism was not characterised merely by national unity, political democracy and social reform: its essential characteristic was racism, - that is, the idea that blood was the sole criterion of all civil rights.
|Count Casimir Badeni|
The result was that the Pan-Germans, together with the democratic German parties, followed a strategy of blocking all parliamentary business, which in turn led to violent public disorder in the summer of 1897.
By this time, Schonerer had identified an additional enemy in the Catholic Church, which he regarded as inimical to the interests of Austrian Germans.
The episcopate advised the emperor, the parish priests formed a network of effective propagandists in the country, and the Christian Social party had deprived him of his earlier strongholds among the rural and semi-urban populations of Lower Austria and Vienna.
The association of Catholicism with Slavdom and the Austrian state could further be emphasised, Schonerer believed, by a movement for Protestant conversion; this was the origin of the slogan 'Los von Rom' (Away from Rome).
The movement claimed approximately 30,000 Protestant conversions in Bohemia, Styria, Carinthia and Vienna between 1899 and 1910, although it was not at all popular among either the völkisch leagues or the Pan-Germans, who saw it as 'a variation of old-time clericalism'.
For that matter, the Protestant Church itself was rather dissatisfied with 'Los von Rom', and felt that its profound connection of religion with politics would make religious people uneasy.
By the same token, those who were politically motivated felt religion itself to be irrelevant.
By the turn of the century, Pan-Germanism could be divided into two groups: those who, like Schonerer, wanted political and economic union with the Reich, and those who merely wanted to defend German cultural and political interests within the Habsburg empire.
These interests were perceived as being radically undermined, not only by the Badeni language decrees, but also by the introduction in 1907 of universal male suffrage.
This could only exacerbate the growing German-Slav conflict within the empire, and was one of the main factors in the emergence of the racist doctrine of Ariosophy.
|Arthur de Gobineau|
This notion, along with the ideas about biological struggle of Social Darwinism, was taken up at the turn of the twentieth century by German propagandists who claimed that Germans could defend their race and culture only by remaining racially pure.
The völkisch nationalists and Pan-Germans found further inspiration in the work of the zoologist Ernst Haeckel who, in 1906, founded the 'Monist League' to spread his racist interpretation of Social Darwinism.
Seven years earlier, Haeckel's colleague, Wilhelm Bolsche, had written a book entitled 'Vom Bazillus zum Affenmenschen' (From the Bacillus to the Ape-man), in which he had described the 'naked struggle for dominance between the zoological species Man and the lowest form of organic life' (microscopic organisms).
This 'struggle for dominance' was to have a profound effect upon the development of German anti-Semitism in the early years of the twentieth century.
Hitler would later express his own anti-Semitism in these biological terms, in order to deprive Jews of all human attributes.
On one occasion in 1942, for instance, Hitler said:
'The discovery of the Jewish virus is one of the greatest revolutions the world has seen. The struggle in which we are now engaged is similar to the one waged by Pasteur and Koch in the last century. How many diseases must owe their origin to the Jewish virus ! Only when we have eliminated the Jews will we regain our health.'