No, Austria Wasn’t a Victim in World War II

Feb. 28 2022

Before the Third Reich seized Czechoslovakia or invaded Poland, it joined itself to Austria. The Anschluss, as it was called in German, had significant popular support; to demonstrate that it was something other than a conquest, Hitler also had Austrian troops station themselves in Germany as German troops entered Austria, creating a “mutual occupation.” The Austrian foreign minister appears to have had a somewhat different narrative in mind during a television appearance last week, as Liam Hoare writes:

Reflecting on the Ukraine crisis, Schallenberg mused most unwisely: “After all, we experienced first-hand in 1938 what it means to be abandoned.”

It has been several decades since Austria . . . officially gave up its victimhood myth: the idea that, following the Anschluss in March 1938, . . . Austria became the “first victim of National Socialism.” “We acknowledge all the facts of our history and the deeds of all sections of our people, the good as well as the evil,” Chancellor Franz Vranitzky told the Austrian parliament in 1991.

Schallenberg never meant to invoke the myth of Austrian victimhood, or so he said the next day. But he said what he said, and to hear those words escape from the mouth of Austria’s number-one diplomat, even if late on a Sunday at a testing time given events in Ukraine, was incredibly jarring. It is true, to be unnecessarily generous for a moment, that Mexico was the only country to protest the Anschluss at the League of Nations. It is also true that Adolf Hitler heaped tremendous political and military pressure upon Austria in the lead-up to the Anschluss, and viewed one way, it did constitute an illegal occupation and annexation of one state by another, as an Austrian foreign ministry communiqué framed the event in 2008.

But the victimhood myth was just that and its death came not a moment too soon. Austria was an independent state before 1938, but it was also a fascist one on the Italian model, with a close relationship [between the regime and] the Catholic Church. Austria had a small but active and incredibly violent Nazi party, and Nazis such as Arthur Seyss-Inquart were incorporated into the Austrian government before the Anschluss. [And] 200,000 Austrians turned out to cheer . . . Adolf Hitler’s proclamation of the Anschluss on March 15, 1938, a development welcomed by, among others, the prominent social democrat Karl Renner and the archbishop of Vienna.

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Read more at Vienna Briefing

More about: Adolf Hitler, Austria, World War II

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism