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

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

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy