Fodor on the spread of Nazism in Austria (1936)


M. W. Fodor, a journalist writing in early 1936, discusses the spread of Nazism in Austria and beyond:


“The dream of the union of Germany and Austria – or rather, of the union of Germany with the Germans of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy – is almost as old as Mazzini’s dream of “Unite Italia”. [There has been] swift growth of National Socialism in Germany. The idea of union was strong before, but Adolf Hitler’s movement breathed new life into it. No race has suffered so much from an inferiority complex as has the German. National Socialism was a kind of method for converting the inferiority complex into a feeling of superiority, at least temporarily. Hitler wrote in his Mein Kampf: “The German Reich as a state shall include all Germans, with the function not only of collecting and preserving for this people the useful remains of ancient racial elements, but also of leading them, slowly but surely, to a dominating position.”…

In carrying out his ideas Hitler used the efficient propaganda machinery set up by Goebbels and Rosenberg. The chief results are the still uncertain situation in Austria, the victory of Conrad Henlein in the last Czecho-Slovak elections, the unrest among the Germans in Hungary… the brunt of this propaganda since Hitler’s rise to power has been directed against “independent” Austria. Although the greater part of the Austrian population had previously desired to join Germany, after the establishment of the rule of Hitler this feeling was modified. The Social Democrats, after observing the fate of their comrades in the Reich, turned away from the pan-German idea…

The Austrian National Socialist putsch of July 1934 afforded a good opportunity to the Austrian government to break up the Nazi organizations. The Storm Troops were not only dissolved, but were thrown into jail or were sent to concentration camps. The secret party organization was dissolved, and every new attempt to reorganize the party has been frustrated by the vigilance of the authorities. Yet the Nazi movement in Austria, despite this persecution, appears to be invincible. One of the reasons is the weakness of the government, which is unable to inspire the youth of the country. The younger generation of Austrians know little of their country’s splendid past, but they all know that Mussolini said, “What is Austria, who is she?” – and then compared their country with a spittoon…

The penetration of Nazism among the Germans in central and southeastern Europe is magnificently organized. Before an astonished world has time to recover from the shock, one country after the other, it seems probable, will fall before this cleverly launched attack. If Austria goes, Czechoslovakia will not be able to survive, and subsequently the Germans of Hungary will be incorporated into Greater Germany. The speed of the progress depends on the various conflicts in Europe and on developments within Germany itself.”