The term Austrofascism is one of the foreign names for the authoritarian system of rule that was established in Austria from 1933/34 to 1938 , based on corporate and fascist ideas, and which was partly based on the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini in Italy . The self-designation was corporate state . The term Austrofascism is controversial among historians. It is specifically represented, but also rejected as too comprehensive or relativized in individual aspects. Some historians assign Austrofascism to clerical fascism .
This departure from democracy was developed and supported by Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss in 1933/34 and, after his murder by National Socialists, to a large extent by Kurt Schuschnigg and the Fatherland Front , a collective movement and unity party to which the Christian Social Party , the Heimwehr and the Landbund had come together . On 11/12 March 1938, with the " Anschluss of Austria " to the German Reich , this dictatorship was replaced by the rule of the National Socialists .
The emergence of the austrofascist system
With the Korneuburg Oath of the Heimwehr of May 18, 1930, the elimination of parliament and an anti-democratic course, which was primarily directed against the opposition Social Democrats (see Linz Social Democrats' program from 1926), were first formulated as a program. We reject western democratic parliamentarianism and the party state was one of the formulas that many young Christian social politicians such as the later Chancellors Leopold Figl and Julius Raab swore in addition to Home Guard associations from all over Germany .
In the National Council election in 1930 , the Austrian National Socialists received over 100,000 votes, but no mandate. In the state elections in Vienna , Lower Austria and Salzburg on April 24, 1932, the National Socialists received 336,000 votes. These gains were mainly at the expense of the Greater Germans .
In Vienna alone, the National Socialists received 201,000 votes, increasing their share of the vote sevenfold. The Viennese Social Democrats kept their share of the vote at 59%, the Christian Socials lost slightly. In the simultaneous municipal council elections in Carinthia and Styria , the results were somewhat more modest, but still impressive.
This dramatic strengthening of the National Socialists made it clear that the government, consisting of the Christian Socialists, Landbund and Heimwehr, would lose its already narrow majority (only one mandate) in the next National Council elections. This led increasingly to efforts to establish a dictatorship; the project received substantial support from Benito Mussolini in particular .
Dollfuss - he was appointed Federal Chancellor in May 1932 - ruled since October 1, 1932, in part with reference to the War Economic Enabling Act from 1917, which was part of the Constitutional Transitional Act 1920 (VÜG 1920), albeit without the one given in the monarchy parliamentary control, which had been transferred to the republican federal constitution. Dollfuss publicly promoted the procedure according to Section 7 (2) VÜG 1920, and no motions were made in parliament to abolish this constitutional provision, which was also applied by social democrats in the immediate post-war period.
The crisis in the National Council's rules of procedure triggered on March 4, 1933, provided the occasion for the elimination of all parliamentary control . It was described by the government at the time as “ parliamentary self-elimination ”. Dollfuss now used the powers of Section 7 (2) VÜG 1920 as a legal instrument to completely eliminate democracy.
On March 7, 1933, the Council of Ministers issued a ban on assembly and deployment. A press regulation disguised as an economic protective measure was issued. The KWEG 1917, which was transferred by Section 7 (2) VÜG 1920, explicitly referred only to economic measures for which the government had authority - so that the press regulation was also dubbed an economic measure. According to this press ordinance, under certain conditions, for example if "a violation of patriotic, religious or moral feelings posed a threat to public peace, order and security [...]", a newspaper that had already been confiscated could be submitted two hours before distribution to be ordered. It was clear that it was purely pre-censorship, but the government tried to keep appearances to continue to respect the constitutional prohibition of censorship.
When the opposition wanted to resume the business of the National Council on March 15, 1933, this was prevented by police violence. The parliament was surrounded by 200 detectives and the Social Democratic and Greater German MPs were prevented from entering. The Social Democratic Party was allowed to continue to exist for the time being, but on March 31, 1933 the government banned the Republican Protection Association of Social Democrats. The legal existence of the counter-organizations to the Schutzbund, the paramilitary Viennese homeland security associations , was confirmed. On April 10, 1933, compulsory participation in religious exercises was reintroduced by repealing the so-called Glöckel Decree . The author of the decree, the former Social Democratic Education Minister Otto Glöckel , was arrested in his office in Palais Epstein in 1934 as a result of the “February revolt ” , in which he was not personally involved, and taken to the Wöllersdorf detention center. Glöckel returned from prison as a broken man and died on July 23, 1935 in Vienna.
On May 10, 1933, the government suspended all federal, state, and local elections. The Communist Party of Austria was dissolved on May 26th, the NSDAP on June 19th and, at the request of the Catholic Church, the Freethinkers' Association one day later . Social Democrats and Greater Germans were allowed to continue to exist for the time being.
Dollfuss declared in September 1933 that his goal was an authoritarian corporate state and was now heading for a confrontation with social democracy. There followed arrests of protection groups. The “ Detention Camp Wöllersdorf ” was set up to pinpoint political opponents . When the police searched the Hotel Schiff , the Linz party home of the Social Democrats, in the morning hours of February 12, 1934 , the Schutzbund defended themselves and a brief civil war broke out, the February fighting of 1934 . The Social Democratic Party was banned that same day. The centers of the conflict were the Upper Austrian industrial areas, Upper Styria and Vienna. The Schutzbund was subject to the military forces of the Home Guard and the Federal Army , which even used artillery, within a few days.
In a "National Council meeting" on April 30, 1934, the members of the Fatherland Front passed a law that gave the government all the powers that were previously the responsibility of the National Council and the Federal Council. The mandates of the Social Democrats were declared to have expired before the "rump parliament" met; Most of the Greater German MPs did not take part in the farce.
Constitution of the dictatorship
The completion of this putsch was the “constitution” , which was enacted on May 1, 1934 - not by chance on one of the most important holidays of the suppressed labor movement. From “Austria is a democratic republic. The law proceeds from the people "became in the new constitution:" In the name of God, the Almighty, from whom all law proceeds, the Austrian people receive this constitution for their Christian German federal state on an estate basis ". The state name Republic of Austria was replaced by the federal state of Austria .
After parliament was eliminated, the government also got rid of the Constitutional Court in 1933 . The four Christian Social Constitutional Judges were persuaded to resign, which meant that the court no longer had a quorum, as the Federal President and Federal Government did nothing to fill the vacant judge's posts.
The government thus anticipated a very likely repeal of the “emergency ordinances” on the basis of which it had governed for several months. The elimination of the Constitutional Court was legally secured by prohibiting new appointments of constitutional judges by ordinance.
In September 1933 the government had several detention camps (such as the Kaisersteinbruch detention camp) set up to intern political opponents. In addition to social democrats , socialists , communists and anarchists , large numbers of National Socialists were also imprisoned there after the July coup in 1934 .
On November 11, 1933, the Dollfuss government imposed martial law , reintroducing the death penalty for certain crimes ( murder , arson and public violence through malicious damage to someone else's property ). Stand Legal processes were led by four judges and a prosecutor, the trial lasted a maximum of three days, with the accused either acquit or death through the strand was to be condemned. If the trial lasted longer than three days, the court martial was no longer responsible , but a regular jury that could no longer impose the death penalty. The Federal Government also secured the opportunity to propose pardons to the Federal President and in this way repeatedly saved people who were politically close to the Christian Socialists from the death penalty.
The mentally handicapped Peter Strauss went down in history as the first victim of the court courts . By emergency ordinance from February 12 to 21, 1934, the offense of " riot " was also made subject to court jurisdiction, so that people who had participated in the February fights could be sentenced to death. Prominent political victims of the death penalty under Austrian Fascism included social democratic leaders of the February uprising, including Karl Münichreiter , Georg Weissel , Koloman Wallisch , Emil Swoboda and Josef Stanek .
On June 19, 1934, an amendment to the law reintroduced the death penalty through due process. A total of 141 death sentences were pronounced in Austria between February 1934 and March 1938, most of which were commuted to prison terms, and 45 people were executed.
In September 1934, the number of political prisoners held in detention camps and notary arrests reached 13,338. A total of around 16,000 Austrians were imprisoned for political reasons in the corporate state.
As early as 1933, a number of laws were passed that were intended to reshape Austrian educational policy in accordance with Austrofascist principles. The Catholic Church was granted strong influence on the educational system that had previously been secularized by Otto Glöckel . Anyone who wanted to complete a secondary school with a Matura in Austria had to have attended religious instruction. It was again made more difficult for girls to achieve a higher level of education because those in power favored the classic image of women as housewives and mothers . In addition, in the summer of 1933, all opposition youth organizations from the socialist, German national and Nazi camps were prohibited from working in schools. In 1936 the newly founded state youth, the Austrian Young People, took their place .
The federal government also passed several laws at the university level in 1933. First of all, the number of university lecturers and assistants was reduced, which meant that lecturers critical of the regime in particular could be legally removed from their offices. With a further law, disciplinary proceedings that were previously incumbent on the respective university were placed under the control of the Federal Ministry, which also had the detriment of critical university staff.
From now on, academic functionaries could only become persons who were members of the Fatherland Front. "Every vacant chair must, if the appropriate man is available, be filled with a university professor of patriotism and possibly also a particularly Christian attitude," said Minister of Education Hans Pernter after the resolution of the new university laws.
For the ideological training of the students, the government introduced compulsory lectures on the "ideal and historical foundations of the Austrian state and on ideological and civic education" and set up mandatory, military-run university camps. In the legal text that regulated the introduction of military university camps, it says: "Each university camp should have a military and a pedagogical director, i.e. officers and educational leaders, with the former being responsible for the military command and pre-military training, the latter for lecturing and leisure activities." Such a college camp consisted of around 100 students each.
Economic and social policy
In the field of foreign trade, the liberal free trade system was turned away as early as 1930 and a model of autarchy was introduced. The top priority was to isolate the Austrian market from the world market, which was hoped for an economic upturn. The global economic background was the New York stock market crash in 1929.
In 1932 there were an annual average of 468,000 unemployed in Austria. In 1933 the number of unemployed rose to 557,000, which is a percentage of 25.9. The situation was made worse by an increasing number of unemployed as Driven were. They lost all entitlement to state support. In the following years (1933 to 1937) the state social expenditure index fell from 100 to 79.42.
The aim of the Christian Socials and the Home Guard was the "abolition of the class struggle". For this purpose, professional associations of workers and employers, so-called corporations, were forcibly set up to undermine and replace the union organization of the workers. From 1934 onwards, the unified union, which was heavily controlled by the state, was the only union to operate . The state delegated social responsibility to "class" sub-units.
In contrast, the industrial sector was given the protective function of the state to a large extent. In 1933 the government introduced a trade ban , in 1934 the Prohibition Act followed , which was tightened several times in the following years. This policy represented a radical departure from the liberal trade regulations that had been in force for decades, which culminated in the reintroduction of the guild system in 1935 . "With the insistence on orthodox models, a predicament was created for economic policy in the Austrian corporate state, which allowed internal contradictions to get out of hand at all levels," said the economist Gerhard Senft, summing up the Austro-fascist economic policy.
The official cultural policy during Austro-Fascism was marked by an affirmation of the baroque and other “pre-revolutionary” styles. By "pre-revolutionary" is meant the time before the French Revolution of 1789. In this context, there were repeated positive references to Austria's “defenselessness” at the time of the Turkish threat , in order to keep the image of the “threat from the east” alive or to recall it and now project it onto the communist Soviet Union .
The author Robert Musil commented on Austrofascist cultural policy in 1934 with the famous words: "It is not the evil spirit, but the evil mindlessness of Austrian cultural policy".
The Austro-Fascist corporate state was closely based on the ideal of a Christian corporate state, as it was proposed by Pope Pius XI. had been developed in the encyclical Quadragesimo anno from 1931. The ideological foundations of the corporate state were, as with the other fascist countries of the time , the rejection of the class struggle and the striving for a "harmony of the estates" in an authoritarian-led state . The aim of Austrofascism was to " overheat " the National Socialists . In this context, both the authoritarian leader ideology and the establishment of the Fatherland Front, which was intended as a mass and unity party, should be seen.
In contrast to the national socialists' racial ideology based on national community thinking , in the Austro-Fascist variant the special history of Austria played an important role. In contrast to the German Empire , it was used to underline the claim, based on the Catholic orientation of the regime, that the Austrians were the "better Germans". In the sense of a Christian-social view of history, the monarchy advanced to become the ideal of the powerful multi-ethnic state , which Austria no longer was after the Treaty of Saint-Germain .
In terms of foreign policy, Austrofascism tried to protect itself from the German National Socialists' claim to power by cooperating with Mussolini , whose fascism was closer to the Austrian variant.
Supporting the system
There is no evidence whatsoever that the Vatican or the Austrian episcopate drove Dollfuss into dictatorship. Nonetheless, the Roman Catholic Church welcomed the Austro-Fascist coup, as it did a little later in Spain.
“The year 1933 brought abundant blessings of grace to the whole of Christendom, and also brought many joys to our fatherland Austria […]. You (the government, note) can already point to a number of beneficial acts that secure and promote the real good, "
it says in the Christmas letter of the Austrian bishops from the year in which Dollfuss switched off the democratically elected parliament.
The Viennese Cardinal Innitzer welcomed the elimination of parliament on March 12, 1933 as the “dawn of a new era”, which he compared with the age of the Counter Reformation . The Catholic Day organized by Taras Borodajkewycz in October 1933 he put under the motto Numquam retrorsum (“Never go back”).
On May 10, 1933, Justice Minister Kurt Schuschnigg signed the Concordat, and on August 16, the government made it difficult to leave the Catholic Church. From now on, all people who were willing to turn their backs on the Catholic Church had to undergo a test of their state of mind and spirit . The district authorities responsible for the exit could drag out this procedure as long as they wanted. As a result of efforts to recatholize the workers alienated from the church, numerous churches were built during the short period of Austro-Fascism, such as the Sandleiten parish church at Sandleitenhof , the largest parish building in “Red Vienna”, dedicated to the “worker” St. Josef .
Not least because of this church-friendly attitude, the Austrofascist regime also received official support from the Vatican . Pope Pius XI Already on October 28, 1933 gave his blessing to the "noble men who are ruling Austria at this time, these days, who are ruling Austria so well, so decisively, so Christian", and even during the February fights in 1934 Dollfuss received the apostolic blessing of the Pope.
Dollfuss himself was very interested in a Catholic renaissance. During the trotting course speech on September 11, 1933, he announced a “social, Christian German state Austria on a class basis, under strong authoritarian leadership” as his objective. But on the part of the Church, too, there was considerable interest in a clerical-fascist Austria. Church dignitaries in Ebensee and Steyr took part in cleaning up the workers' libraries. In Steyr the holdings were reduced from 4,000 to 900 books, of which another 200 were blocked. In addition to explicitly left-wing literature, writings by Jewish authors were also affected. Church reports on these events state: “Four boxes of books were handed over to the police for destruction. It was about the purely socialist, erotic and anti-faith books. The worst erotic and anti-church books were handed over to the police in a torn state ”.
The Evangelical Churches AB and HB in Austria experienced Austrofascism as a “new counter-reformation” and reacted in many parishes by turning to the German Empire as the motherland of the Reformation, without noticing that the German Evangelical regional churches were brought into line. In 1934 there was a wave of entry of the workers who had previously left the Roman Catholic Church, which increased the number of Evangelicals in Austria by approx. 25%. Subsequently, the Austrofascist regime made it difficult for people to convert to one of the Protestant churches, such as the forced psychiatric treatment of those willing to join, a ban on founding new parishes, a ban on the revision of the church constitution, hindrance to religious instruction, and in individual cases a ban on the burial of Protestants in local cemeteries , so these were in the possession of the Roman Catholic local community. As a result, the mood in large parts of the Evangelical Church AB in Austria became so radical that Adolf Hitler was seen as the only possible savior of the Evangelical Churches in Austria. Opposing voices like that of the superintendent Heinzelmann (confidante of the Evangelical Church AB; a title that was introduced unofficially because the Austrofascist government had forbidden the introduction of a bishop's office) were no longer heard in the agitated mood.
Austrian Cartel Association
The Austrian Cartel Association (ÖCV), which was created in 1933 to distinguish it from the co- ordinated German CV , assumed an intellectual support function of the regime during the period of Austrofascism. Not least for this reason, the social rise of the association coincided with the end of parliamentary democracy and the establishment of the Austro-fascist system.
Between 1933 and 1938 almost all public offices of major importance were occupied by ÖCV members. Engelbert Dollfuss was seen and referred to as a "leader" in the official language of the ÖCV throughout his life. In return, Dollfuss ensured that young academics who belonged to the ÖCV could quickly advance to top positions in politics and administration. Furthermore, the head of government was given a say in the filling of offices within the ÖCV.
According to the historian Stephan Neuhäuser
“Supported at least 37% of all student members of the ÖCV in various military formations, the armed forces and the Heimwehr during the February events of 1934 (...) In Graz, 70% of the active ÖCVers participated on the side of the government troops and Heimwehr, in Leoben 45%, in Vienna 33% and in Innsbruck 29%. The largest contingents were Babenberg Graz (40), Carolina Graz (40), Austria Vienna (53), Austria Innsbruck (49), Norica Vienna (64) and Rudolfina Vienna (54). "
After February, Akademikerhilfe, which is related to the ÖCV, took over the previously socialist academic homes at Säulengasse 18 and Billrothstrasse 9 in Vienna.
The proportion of ÖCVers in various bodies of the Austro-fascist state was extremely high. In the Federal Council it was 90 percent. With Otto Kemptner , a federal brother of Engelbert Dollfuss was commissioned to set up the Fatherland Front. Members of the ÖCV were required to join from 1933.
The influence of the ÖCV on Austrian government policy was obvious. In the Federal Government of Dollfuss I , six out of ten ministers belonged to the association; after three government reforms, the figure was eight out of ten. The federal government Dollfuss II / Schuschnigg I consisted exclusively of members of the ÖCV. The situation was similar in Schuschnigg's other governments, in which the ÖCV was able to fill around half of the ministerial posts. Even when the National Socialists were admitted to the government in 1936, four ministers from the ÖCV were still part of the cabinet and even in the National Socialist puppet government under Arthur Seyß-Inquart there were two ÖCVers, Wilhelm Wolf and Oswald Menghin , who therefore left the ÖCV were excluded. As a counterexample, CV Ernst Karl Winter may serve, who since his joint military service with Engelbert Dollfuss has repeatedly turned against his policies and advocated democracy, parliamentarism and reconciliation with the workers.
After the social democratic mayor of Vienna was dismissed as a result of the events of February 1934, Richard Schmitz, a member of the Cartell Association, became the new mayor. As early as 1933, the governors of Burgenland , Lower Austria , Upper Austria , Tyrol , Salzburg , Styria and Vorarlberg came from the ÖCV.
“One of the best of the CV, our eternal Chancellor Dr. Dollfuss ", it said in June 1935 in the newsletter of the ÖCV - and in 1937 you could still read there:" Dollfussstraße is none other than the traditional CV-Straße. "
The attitude of the Austrofascist government towards the Jewish community in Austria was ambivalent. On the one hand, no anti-Jewish laws were passed, and Jewish citizens could easily join the Fatherland Front and be active in it. On the other hand, the regime made no serious efforts to stop anti-Semitic attacks by the population. The discrimination of Jews in public life, which existed before the Austro-fascist seizure of power, intensified. There were regularly organized calls for boycotts against Jewish entrepreneurs and even business blockades. After the July Agreement was signed , physical attacks by the National Socialists on Jews increased sharply, which the police and the judiciary did not adequately counter.
Numerous organizations close to the regime had an openly anti-Semitic program, such as the fascist Heimwehr. Also within the Roman Catholic Church, an equally powerful pillar of the corporate state, there were strong anti-Jewish currents, which were represented by Bishop Alois Hudal , among others . In 1935, students from the Cartell Association also attacked a Jewish student association at the University of Vienna .
From 1933 onwards, severe discrimination against Jewish officials began in public administration. Many of them were dismissed from service on the pretext that they were affiliated with the Social Democratic or Communist Party. In the journal Der Jewishische Weg it was stated: "Four fifths of the dismissed Jews had nothing to do with politics and were only dismissed because they were Jews". In 1935 only 0.4% of all civil servants were Jews (682 of a total of 160,700 civil servants), compared to 2.8% of the population.
According to a decree by Education Minister Kurt Schuschnigg of July 4, 1934, Christian and Jewish students should each form their own classes, provided that there were enough Jewish students. In Vienna there were nine schools with Jewish classes .
Anti-Semitism during Austrofascism was very different from the extermination anti-Semitism of the National Socialists. Even if the government structurally discriminated against Jews in public life, many of them supported Austrofascism because it seemed to them to be a lesser evil compared to the Nazi dictatorship - for example Karl Kraus , who had converted, but from the point of view of the National Socialists was considered a Jew.
Conflict with National Socialism and the end of the regime
Despite the existing similarities between Austrofascism and National Socialism (e.g. in the rejection of pluralistic democracy), there were also clear differences between these ideologies (see the discussion about the term Austrofascism ). These differences went hand in hand with an open conflict between the representatives of the Austrian corporate state and supporters of National Socialism. This conflict came to a head in a hand grenade attack by two National Socialists who attacked a group of Christian-German gymnasts on June 19, 1933, injuring 30 gymnasts. As a result, the NSDAP was banned from operating in Austria, which in fact amounted to a ban on this organization.
In July 1934, the Austrian National Socialists , who worked largely illegally, attempted to overthrow the Austro-Fascist government and seize power in the so-called July Putsch. The attempted coup failed, but they murdered Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss . He was followed by the former Justice Minister Kurt Schuschnigg as Federal Chancellor. This too was critical of National Socialism and the connection to the German Reich. It was only under pressure that he concluded the July Agreement with the German Reich in 1936 , in which he made concessions to the National Socialists, but in which Adolf Hitler assured Austria's independence. As a result, 17,000 Austrian National Socialists were given amnesty. Edmund Glaise von Horstenau was accepted into the Austro-Fascist government cabinet as minister without portfolio and Guido Schmidt as state secretary in the foreign ministry as stewards of the National Socialists . In addition, a "People's Political Unit" was created as a sub-organization of the Fatherland Front, with which the illegal National Socialist opposition was incorporated into the party. Numerous previously banned National Socialist newspapers were legalized. These developments gave the National Socialists a noticeable boost.
On February 12, 1938, Hitler forced Schuschnigg to sign the so-called Berchtesgaden Agreement , which continued the gradual takeover of power by the National Socialists. The National Socialist Arthur Seyß-Inquart , who was appointed to the State Council in 1937, became Minister of the Interior and Security in the Schuschnigg government. On March 9th, Schuschnigg set a referendum on Austria's independence on March 13th as the last attempt to preserve Austria's independence. Thereupon, however, Hitler forced him to abdicate in favor of Seyss-Inquart under threat of military intervention. On March 12th, the Germans marched in without encountering military resistance and to the cheering of numerous Austrians. The vote no longer took place.
Schuschnigg was later imprisoned by the National Socialists in a concentration camp in Germany. Even if he still received preferential treatment there, he only escaped death due to a liberation action ( liberation of the SS hostages in South Tyrol by the Wehrmacht officer von Alvensleben ).
The grand coalition until 1966 contributed to making Austrofascism taboo in political and scientific discourse ("coalition historiography"). This was also easier because the Austrian dictatorship was overlaid by the subsequent National Socialist rule . To this day there is no common, generally accepted view of history in Austria - especially among the major political parties - when it comes to the years of Austrofascism. While Dollfuss is still seen by some in the bourgeois camp as a "hero chancellor" and " martyr ", others from the left-wing camp refer to him as a "worker murderer" and " fascist ".
In particular, politicians from the ranks of the ÖVP avoid the word “fascism” entirely and instead use terms such as Ständestaat (the regime's own name) when referring to the years 1933 to 1938. For a long time, the “thesis of shared guilt” was popular in conservative circles, which gave the Social Democrats part of the blame for the political developments of the 1930s and presented Austrofascism as a reaction to them. Before the Austro-fascist takeover of power, the Social Democrats only decided to call a general strike in the event of a violent elimination of parliament. When the "elimination of parliament" actually happened on March 15, 1933, even the previously threatened general strike did not materialize and the Social Democratic party leadership was ready to continue negotiations.
To this day, Austrofascism is portrayed (for example by historians close to the ÖVP such as Gottfried-Karl Kindermann ) as a bulwark against National Socialism, this also corresponds to the aforementioned mythicalisation of Dollfuss as a "martyr chancellor". However, this thesis has been questioned for decades, especially since intensive cooperation between Austrofascist and National Socialist politicians - especially in the final phase of the regime - could be proven. The contemporary historian Gerhard Botz describes the failure of Austrofascism in this regard as follows:
“After the overthrow of Social Democracy and the beginning of the retreat of Mussolini's patronizing hand, the authoritarian regime of Dollfuss and Schuschnigg, which was strongly influenced by the government and was initially strongly anti-Nazi, quickly lost its resistance to the growing strength of National Socialism both internally and externally. At the same time, through the establishment of authoritarian structures, the (semi-illegal) Nazis, who were increasingly admitted to the state apparatus, opened up a further possibility of (pseudo) legal takeover of power in March 1938. "
Until July 2017, a painting by the Austrofascist Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss hung in the parliamentary club of the Austrian People's Party. Every year the ÖVP parliamentary club and the young ÖVP Vienna lay a wreath at the grave of Engelbert Dollfuss; The Austrian Cartel Association , which is closely related to the ÖVP, regularly lays wreaths there. To this day, Dollfuß is an honorary member of 16 ÖCV associations, his successor Kurt Schuschnigg has nine honorary memberships.
In recent years, however, the way conservative circles have dealt with the Austrofascist past has been increasingly criticized in the political debate. A memorial service organized by the ÖVP in July 2004 on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Engelbert Dollfuss' death once again sparked a broad political debate, as a result of which the party's handling of its own past was largely condemned.
Since the Austrian corporate state on the one hand contains elements of fascism, on the other hand it refers to the Catholic social doctrine , it was also assigned the term " clerical fascism ". There are very clear echoes of the Estado Novo in Portugal and Franquism in Spain . Austrofascism is ideologically comparable with the traditionalist school that existed in Italian fascism and also in National Socialism , represented in Italy by Julius Evola and in the German Empire by Carl Schmitt .
The question of whether Austrofascism was a “real” fascism is particularly controversial in the inner-Austrian debate. It is argued that the system lacked essential features of a fascist regime, since there was no really tangible ideology, no mass party, but above all no mass base. Likewise, the planned institutions of the corporate state remained at best a torso. Other characteristics of fascism, such as expansive aggressive foreign policy, ideologically uniform, powerful defensive formations, a strong, charismatic leadership with a concentration of power were largely absent. The system is therefore sometimes referred to as imitation fascism. With reference to Otto Bauer, the historian Ernst Hanisch speaks of semi-fascism in order to characterize the years 1933 to 1938. Even Kurt Bauer considers the term Austrofascism because of the lack of mass support for still controversial. One could also speak of a “semi-fascist, authoritarian government dictatorship”. Stanley Payne describes Austria between 1933 and 1938 as a corporatist- authoritarian system, which had more in common with the Catholic-conservative regime of the Estado Novo in Portugal than with fascism and National Socialism. Above all, the absence of imperialist foreign policy and aggressive anti-Semitism are decisive for this characterization, according to Payne's assessment.
The philosopher and historian Norbert Leser regards “Austrofascism” as a historical-political battle concept without an essential scientific basis:
“The characterization of the corporate state as Austrofascism serves not so much for scientific orientation in the historiography of the left as for political instrumentalization. This total condemnation, which is already contained in the term, was and is being argued in order to make the past of the political opponent bad and to make one's own shine even more brightly. "
Other historians focus on radical anti-parliamentarism and the violent suppression and suppression of the labor movement. Historians such as Jill Lewis assume "that the destruction of democratic institutions carried out by the Christian Socialists aimed to extinguish social democracy and not, as apologetically claimed, to protect Austria from fascism". Also Lucian O. Meysels considered the term "Austro-fascism" as legitimate, as leaders of the regime as Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg had stood for Mussolini fascist state in a particularly close personal, financial and ideological contact.
For the FPÖ- related historian Lothar Höbelt , today's use of the term “Austrofascism” in publications “has at least the advantage for the reader that it allows authors to be assigned to one or the other half of the empire without further research”. Today the term “fascism” is used almost exclusively in a defamatory way, while in the 1920s and 1930s the “connotation of a modern, promising model resonated, which embodied dynamism and confidence in victory and which had obviously succeeded in creating national unity and social integration , at least to a greater extent than was the case for ordinary dictatorships of the old-fashioned, reactionary style. ”Therefore, the label“ Austrofascism ”was attractive as a self-designation, at least for parts of the Heimwehr.
- Hans Schafranek : swastika and red flag. The repressed cooperation between the National Socialists and the left in the illegal fight against the dictatorship of “Austrofascism”. In: Bochum archive for the history of resistance and work. No. 9 (1988), pp. 7-45.
- Lucian O. Meysels : The Austrofascism. The end of the first republic and its last chancellor . Amalthea, Vienna / Munich 1992, ISBN 3-85002-320-6 .
- Erika Weinzierl : February 1934 and the consequences for Austria (= Viennese lectures in the town hall , volume 32). Picus, Vienna 1994, ISBN 3-85452-331-9 .
- Gerhard G. Senft, Anton Pelinka , Helmut Reinalter : In the run-up to the disaster. The economic policy of the corporate state. Austria 1934–1938 . Braumüller, Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-7003-1402-7 .
- Georg Christoph Berger Waldenegg : The great taboo! Historian controversies in Austria after 1945 about the national past. In: Jürgen Elvert, Susanne Krauß (ed.): Historical debates and controversies in the 19th and 20th centuries (= HMRG supplement, 46). Anniversary meeting of the Ranke Society in Essen 2001. Wiesbaden / Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-515-08253-0 , pp. 143–174.
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