Why didn't Hitler advocate Austrian nationalist ideas?

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George L Gregory
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Location: Britain

Re: Why didn't Hitler advocate Austrian nationalist ideas?

Post by George L Gregory » 27 Oct 2021 20:07

Before the late 1930s Hitler didn’t really care too much about Poland and the Poles, apart from the odd comment. The main Germans who were against the Poles were the Prussians rather than the Austrians. The latter were mostly hostile towards Czechs.
As an Austrian, his main anti-Slav antipathies were directed at the Czechs, not the Poles.
Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis.
Consequently, in the 1920s, Germany's attitude vis-à-vis Poland was predominantly hostile. In view of this widespread anti-Polish sentiment it is surprising that Poland barely surfaced in Mein Kampf. There, Hitler did not exploit or even refer to these obvious anti-Polish sentiments. Hitler, in fact, did not comment on Germany's past and present relations with Poland or about its future relations under a National Socialist government. If Mein Kampf tells us anything at all about Poland, it is that Hitler rated the 'racial value' of the Poles as low - though without going into any detail.

Apart from this rather brief comment, Hitler mentioned Poland only in the context of his opposition to an alliance with Russia. According to Hitler's conclusion, accurate in the context of the Polish-Russian antagonism of the early 1920s and the Polish-French alliance, 'Russia would first have to subdue Poland' before it could join Germany in a war with 'Western Europe'. Only from Hitler's very curt assessment that Poland was 'completely in French hands' can it be assumed that he had little time for Germany's eastern neighbour.

Hitler's 1928 manuscript offers a slightly better insight into his views on Poland and the Poles. Again, he refers to the lower 'racial value' of the Poles - this time, however, in more detail and in stronger language. Again he deemed Poland a major obstacle in a potential Russian military move westward. More clearly in fact than in Mein Kampf Hitler concluded that 'a subjugation of Poland by Russia . . . is quite improbable' while he also discussed, in more detail, Poland's role as an ally of France and thus as a very likely enemy of Germany. In contrast to Mein Kampf, the Secret Book refers explicitly, though with surprising brevity, to the fate of those Silesians, East and West Prussians 'enslaved under Polish rule'. In attacking anti-Italian 'agitators' in Germany, Hitler reminded them that other nations, including Poland, had also committed crimes against the Germans.

By and large, however, Poland played only a marginal role in Hitler's major writings. What stands out from Mein Kampf and the Secret Book is Hitler's disapproval of the Polish 'race' and his agreement with the powerful anti-Polish and revisionist sentiment in Germany. Other sources of the 1920s reveal a similar attitude ('Poland was created from German blood') though again Hitler mentioned Poland only infrequently.
Christian Leitz, Nazi Foreign Policy, 1933-1941: The Road to Global War, pages 63-64.
He was not, himself, violently anti-Polish; he was an Austrian, and the Catholic Austrians traditionally regarded Poles with some favour.
Norman Stone, Hitler.
Hitler, as an Austrian, had never been anti—Polish as such, unlike the general mood in the Reich, especially so in the Auswärtiges Amt (the German Foreign Office).
Panikos Panayi, Weimar and Nazi Germany: Continuities and Discontinuities, page 159.
Perhaps Hitler would have concentrated less on Austria and Czechoslovakia if he had not been born a subject of the Habsburg Monarchy; perhaps his Austrian origin made him less hostile originally to the Poles.
A. J. P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War, page 28.

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Re: Why didn't Hitler advocate Austrian nationalist ideas?

Post by gebhk » 28 Oct 2021 07:45


All of which quotations just bring us back to how blind faith in a set of baseless values, can lead us to entirely inane beliefs which fly in the face of all evidence and self-interest. Basically the curse of the ideologue and such people should never be allowed anywhere near political power. Unfortunately they often do achieve it, because their simplistic ideas and moral certainty is far more appealing than the complexity and shading that is an inevitable component of dealing with reality.

But I stray very far from the topic in hand!

Sid Guttridge
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Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: Why didn't Hitler advocate Austrian nationalist ideas?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 28 Oct 2021 11:42

Hi gebhk,

....but you are not straying far from a universal truth.


George L Gregory
Posts: 1083
Joined: 13 Nov 2020 15:08
Location: Britain

Re: Why didn't Hitler advocate Austrian nationalist ideas?

Post by George L Gregory » 25 Nov 2022 01:16

To resurrect an old thread, I came across a testimony about the Anschluss from an Austrian historian. I regard it as quite accurate, namely that the Anschluss appealed to different Austrians for different reasons.

Born 1919; Austrian citizen; served in the Wehrmacht; currently lives in Vienna; is an historian

It was a mistake for Hitler to occupy Austria. It would have been enough just to threaten with the Anschluss; everything would have worked out Hitler's way all by itself. The party gained power very quickly here; it could rely on the masses for support. Not that they had all become Nazis; on the contrary, estimates show that only about 20 percent were actually Nazis. The rest were people with the old yearning for the resurrection of the First Reich, The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

The myth of the Reich played a large role for historically-oriented people who thought that the old glory of the Empire-in which Austria played a very prominent role-would return. Of course, the memory of fighting side by side with Germany in the First World War was yet another reason. Furthermore, there was the desire to get rid of the Treaty of St. Germain, so that we wouldn't be looked at as the leftovers of the Habsburg Empire anymore. Initially too, many people on the left said, "Now we're finally rid of this conservative, clerical regime. National Socialism has to be an improvement."

The union opened economic opportunities for the Austrians, and provided many jobs. Rearmament created full employment. People were either not aware of what was going on, or they didn't believe it was possible that one man could and would consciously steer a country into a war.

There was surely a latent anti-Semitism in Austria. In Vienna, for example, there was a large Jewish bourgeoisie which was quite well integrated. But before and after World War I, many Jews from the East migrated to Austria, eastern, orthodox Jews. Naturally they lived here as a foreign element, an alien minority which aroused the envy of small shopkeepers. They were immediately recognized as a danger by the native Jewish bourgeoisie. Anti-Semitism was probably somewhat stronger in Vienna than in the rural provinces like the Tyrol or Steiermark, where there were virtually no Jews. This was the tragic side of the Anschluss; that this primitive anti-Semitism was allowed to be activated so quickly.
Johannes Steinhoff, Voices From The Third Reich: An Oral History, pages 95-96.

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