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3 - An economic background to Berchtesgaden: business and economic policy in Austria in the 1930s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2010

Herbert Matis
Affiliation:
Economics University, Vienna
Terry Gourvish
Affiliation:
London School of Economics and Political Science
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Summary

As an academic teacher, Alice Teichova was always convinced that we could learn from historical experiences. Her knowledge of the circumstances which in the long run led to the catastrophe of World War II encourages us to pay more attention to the inter-relationship of economic and political factors in general. The economic background to the political decline of the Central European states during the inter-war period has been Alice Teichova's main field of research ever since she took up her doctoral studies at the Charles University of Prague. However, one question has remained an open one until the present: why were nationalist and fascist regimes – Czechoslovakia being the remarkable exemption – able to destroy most of the infant democracies which emerged from the Habsburg Empire's dissolution after World War I?

The economic history of the First Austrian Republic serves as an example which clearly demonstrates the connections between economic decline, political destabilisation and the abandonment of national independence. From its very beginning the Austrian Republic suffered from an inferiority complex, which must be attributed to psychological rather than rational economic factors. For most Austrians the dissolution of the common economic area of the Habsburg Monarchy meant that the small Austrian successor state – for many ‘the state which nobody wanted’ – was, speaking from an economic point of view, unable to exist. The economic misery of the inter-war years, notably the period of post-war inflation and the following latent economic crisis of the 1920s, seemed to confirm this assumption.

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Chapter
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Business and Politics in Europe, 1900–1970
Essays in Honour of Alice Teichova
, pp. 42 - 62
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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