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Österreichische Aktion: Monarchism, Authoritarianism, and the Unity of the Austrian Conservative Ideological Field during the First Republic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 May 2014

Janek Wasserman
Affiliation:
University of Alabama

Extract

Even as recently as 2011, in the wake of Otto Habsburg's death, Austrians have contested the place of the monarchy in Austrian identity. For many, the Habsburg monarchy represents a defining feature of Austria's past glory. Dating from late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the earliest examples of an “Austrian myth” stressed the unifying function of the Habsburgs in Mitteleuropa and the importance of German and Catholic traditions for the advancement of European culture. This nostalgic view tended to overlook the myriad problems of the late imperial period—ethnonationalist tensions, declining imperial might, undemocratic government, social unrest. Not surprisingly, many of the earliest proponents of a distinct, pro-Habsburg and non-German Austrian identity—which emerged after the Great War—were Catholic conservatives who wished to create an animating myth for Austrian Germans that would distinguish them from Prussians. This became increasingly important after the establishment of the Austrian Republic, when many of these individuals pressed for a restoration of the Habsburg Kaiser and a return to the prewar status quo.

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Copyright © Central European History Society of the American Historical Association 2014 

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References

1 The recent controversy started with some comments by Otto's son, Karl. Karl Habsburg: not ‘Neue Ära beginnt,’” Der Kurier, July 9, 2011. See also “Karl Habsburg verteidigt revisionistische Aussagen seines Vaters,” Der Standard, July 9, 2011; “Interview mit Bundespräsidenten Heinz Fischer,” Profil, July 11, 2011. Translations mine unless otherwise noted.

2 See Heer, Friedrich, Der Kampf um Österreichs Identität (Vienna: Bühlau, 1996)Google Scholar, Stourzh, Gerald, Vom Reich zur Republik (Vienna: Edition Atelier, 1990)Google Scholar; Pelinka, Anton, Zur österreichischen Identität (Vienna: Ueberreuter, 1990)Google Scholar, Bruckmüller, Ernst, Österreichbewusstsein im Wandel (Vienna: Signum, 1994)Google Scholar, Zöllner, Erich, Der Österreichbegriff (Vienna: Geschichte und Politik, 1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, Bischof, Günter and Pelinka, Anton, eds., Austrian Historical Memory & National Identity (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1997)Google Scholar, and Thaler, Peter, Ambivalence of Identity (Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2001)Google Scholar.

3 “Non-German” in this context connotes non-Prussian. Austrian conservatives rejected the Prussocentrism of contemporary conceptions of großdeutsch German identity.

4 Blair R. Hodges, “The Austrian Monarchists, 1918–1938,” in Conquering the Past, ed. F. Parkinson, Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 91–109.

5 See Breuning, Klaus, Vision des Reiches (Munich, Hueber, 1969)Google Scholar on Reichsgedanken . Seefried, Elke, Reich und Stände (Düsseldorf: Droste, 2006)Google Scholar brilliantly demonstrates the diversity of views on concepts like Reich and Stand. Her nominalist approach downplays the potential for cooperation between intellectuals across conceptual divides, however.

6 See Griffin, Roger, The Nature of Fascism (New York, NY: Routledge, 1991)Google Scholar. These monarchists lent their ideas to Austrian fascist movements like the Heimwehr, particularly Starhemberg's faction.

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14 Wandruszka, 369–374.

15 There is extensive scholarship arguing for the distinctiveness of each Lager. See particularly “Symposion” in Leser, Das geistige Leben Wiens, (Vienna: Österreichischer Bundesverlag), 148–159.

16 Bourdieu, Pierre, The Field of Cultural Production, trans. Johnson, Randal (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1993), 2973Google Scholar. Bourdieu's relational model of cultural fields is particularly appropriate for interwar Austria. For an application, see Timms, Edward, Karl Kraus, Apocalyptic Satirist, vol. 2 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005), 95Google Scholar. Mannheim, Karl, Conservatism, trans. Kettler, David and Meja, Volker (London: Routledge, 1986)Google Scholar discusses German conservative “constellations” in a way that is also useful in this context.

17 I employ Raymond Williams’ idea of oppositional ideological space in this context. See Williams, Politics of Modernism (New York, NY: Verso, 1989), 5051Google ScholarPubMed.

18 Janek Wasserman, Black Vienna (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014).

19 See Thorpe, Pan-Germanism. I generally agree with Thorpe's thesis that “Austrofascism was directly linked to the preservation and propagation of a pan-German identity in Austria” (17). However, her definition of pan-Germanism does not adequately account for the anti-socialist and anti-republican consensus within the interwar Austrian community that allowed for the emergence of the Austrofascist state in the first place.

20 Paul Hanebrink, In Defense of Christian Hungary (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006), 56.

21 Similar “Action” movements developed in Portugal, Spain, and Italy. See Payne, Stanley, Fascism in Spain, 1923–1977 (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999), 1822Google Scholar. Hanebrink, In Defense of Christian Hungary shows how Hungarians instrumentalized religion and history in their attempt to craft a national identity. Robert Soucy's books on French Fascism highlight the conservative, religious, and nationalist elements in that movement. For discussions of the role of conservatives in the emergence of Italian fascism, see Blinkhorn, Martin, ed., Fascists and Conservatives (London: Routledge, 1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, especially 1–49.

22 Winter, Ernst Karl, “Vorwort,” in Winter, Ernst Karl et al. , Die österreichische Aktion (Vienna, 1927), 910Google Scholar.

23 See Renner, Karl, Staat und Nation (Vienna, 1899)Google Scholar, Bauer, Otto, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie (Vienna, 1908)Google Scholar, and Seipel, Ignaz, Nation und Staat (Vienna, 1916)Google Scholar.

24 See Barbara Maria Hofer, Joseph Eberle (PhD diss., University of Vienna, 1995); and Werner, Ruth, Die Wiener Wochenschrift ‘Das Neue Reich’ <1918–1925> (Breslau: Prebitsch, 1938)Google Scholar.

25 Geschichte und Programm der Wochenscrift ‘Die Monarchie’,” Das neue Reich 1 (1918/19)Google Scholar, 2.

26 Das neue Reich 1 (1918/19), 89Google Scholar, 91.

27 Das neue Reich 1 (1918/19), 105Google Scholar.

28 Winter, Ernst Karl, “Mitteleuropa als Kulturfrage,” Das neue Reich 1 (1918/19), 30Google Scholar.

29 Winter, Ernst Karl, “Moderner Kapitalismus,” Das neue Reich 1 (1918/19), 220Google Scholar.

30 Ernst Karl Winter, “Die Juden,” Das neue Reich 1 (1918/19), 273.

31 Robert Holzbauer, Ernst Karl Winter (PhD diss., University of Vienna, 1992), 13–46. For an overview of Austrian anti-Semitism, see Pauley, Bruce, From Prejudice to Persecution (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1992)Google Scholar.

32 Zessner-Spitzenberg, Hans, “Dem ganzen Volk gebührt das Wort,” Das neue Reich 1 (1918/19), 132Google Scholar.

33 Ibid., 131.

Ibid

34 Article 1 of the Austrian constitution stated, “Austria is a democratic republic. Its authority derives from the people.” This would remain a sore point with Catholics. See Hanisch, Ernst, Die Ideologie des Politischen Katholizismus (Vienna: Geyer, 1977), 9Google Scholar.

35 Winter, Ernst Karl, “Die Frage des Widerstandes gegen eine tyrannische Staatsgewalt,” Das neue Reich 1 (1918/19), 431Google Scholar.

36 Ibid., 432.

Ibid

37 Zessner-Spitzenberg, Hans, “Der Glaube an Österreich,” Das neue Reich 2 (1919/20), 102Google Scholar.

38 Ibid., 103.

Ibid

39 Zessner-Spitzenberg, Hans, “Zum Jahrestag der Kaiserverbannung,” Das neue Reich 2 (1919/20), 426Google Scholar.

40 Zessner-Spitzenberg, Hans, “Grundsätzliches vor den Neuwahlen in Österreich,” Das neue Reich 2 (1919/20), 813Google Scholar.

41 Maier, Charles, Recasting Bourgeois Europe, reprinted ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), ixxviGoogle Scholar, 3–18. Maier correctly notes the conservative defense of the bourgeois social order that was implicit in most corporatist plans. Conditions in central Europe differed from those in Germany, France, and Italy, however. Most significantly, religious ideas of anticapitalism featured more prominently in Austria. On notions of Stände, see Seefried, Reich und Stände.

42 Zessner-Spitzenberg, “Grundsätzliches,” 808. The terms “monarchist” and “legitimist” were used almost interchangeably. If anything, “legitimist” carried a more intransigent tone, since it demanded the end to the “illegitimate” Republic in addition to the restoration of the Kaiser.

43 Zessner-Spitzenberg, Hans, “Legitmität und Gemeinwohl,” Das neue Reich 3 (1920/1), 833836Google Scholar.

44 Hanisch, Politischer Katholizismus, 1–24.

45 Siegfried, Klaus-Jörg, Universalismus und Faschismus (Vienna: Europaverlag, 1974), 67101Google Scholar. Spann also provoked responses from socialists. See Wasserman, Janek, “The Austro-Marxist Struggle for ‘Intellectual Workers,”’ Modern Intellectual History 9, vol. 2 (August 2012), 361388CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

46 Holzbauer, Winter, 34–6, 83–84, 136, 159–177.

47 See Wasserman, Black Vienna.

48 Werner, “Das neue Reich,” 9–10.

49 Hofer, Joseph Eberle, 116–123; Eppel, Zwischen Kreuz und Hakenkreuz (Vienna: Böhlau, 1980), 18Google Scholar.

50 Joseph Eberle, “Mein Ausscheiden aus dem ‘Neuen Reich’,” 6 (1924/25), 1189–1190.

51 Funder, Friedrich, “Ein Wort zum katholischen Pressewesen in Mitteleuropa,” Die schönere Zukunft 2 (1926/7), 453455Google Scholar. Funder contributed regularly to Die schönere Zukunft. See also Thorpe, 113–114, and Pfarrhofer, Hedwig, Friedrich Funder (Graz: Styria, 1978)Google Scholar.

52 One need only look at the tables of contents for the first few years of the journal to see this new orientation clearly.

53 Siegfried, 69–71.

54 On the LG, see Beniston, Judith, Welttheater (Leeds: Maney, 1998)Google Scholar and Hartmann, Gerhard, Der CV in Österreich (Limburg: Lahn-Verlag, 2011)Google Scholar.

55 Geehr, Richard, “Hans Eibl,” Austrian History Yearbook 17 (1981), 156165CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

56 Eibl, Die Stellung der Nation,” in Jahrbuch der Leo-Gesellschaft, ed. Katann, Oskar (Vienna, 1924), 28Google Scholar.

57 Ibid., 30. See Breuning, 253–255 for more on Eibl.

Ibid

58 After the Anschluss, Eibl applied for membership in the party.

59 Winter, Ernst Karl, “Vorwort,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 89Google Scholar.

60 Hanisch, Politischer Katholizismus, 24.

61 Diamant, Austrian Catholics, 16–22. Although John Boyer has challenged the stark separation between the two schools politically, ideologically the distinctions pertain. See Boyer, Political Radicalism, 174–175.

62 Diamant, Austrian Catholics, 42–47; Winter, “Vorwort,” 9. Wilhelm Schmid even named his monarchist journal Vaterland after Vogelsang's paper.

63 Boyer, Political Radicalism, 166–180. Boyer points out a delightful irony about Vogelsang that likewise applies to the Österreichische Aktion: though he professed allegiance to a brand of Romanticism, Vogelsang's ideology hewed closer to the statist and heavy-handed politics of Joseph II.

64 Ernst Karl Winter, “Das conservative und liberale Österreich,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 122.

65 Though Zessner-Spitzenberg served in the Verfassungsdienst of the Bundeskanzleramt from 1919 to 1931, he served without a political affiliation.

66 Rerum Novarum, paragraphs 32–33, May 15, 1891. Diamant argues that Rerum Novarum was a victory for Sozialpolitik over Sozialreform, though Austrians resisted. See Diamant, Austrian Catholics, 25.

67 Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio, 52–53, December 23, 1922.

68 Nolte, Ernst, Three Faces of Fascism, trans. Vennewitz, Leila (New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966)Google Scholar. Sternhell, Zeev, The Birth of Fascist Ideology, trans. Maisel, David (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994)Google Scholar similarly argues that the Action Française was a progenitor of interwar fascism.

69 Weber, Eugen, Action Française (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1962)Google Scholar. On the other Action movements, see Payne, Stanley, Fascism in Spain, 1822Google Scholar.

70 Winter, “Vorwort,” 8.

71 See Dictateur et Roi (1899), Enquete sur la monarchie (1900) and La politique réligieuse (1912) for Maurras' clearest statements on these matters.

72 Schmid, Wilhelm, “Kirche und Partei,” Das Vaterland I (July/August 1927), 3744Google Scholar.

73 Winter, August Maria Knoll, and Alfred Missong.

74 Winter, “Vorwort,” 5–6.

75 Hacohen, “Kosmopoliten,” 22–23. Hacohen correctly identifies die Aktion as opponents of racial nationalism, yet their views hardly qualified as “internationalist”, since their new order hinged on Austrian hegemony.

76 Conte, Edouard, “Völkerkunde und Faschismus?” in Kontinuität und Bruch, 1938–1945–1955, ed. Stadler, Friedrich (Vienna: LIT Verlag, 1988), 239240Google Scholar. Muckermann and Schmid deployed a particularly virulent brand of Catholic racism. See also Connelly, John, “Catholic Racism and Its Opponents,” Journal of Modern History 79 (December 2007): 821822CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

77 Ernst Karl Winter, “Der europäische und der österreichische Raum,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 16–18.

78 Ibid., 12–25.

Ibid

79 Ernst Karl Winter, “Die österreichische Idee in der Geschichte,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 26–33. See also Winter, “Das konservative und liberale Österreich,” 113–126.

80 Kaindl is a fascinating figure who merits closer attention. Growing up in Bukovina, he became a history professor in Czernowitz before World War I. Forced to flee Russian troops, he eventually settled in Graz. He staunchly supported German national causes, especially on the borders of the former Habsburg Empire, until his death in 1930.

81 Kralik, Richard, “Die Entdeckungsgeschichte des österreichischen Staatsgedankens,” in Die Kultur (Vienna, 1917)Google Scholar; Eibl, Hans, “Die Stellung der Nation im christlichen Weltbild,” in Die Kultur (Vienna, 1924), 2835Google Scholar and Vom Sinne der deutschen Geschichte,” Die schönere Zukunft 2 (1926/7), 755757Google Scholar, 773–774; von Srbik, Heinrich, “Unmethodische Geschichtsbetrachtung,” Die schönere Zukunft 3 (1927/8), 104106Google Scholar; Kaindl, Raimund, “Professor Srbik und mein Buch Österreich, Preußen, Deutschland,” Die schönere Zukunft 3 (1927/8), 126130Google Scholar. For Srbik's views on Austria's role in German history, see Österreich in der deutschen Geschichte (Berlin, 1936)Google Scholar, esp. 71–78.

82 Missong, “Österreichs Politik seit 1866/68,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 92–112.

83 Hans Zessner-Spitzenberg, “Das Völkerreich des Hauses Österreich,“ in Die österreichische Aktion, 68.

84 It was only after WWII that the pan-Europe and monarchist movements found common cause. Of course, Otto Habsburg headed the Pan-European Union from 1973 to 2004.

85 Alfred Missong, “Europa: Betrachtungen über Kaisertum, Völkerreich, Völkerbund und Paneuropa,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 53–55. See also Zessner-Spitzenberg, “Völkerrecht,” 73–75 for similar criticisms.

86 Winter, “Vorwort,” 9.

87 See Diamant, Austrian Catholics, 210–214.

88 Sternhell, Neither Right Nor Left. Sternhell's model is not perfect for the Austrian case. I merely wish to suggest that the conservatism of die Aktion was novel and not a mere continuation of prewar tendencies.

89 Schmid, “Kirche und Partei,” 37; Wege und Irrwege der Heimatwehr,” Das Vaterland 5 (1931), 58Google Scholar.

90 Hans Zessner-Spitzenberg, “Kaisertum und Proletariat,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 188–189, 192–194, 19–210.

91 Alfred Missong, “Entproletarisierung,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 216–222.

92 Ibid., 233–234. Only Winter condemned Italian Fascism as a distortion of conservatism. See Winter, “Souveränität,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 155.

Ibid

93 Ernst Karl Winter, “Die katholische und die österreichische Aktion,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 259–267.

94 Ibid., 35–36.

Ibid

95 Hans Zessner-Spitzenberg, “Kaisertum und Proletariat,” 213.

96 Hans Zessner-Spitzenberg, “Die Zukunft des Hauses Österreich,” in Die österreichische Aktion, 290. Italics mine. Schmid made the same point in “Anschluss,” Das Vaterland 1 (1927)Google Scholar, passim.

97 Kaindl, Raimund, Österreich, Preußen, Deutschland (Vienna, 1926)Google Scholar.

98 See Hodges, “Austrian Monarchists.”

99 Missong, Alfred, Christentum und Politik in Österreich (Vienna: Böhlau, 2006), 2729Google Scholar.

100 Missong, Alfred, “Wie Karl von Vogelsang über die Judenfrage dachte,” Die schönere Zukunft 3 (1927/8), 816819Google Scholar. The members of die Aktion firmly rejected racial anti-Semitism, yet their ideas often blurred the lines between Catholic anti-Jewish prejudice and racial hatred. See Connelly, John, From Enemy to Brother (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, chapters 1–4 on these conceptual difficulties.

101 Zessner-Spitzenberg, Hans, “Der österreichische Gedanke und die deutsche Frage,” Die schönere Zukunft 3 (1927/8), 922924Google Scholar.

102 Das Vaterland 1 (1927)Google Scholar, especially 1–21, 37–44, 63–64.

103 Holzbauer, Winter, 94–98.

104 Wasserman, Black Vienna, chapters 5 and 7.

105 Knoll wrote enthusiastically about this “conservative front.” See Holzbauer, Winter, 84.

106 Universitätsarchiv, Universität Wien, J PA 434, Box 23.

107 Holzbauer, Winter, 136–169.

108 Eberle, Joseph, Der Kampf um Hitler (Vienna, 1931), 35Google Scholar, 45–53.

109 Missong, Alfred, Der Nazispiegel (Vienna, 1932)Google Scholar.

110 Missong, “Mein Leben,” 30-3; Leser, Grenzgänger, 111–129.

111 Johannes Messner, “Die Schicksalsstunde der deutschen Katholiken in der ‘schönere Zukunft,’” Das neue Reich, April 9, 1932, 540.

112 Hugo Diwald, “Staatsgestaltung im Geiste der Quadragesimo Anno,” Der christliche Ständestaat, December 3, 1933, 15. After the war, Missong, who played a founding role in the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), refused to admit that conservatives had helped destroy the First Republic. On Der christliche Ständestaat, see Ebneth, Rudolf, Die österreichische Wochenschrift “Der Christliche Ständestaat” (Mainz: Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag, 1976)Google Scholar.

113 See “Die Staatskrise in Österreich,” Wiener politische Blätter, April 16, 1933, 1–18 and “Die Krise des Marxismus,” June 16, 1933, particularly 4–5.

114 Ernst Karl Winter, “Brief an den Bündespräsidenten,” 18–31.

115 Ernst Karl Winter, “Der neue Marx.” Holzbauer, Ernst Karl Winter, 78–92.

116 Ibid. See also Holzbauer, Ernst Karl Winter, 78–92.

Ibid

117 Winter, Ernst Karl, Arbeiterschaft und Staat (Vienna, 1934)Google Scholar. On the Aktion Winter, see Holzbauer, Ernst Karl Winter, 192.

118 It is beyond the scope of the paper to enter into a discussion of how “fascist” the state was. Like many commentators, I believe that the Austrian state shared features with the other fascist movements of the interwar period, even if it was not prototypically “fascist.” For two reasoned reviews, see Thorpe, Pan-Germanism, 1–15; and Gellott, Laura, “Recent Writings on the Ständestaat, 1934–1938,” Austrian History Yearbook 26 (1995), 207238CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

119 Missong, “Mein Leben und Arbeiten,” 31–35.

120 Fellner, Geschichtsschreibung, 175–177; Wolf, Julius, Heilig, Konrad, and Görgen, Hermann, Österreich und die Reichsidee (Vienna, 1937)Google Scholar.

121 Ernst Karl Winter, “Die ‘zehn Punkte’ der ‘volksmonarchischen Aktion,” in Winter, E. K. Winter, 342–343.

122 Stadler, Friedrich, “Spätaufklärung und Sozialdemokratie in Wien, 1918–1938,” in Aufbruch und Untergang, ed. Kadrnoska, F. (Vienna: Europaverlag, 1981), 441473Google Scholar.

123 Looking back, historians have emphasized the years 1927, 1938, 1945, and 1955 as the primary points of rupture, across which continuities and breaks must be identified. See Stadler, Friedrich, ed., Kontinuität und Bruch 1938–1945–1955 (Vienna: LIT Verlag, 2004)Google Scholar; or Botz, Gerhard, Krisenzonen einer Demokratie (Frankfurt: Campus, 1987)Google Scholar.

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