Why Austria’s anti-Nazi Legislation Ought to be Amended
Composed on June 16, 2014
In May 1945, a few days after World War Two had ended in Europe, the new government of Austria enacted an emergency decree designed to assist the transition to a free and democratic society. It banned and dissolved the Nazi Party, confiscated its property, and disempowered the Nazi leaders. Moreover, it made attempts to reestablish the Nazi Party or to found any other National Socialist organization illegal. To be on the safe side, the promotion of Nazi ideas as well as any activism in support of National Socialist aims were prohibited, too. The government enacted an absolute penalty for any such efforts: capital punishment.
About two years later, the government and the Allies had managed to restore basic order. The government — composed of Communists, Socialists, and the People’s Party (Christian-Democrats plus Conservatives) — had meanwhile been recognized by the Allies. Much of the country was still in ruins. People were traumatized by war, firebombing, atrocities, camp life. Things were still not good, but — very gradually — getting better.
It had long been decided that denazification is imperative. The effects of Nazi propaganda needed to be reversed. Neither the Western Allies nor Stalin’s Soviet Union considered pro-German nationalism beneficial to their interests or compatible with their values and ideas. Thus, it was easy to reach a compromise. The Allies had submitted a bulk of demands to the Austrian government. They included the prohibition of National Socialist activism, as well as regulations to register Nazis, to bar them from serving in the administration, to ban them from universities, to exclude them from higher professions, to deprive them of their right to vote (even for anti-Nazi politicians), to seize their property, and the like.
Continue reading Learning From Sophie Scholl