AUSTRIA (HEROES’ SQUARE)
In this discourse, we will search for the origins, or rather motives, of the Holocaust or Shoah, where we must first note that (political) nationalism emerged in the 19th century. Before that, guilds and families ruled Europe, and a sense of “us” (which politics later eagerly capitalized on) was limited to mostly romantic folk myths and legends. Hitler, for example, would later prove that these could form the basis for nation-building with the fairytale that the Aryan race was superior to other races. Millions followed him and soon after experienced sudden memory loss, but more on that later.
WWI lasted from 1914 to 1918, marking the end of the dual monarchy (also known as the Danube Monarchy) that the Habsburg Empire represented, and it marked the beginning of a republic/constitutional state with Vienna as its (water) capital and a person named Dolfuss as its political leader. During these events, a kind of polarization based on hatred emerged in Austria. From 1918 to 1938, an Austrian civil war raged, not only between Germans and Jews (many of whom had lived in Vienna for centuries) but also between the rural and urban divide. Vienna was seen by many farmers at that time as a Jewish, cultural, communist, etc. (leftist) city, and the contrast between farms and urban architecture may have played a role in fueling hatred from the countryside. This conflict is also considered the basis for (Hitler’s) anti-Semitism.
The misery in Vienna had already begun around 1900; politically speaking, the non-Jewish bourgeoisie was openly anti-Semitic, prompting a Zionist response, also known as Jewish nationalism. The native superiority complex manifested even in the architecture of the European city, where the so-called social democratic housing construction began. An example of which is Beton-dorp (Cement-village) in Amsterdam Oost (East side) – The Netherlands. The first fascist movement in Austria was thus born: National Socialism (at that time even more extreme than later), inspired by Mussolini and Hitler, the latter of whom would soon achieve the infamous Anschluss.
As mentioned, during this time, the conflict between the city and the countryside, Jews and farmers, progressives and conservatives, social democrats and Catholics, the “Schutzbund” against the “Heimwehr,” and at the political level, Dolfuss against Hitler, raged on. Not that Dolfuss was not an anti-Semite, but he did fight against the Anschluss and thus against Hitler and his theories. After Dolfuss’ death (or was he simply resigned?), a certain Mr. Schusnich took over, a leader who was even more of a fascist than Hitler himself. He had good relations with Mussolini, was not at all democratic, but was also against the Anschluss. However, this time Hitler emerged victorious (Did Schusnich die in the process, or did he simply resign?), and he ensured the Anschluss became a reality in 1938. The history of Austria has been a little-discussed subject both domestically and internationally, but since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the controversies surrounding President Waldheim, this story has once again gained relevance.
Austria is now more or less forced to deal with its (collective) past honestly. There is, of course, an individual past, and an individual does not necessarily have to agree with the past of their so-called people or nation, etc. But they will have to deal with it in terms of having a standpoint regarding such a past. After all, whether you like it or not, it is a part of you, and it is better to acknowledge the mistakes in it rather than fill the gaps – caused by silence – with pleasant inventions and lies; it will eventually come back to haunt.
Hitler and Mussolini also recognized these differences in collective memory. They understood that strikes within a company create a divide between workers and directors (of Jewish origin), reflecting the divisions within the population characterized by the diversity in beliefs, ideologies, and possessions. This knowledge came in handy for legitimizing the Anschluss, for example. Unity in diversity was not a principle embraced by these clowns during the construction of their empire. The question, in other words, was and is: what should a people do with such a shared memory?
The same story, yet a different story. The spa town of Vichy, a luxurious seaside resort with castles and palaces, etc., also became the name of a large part of southern France during World War II and will henceforth be an eternal “lieux de memoires” (site of memory). But how it is remembered (on a large scale) is once again the crux. During the time of its revolution in 1789, France had already created a fictional superhero to boost the morale of its people: Chauvin (hence the word ‘chauvinism’) a brave warrior in all revolutions, battles, and wars of that time who never actually existed but only served as a fictional motivation to rally the people behind France.
Petain, the head of government at the time the German troops invaded France, was a very conservative man, afraid of communism, and saw Hitler as the solution to this danger. He negotiated a ceasefire with Germany, resulting in an unoccupied part of France (where Vichy was located and where the French government leaders stayed at the time) in contrast to the occupied part. Consequently, during the occupation, a civil war erupted in France between collaborators, communists, non-communists in the resistance and the Free French under de Gaulle. Due to this division, France suffered significant losses.
The difficulty after World War II was the internal division of France, which gradually turned into a syndrome. De Gaulle and his group mediated to reunite the French people. The French Revolution brought unity to the French people. In the 19th century, there was a struggle between supporters of the French Revolution (liberal bourgeoisie, socialists, democrats, republicans) who wanted their fundamental rights and the opponents (clericals, royalists, and all other conservatives) who wanted to maintain their privileges.
-Before World War I:
-1815-1830: Reaction > censorship.
-1830: Revolution leads to the abolition of censorship, which would return two years later.
-1830-1848: Louis Philippe in power (somewhat liberal).
-1848: The revolution – more parliamentary rights and the lifting of censorship again.
-1850: Napoleon in power.
-1852: Coronation as Napoleon III – censorship returns.
-1870/1: Franco-Prussian War, which France loses. The Paris Commune (right-wing France) asks Germany to clean up left-wing France (which rebelled against both Germany and the Commune).
-Before World War II:
Dreyfus (a Jew and a military officer in the French army) caused an affair in France when he was accused of espionage and collaboration with the Germans. Zola and Clemenceau revolted against this due to unfair proceedings. Dreyfus was convicted but later acquitted (the actual culprit turned out to be a conservative). This led to further polarization between the two factions.
-1940-1944: Petain as president (then de Gaulle).
-After World War II:
-1944-1954: Raw. -1955-1968: Repression.
-1954, April 31: the day of deportation (liberation from concentration camps). The persecution of Jews was acknowledged, but the word “Jew” was still not mentioned. Anti-Semitism was practically born in France, and Vichy was even worse than Hitler’s Germany (Tourier was even worse than Barbie).
-1962: Franco-German relations improve. In the same year, the law was enacted that crimes against the law cannot be time-barred. Trials of people like Eichmann are a consequence of this. However, what constitutes a crime and/or resistance is difficult to prove, even by the justice system, leading to endless proceedings. Petain, by the way, became senile around this time and was not subject to legal prosecution.
-1970-1974: Return of the repressed.
-1971-1974: Other voices arise in France; the “lieux de memoire” takes on different forms. This is an important time because, about 25 years later, the syndrome truly begins to manifest: obsession with the past, awakening of memory.
After 1974: Obsession. During the purges after the war (retribution), 50,000 to 60,000 people were killed. The opinion at that time regarding collaboration or not was divided by the Petain case. If Vichy had been a legitimate state, he would not have committed a crime against the French people. However, the difficulty lay in who recognized Vichy as a separate state or as part of France. In other words, which French stood on which side during that time was one of the most important questions that was also difficult to answer.
Petain’s case naturally played a central role in this. Ultimately, the “good right-wing” individuals were lumped together with the “bad right-wing” individuals (let bygones be bygones, they were all French) and formed a group against the rising communism; the latter lost ground with the onset of the Cold War.
1: Jews now start to speak up (Klarsfeld and Wiesenthal).
2: The film “Shoah” is shown in France, followed by “Holocaust,” which stirs up a lot of emotions among the people.
3: Trial of Touvier (the Lyon executioner).
4: Le Pen emerges with his dangerous ideas.
5: Trial of Klaus Barbie.
6: Mitterand becomes president (until the present). He was elected based on his left-wing side, his good side as a politician. He also had some connection to Vichy, but he was part of the resistance (so they say).
In the Netherlands after World War II, a national consensus emerged, not a civil war like in France. The national monument on the Dam Square is one of the countless war memorials in the Netherlands; even a new city like Almere has them. The purpose of such monuments is to remember both war and freedom. The war had to remain a national experience, even for future generations.
Hail of Monuments
The abundance of statues became overwhelming for the sculptors of that time; they feared for aesthetics..