Hardly a week passes in Austria without politicians making headlines. The
chancellor is under suspicion of media manipulation, the ex-finance minister is
being accused of bribery, and the same goes for the former federal minister of
the interior, former member of the European parliament and many more politicians
with close ties to the corporate sector.
An investigative committee has
interrogated several of these people, but the proceedings are a farce, appearing
to be more of a tea party for the higher-ups than a serious investigation.
Ironically, two years ago innocent animal rights activists got arrested for 105
days, hammered by Austrian law and were even accused of being a criminal
organization. The Austrian justice system has become
intolerable. The little people are getting punished while the rich and
powerful get away with millions of tax and bribery money.
is crippled by incompetence and corruption. People either withdraw into
political apathy or turn into a brewing mass of anger and
frustration. Furthermore, the constant fear of a EU economy failure
hovers above our heads like the sword of Damocles. The current situation
has an eerie resemblance to the 1920s and the 1930s. As a native Austrian I had
to ask myself the alarming question: Could another Hitler rise?
news these days makes you aware that certain circumstances which favored
Hitler’s rise to power are reappearing. A corrupt government and ineffective
courts were also pervasively present during the Weimar Republic – but they were
merely the beginning of the end. The Treaty of Versailles and the Great
Depression were two of the deciding factors for Hitler’s final
After World War I Germany was held fully
responsible. The Treaty of Versailles was the punishment imposed by the
Allied Powers. Germany was obligated to pay reparations to certain nations. The
Austrian parliament has just recently approved the European Stability Mechanism
(ESM). The ESM is a Europe-wide rescue fund designed to aid the debt-ridden EU
Opposition to the Versailles Treaty was one of Hitler’s most
effective strategies, ensuring him a wider popularity among Germans, who
despised the treaty. With the ESM, we could see this situation recur. We can
already see a growing anti-EU movement spreading all over Europe. The election
in Greece demonstrated the dangerous fight between the pro-EU Conservative Party
and the anti-EU Coalition Party. I think in the near future we will see similar
conflicts in several EU countries, including Austria. Euroscepticism will become
a trump card in upcoming elections.
I want to clarify that I don’t
consider nor do I accuse any current politician of being the next Hitler.
However, the tense economic situation within the EU has turned the entire
eurozone into the perfect breeding ground for such a devastating figure. History
has a way of repeating itself. There may be some twists and turns, and sometimes
you can go left instead of right, but you still end up in the same
It was not just the Versailles Treaty that helped Hitler on his
way up. The Great Depression of 1929 also accelerated Hitler’s “Seizure of
Power.” The Nazi party started with a 2.6 percent national parliamentary vote in
1928, increased to astonishing 18.3% in 1930 and ended with 32% by
So can we expect another Great Depression? According to the
Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, it is very likely.
Hayek warned that
central banks like the Federal Reserve Bank and the European Central Bank tend
to create inflationary credit crunches, which ultimately would lead to an
economic downward spiral. The ESM could be very much the harbinger of another
depression in Europe. If America’s economy doesn’t crash first, of
Hitler used the Jews as scapegoats for the economic crisis. The
disastrous outcome of this is well known. You might think that after
almost 80 years people would have wised up. Unfortunately, they
haven’t. Since the 2008 global recession, the banks make daily headlines
and with them the Jewish conspiracy theories have made a comeback.
Rothschilds, especially, have been stigmatized by rumors, urban legends and
misinformation, and are no longer known only among conspiracy junkies on the
Web. You can hear people openly talking about them in trains and coffee shops.
Not in the most positive way, I might add.
Don’t get me wrong, Austrians
are good people, but some specters of the past still haunting them. In
2013, Austria will hold a parliamentary election.People are incredibly
frustrated with the current political landscape. The danger of voting for the
wrong political party or person is extremely high.
New political parties
are appearing, such as the Pirate Party, the ultra-liberal nerd movement of the
Facebook- Twitter generation. Even self-made billionaire Frank Stronach, the
Austrian version of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, intends to establish a
Speaking from my own experiences, creating your own party in
Austria puts you in a David-vs-Goliathlike situation. But I have the feeling a
stone won’t be enough to overcome the competition. After all, politics is for
the rich and corrupt.
Will a new Hitler rise? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I
am overreacting and there is nothing to be worried about. Nevertheless,
the best defense is a good offense, and I am not the wait-and-see type. I prefer
to fight unjust radical elements before they acquire too much
Austria stands at a crossroads and things look grim, but like
Oswald Spengler, author of The Decline of the West, said: “We are born into this
time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other
way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without
rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in
Pompeii, who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they
forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. The honorable end is the one
thing that can not be taken from a man.”
The writer is a student at the
University of Vienna.