Austria – fear for the future?

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.

Jews have been wrongly blamed for world’s problems before. (photo credit:
Jews have been wrongly blamed for world’s problems before.
(photo credit:
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.
The government 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?
Watching the 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 takeover.
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 nations.
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 place.
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 1932.
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 course.
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.
The 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 party.
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 power.
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.