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Between 1945 and 1956, the Second Austrian Republic failed to address the large number of former Austrian Nazis. Due to Cold War tensions, the United States, Britain, and France helped to downplay Austria’s cooperation with the Nazi Reich in order to secure the state against the Soviets. In an effort to stall the spread of socialism, former fascists were even recruited by Western intelligence services to help inform on the activities of socialists and communists within Austria. Furthermore, the Austrian people were a deeply conservative society, which often supported many of the far-right’s positions, as can be seen throughout contemporary Austrian newspaper articles and editorials. Antisemitism, belief in the superiority of Austro-Germanic culture, disdain for immigrants, and desire for national sovereignty were all widely present in Austrian society before, during, and after the Nazi period. These cultural beliefs, combined with neglect from the Western powers, integrated the far-right into the political decision-making process. This has made parties with Nazi affiliations, such as the VdU and the FPÖ legitimate parts of Austrian political culture and prevents the political disarmament of the far-right due to the deep roots which they have in Austrian culture.
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Goodson, Henry F., "The Silent Reich: Austria’s Failed Denazification" (2020). Student Publications. 839.
Written for History 319: Europe since 1945.