Springtime for Hitler

28 07 2013

Austria kinda creeps me out.

Rest assured, I have no reason to be so out-creeped—it is not my area of study, I’ve never visited, I used to enjoy this bar/restaurant in Minneapolis that served Austrian food, and I have fond memories of my time in The Sound of Music—but somethin’ about the place sets me off.

Hitler! You might say: It’s Hitler!

Ehhhh, maaaaybeee—except I’m not creeped out by Germany. Yes, der Futur Führer was born and grew up in what is now Austria, but he was just a whiny loser as he mooned about Vienna: he did his real damage while based in the country to his north.

Still, there may be something about German efforts to come to terms with its past which contrasts favorably to Austria, which, famously, has not.

Ah: the creep may come from a sense of all kinds of nasty shit fermenting away below the surface.

Remember that guy who kidnapped and raped his own daughter and kept her and her kids in his basement? Not surprised that this happened in Austria.

Now, I repeat: this is completely unfair to Austria, especially given the recent escape by three women from years-long imprisonment from a house in Cleveland. There are psychopaths and serial criminals—not to mention unmentioned crimes of the state—in every country, so it’s unfair to single out Austria.

But I’m still singling out Austria.

All of this is a very long way to a very short point: the recent “discovery” of a village bell dedicated to Adolph Hitler is yet another crack in  the Austrian-victim-of-Anschluss excuse for history, and as such, ought to be celebrated.

I get the point of Raimund Fastenbauer that the bell could become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and thus should be “disappeared”, but given how much mid-century Austrian history has been disappeared, I think getting rid of the bell is the exact wrong approach.

Let it ring out, literally and metaphorically. Let it be seen, and heard. Let it be talked about.

After 80 years, let it finally be talked about.




2 responses

29 07 2013
Angelique Stevens

Unfortunately, even the U.S. had/has Hitler lovers/Jew haters. I’ve been to Austria. Granted, it was about 17 years ago, but my memory has not faded. It’s a beautiful country with some of the most amazing people that I have ever met. While on our trip, we met a lovely woman outside of a shop that we had just exited. We asked her for directions to the medieval part of town. Instead of just telling us how to get there–she gave us an historic tour that to this day I will never forget! The Austrians are very light hearted, jovial, friendly, and proud. We are lucky enough to be moving to Bavaria this December, and I just can’t wait to revisit Vienna–this time with our teenagers. Oh, and don’t forget that the Austrians have a long history of “visitors” (i.e., Hitler and Napoleon). They would rather let the enemy take over (short term as history has shown us) in order to preserve their culture, architecture, and history. Don’t be too hasty to judge until you’ve actually been there. I plan to visit as often as possible during the next 3 years.

29 07 2013

Oh Angelique, I agree that I’m being COMPLETELY unfair to Austria. I’d dearly love to visit and engage in the utterly cliched activity of sipping a coffee at an outdoor cafe in Vienna. I’ve had friends who’ve visited Salzburg and they tell me it’s beautiful, and as someone who’s indulged a serious interest in both medieval and pre-WWI Europe, I think there’s a lot that I’d get out of an extended trip through Austria. My niece got to travel to Austria a coupla’ years ago with St Norbert College’s orchestra, and man, was I both glad for and jealous of her.

Like I said: unreasonable and unfair assessment of Austria. Still, lacking your wonderful experiences in Austria, . . .

And you mention Bavaria, from which one (some) branch(es) of my family descend. I used to focus pretty much exclusively on the Irish part of my heritage, but as I’m at least as much (if not more) German than Irish, it seemed to me a kind of fakery to proclaim I’m “Irish-American” while merely muttering that I’m also of a buncha other northern & western European heritages. Even if I see the claiming of one’s heritage as a bit contrived—I’m thoroughly American—I don’t mind. So I’m Irish and German and a buncha other things and ain’t America grand?

Anyway, thanks for commenting, and enjoy your stay in Bavaria!

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