The Rise and Fall of Austrian Fascism
Austria’s home grown fascism began developing in the early 1930s.
Based upon an emergency law (Wartime Economy Authority Law) enacted during the First World War and never repealed, Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss established authoritarian rule in March 1933 in the face of parliamentary paralysis.
The Chancellor quickly abolishes both Parliament and freedom of the press.
Dollfuss eliminates multi-party system in Austria.
Austrian fascism rejects both the Marxist class struggle of Communism as well as liberal and capitalistic concepts.
Similarities to National Socialism
Like their counterparts in Germany, Austria’s Fascists were strongly opposed to the political parties of the Left (i.e., Social Democrats).
Austrian Fascism was also characterized by one party rule (the Fatherland Front) and reliance on a paramilitary organization (the Heimwehr).
Differences with National Socialism
Austria provided a temporary safe haven for Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.
Austria did not tolerate right-wing extremists; in June 1933 the government banned Austria’s National Socialist Party (Nazis).
Relations with Italy
Mussolini threatened to go to war with Germany if Hitler attempted to militarily support a Nazi coup following the assassination of Chancellor Dollfuss (1934).
Italian support for Austria begins to erode as Italian aggression in Ethiopia leads to increased diplomatic isolation.
Italy’s relationship with Nazi Germany becomes warmer with the two countries signing a treaty of friendship in 1936.
Demise of Independent Austria
Hitler’s bloodless takeover of Austria represented another missed opportunity to stop Nazi aggression.
While Britain remained committed to its policy of appeasement for a while longer, many came to belief that Hitler could now only be stopped through war.