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“Calculated Ambivalence” and Holocaust Denial in Austria


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At the “zero hour” of 1945, as they emerged from the ruins of World War II, the ruling élites of what would become Austria's Second Republic were preoccupied with how to cope with the frequently contradictory demands they faced. This included Allied forces that demanded a comprehensive denazification process, a war-weary population that had survived the bombings, displaced persons and survivors of camps returning to their homes and expecting compensation, former Nazis expecting integration, and former Wehrmacht soldiers who also expected to have their sacrifices recognised. Continuities with National Socialism or Austrian fascism (between 1934 and 1938) were (officially) renounced, and the “new” Austrian government announced the rebirth of an Austrian Republic that was morally unburdened by past events or experiences (see Reisigl 2007; Wodak & De Cillia 2007). The first part of the so-called Moscow Declaration of 1943, in which the Allied forces had declared Austria to have been the “first victim of Nazi aggression,” supported this hegemonic narrative (Rathkolb 2009). This definition remained essentially unchallenged until the election of Kurt Wald-heim, a former SA officer, to the Austrian presidency in 1986 (see Wodak et al. 1990; Mitten 1992). The second part of the Moscow Declaration—namely that Austrians were also responsible for Nazi war crimes—was usually swept under the carpet.




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Link to book (paywalled), “Calculated Ambivalence” and Holocaust Denial in Austria

Bibliographic Information

Engel, Jakob, Wodak, Ruth “Calculated Ambivalence” and Holocaust Denial in Austria. Analysing Fascist Discourse: European Fascism in Talk and Text. Routledge. 2012:  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/object-3715