Anschluss before Hitler: Rethinking Nationalism and Politics in Interwar Austria and Germany
Erin Hochman, Southern Methodist University
When: March 5, 2018, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Earl K. Long Library, Room 407
This year marks the eightieth anniversary of the Anschluss, when Hitler annexed his native
country to the Third Reich. Ever since this event, the word “Anschluss” has become indelibly linked to the images from 1938: the movement of German troops across the Austro-German border, crowds of rapturous Austrians greeting the soldiers and Nazi leaders, and vicious antisemitic attacks by numerous Austrians against their Jewish neighbors.
The legacy of Nazism has cast a long shadow not only over the idea of the union of German-speaking lands but also over German nationalism in general. Due to the horrors unleashed by the Third Reich, we have often come to think of German nationalism as purely destructive and exclusionary and Anschluss as inherently antidemocratic.
Examining the battles for political legitimacy in the First Austrian and Weimar Republics, this talk challenges this conventional interpretation. It shows how the supporters of the republics used the großdeutsch idea, the historical notion that Austria should be a part of a German nation-state, and support for an Anschluss to create a form of nationalism that stood in direct opposition to that of the political right.
Unlike the Nazi version of nationalism, republican nationalism was compatible with a democratic body politic, a pluralistic society, and peaceful international relations. By uncovering republicans’ energetic efforts to fashion an alternative vision of nationhood that legitimized democracy, this talk also highlights that the First Austrian and Weimar Republics were not doomed to fail.
Erin Hochman is an associate professor in the Clements Department of History at Southern Methodist University. She received her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. Her first book, Imagining a Greater Germany: Republican Nationalism and the Idea of Anschluss, was published by Cornell University Press in 2016. It was awarded the Hans Rosenberg Prize by the Central European History Society for the best book published in 2016 and the 2017 Radomír Luža Prize by Center Austria and the American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance for outstanding publication on Central European studies in the era of the Second World War.
She is currently working on a new book project, tentatively titled “Germany Unbound: The Politics of German Diaspora in the Weimar Republic and Third Reich.”