Austrians are a Germanic nation and ethnic group, native to modern Austria and South Tyrol, that share a common Austrian culture, Austrian descent and Austrian history. The English term Austrians was applied to the population of Habsburg Austria from the 17th or 18th century. Subsequently, during the 19th century, it referred to the citizens of the Empire of Austria (1804–1867), and from 1867 until 1918 to the citizens of Cisleithania. In the closest sense, the term Austria originally referred to the historical March of Austria, corresponding roughly to the Vienna Basin in what is today Lower Austria.
|This article is a stub. You can help Wikiquote by expanding it.
- Austria's two achievements were to have persuaded the world that Hitler was German and that Beethoven was Viennese.
- During the last century it was lamentable for those who had to witness it, to notice how in these circles I have just mentioned the word 'Germanize' was frivolously played with, though the practice was often well intended. I well remember how in the days of my youth this very term used to give rise to notions which were false to an incredible degree. Even in Pan-German circles one heard the opinion expressed that the Austrian Germans might very well succeed in Germanizing the Austrian Slavs, if only the Government would be ready to co-operate. Those people did not understand that a policy of Germanization can be carried out only as regards human beings. What they mostly meant by Germanization was a process of forcing other people to speak the German language. But it is almost inconceivable how such a mistake could be made as to think that a Nigger or a Chinaman will become a German because he has learned the German language and is willing to speak German for the future, and even to cast his vote for a German political party. Our bourgeois nationalists could never clearly see that such a process of Germanization is in reality de-Germanization; for even if all the outstanding and visible differences between the various peoples could be bridged over and finally wiped out by the use of a common language, that would produce a process of bastardization which in this case would not signify Germanization but the annihilation of the German element. In the course of history it has happened only too often that a conquering race succeeded by external force in compelling the people whom they subjected to speak the tongue of the conqueror and that after a thousand years their language was spoken by another people and that thus the conqueror finally turned out to be the conquered.
- Austria’s amnesia was even more striking. In the decades after World War II, it managed, very successfully, to portray itself as the first victim of Nazism. In a 1945 ceremony in Vienna for a memorial to fallen Soviet soldiers, Leopold Figl, who was shortly to become the country’s chancellor, mourned that “the people of Austria have spent seven years languishing under Hitler’s barbarity.” Austrians comforted themselves for the next decades with such assurances. They were a happy, gentle people who had never wanted to be joined with the likes of Nazi Germany; Hitler had forced the Anschluss on them. They had never wanted war and if their soldiers had fought, it was only to defend their homeland. And they had suffered hugely, it must be said, at the hands of the Allies. Who, after all, had destroyed the magnificent Opera House in Vienna? The fact that many of the most fervent Nazis, including Hitler himself, were Austrian; the wildly enthusiastic crowds who greeted his triumphal march to Vienna in 1938; and the willing collaboration of many Austrians in the persecution and destruction of the Jews—all that was simply brushed under the carpet. The few brave liberals who tried to celebrate both the small Austrian resistance to Nazism and memorialize the destruction of the Jews found themselves isolated and accused of being Communists. It was only in the 1960s, with new generations appearing on the scene and Germany’s own examination of its Nazi past, that questions about Austria’s role began to surface.
- Margaret MacMillan, The Uses and Abuses of History (2008), pp. 147-148
- Austrians have a wonderful sense of humor, Germans, not so much.
- Encyclopedic article on Austrians on Wikipedia