Sunday, July 06, 2014

My Grandmother Voted for Hitler (but I cannot hold it against her)

Aunt Viola sent my mother some family items. If you've been reading my blog, you may realize that my grandfather was Austrian, and a prolific writer. (I've begun to write a book about him.) He wrote hundreds of articles, several books, and lots of personal memoirs, journals, poetry, etc. I am accustomed to certain types of writing from him, such as groundbreaking medical theory and descriptive personal reflection. However, with this batch of items, I read something surprising.

My mother and her family emigrated to the U.S. from Vienna in 1938, several months after the Anschluss (annexation of Austria by Germany.) My grandfather was a Jewish atheist, and my grandmother was a Catholic, excommunicated for marrying a Jew. (As an interesting aside, my grandfather had gotten a girl pregnant in his early 20s and been forced to marry her for the sake of propriety. He did not love her, but divorce was difficult in the Catholic country of Austria. So, he made her convert to Judaism. This was in the 1920's. She had quite a tough time as a Catholic who had converted to Judaism during the German occupation, and went into hiding with my half-aunt.)

Well, after emigration, my grandfather gave a two-page account (which I plan to copy to the internet) of certain events around the time of the Anschluss. In particular, he wrote a personal narrative account of his observations regarding the election of Hitler in Austria. He called in "98% for Hitler." (According to Wikipedia, the margin was even higher:)
"Although he expected Austria to vote in favour of maintaining autonomy, a well-planned internal overthrow by the Austrian Nazi Party of Austria's state institutions in Vienna took place on March 11, prior to the referendum which was cancelled. With power quickly transferred over to Germany, Wehrmacht troops entered Austria to enforce the Anschluss. The Nazis held a plebiscite – asking the people to ratify what had already been done – within the following month, where they received 99.73% of the vote. No fighting ever took place and the strongest voices against the annexation, particularly Fascist Italy, France and the United Kingdom (the "Stresa Front"), were powerless or, in the case of Italy, appeased. The Allies were, on paper, committed to upholding the terms of the treaties of Versailles and St. Germain, which specifically prohibited the union of Austria and Germany."

My grandfather told the account of a people that contained 200,000 Jews (or 600,000 according to Nazi race laws.)

1 comment:

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