From the very beginnings of their life as a small central European republic, Austrians have had to practise the arts of rapid adaptation to unforeseen and unfavourable circumstance, ingenious improvisation, precarious balance between conflicting forces, and the extraction of strength from weakness. One of their weaknesses was of a special kind: their own uncertainty whether or not Austrians were Germans, and if they were, what being German meant. Hitler tried to answer this question for them, first by a five-year campaign of political, economic, physical and psychological intimidation, and finally by force. In this crisis the Austrians were betrayed less by their own uncertainty than by the weakness and passivity of the West European Powers. In any case, Hitler’s answer was not final and was reversed with his downfall. At this point the Austrians had again to exercise the arts of adaptation, improvisation, balance and exploitation of weakness, in a totally new but equally unfavourable set of circumstances — this time, it seemed, with solid and lasting success.
KeywordsAustrian Emperor Military Defeat Full Independence Czech Land Western Ally
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