Denazification and integration in the Austrian Province of Carinthia

2007-11-09T12:59:11Z (GMT) by Robert Knight
Denazification—whether defined narrowly as a political purge or more broadly as an attempt to change the values of post-Nazi society—has not enjoyed a good press. In the case of Austria, as in the two German “successor societies” of the Third Reich, criticism has divided roughly into a conservative and a “left-liberal” position. The former has weighed denazification in the balance against Western legal principles (notably the prohibition of “retroactivity” and collective punishment) and found it wanting. Dieter Stiefel’s 1981 study (still the only monograph on Austrian denazification) is clearly in this tradition, though its juridical concerns are overlaid by two further considerations, sovereignty and the rationality of integration. Taken together, these three factors make denazification appear to Stiefel not merely as a legally dubious project but also as an unwarranted and often inept Allied interference in Austrian society. It sought to deny the inevitable reintegration of the mass of Nazi Party members (in Austria amounting to nearly seven hundred thousand people) but could only delay it.