Fascism and the Austrian Experience



Murnau and Fascism

  • yearning for 'Meister'
  • physical expression of joy
  • anti-Semitic Nosferatu - the rats as a metaphor for plague
  • allegory for the rise of fascism
  • advent of fascism

Expressionism and Fascism

  • black and white
  • expressionist acting
  • the irrational
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Familiar History

  • defeat WW1, recovery, Depression (1929), National Socialism, WW2 defeat, division and the Cold War

Rise of National Socialism 

  • hyperinflation undermines the middle-class
  • vast unemployment
  • uncertain economy
  • Hitler extremely well funded later 1920's / early 1930s
  • National Socialism creates society of informers and atmosphere of terror


  • rhetoric of fascism leades to war
  • end of war = very little left in Germany
  • defeat - Germany split into sectors (US, France, Great Britain and Russia)
  • Germany = heart of Cold War - Communist v Capitalist - East v. West - ends 1989
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The Austrian Experience

  • 'Austrofascism' (Christlich-Social)
  • Engelbert Dollfuss (Killed 25.07.1934)
  • Kurt Schuschnigg
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The Austrian Experience

  • Austria loses empire 1918 - relatively traumatic 
  • coalition
  • Austria very Catholic: 1 party = Christlich-Social, 2nd party = SDNAP (left wing)
  • 1918 - 1921 ruled together 
  • 1921 workers lose out
  • 1921 - 1938 - Austria ruled by Christian Socialists (Conservative and Catholic)
  • 1920s onwards - Austria stable compared to Weimar Republic
  • 1932 - ability of Christlich-Social to rule Austria teeters and Engelbert Dollfuss takes over (Christian-Social minister)
  • Dollfuss dissolves parliament and tries to ban Communists and Fascists = Dictatorship7
  • 1934 - Dollfuss assassinated by people of the far right
  • 1934 - Kurt Schuschnigg more compliant than Dollfuss and undoes the ban on Nazis but not on Communists
  • 1938 - Austria gets what wanted since 1918 - voted by huge majority to be part of Germany 
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Gruppe 47

  • dominated third quarter of 20th Century - 1947 - 1967 ish
  • a gaggle of writer who get together and think
  • not a writer's union
  • trying to negotiate minefield left in German literature after the end of fascism
  • tries to maintain national literature despite division of 1949 onwards


  • democratic individualism
  • unaffilated
  • the new beginning
  • necessity of criticism

How it worked

  • 'Werkstattcharakter'
  • invitation by postcards 
  • 'electric chair'
  • increasing institutionalisation
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Gruppe 47


  • Wolf-Dieter Schnarre 1947
  • Wolfgang Weyrauch 1949
  • Hemmingway
  • Minimalist realist


  • 1st in 1950s = lightbulbs
  • irregularly until 1957
  • 1953 Bachmann wins prizes: female, Austrian, poet, renewal of post-war German literature, greater artistic freedom, led to Kafka, Faulkner, Bachmann etc. 
  • strongly feminist
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Youth in an Austrian Town

Exploring not only Klagenfurt but history and geography of the place

Playing games with the autobiographical nature of the text

Creating two time phrases: now grown up and relenquishing

Text setting out double time span: person there at the time and person reflecting and moving out

Tense = important

  • uses relationship between children and langauge
  • apples - cutting out the rotten / bad bits 
  • relationship between Beethovenstrasse and Hanselstrase (10 mins apart)
  • socio-economic situation - children in both are rich and poor
  • some children have rotten apples and some have bananas 
  • these children and others are different
  • hiararchical according to social class
  • apples - biblical
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Youth in an Austrian Town

  • children are victims of authoritarian control
  • educated parts are in French, maths and Bible
  • education part of what children do and nature of education makes people who they are
  • establishing relationship with literature
  • horizon of children becoming bigger and bigger - tale of growing up 


  • desire to kill for sex
  • read about murder at large as a child 
  • hear funny noises/see funny things as a child = fear and an assumption anything strange is a murderer
  • criminals coming to get you - excitement and fear
  • different types of fear compared - childish fear (peadophiles in bushes) and massive fear (terror of National Socialism)
  • compared to the latter the childish fear seems trivial 

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Youth in an Austrian Town


  • children getting sick a reality and metaphor
  • illness of children = illnes of society in which they live (outbreak of war)
  • made more relaxed - breaks system of control e.g. do not have to wash as often
  • everything falling apart
  • no school / homework
  • learn about wars 
  • death of adults / children / animals
  • smell of corpses
  • complete destruction of Klagenfurt

Author of text survives, begins to see reconstruction, moves away at some point and returns.

Text plays games with genre of autobiography 

Generalise Austria under National Socialism: authoritarian upbringing, socio-economic position

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Youth in an Austrian Town

Asking questions on what learnt in school and experienced later

Puts two things together with possibility to link them but is not actually linking them

How difficult it is to reserect memories - last paragraph

Mixing her life in and out of Klagenfurt up

Use of Pronouns

  • protaganist = children
  • when young - third person as growing up and ich is reserved for person looking back
  • usually autobiographies use I and are in chronological order
  • Bachmann reserves 'ich' for new
  • Bachmann uses Kinder for group of people to which she belonged as a child
  • Writing specifically and purposefully as a representative of her generation
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Youth in an Austrian Town

Die Kinder

  • Bachmann's generation die as children during the war
  • shes is one of the ones that survived tunnel - lives on Durchlassstrasse
  • before the war children taught how to behave: relatively strict (Catholic), heavily influenced by religion, authoritarian, conservative, Bible (10 Commandments), learn to sind Maria Gleat (Catholic song)
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