In his book, At Memory's Edge by James E. Young, the author states:

In fact, unlike Germany’s near obsession with its Nazi-past, Austria’s relationship to its wartime history has remained decorously submerged, politely out of sight. Austria was a country that had (with the tacit encouragement of its American and Soviet occupiers) practically founded itself on the self-serving myth that it was Hitler’s first victim. That some 50% of the Nazi SS was composed of Austrians, or that Hitler himself was Austrian born was never denied. But these historical facts also never found a place in Austria’s carefully constructed post-war persona.

How did "de-Nazification" efforts by Austria's occupiers proceed post-WW2 as opposed to in Germany?

  • 1
    The issue with "tacit" anything is that leads to inaction, not to action, and inaction is more difficult to prove and asses than action. Anyway, this link gives a good first contact with the issue (bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/genocide/austria_nazism_01.shtml)
    – SJuan76
    May 29, 2016 at 17:34
  • +1 to SJuan76 - also from wikipedia, "The conference declared the intent to create a free and independent Austria after the war, but also stated that Austria had a responsibility for "participation in the war at the side of Hitlerite Germany" which could not be evaded.[1]" which is at odd with tacit encouragement to revise history.
    – MCW
    May 29, 2016 at 19:17
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    I think a case can be made that the occupation powers wanted to use German industry and population for their respective side in the nascent cold war. To do so, they had to rehabilitate many Germans who were implicated in Nazi crimes (von Braun, Lübke, ...). One element of this was to blame the SS for Wehrmacht crimes -- there were more Wehrmacht veterans than SS veterans. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_crimes_of_the_Wehrmacht#Postwar_views
    – o.m.
    May 30, 2016 at 20:12
  • I don't think that U.S. occupation (at least initially) wanted to encourage German industry, in fact, the original policy was to partially deindustrialize Germany (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgenthau_Plan#JCS_1067).
    – AlaskaRon
    May 31, 2016 at 17:50
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    @AlaskaRon, all occupation powers had wildly inconsistent policies. The Soviets disassembled some factories and ran others for their benefit, the US persecuted some Nazis and hired others, and so on. The Soviets formed company-level "police" uinits in 1948. The FRG Border Guards in 1951 included former Wehrmacht officers and NCOs.
    – o.m.
    Jun 1, 2016 at 4:22

1 Answer 1


Austrian here. My grandparents told me some stories about that time. And I read a lot about the Nazi period and denazification in Germany and Austria.

Overall, the denazification process in Austria was similar to Germany. Of course, Nazi-symbols and scriptures were rigorously banned, and you could run into serious trouble for possessing them. All persons related to the Nazis were investigated and eventually arrested.

The main difference is that Austria was considered - and most Austrian considered themselves - the first victims of Nazi Germany's invasion (first mentioned by the Allies on 1. Nov 1943 in the Moscow declarations source). It was not until the 1990s that there was a public debate about the guilt that Austria brought upon itself. And as late as 1998 the "Historikerkomission", the Austrian committee for history was founded. The committee was the first to investigate the dispossession of Jewish property during the Nazi occupation. Even today there are numerous trials regarding the restitution of former Jewish property to the rightful owners. source

I hope this answered your question. I can also elaborate more on this if you like.

  • 3
    This answer has some useful information but could be improved by including some sources / references. This would make it more likely that people will upvote it. :) Apr 30, 2018 at 9:26

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