A Testimony For Austria
ALL Austrian civilisation baroque, or give it another name if you like. But realise its huge value and its characteristic connection, not so much with Hitler's Germany as with Spain or even Poland. For in spite of the liens of language, I am not sure that Salzburg had not more, spiritually, in common with Salamanca. than with Hamburg.
The tragedy of Austria, the true tragedy, is nothing to do with " suppression of free speech " or with " Fascism and reaction": it is that the characteristic civilisation of Austria should be swamped by something else, something only apparently the same. There are two Germanies, even today: the Germany of the Hohenzollerns, of Frederic the Great of the Great Prussia: and the Holy Roman Empire of the Habshurgs, of Catholicism and a certain "Latin " easygoingness so easily judged as incompetence and tyranny (as the same phenomenon was judged in Spain) by the more morally exacting Protestants of the North.
It Was Once All This . . .
Austria was the heart and centre of the biggest force for civilisation that Central Europe ever knew—the Holy Roman Empire which became the AustroHungarian Empire. Round the focus of Vienna were gathered many disparate races, far more than were gathered in the political achievement of the Swiss confederation. These races were united by a common army, the Habsburg dynasty, and a largely common idea of Latino-German baroque and Catholic civilisation.
Cutting across the lines of artificial states created by the Allies at the last peace, the old cultural boundaries of AustroHungary are clearly marked. In YugoSlavia you can tell by the aspect or the cities where the old Empire ended.
Reaping The Whirlwind
The Allies fostered the collapse of this Empire in 1918. One strong reason for this was the dislike for Austria and Austria's cultural significance which men like Wilson and Lloyd George shared. They did not understand that the biggest obstacle to the Anschluss would have been the Habsburg dynasty.
Having sowed the wind the Allies—and above all the French (who were so ready to sacrifice European culture to their own interests)—are reaping the whirlwind.
If the Austrian spirit is submerged, good Europeans should go into mourning. Hungary still retains many fine characteristics of the old sEmpire. Czechoslovakia, perhaps, cannot be saved, nor would its disappearance be of as grpat a cultural significance as the disappearance of Austria. The liberals will try and save Czechoslovakia because they have always preferred it to Austria. It is the most commercially developed and perhaps not the noblest part of the old Empire.
It Was A Good Spirit
The Austrian spirit at its best was chivalrous, traditionalist, kind, free, easygoing, artistic, joyous. The northern Germans generally called Austria "decadent." If Austria needed anything, it was a revival of energy.
Austria needed this as Italy needed it before the advent of Fascism. But few liberals were really sympathetic with the efforts of two Chancellors, Dollfuss and Schuschnigg, to weld Austria together again : and few objected when the Czechoslovaks said that the return of the Habsburgs might be a casus belli. Some day the Czechs may be sorry they objected so strongly to the Habsburgs in Austria. Perhaps some of them are already?
" Sanctions " Did It
What finally killed Austria was " sanctions " and the Abyssinian war. " Sanctions " forced Italy, unwillingly, into the arms of Germany. This was the main objection to " Sanctions."
It is possible that Austria may still live in the new Reich. The influence of the Austrians there can only be for the good by strengthening the historical sense of Germans and leading them away from barbarous cults to the true sources of Germany's greatness. The Germans may remember the Empire which was their great contribution to Europe.
But the spirit of Austria is a universal spirit. As long as there are Carlists in Spain the spirit of Austria will remain living.