Not So Nazi?
SIR.—As an English woman married to an Austrian, and having lived many years in Vienna, I must protest against the article
by your " Austrian Correspondent" in your issue of November 12. 1 may first add that I value your paper highly, read it regularly, and have recommended it to several of my English friends., both here and in England, who have become regular subscribers.
First, it would be interesting to know if your Austrian Correspondent is Austrian or English, if he or she lives in Vienna and receives knowledge from politically reliable sources, or ever goes inside an Austrian church during Mass. I have attended many Masses both on Sundays and weekdays in several different churches in Vienna and in the country. On Sundays the crowds are so great that it is usually difficult to get in at the door, a seat being out of the ques tion; even on weekdays the early Masses arc very well attended. In almost every baker's, butcher's or grocer's shop you will find a picture of Our Lady with a light burning in front of it. There is a crucifix in every Ciasthaus, and most wayside shrines, of which there arc literally thousands all over the country, are well cared for and usually have fresh flowers in them. This in a country where only 15 per cent. are supposed to be practising Catholics, including presumably the children!
I was attending a 12 o'clock Low Mass at the cathedral a few days ago on a weekday but the feast was of St. Leopold, who is the patron of Austria. As usual, the seats were all full. Standing amongst the crowd, just two paces away from me, was Dr. Von Schuschnigg. He was only attended by his chauffeur and one other man, who both stood some way off, and nobody seemed to notice him particularly, but attended to their own devotions. Would this be allowed in a country so honeycombed with Nazis as your correspondent suggests, considering the fate that met our martyred Chancellor, Dr. Dolfuss, in his own Chancellery?
I agree that no braver statesman lives than Dr. Von Schuschnigg and it is of such men, who are Catholic to the core, that the new Austria is being made. The Nazis are a noisy disloyal minority who impress themselves on foreigners by their hooligan ism. It does not make the extremely difficult and delicate task of our beloved Chancellor any easier to infer that he is fighting a losing battle against impossible odds, and we in Austria know this to be one of the most subtle forms of Nazi propaganda.
I have never seen the Nazi salute used in Austria, though we were staying this summer in a notoriously Nazi village in Lower Austria. Even there the church was packed. I doubt if any " whole villages" are Nazi, as after the Holy Father's Encyclical it is almost impossible to be a good Nazi and a practising Catholic.
The Austrian nature may be easy-going, but Austria is as much a bulwark of the Catholic Church as is Franco's Spain, and usually receives as bad a press.
rOmr Austrian correspondent writes : In my nonstant travelling in Central Europe I am in close touch with exceptional sources of information. in the case of Austria T am in touch with both Government and Socialist sources. I rely to name extent on the latter since they dislike Hitlerism and Catholicism equally, and are therefore likely to judge impartially as between them. I did not say that touch Nazism was open, but that "Pan-Germanism " is far more widespread than may appear, and that when the time comes this Pan-Clermanism will be open Nazism. It is not my view that Schuschnigg is fighting a losing battle but that it is a grave mistake to underestimate the forces ranged against him.
The information about the number of practising Catholics was given to me by a very well informed Austrian cleric whose
judgment trust. It was also confirmed from other sourees. It is not easy for anyone to infer such figures from the testimony of their eyes, but I can only disagree with your correspondent's impressions of the crowds in churches. The same is true in regard to outward manifestation of Hitlerism. I may have covered more of the country than your correspondent.]