Global Independent Analytics
Lionel Baland
Lionel Baland

Location: Belgium

Specialization: Euroscepticism, Patriotic parties of Europe

The brown past of the socialist / social-democratic party of Austria SPÖ

It is first and foremost the socialists who were massively involved in the decades after WWII in the recycling of the former members of the National Socialist party.

After the first round of the presidential elections held on 24 April 2016 in Austria in which the candidate of the nationalist party FPÖ Norbert Hofer came first with 35% of the vote, some malicious media didn’t hesitate to resurrect an Austrian figure with a very dark past, trying to attribute the FPÖ to him. It’s political propaganda and manipulation that didn’t match up with the historical facts because it is first and foremost the socialists who were massively involved in the decades after WWII in the recycling of the former members of the National Socialist party of Adolf Hitler.

In the years after WWII, the Austrian political parties were put back on their feet: the socialist SPÖ and the Christian Social ÖVP dominated the political scene and shared power, thereby influencing all aspects of the public sector. First, the former members of the National Socialist party were excluded from political life, but shortly afterward, these two political parties quarreled over this electoral potential and attempted to gain as much as possible from it.

The enigma of Otto Rösch

Otto Rösch was an example of the political recycling of former national-socialists by the socialists. His extravagant path seemed in the context of the times almost as a normal career.

This is the event which put this character in the limelight. On 21 December 1975, a Sunday on the eve of Christmas, a terrorist squad staged an attack on the conference of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in the Austrian capital of Vienna, taking hostage all the participants, including eleven oil ministers. The action of the six-member squad headed by Venezuelan Carlos the Jackal (Ilich Ramírez Sánchez) cost the lives of three people. After turbulent negotiations with foreign governments, the Austrian Chancellor, Bruno Kreisky, decided to let the plane with the terrorists and the hostages, including the oil ministers, leave toward Algiers, Algeria. The terrorists then released the captives. As a result, Austria has had to face plenty of international criticism about the lack of safety around the building where the OPEC meeting was taking place (and where the Embassy of Canada was also located) and the fact that the socialist (SPÖ) Interior Minister Otto Rösch gave a handshake to the terrorist Carlos the Jackal, on the tarmac of the Vienna International Airport, located in Schwechat near the capital city of the country, before the plane’s takeoff with the terrorists and their hostages onboard.

Otto Rösch was born in Vienna in 1917. He studied law and philosophy at the universities of Vienna and Graz in Styria. In 1935-1936, he was a member of the Hitler Youth (HJ - Hitler Jugend). He was a member from 1936 of the (illegal) National Socialist Students Association and in 1937 became a senior executive of the Hitler Youth in Graz. According to an internal document of the Association of National Socialist teachers from this era, Otto Rösch was a member of the SA (Sturmabteilung - Storm Troopers) in Graz - the paramilitary wing of the National Socialist party. From October 1938 to 15 June 1940, Otto Rösch was a teacher in the National Political Institute of Education (NPEA - Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalt, abbreviated as NAPOLA, for Nationalpolitische Lehranstalt - National Political Institution of Teaching), a boarding school in Traiskirschen aiming to train the future elite of the National Socialist party. On 8 October 1938, he filed a request to become a member of the National Socialist Party (NSDAP). He was accepted on 1 January 1940 and got the number 8.595.796. In early 1940, he became a professional officer in the army. He was awarded the German Cross in Gold and finished the war as a captain.

On 8 December 1947, Otto Rösch was arrested in Graz by two members of the criminal police for belonging to a National Socialist Underground association organized by Theodor Soucek. It was the most dangerous National Socialist organization in Austria. It had a political and military wing. It was first and foremost an aid organization to help former National Socialists escape. It also had the aim of re-establishing and developing the former National Socialist organizations to use and amplify tensions between the Soviet and Western forces occupying the country. In case of a conflict between these protagonists, this organization had the goal of establishing a Great German Reich loyal to the National Socialist ideas. Otto Rösch remained in preventive detention for eight months.                                                                                                   

Otto Rösch was the chief of the civil censorship in the British occupation zone of Styria and was a corporate executive in the socialist organization that helped people who came back to the country after the war as prisoners of war and former soldiers. Testimonies of Theodor Soucek and other inmates indicated that Otto Rösch was suspected of being responsible for relations of the National Socialist underground organization with the police and political parties. Moreover, Otto Rösch had been accused of keeping at home a suitcase full of identity cards, stamps, blank forms, search lists… from mid-November 1947. He claimed that he didn’t know what was in this suitcase. According to several testimonies, Theodor Soucek planned to use Otto Rösch also as a military advisor.

Theodor Soucek and two other leaders of the organization were sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. After three years, these three convicted persons were pardoned. Otto Rösch denied everything and was acquitted on 3 June 1949 in a trial due to lack of evidence. The same year, his protector, the secretary of the Socialist Party (SPÖ) of Styria, Ernst Taurer, proposed him as secretary of the socialist association of the municipal representatives in Styria and in September 1951 for a seat in the Austrian Senate (Bundesrat). But there were strong internal objections coming mainly from persons of the SPÖ in Graz who pointed out Otto Rösch’s: leader of the Hitler Youth, the Soucek trial, and his pro-National Socialist statements after the end of the war. However, after long discussions, Otto Rösch was appointed to the Senate. He was a Member of Senate from 1951 to 1953, Member of the Parliament of Styria between 1953 and 1959, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Defense from 1959 to 1966, Minister of the Government of Lower Austria from 1966 to 1970, Member of the National Parliament from 1971 to 1983, Interior Minister from 1970 to 1977, Minister of Defence from 1977 to 1983, and President of the Austrian Association of  Pensioners from 1983 to 1991.

Other ministers

In the 1970s, the socialist Bruno Kreisky led governments in which former National Socialists served. The Minister of Agriculture Oskar Weihs was since 1932, under the number of 1.089.867, a member of the National Socialist party. The Minister of Agriculture Hans Öllinger was a member of the SS (Schutzstaffel - Protection Squadron). Minister of Construction Josef Moser was a member of the National Socialist party from 1 May 1938. The Minister of Transport Erwin Frühbauer was member number 10.045.793 of the National Socialist party from 20 April 1940 and a member of the Hitler Youth. From 1948 to 1950, he was president of the Socialist youth of the Oberes Murtal district, in 1959 president of the Carinthian chamber of workers and employees, and Member of Parliament from 1965 to 1973. The socialist Chancellor Bruno Kreisky stated: “A [former] member of the NSDAP or the SS has to be allowed to hold any public function as long as crimes cannot be attributed to him.”

In 1971, a Dutch daily newspaper asked Austrian socialist Minister Leopold Gratz: “Do you consider it proper that twenty-five years after the end of the war in a liberated country, which Germany had [in 1938] defeated and occupied, nearly one-third of the members of the government are former National Socialists? Oskar Weihs, Otto Rösch, Josef Moser, Erwin Frühbauer and the Minister of Agriculture Öllinger.” Minister Gratz answered sheepishly: “It’s not necessary, that so many former Nazis are represented in such government.” (Leopold Gratz was at the time of the Third Reich a pupil in NAPOLA where the future elite of the system was educated. After the war, he was the Socialist mayor of Vienna, Minister of Education, Foreign Affairs Minister, President of Parliament.)

Another Leopold, Leopold Wagner, was the socialist governor of Carinthia from 1974 to 1988, secretary of the socialist party in Carinthia from 1965 to 1973, Minister of Carinthia from 1970 to 1974. He did his electoral campaigns saying that he was a former high-ranking of the Hitler Youth and that the inhabitants of Carinthia are first national and then socialistic. He added that it was in Carinthia that former National Socialists found the doors open to the Socialist party.

The socialist governor of Burgenland from 1966 to 1987, Theodor Kery, sought a rapprochement with the former National Socialist Gauleiter (the party leader of a regional branch of the National Socialist party) Tobias Portschy: “You were governor, I am now. Let’s use the familiar form.”

The Austrian actor Harald Krassnitzer said in an interview with the editor of the Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard: “A film director whom I know did in the seventies a promotional film about the Socialist Party SPÖ and investigated and researched it all over Austria. He went then to a relatively well known Land (one of the Austrian states) and pointed out a lot of former Nazis who were still there. He went back to the seat of the SPÖ in Vienna and said: “We must absolutely make a film about the Nazis, that we are against.” They refused: “Idiot, but they are our voters!”

Mea-culpa and shameless international campaigns

The bad past of the Socialist Party SPÖ didn’t prevent it from conducting a shameless international campaign in 1986 using the dark history of Austria against the military past of the Christian Social (ÖVP) candidate for the Austrian presidency, Kurt Waldheim, and in 2000 against a coalition government of ÖVP and the nationalist FPÖ.

In 7 April 2000, Alfred Gusenbauer, the president of the Socialist Party SPÖ - renamed in 1991 the Social Democratic party - did a mea culpa about his role in the past misbehavior of his party, but he did it mainly as part of a political strategy in order to be able to orchestrate more easily the international campaign against the ÖVP-FPÖ government of that time.

Related ARTICLES

THE ISLAMIZATION OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

THE ISLAMIZATION OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

This is the current point of the Islamization of European football, a phenomenon that began decades ago, and that each season progresses further.
The French conservative political figure Ivan Blot tries to spread some realities about Russia

The French conservative political figure Ivan Blot tries to spread some realities about Russia

Some people in France are thinking that Russia is still communist but this idea is in his view a total nonsense.

15 January 2016

by Lionel Baland

POPULAR ARTICLES

Not Found

OPINION

Vladimir Golstein

Vladimir Golstein

The Danderous Acceptance of Donald Trump

James N. Green

James N. Green

Politics in Brazil: Fasten Your Seat Belts!

Barbara H. Peterson

Barbara H. Peterson

Health officials confirm spread of Zika virus through sexual contact in Texas, first in US

Danny Haiphong

Danny Haiphong

WHY IS OTTO(SUPER)MAN ERDOGAN LOSING HIS CHARISMA?

Miray Aslan

Miray Aslan

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Navid Nasr

Navid Nasr

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Writers

chief editor

Joshua Tartakovsky

Analysis should serve as a method to better understand our world, not to obscure it.

Materials: 42

Specialization: Israel and the Middle East, US politics

Materials: 7

Specialization: Balkans, NATO and EU policies, Strategic communications

Materials: 3

Specialization: Foreign politics, Immigration, Human rights.

Materials: 2

Specialization: Political Science, Social Anthropology

Materials: 3

Specialization: Eastern Europe

Materials: 14

Specialization: Industrial Safety, Corporations

Materials: 12

Specialization: Eastern Europe, Labor movement

Materials: 3

Specialization: American history, way of life, and principles

Danielle Ryan

Ireland

Materials: 10

Specialization: US foreign policy, US-Russia relations and media bias

Materials: 20

Specialization: War, Racism, Capitalist exploitation, Civil rights

Materials: 8

Specialization: Modern Japanese History, Modern Chinese History, Military History, History of Counterinsurgency, History of Disobedience, Dynamics of Atrocities in Wartime

Dovid Katz

Lithuania

Materials: 3

Specialization: Holocaust Revisionism and Geopolitics; East European Far Right & Human Rights; Yiddish Studies & Litvak Culture

Materials: 20

Specialization: History, Catalunya, Spain, Geopolitics, Nationalism in Europe, Islamization, Immigration

Materials: 5

Materials: 3

Specialization: migration, international relations

Materials: 1

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy and strategies, BRICS/SCO

Materials: 19

Specialization: Balkans, Yugoslavia

Materials: 10

Specialization: Jihadist Groups, Islamic Terrorism, Global Security

Materials: 4

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 4

Specialization: Media and government relations

Materials: 2

Specialization: Latin America, Brazil

Jay Watts

Canada

Materials: 2

Specialization: History, Marxism-Leninism, Imperialism, Anti-imperialism.

Materials: 2

Specialization: International Relations, Sociology, Geostrategy

Materials: 1

Specialization: civil rights

Lionel Baland

Belgium

Materials: 22

Specialization: Euroscepticism, Patriotic parties of Europe

Maram Susli

Australia

Materials: 3

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights, Racism, US politics

Materials: 1

Specialization: geopolitics, economics

Max J. Schindler

Palestine-Israel

Materials: 9

Specialization: Politics

Miray Aslan

Turkey

Materials: 12

Specialization: Media, Politics

Materials: 5

Specialization: Politics, International relations

Navid Nasr

Croatia

Materials: 13

Specialization: Global security, Politics

Materials: 9

Specialization: Development of European Union, Non-governmental organizations, Politics and economics in Baltic States

Materials: 9

Specialization: Greece, Crisis of the US hegemony; Israel / Occupied Palestine, Oppression of Black people in the US

Materials: 4

Specialization: geopolitics, Russia, USSR

Pedro Marin

Brazil

Materials: 17

Specialization: Latin America, Ukraine, North Korea

Materials: 13

Specialization: Sustainable development, International relations, Comparative European politics, European integration, Eastern European politics and EU-Russia relations

Materials: 8

Specialization: Politics

Materials: 16

Specialization: Counterterrorist Finance

Seyit Aldogan

Greece

Materials: 3

Specialization: ISIS, Middle East, Globalization, Migrant crisis

Materials: 1

Specialization: Head of "Srebrenica Historical Project"

Materials: 3

Specialization: Economy, Social politics

Stevan Gajic

Serbia

Materials: 1

Specialization: Full time researcher at the Institute for European Studies

Materials: 5

Specialization: Geopolitics, Geoeconomics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights

Tobias Nase

Germany

Materials: 8

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy, Ukraine

Valerijus Simulik

Lithuania

Materials: 2

Specialization: Politics and economics in Baltic States, education and science, non - governmental organizations, globalization and EU

Van Gelis

Greece

Materials: 17

Specialization: Middle East

Materials: 1

Specialization: Kosovo, Serbia, Belgrad bombing

Materials: 5

Specialization: international relations, Russia

toTop