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In 1938, why were so many Austrians Nazi-friendly?

Why Were So Many Austrians Hitler-Friendly?

By Rick Steves

Today I stood on Vienna’s Heroes Square where, in 1938, more than 200,000 tearfully happy Austrians gathered before Adolf Hitler. The Nazi dictator stood on the palace balcony and stated, “In front of German history, I declare my former homeland now a part of the Third Reich. One of the pearls of the Third Reich will be Vienna.” From that day on, Austrians were forbidden to say the word “Austria.”

Americans often wonder how Austria could so eagerly embrace Hitler. Let me hazard an explanation: Imagine post-WWI Austria. One of the mightiest empires on earth started — and lost — a great war. In a few bloody years, it went from being a grand empire of 55 million people to a relatively insignificant landlocked state of six million that was required to be nonaligned.

The capital, Vienna, was left with little to rule, and now its population comprised a third of the country’s. With the economic crisis we know as the Great Depression, Austria also got a fascist government complete with a dictator named Engelbert Dollfuss. He was as right-wing and anti-Semitic as Hitler, but he was pro-Roman Catholic Church, pro-Habsburg, and anti-Nazi. When an Austrian Nazi assassinated Dollfuss in 1934, it was easy for the German Nazis to take over four years later. By that point, the Austrian fascists had already put down the leftists. The German Nazis just took over their Austrian counterparts’ file cabinets. And, Hitler promised greatness again…and jobs…

 

Read the rest, and check out Rick’s travels through modern-day Vienna

 

 

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Rick Steves’ Audio Europe – as an iPhone app

This app organizes the vast and varied library of Rick Steves’ audio content into geographic-specific playlists so that travelers can enjoy ready access to the information that relates specifically to their travel plans. Many tracks provide general cultural and sightseeing information gleaned from his public radio program, Travel with Rick Steves. Other tracks are self-guided tours to great sights and historic walks. While we travel there’s lots of down time, and this application can both entertain and teach. Rick Steves Audio Europe will hopefully make your European travels more meaningful and more fun.

Features:

• The app downloads and stores audio files on your device.
• Handy maps (PDF) that complement the self-guided audio tours.
• The audio content originates from Rick Steves guidebooks and the Travel with Rick Steves public radio program.
• Rick Steves Audio Europe is a work in progress. New audio tracks will be added and existing tracks updated as necessary. Be sure to enable Notifications for this app to get the latest updates.

Rick Steves Audio Europe in the iTunes store

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Rick Steves episode diary – filming in Venice – an enchanting behind-the-scenes

We’re nearly finished filming two new TV shows on Venice. Thinking back over a very productive day, I realize how much I love this work. Our scripts are about 3,400 words per half-hour show. They are split between “on-cameras,” with me talking directly to the camera, and “B-roll,” where we “cover the script” with footage that illustrates what we’re describing. While it’s been called “shooting the nouns,” we think of B-roll as more than that.

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We started early, on St. Mark’s Square. While it’s littered with kitschy souvenir carts and jammed with tour groups most of the day, at 7:30, there is no tourism. The square is clean, with just a few well-dressed businesspeople walking to work, the random jogger, and very focused photographers like us marveling at how the history pops with the architecture and without the modern tourism. The Gothic is so lacy, and the Renaissance so capable. We got a few “walk-bys” to establish me in what looks like a pure, computer-generated Venetian cityscape.

 

Venice’s St. Mark’s Square before the crowds hit.

 

At 8:30, we met our local guide, Michael, who has been instrumental in setting things up in advance for us. He is brilliantly navigating the Byzantine bureaucracy of the city and helping us open all the right doors — some of them literally pillaged from Byzantium.

We climbed the Torre dell’Orologio, or Clock Tower. This was built 500 years ago, providing the city with…

keep readingJust Another Workday — in Venice