Austria: History Revisited

Travel is exciting and educational. Test yourself on these questions that have stumped me in recent travels.

What is the official color of Ireland? I had no doubt but that it was green. It isn’t. It is blue.

Hitler was a German: true or false? False, he was an Austrian.

Beethoven was Austrian: true of false? False, he was a German.

The reversal of the commonly assumed homelands of those two is considered a historical marvel.

What is the capital of Switzerland? It has no national capital. Bern is known as the Federalists City but no city is called the capital.

Which is older Italy or America? Italy as it is known today is considerably younger. As a political state Italy was established in 1861 and America in 1776.

We just returned for a five nation tour of Europe. Each of the five countries was highly enjoyable but Switzerland especially. They do not have states but rather cantons which are  in effect states in the Swiss Confederation. Like most of Europe immigration is a major issue as it is here. For persons to immigrate to Switzerland they do not apply to the national government for permission but to the canton in which they want to reside. The canton has the authority to deny or approve immigration.

In its formation American had a strong states rights provision. In that frame of reference Arizona recently passed a law regarding illegal immigrants that previously would have been the norm as it is now in Switzerland. We have indeed changed.

We gained a new perspective of the times and lives of the characters in “The Sound of Music.”

In the movie and stage versions of the story Captain Georg Ludwig von Trapp and his family sang “Edelweiss” in defiance of pressure to support the rising tide of Nazism. The edelweiss flower is a symbol of Austria and the singing of the song was supposed to be a defiant statement of Austrian patriotism.

The scene is memorable but fictional. The song “Edelweiss” wasn’t written until 1959 by Rogers and Hammerstein.

Europeans know little about “The Sound of Music.” They rely on a 1950 German film “Apostolate” for their background.

In so far as Austrian patriotism is concerned it was not as strong as noted in the film and stage productions. There surely would not have been any expression as overt as depicted. However, there were vestiges of patriotism.

Hitler didn’t invade his home country of Austria. The Austrians welcomed him. The year Hitler’s forces moved into Austria there were more traffic deaths than were caused by the intrusion. They wanted him to rule their country, his homeland. In 1945 there were more Nazis in Austria than in Germany.

After Hitler manifested himself and things went bad the Austrians represented themselves as the first victims of Hitler. They were not victims. Only in recent years have they begun to acknowledge their deception and seduction by Hitler.

Austria is a classic example of a whole society being deceived by clever political charlatans.

States rights is a good point at which Americans can express their patriotism.