The Utilisation of Traditionally Revisionist Narratives by the FPÖ and the AfD


The previous is studied in an effort to assist perceive the current and future via an ongoing strategy of analysis and re-evaluation of proof, new-found or long-known.[i] Such growth of latest historic theories and interpretations, other than providing a extra complete imaginative and prescient of the previous, can also pose risks: “historic revisionism can open the door to manipulation by regional and nationwide political agendas and the reinterpretation of info to swimsuit that agenda.”[ii] One latest try at historic revisionism was related to World Battle II and crimes dedicated beneath the Nationwide Socialist regime: in 2018, Poland tried to absolve itself from any complicity in Nazi atrocities, by instating prison penalties on those that accused Poles of getting been Nazi collaborators. This forceful rewriting of historical past was met with intense opposition from Holocaust survivors and their advocates, and the criminalisation of such accusations was retracted. One other dispute occurred the next yr, when the streaming platform Netflix depicted Poland as a unified nation as a substitute of occupied and divided throughout WWII. The Polish Prime Minister argued the documentary would deceive the viewers into pondering, Poland had any selection in what was occurring on Polish grounds beneath Nazi-occupation. Inside days, Netflix promised to vary this depiction in line with the Polish Prime Minister’s needs.[iii] It doesn’t matter what the context could also be, such utilisation of historic revisionism to swimsuit somebody’s political agenda persists in all places.

Two counties wherein that is performed out apparently are Austria and Germany. They share related cultures, languages, and an entangled historical past in the case of Nazi-collaboration and WWII, however they differ notably in the case of how they’ve handled this historical past, which makes them fascinating case research to check. With populist, right-wing events on the rise throughout Europe, their rhetoric pertaining to the WWII previous will not be solely fascinating however essential to analyse and examine in an effort to perceive the practically simultaneous and worldwide rise of the political far proper. In step with the rise of the European far proper, right-wing events in Germany and Austria have not too long ago seen vital positive factors. In Germany’s newest common elections in 2017, the comparatively new far-right celebration, the Various for Germany (AfD), achieved 12.6% solely 4 years after its official founding.[iv] The well-established far-right celebration of Austria, the Freedom Get together of Austria (FPÖ), achieved even 17.2% within the nation’s newest common elections in 2019.[v]

The FPÖ and the AfD have each proven a definite method of coping with the historical past of WWII, utilizing varied narratives to suit their political agenda. these narratives carefully, it turns into instantly obvious that the events use very completely different narratives to realize the identical aim: growing their voter foundation. Due to this fact, when evaluating the 2, it could seem as if their narratives don’t have anything in frequent.

Because the far proper is nationalist by nature, worldwide cooperation is extraordinarily unlikely. Due to this fact, the just about simultaneous rise of the far proper everywhere in the world should both be probability or there have to be different components linking the far proper. Figuring out frequent themes in the way in which the FPÖ and AfD current historical past to their voter base, probably means pinpointing these linking components. This text identifies frequent themes within the narratives utilized by the FPÖ and AfD on their nation’s WWII historical past to generate assist and additional their political agenda. By figuring out commonalities shared between the 2 political events in the case of their historic framing, a greater understanding of the far proper’s latest rise will be achieved.

For this function, terminology on whose narratives are examined right here needs to be clarified. Broadly talking, the far proper is politically positioned to the fitting of the mainstream proper, which consists of conservatives and liberals/libertarians.[vi] In accordance with Mudde, being far proper means to be opposed and outright hostile in the direction of liberal democracy.[vii] Right here, he factors out that the far proper can’t be all grouped collectively and gives two subdivisions: the intense proper and the novel proper.[viii] Whereas the intense proper rejects common sovereignty and majority rule, i.e. the “essence of democracy”, the novel proper accepts the essence of liberal democracy however opposes important options of it, akin to minority rights, the rule of legislation, and the separation of powers.[ix]

Analysis Design

This text makes use of qualitative strategies to conduct inductive analysis and to handle the analysis query: how do the completely different traditionally revisionist narratives which might be utilized by the AfD and FPÖ resemble one another? This evaluation is predicated totally on the celebration programmes and statements made by distinguished figures within the events as documented by media shops. Moreover, earlier analysis carried out on the far proper in Austria and Germany is used to offer established data and a complete background. The FPÖ in Austria and the AfD in Germany are the objects of two case research on right-wing populist events. These two events have been chosen based mostly on two shared essential traits: first, they each show an ethnic understanding of the nation and are devoted to its defence from exterior threats, and second, they’re populist events as they oppose the political institution, usually demonising the ‘different’, i.e. immigrant inhabitants or the present authorities and so on.[1] Since each events are located to the fitting of the mainstream, extra centrist right-wing events akin to Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Austrian Folks’s Get together (ÖVP), the AfD and the FPÖ are labeled as far-right events. Comparability of the 2 is ensured by the shared historical past, language, and tradition of Germany and Austria, the proportional electoral illustration each international locations use, in addition to the comparatively excessive proportion of immigrants among the many international locations’ common populace.

One essential distinction affecting the comparability have to be acknowledged right here. Specifically, the truth that the FPÖ was based a lot sooner than the AfD and had subsequently been a long-established and conventional conservative celebration by the point the AfD was based in 2013. An argument may very well be made, that the FPÖ solely developed right into a far-right celebration with ties to right-wing extremism with Haider’s ascension to the FPÖ’s chairman in 1986, bringing it nearer to the AfD’s inception.[2] In any case, the FPÖ has extensively been seen for instance after which the AfD fashions itself.[3] However, even following this view, the AfD was based greater than 20 years later. Due to this fact, this distinction in longevity is acknowledged right here and can be taken under consideration within the evaluation.

This distinction, nevertheless, doesn’t imply that the 2 events can’t be meaningfully in contrast. One essential issue that actually allows a tutorial comparability between the FPÖ and AfD is the truth that the circumstances surrounding each events’ founding are comparable: throughout formatives occasions within the FPÖ and AfD, coalitions between conservatives and socialists in Germany and Austria resulted in anti-system sentiments the events may exploit. Proof means that unions between mainstream left and proper events kind an advantageous surroundings for the emergence of right-wing populist events.[x] In Austria, the socialist SPÖ and conservative ÖVP fashioned a grand coalition between 1986 and 1999 – the time when Haider was chairman of the FPÖ –, whereas in Germany, from 2005 till in the present day, 2021, the grand coalition between the socialist SPD and the conservative CDU/CSU has been forming federal authorities. Due to this fact, it seems that the circumstances across the inception of the AfD and the largest developments (in the direction of the fitting) within the FPÖ occurred resulting from a favouring surroundings, produced by a convergence between mainstream left and proper events. This exhibits that, regardless of the completely different inceptions of the 2 events, the circumstances surrounding the rise of every celebration are related and positively comparable.

After a brief dialogue of the background, the case research comply with, and the comparative evaluation will present how the FPÖ in Austria and the AfD in Germany make the most of the previous for his or her political achieve. It should additional establish how their utilisation of the previous is comparable and the place it differs. The findings will point out frequent components that is perhaps transferable to the political far proper in the remainder of Europe.


The Austrian Context

Within the 1943 joint four-nation declaration of the US, UK, Soviet Union, and China in the course of the second World Battle, the remarks on Austria learn as follows:

The governments of the UK, the Soviet Union and america of America are agreed that Austria, the primary free nation to fall a sufferer to Hitlerite aggression, shall be liberated from German domination. They regard the annexation imposed on Austria by Germany on March 15, 1938, as null and void. They think about themselves as by no means sure by any fees effected in Austria since that date. They declare that they want to see re-established a free and impartial Austria and thereby to open the way in which for the Austrian folks themselves, in addition to these neighboring States which can be face with related issues, to search out that political and financial safety which is the one foundation for lasting peace. Austria is reminded, nevertheless that she has a duty, which she can not evade, for participation within the conflict along with Hitlerite Germany, and that within the remaining settlement account will inevitably be taken of her personal contribution to her liberation.[xi]

Joint 4 Nation Declaration, Moscow Convention, October 1943.

This declaration acknowledges two truths: first, the compelled annexation of Austria by Nazi-Germany, and second, Austria’s participation in WWII along with Nazi-Germany.

For the reason that finish of WWII, the favored narrative in Austria relating to its function in the course of the conflict has shifted. Principally, Austria subscribed to the sufferer idea, leaning on the Moscow Declaration’s wording of Austria because the “first free nation to fall sufferer to Hitlerite aggression”, as demonstrated within the founding doc of post-WWII Austria. This Proclamation of the Second Republic of Austria was revealed 14 days after Soviet troops had captured Vienna and describes the nation as having been “helpless” towards the invasion by Nazi-Germany, and the annexation as “compelled.”[xii] The wording of the proclamation makes it clear that Austria noticed itself and wished to be seen as sufferer slightly than perpetrator of the crimes of WWII.

Solely in 1986, with Kurt Waldheim’s candidature for Austria’s president and the following debate on his participation in WWII as an officer in Nazi-Germany’s Wehrmacht, was the sufferer narrative challenged.[xiii] 1991 marks the primary time that Austria’s function within the conflict was formally acknowledged, by Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky’s speech from the 8th of July – whereas his phrases aren’t an specific act of contrition, he acknowledges the “good and the dangerous”[xiv] and the duty that comes with it. Since then, legal guidelines on Holocaust-denial and war-crime-minimisation have been drawn up and/or tightened, the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance has since added revisionism and right-wing extremism to its focal factors, amongst different measures to take duty for the previous.

This act of (self-)victimisation matches completely with Manucci and Caramani’s outcomes on victimisation as an essential facet within the collective re-elaboration of the fascist previous in the case of right-wing populism.[xv] Whereas the sufferer narrative is probably not as distinguished amongst in the present day’s Austrian society anymore, it has not been eradicated. The FPÖ particularly favours and perpetuates this narrative.

The German Context

Germany’s political state of affairs was completely completely different from Austria’s after the tip of WWII, since there was no query of Germany’s function within the conflict. With Vergangenheitsbwältigung, a method of dealing with the previous, Germany has since put nice emphasis on sustaining the historical past of the NS-regime as traditionally correct as attainable. Whereas the conservative, right-wing celebration CDU has been and nonetheless is the largest celebration in Germany, events positioned politically to the fitting of the CDU haven’t rallied a lot assist till not too long ago. There had even been a mantra, originated from CSU politician Strauss in 1986, proclaiming that there mustn’t ever be a democratically legitimized celebration of political relevance located proper of the CDU/CSU. With the arrival of the AfD, this mantra seems dismantled.

Within the 2017 common elections the AfD was the third most-voted celebration in Germany, granting it a complete of 94 (out of 709) seats within the Bundestag.[xvi] As political actions achieve momentum, their electorates develop. An growing variety of voters appears to search out the AfD’s imaginative and prescient for the way forward for the nation no less than preferable to these from different events. With the AfDhaving grown to its present dimension, the celebration and its voters’ affect on German politics and Germany’s future is simple. The impression of the AfD on the German political panorama shouldn’t be underestimated. The mix of Germany’s previous of Nazism, fascism, and WWII, mixed with the idea of Vergangenheitsbewältigung may be very distinctive to Germany. Towards this backdrop, you will need to assess how the AfD is perhaps utilizing historic revisionism and the way it would possibly collide with Vergangenheitsbewältigung.

The Austrian Case Research

The Austrian Far Proper

So as to learn the way the Austrian far proper makes use of the sufferer narrative to serve their objectives, first it must be established who the political far proper in Austria is. For practicality’s sake, this research will use Mudde’s definition by means of Austria’s political events versus the whole thing of Austria’s far proper, which clearly expands past political events. To the fitting of the largest centre-right celebration in Austria, the ÖVP, is the FPÖ, representing simply over 17% of the vote.[xvii] Some celebration members have expressed views that might go extra into the intense proper route, which additionally belongs to the far-right class. With the FPÖ actively selling an ‘Austria First’ agenda of their celebration programme,[xviii] the celebration will be labeled as a populist and radical right-wing.

Narrative on Austria’s Position in WWII

By way of the FPÖ’s dealing with of Austria’s WWII previous in mild of the insistence on coverage modifications based mostly on xenophobia and ethnocentrism,[xix] the celebration’s most popular narrative seems to be the sufferer narrative that was mentioned earlier – or slightly, a really particular model of it. When trying on the FPÖ’s roots, the hyperlink to former Austrian Nazis is simple: the primary two celebration leaders have been former SS-officers Anton Reinthaller and Friedrich Peter, and the celebration was fashioned by former Nazis for former Nazis.[xx] Since its inception in 1956, the celebration has advanced away from earlier photographs of Austrians belonging to the neighborhood of German tradition (ger. “deutsche Kulturgemeinschaft”).[xxi] Some of the shaping figures within the FPÖ’s historical past was Jörg Haider, who succeeded in maximising the FPÖ’s citizens by fading out German nationalism and specializing in right-wing populism as a substitute.[xxii] At the moment, the FPÖ is much less involved with Austria belonging to the German cultural neighborhood, and focuses extra on Austria’s energy and independence[xxiii] with a transparent ‘Austria First’ strategy.[xxiv] After all, as a up to date right-wing celebration, this strategy will not be new; nevertheless, it’s fascinating to notice this shift from the celebration’s roots and subsequent nostalgia for belonging with Nazi-Germany, in the direction of this nationalistic, populist view and the way it pertains to the sufferer narrative.

For the reason that unique sufferer narrative of Austria having been the harmless, helpless, first sufferer of an overwhelming Nazi-Germany doesn’t match very nicely with the FPÖ electorates’ sense of nostalgia for that precise time interval, the FPÖ initially didn’t subscribe to the sufferer narrative. Neither does the celebration have interaction within the debate on Austria’s compelled annexation versus a prepared unification with Germany, by merely specializing in the aftereffects of the conflict. At the moment, the FPÖ’s utilization of the sufferer narrative consists primarily of avoiding the dialogue of Austria’s lively half in WWII, whereas emphasising the victimhood of post-war Austria beneath an overwhelming, dominating Germany.

The Sufferer Narrative

In the case of the commemoration of WWII and its atrocities, the FPÖ has a historical past of refusing to attend memorial ceremonies, often when they’re being held for victimized teams.[xxv] Clearly, this isn’t an outright denial of Austria’s half within the conflict, nor its participation in Nazi-Germany’s conflict crimes. The FPÖ does, nevertheless, attend sure memorial ceremonies and even pushes for very particular memorials – the frequent theme in these FPÖ-favoured memorials is an emphasis on Austrian victims of the conflict. Together with refusing to attend or condone memorials for the persecuted teams of WWII, akin to Jews, homosexuals, Romani folks, and so on., the FPÖ clearly places the emphasis on Austria as crucial sufferer.

This prioritisation of 1 group within the sufferer narrative may very well be clearly noticed within the FPÖ’s curiosity within the Trümmerfrauen-memorial. The memorial was unveiled in 2018 in Vienna on personal floor for the reason that metropolis denied the FPÖ, who had been pushing for this memorial as early as 1986, to construct it on public metropolis grounds.[xxvi] The Viennese authorities cited concern for the “right historic lens” in its reasoning, as analysis confirmed that a lot of the ladies who rebuilt Vienna after the conflict had been former Nationwide Socialists.[xxvii] To keep away from supporting an undifferentiated view on historical past, town denied the request for the memorial on public grounds.

In disagreement, Heinz-Christian Strache, then vice-chancellor of the FPÖ, identified that ladies had at all times been victims of conflict, making it extremely unlikely that many ladies took half within the deeds of the NS-regime in any respect.[xxviii] In step with his celebration’s dealing with of Austria’s WWII previous, Strache highlighted Austrian victimhood whereas not utterly denying, however most positively minimising an lively function in the course of the conflict. Moreover, by hailing the ladies who rebuilt Vienna after 1945 as heroines, the FPÖ was in a position to paint themselves in a progressive mild – highlighting girls’s achievements – whereas concurrently preserving the celebration’s view of a strictly conventional household, whereby girls are victims in want of safety.

Moreover, when it comes to cultural and ethnic homogeneity, as clearly most popular by the FPÖ in line with their celebration programme, praising the ladies who rebuilt Vienna is a secure technique for the celebration. Earlier than 1945, Austria had been cleansed of these teams deemed undesirable in line with Nazi-ideology,[xxix] which means those that have been left to rebuild from the rubble would have primarily been surviving ethnic Austrians. Constructing a Trümmerfrauen memorial, subsequently, praises solely these, whose victimhood the FPÖ needs to focus on.

Concluding, the FPÖ’s sufferer narrative seems very particular when it comes to the subjects prevented or denied, and people emphasised. A selective view of the previous presents a picture of a victimized Austria and minimizes the danger of shedding an excessively adverse mild on these Austrians who actively participated in Nazi-Germany’s conflict crimes. Within the minds of the FPÖ’s citizens, this may occasionally lead to selective amnesia in the case of Austria’s WWII historical past.

The German Case Research

The German Far Proper

To learn the way the German far proper makes use of historic narratives, first it ought to be established who the German far proper is. For Germany, the mainstream proper is the conservative CDU, and to the fitting of them is the AfD as essentially the most notable and influential celebration. The celebration falls beneath Mudde’s definition of the novel proper.[xxx] Earlier than the AfD, the Nationwide Democratic Get together of Germany (NPD) was essentially the most extensively recognized far-right celebration in Germany. In distinction to the AfD, nevertheless, the NPD by no means exceeded greater than 4.3% on the whole elections and achieved solely 0.4% in 2017.[xxxi]

The far proper is an umbrella time period, because it applies to each the novel and the extremist manifestations of the far proper. This case research acknowledges that the far proper isn’t just events or  actions: it “mobilizes  in various kinds of organisations  (e.g. events,  social motion organisations, subcultures)  and thru varied varieties of actions (e.g. elections, demonstrations, violence).”[xxxii] It needs to be talked about right here, that teams belonging to the intense proper can and have been banned in Germany whereas radically right-wing teams can not.[xxxiii] An instance of that is the Flügel, a grouping inside the AfD, which classifies as excessive slightly than radical proper and was banned in 2020 by the German constitutional courtroom resulting from its anti-democratic nature.[xxxiv]

Narrative on Germany’s Position in WWII

Straight after the conflict, the narrative in Germany surrounding WWII was primarily based mostly on shedding the conflict. The Holocaust, ethnic cleaning, and different conflict crimes have been neither talked about nor publicly mentioned till a lot later.[xxxv] In jap Germany, the Third Reich was thought to be a nationwide mistake, whereas in western Germany it was seen as an inexplicable second of nationwide weak spot and an affliction with Hitler as a demon main the nation astray.[xxxvi]

It was solely within the late Fifties that substantial political modifications have been made when it comes to rectifying the historic view of the populace: new tips have been instated for training on historical past, the idea of Volksverhetzung – incitement of the lots, involving hate speech and the promotion of sedition – was launched into the prison justice system, and memorials for the victims of WWII have been put in.[xxxvii] A public dialogue of the crimes of the NS-regime was rising with the general public trials of Nazi criminals, akin to Eichmann and the Auschwitz-process. With Willy Brandt as the brand new liberal chancellor in 1969, political opposition from the conservative CDU warned concerning the liberal idea of Vergangenheitsbewältigung as it could irreversibly traumatize German shallowness.[xxxviii]

Since then, with steady reforms in training, Germany has tried to show pupils concerning the NS-regime, fascism and the way it managed to take maintain within the Third Reich, and the Holocaust. A latest report confirmed how remembrance tradition is being utilized in colleges to show data and historic consciousness to college students, along with empathy and a capability to acknowledge related patterns from historical past.[xxxix] The report criticized that this usually resulted in an emphasis on the duty of the up to date era with out specifying how such duty ought to be taken. Furthermore, the report discovered that the Holocaust was a central level in all curricula, however racist antisemitism was not. Many curricula additionally failed to acknowledge victimized teams aside from German Jews or didn’t thematize the function of unusual Germans in favour of specializing in Hitler and some influential politicians as the principle perpetrators.[xl]

Nonetheless, with these modifications, Germany has made vital progress with the nation’s Vergangenheitsbewältigung for the reason that finish of WWII. Attaining absolute historic accuracy is not possible in follow, however Germany has made efforts to instill consciousness for the atrocities of WWII in its residents as a substitute of ignoring them or altering the narrative completely.

German Patriotism and Vergangenheitsbewältigung

German patriotism is famously one of many lowest on this planet – earlier than the inception of the AfD it was already low in former West Germany and even decrease in former East Germany.[xli] Just like the CDU did throughout Brandt’s time period in authorities, the hyperlink between the violent previous of WWII and Germans’ shallowness and satisfaction of their nation is simple to identify. By Vergangenheitsbewältigung the nation is confronted with the crimes of the previous: training on the rise of fascism and the Holocaust, memorials for victimized peoples beneath the NS-regime, are a continuing reminder of Germany’s previous. Among the many common public, expressions of nationwide satisfaction such because the nationwide flag are rapidly linked to historic scenes of Germans waving Nazi flags and immediate disgrace. Extremist proper teams have been those that waved flags earlier than the 2006 soccer world cup, although it was usually the Third Reich’s flag of purple, white, and black, and never the fashionable German flag. Till in the present day, German patriotism and expressions of nationalism, particularly the German flag, are generally related to the far proper and Neo-Nazis slightly than satisfaction within the trendy German nation.

German Disgrace

The AfD makes use of this low nationwide satisfaction to construct a story of unwarranted disgrace compelled onto trendy Germans via remembrance tradition on WWII and Vergangenheitsbewältigung. It turns the sufferer narrative round, doubles it in a method, by claiming victimisation of recent Germans via the historic victimisation of thousands and thousands of individuals by the palms of Nazi-Germany.

In accordance with one of the crucial distinguished political figures within the AfD, Björn Höke, Germans have lived in disgrace over the nation’s previous and been bullied, by means of coping with its personal WWII previous.[xlii] Notably, the final angle in the direction of this ‘shaming for the previous’ doesn’t appear straight linked with outright denial of any wrongdoing on the aspect of Germany in the case of WWII. The far proper does, nevertheless, equate the act of contrition and reconditioning of society to discrediting the German nation, folks, and id.[xliii] Consequently, the previous will not be being denied as such, however the way in which of coping with it, i.e. commemoration and act of contrition, is offered by the AfD as unwarranted and one thing to be moved on from. On the subject of shaming, it needs to be famous right here that this rhetoric of German victimisation resembles Hitler’s rhetoric on the victimisation of Germans and why there was a necessity for Germans to rise and struggle in the course of the Third Reich.[xliv] After shedding WWI, the victorious allies imposed guidelines and restrictions on Germany, leading to a prevalent feeling of hopelessness and lack of perspective amongst Germans. Hitler argued that Germany was being shamed unjustly and subsequently didn’t should abide by the victors’ imposed guidelines.

Much like the FPÖ’s rhetoric, the AfD’s rhetoric of German victimisation usually features a performatively feminist argument: the argument in itself will not be truly feminist, slightly it’s based mostly on “benevolent sexism and hostile sexism.”[xlv] In accordance with this argument, German girls are in want of safety so they won’t fall sufferer to males of different cultures. Sexism, racism, islamophobia, and xenophobia – all will be negated by the sufferer narrative with which the far proper argues their case. This narrative doesn’t level in the direction of Germans as victims of WWII, however slightly as victims of the disgrace put onto Germans through Vergangenheitsbewältigung. By portray German girls as being in want of safety from males of non-German cultures and mixing it with the shaming of Germans for his or her WWII previous, a story is created that permits the AfD to marketing campaign for extra cultural homogeneity whereas concurrently perpetuating their argument towards the shaming of Germans for the previous. Historical past is utilized to create a way of victimhood amongst Germans and thereby persuade them of the validity of the AfD’s imaginative and prescient for a homogenous Germany. The narrative presents Vergangenheitsbewältigung as pushing disgrace and guilt onto modern-day Germans for crimes they didn’t commit, portray Germans as victims who have to be free of this oppression.

Comparative Evaluation

For the case of Austria is has been established that, for a very long time after WWII, it subscribed to the sufferer narrative conveniently painted by an announcement within the Moscow declaration, the final paragraph of which was forgotten rapidly. In the course of the time when Austrians tended to think about their nation as the primary sufferer to fall to Nazi-Germany, the FPÖ rejected this narrative and as a substitute took satisfaction in Austria’s collaborative previous with the Third Reich. Within the wake of the Waldheim affair in 1986, the sufferer narrative started to be questioned and duty on the aspect of Austria was finally acknowledged. With the shift within the FPÖ to a nationalistic, populist celebration beneath Haider, allowances may very well be made relating to a adverse picture of Nazi-Germany’s conflict crimes and the admission of some guilt on Austria’s aspect.

These days, nonetheless roughly 17% of the FPÖ’s citizens subscribe to German nationalism,[xlvi] however the overwhelming majority of their voters appear to comply with the celebration’s model of populism with ‘Austria First’ as a substitute of longing to re-unite with Germany. The celebration has turn out to be extra interpretative with Austria’s previous, primarily by means of utilizing the as soon as wide-spread sufferer narrative. For essentially the most half, denial of conflict crimes or Austria’s participation in them will not be what the FPÖ is accused of. Nonetheless, the celebration’s constant highlighting of Austria’s victimhood whereas virtually utterly ignoring Austria’s collaboration with Nazi-Germany, skews the view of historical past considerably. By specializing in the hardships Austria endured after 1945 and never acknowledging Austria’s function in WWII, mentioned hardships are offered as unduly imposed upon Austria, with out acknowledging its personal, not insignificant, function in how these hardships got here to be. This creates a false narrative of an basically harmless Austria affected by the consequences of a conflict it had no affect over. At the moment, 17.2% of Austrian voters are prepared to subscribe to this narrative the FPÖ makes use of to reduce, if not outright deny, the Austrian participation in WWII on the aspect of Nazi-Germany.[xlvii]

Within the case of Germany, it may be famous that after WWII, Germany underwent a barely delayed strategy of coming to phrases with the conflict crimes dedicated on Germany’s aspect. The narrative surrounding Germany’s function within the conflict advanced from being the mere losers of the conflict right into a nation deceived by one purely evil, devil-like determine, Hitler. Going through and acknowledging the function the final German populace and their problematic angle performed in the direction of ethnic, sexual, and minorities on the whole, and Jews particularly, solely actually began from 1969 onwards. Since then, efforts have been made to not let historical past be forgotten. As a substitute, the route governments have taken since Brandt, is the direct and steady confrontation with WWII and the atrocities dedicated via Vergangenheitsbewältigung.

This confrontation with the deeds and/or complicity of previous German generations has led to a remarkably low feeling of nationwide satisfaction amongst Germans, going as far as to extensively affiliate waving the nationwide flag with the far proper and Neo-Nazis. Symbols of Germany as a nation are usually regarded with unease, patriotism in jap Germany even decrease than in the remainder of the nation. In accordance with David Artwork, this low satisfaction has helped forestall the rise of the far proper in Germany to this point, which makes the rise of the AfD much more notable. Notably, assist for the AfD is far increased within the jap federal states of Germany, than within the western ones, suggesting a connection between low nationwide satisfaction and the effectiveness of the AfD’s narrative on German disgrace.

To sum up, the AfD’s disgrace narrative invalidates the idea of Vergangenheitsbewältigung and permits the celebration to utterly disregard similarities with Nazi-rhetoric that is perhaps identified, by claiming it to be solely a instrument for disgrace and never rooted in actuality in any respect. This narrative utterly disregards the explanation for the reminders of the previous: training of latest generations so as to have the ability to spot these identical patterns of rising fascism and racism, ought to they re-emerge, and (hopefully) equip them with the talents to stop a repeat of historical past. Within the AfD’s view, nevertheless, remembering and educating on the previous serves solely to make Germans ashamed of their heritage and nation, when they need to take satisfaction in it. With this disgrace narrative, the AfD deflects any criticism on their proposed objectives for Germany’s future: criticising racist remarks made by political leaders of the celebration can simply be refuted by pointing to the disgrace narrative – drawing any parallels between in the present day’s Germans, particularly the AfD and its citizens, and the German populace beneath the NS-regime is straight away denied by mentioning that they’re completely different generations and shouldn’t be blamed for the crimes of the previous. This narrative presents Germans as victims of the previous, victims of Vergangenheitsbewältigung. This leads proper again to the victimisation famous by Manucci and Caramani, and is straight discovered within the Austrian sufferer narrative, too. The disgrace ensuing from Vergangenheitsbewältigung is offered as completely unsolicited since modern-day Germans are to not blame for the deeds of their ancestors. The AfD has made use of the low nationwide satisfaction by perpetuating the narrative that it’s Vergangenheitsbewältigung that serves to make Germans ashamed of their nation. Whereas Vergangenheitsbewältigung appears to have succeeded in making an outright denial of Germany’s WWII historical past nigh not possible, the far proper can and does use the previous to construct its arguments, regardless. As a substitute of denying the crimes in Germany’s previous, the far proper makes use of the prominence of the data about these crimes to substantiate their declare of German victimisation.

This text will tackle frequent themes however first, the distinctions between the AfD and FPÖ’s narratives can be identified. Whereas Austria initially took the chance to declare victimhood and ignore all proof on its participation in WWII by the aspect of Germany, Germany itself had no such alternative. To color itself because the sufferer was by no means an possibility, being on the shedding aspect was the closest to victimhood Germany may get with out outright contradicting and denying historic proof.

By way of their far-right events in the present day, it’s fascinating to notice the electoral success the FPÖ, regardless of its well-known roots linking it to Nazis and Nazi-sympathizers, has achieved in comparison with the AfD. Such electoral success possible is linked to the legitimisation the FPÖ has been granted through coalitions with larger mainstream events, just like the ÖVP – a legitimisation, the AfD has not achieved, but. Along with legitimisation via coalition, David Artwork factors out that by opposing right-wing populist events as quickly as they seem, “mainstream political elites, civic activists and the media undermine the far proper’s electoral attraction, its capability to recruit succesful celebration members, and weaken its political organisation.”[xlviii] The AfD, as a younger right-wing celebration, faces robust opposition via Germany’s established, mainstream events’ refusal to coalesce with the far proper celebration, regardless of the AfD reaching a substantial quantity of votes in most federal states. It is a direct contradiction of David Artwork’s declare of the far proper being much less possible to reach Germany, resulting from a closely opposed political surroundings.[xlix] After all, this declare was made earlier than the AfD emerged, making the celebration’s rise all of the extra notable. The FPÖ, having been in authorities earlier than and frequent coalition companion of the ÖVP, doesn’t face such opposition as it’s an already established, conventional celebration in Austria. Trying on the electoral assist of the AfD it turns into clear that, if the mainstream events begin severely coalescing with the AfD, it can possible turn out to be equally profitable because the FPÖ.

One other distinction will be present in the way in which the AfD, as a comparatively younger celebration places an emphasis on its disconnect from Nazism. This isn’t claimed by the FPÖ with its extensively recognized direct roots in Nazism among the many celebration’s founders and first voter base. Additional, there’s a noticeable distinction between German and Austrian patriotism, since Austria exhibits one of many highest ranges of patriotism on this planet.[l] The selective victimhood narrative of the FPÖ feeds into this patriotic angle amongst Austrians by emphasising the historically weak and helpless function of Austrian girls, which doesn’t seem like notably offensive to modern-day Austrians, almost definitely as a result of historic context. This narrative permits the FPÖ to make use of the victimhood of Austrian girls after WWII as a kind of alibi-acknowledgement, for the reason that celebration is technically ensuring the previous will not be forgotten, although this solely pertains to 1 particular a part of historical past that’s being preserved: the victimhood of Austrian girls. This gender dynamic is price trying into for extra in-depth analysis on this subject.

Frequent Themes

Regardless of all these variations, there are two essential frequent themes to be discovered. First, is the concentrate on victimhood. As recognized by Manucci and Caramani amongst others, victimisation is a core facet of the political far proper’s operational technique.[li] The FPÖ makes use of a selected model of the sufferer narrative to emphasise Austrian victimhood in WWII, whereas the AfD makes use of the disgrace Germans affiliate with WWII to say victimhood by Vergangenheitsbewältigung. This frequent denominator of victimhood perpetuation falls consistent with the noticed shift within the building of collective reminiscences: “from heroic martyrdom to harmless victimhood.”[lii] On this shift it’s notable that such contested reminiscences of victimhood are sometimes used to feed a selected type of nationalism based mostly on the reminiscence of collective struggling.[liii] The utilisation of the FPÖ and AfD’s narratives to perpetuate particularly a way of victimhood amongst vulnerable voters, signifies that each events goal to feed the identical sense of nationalism and are doing so by manipulating historical past right into a collective sense of struggling.

The second frequent theme is the patriotism each events are aiming to strengthen with their narratives. By the FPÖ’s selective sufferer narrative, the Austrian sense of patriotism is left wholly untouched, is even strengthened. The AfD, alternatively, argues that German disgrace has overridden German patriotism, and blames Vergangenheitsbewältigung and remembrance tradition. With its narrative, the AfD argues for extra patriotism by disconnecting from the previous in an effort to escape German disgrace over its WWII historical past. Each events clearly goal for the aim of strengthening nationalism and patriotism amongst their voters, even when they’re utilizing completely different narratives to pursue this aim.

The overarching commonality between the AfD and the FPÖ when it comes to how they use narratives on historical past to suit their political agenda, is clearly the manipulative and falsifying nature of the narratives. Whereas the utilized narratives aren’t the identical, this commonality of both an incapacity to know the total image, so to talk, or the purposeful ignorance of facets that might weaken their argument, is clearly seen. Basically (with some exceptions), the FPÖ and the AfD don’t outright deny historic info. Nonetheless, the way in which they current historical past to their voters is so selective, it modifications the which means completely. The findings point out that, in the case of manipulative, traditionally revisionist narratives, victimhood and patriotism are the 2 essential pursuits being pursued by these narratives in an effort to collect electoral assist.


The far proper in each Germany and Austria use historic revisionism to control the narrative round WWII to advance their political agenda. By presenting their nation as having been or nonetheless being victimized, the events unfold a way of collectivism amongst their citizens. Patriotism is preserved and strengthened equally via the manipulation of the narratives, both not directly by omitting sure historic proof as within the Austrian case, or straight by insisting on full disconnection from historical past as within the German case.

Whether or not the victimhood facet is linked to the patriotism facet, i.e. in the event that they have an effect on one another and even end result from one another, is perhaps decided in additional analysis. Within the German case they’re actually related, because the AfD claims direct victimisation of German patriotism as a result of perpetuation of German disgrace. Within the Austrian case, nevertheless, patriotism and victimhood don’t instantly seem related. The FPÖ’s narrative on WWII is slightly fastidiously crafted to create a way of victimhood and protect Austrian patriotism. Due to this fact, it’s to be assumed that patriotism and victimhood being causally linked within the AfD’s narrative is particular to Germany, slightly than a common rule.

The findings of this analysis recommend that victimhood and patriotism are frequent themes in manipulative narratives utilized by the political far proper. As present literature notes: manipulation of the historic narrative is a extensively used instrument in in the present day’s populism to collect assist for the far proper. A sensible instance of this is able to be the way in which, the Dutch far proper has been altering the narrative on the Netherlands’ darkish historical past when it comes to the slave commerce and colonialism to collect assist.[liv] This text provides two case research to the subject of historic revisionism and the far proper, however extra case research must be carried out to search out out if the frequent themes recognized listed here are constant throughout the far proper in Europe or even perhaps globally.

Since politically motivated, traditionally revisionist narratives will at all times be particular to the nation and its historical past, the narratives will at all times differ. Nonetheless, the objectives in each circumstances in contrast on this article are the identical: perpetuation of victimhood and patriotism. This implies that, in the case of selective narratives and historic revisionism, the narrative itself is of far much less significance than the aim. As historical past holds transformative energy,[lv] you will need to develop methods to evaluate the manipulative energy of such narratives. With the rise of the far proper all through Europe, it’s particularly essential to evaluate the far proper’s narratives.

Total, the frequent themes of perpetuating victimhood and patriotism may very well be markers of a selected, trendy form of far-right celebration that makes use of historic revisionism to pursue its political agenda. With additional analysis into this subject, these markers may very well be solidified and assist make events of the identical sort simply recognizable.

All in all, the analysis has clearly proven how two clearly completely different narratives, histories, and info can clearly be utilized in eerily related methods. The far proper can and does use these narratives as instruments, simply as a lot in international locations which were the explanation for wars as in international locations that have been the victims of such wars. The character of those narratives is extraordinarily manipulative and transferrable, making all of them the extra harmful: they can be utilized in utterly completely different contexts and nonetheless obtain the identical end result, particularly that of political, electoral success. The flexibility of those instruments, (self-)victimisation and patriotism, is what makes them a harmful menace to democracy.


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[1] David Artwork, ‘Reacting to the Radical Proper: Classes from Germany and Austria’, Get together Politics 13, no. 3 (Could 2007): 333,

[2] Artwork, ‘Reacting to the Radical Proper: Classes from Germany and Austria’: 333.

[3] Stephan Löwenstein, ‘Präsidentenwahl in Österreich: Warum die FPÖ für die AfD ein Vorbild ist’, FAZ.NET, 23 November 2016,; Sebastian Lipp, ‘FPÖ als Vorbild der AfD’, Störungsmelder, 29 June 2017,; Jens Schneider, ‘AfD und FPÖ: Gute Freunde kann niemand trennen’, Sü, 21 Could 2019,


[i] Herbert Kitschelt and Anthony J. McGann, Kitschelt, H: The Radical Proper in Western Europe: A Comparative Evaluation, Reprint Version (Ann Arbor: College of Michigan Press, 1997): 14.

[ii] Kitschelt and McGann, Kitschelt, H: The Radical Proper in Western Europe: A Comparative Evaluation, 15.

[iii] Ben Cohen, ‘Fact Is Not Selective: Poland vs. Netflix’, 20 November 2019,

[iv] ‘2017 Bundestag Election: Closing Outcome – The Federal Returning Officer’.

[v] European Parliament, ‘Nationale Ergebnisse Österreich| Wahlergebnisse 2019 | 2019 Ergebnisse der Europawahl 2019 | Europäisches Parlament’,, 19 June 2019, accessed 28 January 2021,

[vi] Cas Mudde, The Far Proper At the moment, 1. Version (Cambridge, UK ; Medford, MA: Polity, 2019), p. 7.

[vii] Mudde, The Far Proper At the moment, p. 7.

[viii] Mudde, p. 5.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Kitschelt and McGann, Kitschelt, H: The Radical Proper in Western Europe: A Comparative Evaluation: 53.


[xii] “RIS – Unabhängigkeitserklärung – Bundesrecht konsolidiert, Fassung vom 30.11.2020“, accessed 30 November 2020,

[xiii] Demokratiezentrum Wien, ‘Waldheim-Debatte’,, September 2014, accessed 12 January 2021,

[xiv] Demokratiezentrum Wien, ‘Der Opfermythos in Österreich – Entstehung Und Entwicklung‘,, April 2015, accessed 30 November 2020,

[xv] Daniele Caramani and Luca Manucci, ‘Nationwide Previous and Populism: The Re-Elaboration of Fascism and Its Influence on Proper-Wing Populism in Western Europe’, West European Politics 42 (29 Could 2019): 2,

[xvi] ‘2017 Bundestag Election: Closing Outcome – The Federal Returning Officer’.

[xvii] European Parliament, ‘Nationale Ergebnisse Österreich| Wahlergebnisse 2019 | 2019 Ergebnisse der Europawahl 2019 | Europäisches Parlament’.

[xviii] Freedom Get together of Austria (FPÖ), ‘Get together Programme of the Freedom Get together of Austria (FPÖ) – As Resolved by the Get together Convention of the Freedom Get together of Austria on 18 June 2011 in Graz’,, 18 June 2011,

[xix] Freedom Get together of Austria (FPÖ), ‘Get together Programme of the Freedom Get together of Austria (FPÖ) – As Resolved by the Get together Convention of the Freedom Get together of Austria on 18 June 2011 in Graz’.

[xx] Anton Pelinka, ‘FPÖ: Von der Alt-Nazi-Partei zum Prototyp des europäischen Rechtspopulismus | bpb’,, accessed 22 September 2020,

[xxi] ‘Arbeitsheft 1: Werte und Grundsätze’, PolAk Politische Akadademie der ÖVP, Grundlagen der Politik, n.d. P. 46.

[xxii] Franz Fallend, Fabian Habersack, Reinhard Heinisch, ‘Rechtspopulismus in Österreich. Zur Entwicklung der Freiheitlichen Partei Österreichs | APuZ’,, accessed 30 November 2020,

[xxiii] Anton Pelinka, ‘FPÖ: Von der Alt-Nazi-Partei zum Prototyp des europäischen Rechtspopulismus | bpb’.

[xxiv] Freedom Get together of Austria (FPÖ), ‘Get together Programme of the Freedom Get together of Austria (FPÖ) – As Resolved by the Get together Convention of the Freedom Get together of Austria on 18 June 2011 in Graz’.

[xxv] Maria Sterkl, ‘FPÖ wehrt sich gegen NS-Gedenken’, DER STANDARD, 13 April 2016,

[xxvi] „Debatte über Denkmal für ‚Trümmerfrauen‘“,, 1. Oktober 2018,

[xxvii] Ibid.

[xxviii] Hans Punz, ‘Vizekanzler Strache Enthüllte “Trümmerfrauen”-Denkmal in Wien’,, 1 October 2018,

[xxix] Ariel Muzicant, ‘Österreich ist anders’, DER STANDARD, 3 Could 2005,

[xxx] Wilhelm Heitmeyer, ‘Autoritär, nationwide, radikal – die AfD zwischen Populismus und Rechtsextremismus’, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 14 April 2019,

[xxxi] ‘2017 Bundestag Election: Closing Outcome – The Federal Returning Officer’, accessed 22 January 2021,

[xxxii] Mudde, The Far Proper At the moment, p. 164.

[xxxiii] Mudde, The Far Proper At the moment, p. 5.

[xxxiv] ‘Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz stuft AfD-Teilorganisation „Der Flügel“ als gesichert rechtsextremistische Bestrebung ein’, Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, 12 March 2020,

[xxxv] Edgar Wolfrum, ‘Geschichte der Erinnerungskultur in der DDR und BRD’,, 26 August 2008,

[xxxvi] Ibid.

[xxxvii] Ibid.

[xxxviii] Ibid.

[xxxix] Deutscher Bundestag Wissenschaftliche Dienste, ‘Die Verankerung Des Themas Nationalsozialismus Im Schulunterricht in Deutschland, Österreich, Polen Und Frankreich’, Sachstand (Deutscher Bundestag, 18 September 2018), p. 8.

[xl] Ibid., p. 10.

[xli] NORC, ‘In Photos: World’s Least Patriotic International locations’, Forbes, 2 July 2008,

[xlii] Mely Kiyak, ‘Björn Höcke: Ein complete anderes Deutschland’, Die Zeit, 25 January 2017, sec. Kultur, accessed 6 November 2020,

[xliii] ibid.

[xliv] Michael Blain, ‘Preventing Phrases: What We Can Be taught from Hitler’s Hyperbole’, Symbolic Interplay 11, no. 2 (November 1988): 264,

[xlv] Mudde, The Far Proper At the moment, p. 172.

[xlvi] Editors, ‘Österreicher fühlen sich heute als Nation’, DER STANDARD, 12.032008,

[xlvii] European Parliament, ‘Nationale Ergebnisse Österreich| Wahlergebnisse 2019 | 2019 Ergebnisse der Europawahl 2019 | Europäisches Parlament’.

[xlviii] David Artwork, ‘Reacting to the Radical Proper: Classes from Germany and Austria’, Get together Politics 13, no. 3 (Could 2007): 332,

[xlix] Artwork, ‘Reacting to the Radical Proper: Classes from Germany and Austria’: 341.

[l] NORC, ‘In Photos: World’s Most Patriotic International locations’, Forbes, 2 July 2008,

[li] Caramani and Manucci, ‘Nationwide Previous and Populism: The Re-Elaboration of Fascism and Its Influence on Proper-Wing Populism in Western Europe’: 2.

[lii] Jie-Hyun Lim, ‘Victimhood Nationalism in Contested Recollections: Nationwide Mourning and International Accountability’, in Reminiscence in a International Age: Discourses, Practices and Trajectories, ed. Aleida Assmann and Sebastian Conrad, Palgrave Macmillan Reminiscence Research (London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2010): 138,

[liii] Lim, ‘Victimhood Nationalism in Contested Recollections: Nationwide Mourning and International Accountability’: 139.

[liv] See Stefan Couperus and Pier Domenico Tortola, ‘Proper-Wing Populism’s (Ab)Use of the Previous in Italy and the Netherlands’, Debats. Journal on Tradition, Energy and Society 4 (25 December 2019): 105–18,

[lv] Petri Hakkarainen, ‘When Historical past Meets Coverage: Understanding the Previous to Form the Future’ (Geneva Centre for Safety Coverage, Could 2016) p. 4.

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