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From Empire to Republic

Peter Berger
Günter Bischof
Fritz Plasser

I. End of Empire/Early Republic: Political (Domestic and Foreign) Legacies

Was There an Austrian Stab-in-the-Back Myth? Interwar Military Interpretations of Defeat

Patrick J. Houlihan

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One of the most baleful legacies of the Great War was the legend that the German Army had been stabbed in the back by traitors on the home front. The myth helped to undermine the legitimacy of the fledgling Weimar Republic, becoming a cornerstone of right-wing ideology in Germany, most infamously though not exclusively championed by the Nazi Party. All of this has been thoroughly investigated for the case of Germany but not for its Habsburg ally in defeat, which is surprising for four main reasons: first, the increasing degree to which Austria-Hungary became enmeshed with the German military effort during the course of the Great War; second, the gravitation of elements in Austrian society, especially among the authoritarian right, toward union with Germany during the interwar period; third, the extreme animosity even to the point of paramilitary violence between Austrian political parties during that same time frame; and fourth, the virulence of traditional anti-Semitism...

© innsbruck university press, 2010


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