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The Schüssel Era in Austria

Günter Bischof
Fritz Plasser

II. Policies and Policy Changes

Reinventing Tradition and the Politics of History: Schüssel’s Restitution and Commemoration Policies

Günter Bischof et Michael S. Maier

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“Human beings’ ability to rewrite the past to suit the present—and especially to recast our individual complicity with a shameful past—is testament to the creativity and ingenuity of the species. It is a phenomenon whenever one official orthodoxy gives way to another.”2


During his six years in office, Wolfgang Schüssel’s ambivalent political history (Geschichtspolitik) was as active, if not more so, than that of any postwar Austrian chancellor. One has to assume that his coalition partner, the Freedom Party of Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, or FPÖ), was a reluctant partner in most of his initiatives. Little is known to date about actual negotiations inside the government coalition about FPÖ reactions to Schüssel’s restitution policies during his first government and his call to the nation to make the “memory year 2005” a Gedankenjahr—a year of thoughtful reflection about important anniversaries (1945, 1955, 1995). This essay operates with the working assumptio...

© innsbruck university press, 2010

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