In 1918 when after losing the war it started Austria lost all its non majority German speaking lands, what remained of Austria was looking to unite with Germany. That didn't happen only because the allies prevented it. Nevertheless Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, with close to 99% approval, with the catastrophic consequences we all know.

Since then, it seems the Austrian population has done a 180° shift and is in fact extremely proud to not be German. I understand that people can change their minds and all, however such a drastic change from 99% favouring Germany towards 99% hostile to it is troubling.

It's obvious Austria could anyway join Germany because they are not allowed to, however there is a major difference between :

We won't join Germany because we're not allowed to

(what it could have been considering the circumstances)


We're not Germans. Never ever call us Germans, okay ?!

(what it is today)

  • 6
    Where do you have all those 99% numbers from?
    – Philipp
    Oct 21 '15 at 14:51
  • 4
    being able to not be painted as associated with Nazis and Thrid Reich in any way, shape or form seems like a worthwile political benefit, so it could be one of contributing factors.
    – user4012
    Oct 21 '15 at 15:51
  • 1
    @Philipp OK, it has probably not be the freest voting ever, but (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_Anschluss_referendum,_1938) Of course the results were falsified, nevertheless the vast majority of population was enthusiast about this.
    – Bregalad
    Oct 21 '15 at 16:29
  • 2
    Just a couple of ideas. Before WWII, Imperial nostalgia (reinforced by the economic crisis of the 30s), new state structures that were unstable and not-so-democratic to begin with, and maybe even a sense of security of belonging to a greater entity (the borders from WWI were still "new", contested in many cases, and subject to variations -see the Vienna awards, and the band of crows that feasted upon Chekoslovakia-, with many neighbours ruled by expansionist or revanchist dictators -including Mussolini to the South-)
    – SJuan76
    Oct 21 '15 at 22:10
  • 2
    After WWII, the "catastrophic consequences" (not only of Nazi crimes, but also of the death of population and becoming a conquered country) would be enough to justify the change. Also, Austria was treated as another "German victim"; looking for an union with Germany would have betrayed that interpretation. When the Allies left Austria, it was on the condition that the country would not rejoin Germany (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_State_Treaty), and Austria also declared neutrality (as asked by SU). And add more stable state structures, making people are less interested in experiments
    – SJuan76
    Oct 21 '15 at 22:27

Please note that while I try to answer your question to the fullest extent possible, my knowledge mainly comes from school and general knowledge as well as being a citizen of Austria and thus my views on Austrian identity in relation to Germany may not reflect the general population, although I try to take that into account.

Firstly, the 99% approval rate that you quote (if it even was that high) was in all likeliness an exaggerated number published by the National Socialists Party (Hitlers). While yes, approval was high (something that nowadays Austrians like not to acknowledge) it was not that high. Austria was not allowed to merge with Germany mainly to keep it from regaining its powerful state it was in before and during the first world war. Like Germany, Austria lost it's monarchy and went through radical change. While Germany was a force, Austria was reduced to a shadow of its former self and so a general sense of helplessness may have played a part as well.

You are right in that nowadays Austrians SAY

We're not Germans. Never ever call us Germans, okay ?!

This seems to more align with the sentiment of "Well, we ARE a sovereign country and have our own culture (that is deeply connected with parts of German culture) while also sharing the language." The forceful disambiguation when separating Germany and Austria seems to stem more from a need for factual accuracy/irritation of being mistaken for "just another part of germany" and does not indicate any strong feelings opposed to Germany or Germans. I will venture as far as saying that we will deny the connection with the same kind of "light irony" when trying to convince ignorant people that NO, we're Austria. In central Europe. Not Australia. Which is on the other side of the globe. This is at least true for younger generations that don't have strong feelings about the Anschluss as other generations may have.

So, since it seems I have not directly answered your question about Austria's general "180° shift" it is because internally, such strong shifts may not have occured. After the second world war, Austria (like every other country occupied by Germany) was, and wanted to be seen as just another victim of Hitlers "Lebensraumerweiterung" (expansion of land to live of for the german people). From this perspective, it seems as though the strong words of distancing from Germany are caused by reflexive self preservation.

  • 1
    That's a pretty decent answer to a very flawed question.
    – RWW
    Feb 15 '19 at 16:23
  • Looking back 3.5 years later, yes the question is very poorly written (english IS a difficult language) but still stands, as the myth of Austria being Germany's victim is totally a political oportunity and couldn't be further from the truth.
    – Bregalad
    Feb 18 '19 at 15:32
  • "We're not Germans. Never ever call us Germans, okay ?!" such a statement, one might imagine, may also well come from Bavarians.
    – Dohn Joe
    Apr 24 '20 at 8:08

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