Hitler and the Habsburgs: The Führer’s Vendetta Against the Austrian Royals by James Longo- 2018
This book is the story of intersecting lives of people very different from each other, Adolph Hitler and the Hapsburg family.
Like many popular works of non-academic non- fiction, telling the story of the impact of Hitler on the ancient Hapsburg dynasty involves telling of events that the most likely readership of the book already know in order to convey some information that will be new to them.
The book begins with Hitler’s pre-World War One years in Vienna. He was greatly traumatized when he could not get into art school. He saw that Vienna, capital of the Empire was highly cosmopolitan, Jews were accepted more there than anywhere else in Europe. (Longo often quotes Stefan Zweig and writes about his deparature for Brazil, driven out of Austria by what he sees as the decay of European culture.). Hitler lived in abject poverty, ever outraged by wealth of others, especially the Hapsburgs. Longo tells us the assasination of Arch-Duke Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Hapsburg throne (June 28, 1914, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina). This event precipitated World War One. Hitler fought in the war. He would come to see the Jews of Austria and their puppets the Hapsburgs as to blame for Germany’s defeat, as Logno details.
One of the sons of Arch-Duke Ferdinand scandalized the royal family by marrying a German woman of insufficient nobility to be a Hapsburg Queen or royal mother. The marriage was accepted but only as morganatic. Somehow this made them outsiders in the very inbred Hapsburg family and gravely offended Hitler who was highly offended by what he saw as the personification of the “mongrelization” of the Aryan race.
When Germany took control of Austria in 1938 the two sons of Ferdinand were arrested by the Gestapo and became the first Austrians sent to the Dachu Concentration Camp. They were assigned to latrine duty and treated in a savage fashion.
The women in the family, including the Archduke’s only daughter,Princess Sophia Hohenberg, declared war on Hitler. In the face of torture, near starvation and betrayal they sustained the family.
Longo very movingly tells us what happened to survivors after the defeat of Hitler.
I purchased this book during a flash sale for $1.95. It is now back up $12.95.
I think anyone interested in the Hapsburg, the end of dynastic rule in Europe, World War Two in Austria will find this book fascinating. It deserves a place in Holocaust literature.
James Longo is a professor and chair of the Department of Education at Washington & Jefferson College. He is a former Fulbright Scholar and Distinguished Chair of the University Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Studies at Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt in Austria. He has lectured throughout Europe and America and has written eight books..from the publisher