Although Austrians comprised only 8 percent of the population of Hitler's Reich, they made up 14 percent of SS members and 40 percent of those involved in the Nazis' killing operations. This was no coincidence. Popular anti-Semitism was so powerful in Austria that once deportations of Jews began in 1941, the streets of Vienna were frequently lined with crowds of bystanders shouting their approval. Such scenes did not occur in Berlin.
Exploring the convictions behind these phenomena, Evan Bukey offers a detailed examination of popular opinion in Hitler's native country after the Anschluss (annexation) of 1938. He uses evidence gathered in Europe and the United States--including highly confidential reports of the Nazi Security Service--to dissect the reactions, views, and conduct of disparate political and social groups, most notably the Austrian Nazi Party, the industrial working class, the Catholic Church, and the farming community.
Sketching a nuanced and complex portrait of Austrian attitudes and behavior in the Nazi era, Bukey demonstrates that despite widespread dissent, discontent, and noncompliance, a majority of the Austrian populace supported the Anschluss regime until the bitter end, particularly in its economic and social policies and its actions against Jews.