Chapter 13: Anschluss and Emigration
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18 part one | intellectual biography with them regarding economic and social politics, the silliness of their apocalyptic dream in face of the impending Hitlerian apocalypse was simply too much to stomach. My attitude toward the Social Democracy at the time can be identified with the position taken by Karl Kraus. Ideological intellectuals who survived the disaster have not yet forgiven Kraus for being too intelligent to sympathize with their foolishness. Of course, they have not forgiven me, either. The result of these years of tension after 1933 was my study on Die Autoritäre Staat, published in 1936.7 It was my first major attempt to penetrate the role of ideologies, left and right, in the contemporary situation and to understand that an authoritarian state that would keep radical ideologists in check was the best possible defense of democracy. My theoretical attitude in these matters at the time was not very different from the attitude later expressed by Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, in the Terminiello case of 1949 (after he got acquainted with European radical ideologies as a member of the Nuremburg court), in the formula that democracy is “not a suicide pact.” Chapter 13: Anschluss and Emigration A profound emotional shock came in the critical moments of the destruction of Austria. I would have left Vienna long before 1938 if I had not assumed that Austria was safe in its defense against National Socialism. On the basis of my historically founded political knowledge, I considered it impossible that the Western democracies would permit the annexation of Austria by Hitler, because the event obviously would be the first of a series that would culminate in a world war. The German occupation of Austria would create a strategic situation that made the conquest of Czechoslovakia possible; and the conquest of Czechoslovakia would consolidate a Central European position that made a war with the Western powers potentially victorious. It came as a great surprise to me that the Western powers did nothing. From a friend who was at the time working in Rome and had friends in the Italian foreign ministry, I learned that on the night of the invasion Mussolini was engaged in frantic telephone conversations with the English government pleading for common action, which, however, was rejected. I remember that the 19 autobiographical reflections events caused in me a state of unlimited fury. In the wake of the Austrian occupation by Hitler, I even for a moment contemplated joining the National Socialists, because those rotten swine who called themselves democrats—­ meaning the Western democracies—­ certainly deserved to be conquered and destroyed if they were capable of such criminal idiocy. But the character development of the past would not permit this extreme step. Reason got the better after several hours of such fury, and I prepared my emigration. That was necessary, because I had never made any secret of my anti-­ National Socialist attitude, and of course I was immediately fired from my position at the university. Preparing to emigrate brought the usual odd details that are connected with such an enterprise. Above all, I had to acquire some money outside Austria, because the export of money was prohibited . I had a Swiss friend who was a journalist in Vienna, reporting for Swiss newspapers, with whom I arranged to pay his income in Austria while he left the equivalent value in Swiss francs with his lawyer in Zurich. The money accumulated and became the basis for living a number of months in Zurich before I could get my immigration visa from the American consulate. The emigration plan almost miscarried. Though I was politically an entirely unimportant figure, and the important ones had to be caught first, my turn came at last. Just when we had nearly finished our preparations and my passport was with the police in order to get the exit visa, the Gestapo appeared at my apartment to confiscate the passport. Fortunately, I was not at home, and my wife [Lissy Onken Voegelin] was delighted to tell them that the passport was with the police for the purpose of getting the exit visa, which satisfied the Gestapo. We were able, through friends, to get the passport, including the exit visa, from the police before the Gestapo got it—­ that all in one day. On the same day, in the evening, with two bags, I caught a train to Zurich, trembling on the way that the Gestapo after all would find out about me and arrest me at...