From Political Activism to Disillusionment
Austrian Socialist Refugees in Czechoslovakia, 1934-1938
Keywords:refugees, Austria, Czechoslovakia
The political exile of approximately 2000 Austrian socialists in Czechoslovakia after the Austrian “civil war” in February 1934 stands apart from other refugee movements in Central Europe of the time, most noticeably due to the initially sympathetic approach Czechoslovakia took towards those who fled, especially compared to the different approach towards Austrian Jews after the “Anschluss”. This article combines Austrian and Czech sources to focus on the geography of the escape and exile and the smuggling of propaganda as main part of the resistance work. Mapping various networks within the smaller border region and the individual stories of refugees shows in detail how an initial support for Austrian socialist refugees from the Czechoslovakian social democrats soon gave way to disillusionment by rank-and-file refugees as exile networks dissolved, funds dwindled, a lack of perspectives became apparent and political radicalisation increased.
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