For many Americans Kurt Waldheim’s resounding victory in Austria’s run-off presidential election last June (he received nearly 54 percent of the vote,
after finishing just shy of a first-round win) illuminated the dark side of a country more famous for skiing, waltzes, and pastry. Modern Austria is also renowned for its political stability and stellar social and economic performance, making it a model for other industrial democracies. In marked contrast to its troubled predecessor during the interwar period, the second Austrian Republic is a pacific “island of the blessed” in a tumultuous world. But beneath the placid surface lies a deeper legacy of the Nazi past, now exposed for the first time by Kurt Waldheim’s victory.
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