According to researchers, Nazis who moved to Austria after World War II help to perpetuate extremist ideology to this day.
A study conducted by the University of Oxford and published in The Economic Journal suggests that Nazis who migrated to southern Austria shaped the country’s political development for generations after the war.
The researchers analyzed the regions that witnessed a greater flow of these individuals, who fled after the Second World War. As a result, they found that these places are significantly more inclined to the far right than other parts of Austria.
According to reports, with the end of the war, the Nazis feared Soviet punishment and, therefore, migrated to the south of the Danube River, which crosses all of Austria. The river separated the region historically, economically and culturally into two parts: one with high and one with a low density of Nazis. For the authors of the study, the regions occupied by the fugitives have experienced a substantial and persistent increase in far-right attitudes.
Scientists provide two main explanations for the long-term preservation of these values: local institutions and family ties. When they arrived at their destinations, the Nazis founded and joined local branches of the party. In addition, beliefs are passed down through the generations. The researchers collected entries from the phone book before the war and showed that the names of today’s far-right politicians still reflect the longstanding migration of Nazi elites after the war.
“We were surprised to learn that imported extremism can survive for generations and does not disappear,” said the lead author of the article, Felix Roesel, a researcher at the Carolina University of Prague in the Czech Republic. “Liberal and democratic values spread very similarly. This is what new research shows. Populism is no more contagious than other political ideas.”