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Engelbert Dollfuss

(1892—1934) Austrian statesman, Chancellor of Austria 1932–4.


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(b. 4 Oct. 1892, d. 25 July 1934).

Chancellor of Austria 1932–4 Born in Texing (Lower Austria) as the illegitimate child of a farmer's daughter, he briefly studied theology and then law at the University of Vienna before participating in World War I, in which he won eight decorations for bravery. The war hero and devout Catholic became a Member of Parliament for the right‐wing Christian Social Party. As Minister of Agriculture from 1931, his success in coping with the Great Depression made him a natural choice for the chancellorship.

At a time when the country was riven with strife, which often erupted into street fights, he fought hard to contain the main protagonists of the general unrest, the Communists and the Nazis. In 1933 he created an authoritarian dictatorship by dismissing parliament and outlawing the Communist and Nazi Parties. He tried to maintain popular support through the foundation of a Patriotic Front. In practice, his policies closely resembled those of Fascism, and he received support from Mussolini. In 1934, he added the more moderate members of the working classes to the list of his enemies, as he reacted to a demonstration of socialist workers by ordering the army to attack a large socialist housing estate in Vienna, which was defeated after five days of bitter fighting. Despite his lack of popular support, he proclaimed a Fascist Constitution in May 1934, but in July he was murdered by Austrian Nazis in a miscalculated attempt to trigger Hitler's intervention and thus force the Anschluss.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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