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Paul Malone - Cutting Dollfuss Up To Size: Political Cartooning and the Rise of Austro-Fascism

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posted on 2020-06-29, 15:40 authored by Paul Malone

Cutting Dollfuss Up To Size: Political Cartooning and the Rise of Austro-Fascism

Between the World Wars, Vienna’s newspapers stretched across the political spectrum; many regularly contained biting political cartoons. By the early 1930s, such cartoons focussed on Dr. Engelbert Dollfuss, who quickly rose within the conservative Christian Social Party to the Chancellorship in May 1932. Left-wing papers were particularly critical of Dollfuss, whose conservative-nationalist-fascist coalition had such a razor-thin majority that he was increasingly forced to work against parliament in order to enforce austerity measures to cope with the Depression. Because Dollfuss stood less than five feet tall, it was common to caricature him as a tiny, infantilized incompetent.

The situation changed in March 1933, however, when Dollfuss found an excuse to sideline parliament and rule by decree; and even more following the four-day civil war of February 1934, when he abolished political parties and established a dictatorship. Those papers that were not closed down or nationalized came to terms, and portrayals of Dollfuss became more positive: now he became first an adult-sized champion of social justice against German Nazism, and then an assassinated martyr for the Austrian cause. The developments in the depiction of Dollfuss echo the contemporary increasing constraints on democracy and the propagandization of the media in the last years of the republic.



Paul M. Malone ( is Associate Professor of German in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of Waterloo, Canada. He is the author of Franz Kafka’s The Trial: Four Stage Adaptations (Peter Lang, 2003), and has also published on performance theory; Faustian rock musicals; German theatre and film; and on German-language comics, from advertising periodicals to superhero comics and manga, from the 1920s to the present.

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