Austria found itself as the center piece of World War I
(WWI) when their Archduke was assassinated by a Serb nationalist
in Sarajevo (in modern day Bosnia & Herzegovina).
This war expanded across most of the continent and ended in Austrian defeat and
the loss of their long standing royal family in addition to their union with
At first, democratic rule in Austria was unstable and led
to discontent and the eventual takeover of Austria by Germany
in 1938, which some internal groups were pushing for and supporting of their native
son, Adolf Hitler, who was himself Austrian. Other groups however, particularly
in the Tirol region fought this and actually supported the Yugoslavs independence
movement from Austria. Soon after this, World War II (WWII) began as both Germany
and Austria were in economic shambles.
WWII became an "ethnic cleansing" in Austria as
the Nazi party killed Jews simply for being Jewish. Well over 50,000 Austrian Jews
were killed in the Holocaust during the war. This seems to have been the end of
a long and inconsistent relation between the two groups, which historically went
from working together to uprisings and massacres. At the end of the day, Austria
again found itself on the losing side of the war, catapulting them to independence
as a democratic country.
The new Austria declared itself neutral, they buried their
past, and focused on economic growth and stability from the late 1940s until 1986
when a presidential candidate was accused of war crimes as a Nazi soldier. This
led to the country digging up its past so it could move forward with its future
and, a big part of this involved addressing the Holocaust.
Today, Austria is a modernized country and a leader within
the European Union (EU) and the world. They work successfully with past enemies
and their former occupied countries through communication and their continuing neutrality.