Original Austrian post WW1 Vaterland Front (Vaterländische Front) membership badge, IN VERY NICE CONDITION WITH ENAMELLED CENTREPIECE, PERFECTLY WORKING PIN DEVICE, GOOD EXAMPLE OF A RARE BADGE, HARD TO FIND, SIZE: cca 37 mm
HISTORY OF THE FATHERLAND FRONT:
The Fatherland Front (German: Vaterländische Front, VF) was the ruling political organisation in Austria in the 30's. It claimed to be a nonpartisan movement, and aimed to unite all the people of Austria, overcoming political and social divisions. Established on 20 May 1933 by Christian Social Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss as the only legally permitted party in the country. It advocated Austrian nationalism and independence from Germany on the basis of protecting Austria's Catholic religious identity from what they considered a Protestant-dominated German state. The Fatherland Front, which was strongly linked with Austria's Catholic clergy, absorbed Dollfuss's Christian Social Party, the agrarian Landbund and the right-wing paramilitary Heimwehren, all of which were opposed to socialism, free-market capitalism and liberal democracy. It established an authoritarian and corporatist regime, the Federal State of Austria, which is commonly known in German as the Ständestaat ("corporate state"). According to the Fatherland Front this form of government and society implemented the social teaching of Pope Pius XI's 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo anno. The Front banned and persecuted all its political opponents, including Communists, Social Democrats - who fought against it in a brief Civil War in February 1934 - but also the Austrian Nazis who wanted Austria to join Germany. Chancellor Dollfuss was assassinated by the Nazis in July 1934. He was succeeded as leader of the VF and Chancellor of Austria by Kurt Schuschnigg, who ruled until the invigorated Nazis forced him to resign on 11 March 1938. Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany the next day. The Fatherland Front maintained a cultural and recreational organisation, called "New Life" (Neues Leben), similar to Germany's Strength Through Joy. The role of the Fatherland Front has been a contentious point in post-War Austrian historiography. While left-wing historians consider it to be the exponent of an Austrian and Catholic-clerical variant of fascism and make it responsible for the failure of democracy in Austria, conservative authors stress its credits in defending the country's independence and opposition to Nazism. The "League of Jewish Front Soldiers" (Bund Juedischer Frontsoldaten), the largest of several Jewish defense paramilitaries active in Austria at the time, was incorporated into the Fatherland Front.