The Long Shadow of a Sinister Past. A Never-Ending Story

Krzysztof Michalski Memorial Lecture

Martin Pollack offers a personal view on Austria’s enthusiastic participation in the rise of the murderous National Socialist regime and its lasting influence on politics and society. That influence is arguably being felt once more, albeit in different, more ‘modern’ forms: the rise of xenophobia and anti-Semitism; the contempt for democracy; and the longing for a strong, even dictatorial leader. Pollack asks whether Austria bears a particular responsibility for the return of these phenomena. 

For many years the official position of Austria in the post-war period refused to acknowledge the degree of its complicity in Nazism. Pollack considers whether this refusal has made the country more susceptible to the seduction of right-wing populism. He does so from the personal experience of being born into a family with strong ties to National Socialism, not just during the regime but also after the fall of the Third Reich. Pollack’s lecture is a remarkable blend of the personal and political, the academic and the emotional.

Martin Pollack, writer and journalist, is one of Austria’s most prolific public intellectuals. His engagement in political and cultural debates combines a profound historical knowledge with a clear-sighted sense for the present. As a literary translator from Polish, he has a firm background in Eastern and Central European issues. Pollack is a long-term friend of the IWM. In 2023 he was awarded the Preis für Publizistik by the City of Vienna.

Misha Glenny, Rector of the IWM, will open the evening and introduce the speaker.

This event is by invitation only.