Siegfried Wieser

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Siegfried's life in Austria was greatly affected by the Nazis in WWII. He reads passages from a genealogy that acted as identification for his family in Austria during WWII.


Hello, my name is Siegfried Wieser. I was born over seventy years ago in Austria, then a very young democracy formed from the remnants of the Austrian-Hungarian empire after World War I. It had developed a working elected government, but it was stressed by internal conflicts, where private armies and other outside influences clashed for supremacy. One of its chancellors was even assassinated. There were many attempts to establish stability.

I was just five years old when the German army crossed the borders into Austria, jailed our chancellor, and claimed the land as one of its provinces. It forced German law on us, and installed Germany’s appointed officials to rule over us. I was six years old when the Second World War began. Our men and boys were drafted. Some of our neighbours disappeared without trace. One of my great uncles, an abbot of a monastery, was one of them Later we heard that he was arrested under the suspicion of working for the Austrian underground. A year later, we learned that he had died in prison from a stroke and from starvation.

I was twelve years old when we were liberated. Austria had yet one more chance to start on its road to a democratic element. I was twenty upon my admission into Canada as a landed immigrant. I was forty when I inherited a genealogy document from one of my uncle’s who had died in Austria. Now, it is always interesting to trace one’s ancestry, but I was highly disturbed to read the regulations governing the ideals and conditions behind this specific political passport. I quote a few passages to illuminate the extent of the impact:

1) This genealogy was approved by the Office for Clan Research for the Ministry of the Interior, and it is authorized for use by the rules of the NSDAP – The National Socialist Worker’s Party. It is only for use by peoples of the German race,

2) The entire effort of education for the popular state must culminate in results which show an awareness and pride of race, both in the heart and wisdom of its youth. No boy or girl should leave school without the acknowledgement of the necessity and acceptance of the importance of racial purity. Thus will the precondition for the maintenance of the racial foundation of our population be asserted, and through this the permanent condition of consequent cultural development assured.

3) Point four of the program of the NSDAP says that citizens can only be those who are members of the people. Members of the people are only those who are of the German race, regardless of their religious denomination. Consequently, no Jew belongs to the people.

4) This genealogy acts as legal document. Its composition must be performed with absolute and painstaking accuracy.

5) This genealogy will provide the evidence for German- or clan-related ancestry of one specific person.

6) In the short term, and eventually forever, this document shall be the required certification for every person of the nation.

7) This proof of genealogy shall be required to extend at least back to the year 1800.

This ends the quotes from the document as written in 1936. Thus, the official program did set up the internal framework for the German race relations and subsequent actions. It established a method of tracing the purity of race and the subsequent ethnic cleansing. This little innocuous passage was the tool of the atrocities that followed. The result was the torture and murder of six million innocent victims. This frightening lesson is worth emphasizing: Central Europe had a highly developed educational system. It had a highly moral population, and an advanced ethical value system. How could it have been persuaded to adopt and fulfill such policies with so little opposition? How did the entire western world come to flirt with these inhuman ideas? And if it could happen then, could it happen again? Is it, indeed, happening even now?