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Taras Borodajkewycz

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Taras Borodajkewycz

Taras (von) Borodajkewycz (October 1, 1902 in Baden bei Wien, Lower Austria[1] – January 3, 1984 in Vienna), was a former member of the NSDAP and, after World War II, professor of economic history at the College of World Trade in Vienna (today: Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration). He remained an unrepentant supporter of Nazism after the war and the pro-fascist views he allegedly expressed in his university lectures in the 1960s sparked major student demonstrations in Vienna that resulted in at least one fatality.

Life

During the interwar years, he was an adherent of Catholic-national ideas which attempted to combine Catholic identity and pan-German politics. During the mid-30s, he became a supporter of national socialism and formally joined the then-outlawed Nazi party in 1934. He was also a member of K.A.V. Norica Wien, a Catholic Studentenverbindung that was member of the Cartellverband der katholischen deutschen Studentenverbindungen, from which he was expelled in 1945 because of his support of and membership in the NSDAP. Borodajkewycz received his doctorate in history from the University of Vienna in 1932 and worked as an assistant to the right-wing scholar Heinrich von Srbik, leading up to his habilitation in 1937 in religious and intellectual history. After a short period teaching at the University of Vienna and working as an archivist in the Viennese Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Borodajkewycz received appointment to a professorship of modern history at the German university in Prague, where he taught from 1943 to 1945.[2]

Borodajkewycz moved back to Austria after World War II and, despite his longstanding association with the NSDAP, was rapidly rehabilitated thanks to favorable political connections in the new Austrian government. He soon resumed his teaching career at the Vienna College of World Trade (Hochschule für Welthandel), the country's leading finance and business management school. However, his continued sympathies with National Socialism were apparent. He repeatedly made neo-Nazi and antisemitic remarks in his lectures that attracted a devoted following of students who shared his conservative, anti-leftist political leanings. But Borodajkewycz's unreconstructed views, once widely publicized, unleashed a legal battle and a series of social protests that exposed tensions over how post-war Austrian society was dealing with its Nazi past.

The 1962 scandal

In 1962, Heinz Fischer, today President of Austria, attacked Borodajkewycz in a journal article over remarks made during a lecture, which he reported based on a fellow-student's class notes. Since he did not want to identify the student (Ferdinand Lacina, later Austrian minister of finance, who had not graduated yet and might not have been able to do so had he been revealed), Fischer was successfully sued by Borodajkewycz for defamation, and had to pay a fine. Borodajkewycz felt encouraged by the verdict and disclosed his views more openly in his lectures from that time onwards.

The 1965 scandal

In March 1965, student groups, former resistance members, and unions organized a demonstration to call for Borodajkewycz's removal. The demonstration clashed with a countermarch organized by the Ring Freiheitlicher Studenten, the student organization of the Freedom Party of Austria. Ernst Kirchweger, a former resistance member and concentration camp survivor, who was watching the demonstrations but not participating himself, was seriously injured by a right-wing demonstrator. He died some days after the demonstration, becoming the first political death of the Second Republic.

In April 1965, the defamation trial against Fischer was reopened, and he was acquitted on the basis of a testimony by Lacina, who had graduated in the meantime. An appeal by Borodajkewicz was rejected. Another lawsuit attempted to implicate Borodajkewicz in Kirchweger's death, but he was exonerated.

Ultimately, Borodajkewycz was forced to take early retirement (with full salary), despite strong efforts by the minister of education, Theodor Piffl-Percevic, to defend him. During the following years, he continued to publish articles in right-wing journals.

References

  • (German) Schmidt, Erich; Konecny, Albrecht K.: "Heil Borodajkewycz!" Österreichs Demokraten im Kampf gegen Professor Borodajkewycz und seine Hintermänner. Wien, München 1966
  • (German) Fischer, Heinz: Einer im Vordergrund. Taras Borodajkewycz. Wien, Frankfurt a. M., Zürich
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