We are in the midst of doing an inventory or our rare books collection in SCRC. While working in the folio section, a colleague and I stumbled upon this disturbing yet intriguing volume. Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung Erlebte: Adolf Hitler und sein Weg zu Grossdeutschland (How Austria Experienced its Liberation: Adolf Hitler and his Route to Greater Germany) tells the story of the early years of Adolph Hitler, Nazism, and the Third Reich. This time period, from Hitler’s birth up to the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria in 1938, might be considered “the good years” for people sympathetic to the Nazis’ cause. Luckily for the rest of the world, things went downhill for the Nazis in the years after that.
Published in 1940, Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung Erlebte has over 300 illustrations. The majority of them are small tipped-in reproductions of original black and white photographs, each 2 inches by 2.5 inches. This gives it the look of a sticker-collection book. The rest of the illustrations are larger printed photographs and drawings that resemble woodcuts.
The typeface used in Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung Erlebte is the old Fraktur, which originated in the 16th century. Ironically, one year later Hitler banned the use of this font (which was used in both this book and on the cover of Hitler’s earlier work, Mein Kampf) claiming it was a Jewish font since it was often seen on Judaic printed materials.
While Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung Erlebte probably was intended to be a sort of celebratory “coffee table book” in 1940’s Germany, it now serves as a visible reminder of the dangers of allowing individuals with sinister motivations to attain positions of power.