The Stalin plaque in Vienna: hiding and showing history

Faculty/Professorship: Slavic Literary Studies  
Author(s): Kriza, Elisa  
Title of the Journal: European Review of History: Revue européenne d'histoire
ISSN: 1469-8293
Publisher Information: London [u.a.] : Taylor & Francis
Year of publication: 2018
Issue: Published online: 07 Sep 2018
Pages: 19 ; Online-Ressource
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1080/13507486.2018.1505832
The Stalin plaque in Vienna is one of the last memorials dedicated to the Soviet dictator in Europe to endure until today. It was unveiled upon the initiative of the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ) on 21 December 1949. Numerous petitions to remove it remain unheeded, but a second, explanatory plaque was added in 2012. This paper looks back at the early post-war years in order to understand the origins of this memorial. It discusses how the complex relationship between the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), the KPÖ and the Austrian Socialist Party (SPÖ) in the early post-war years influenced the history of the Stalin plaque. Austria’s defiance of complete de-stalinization is the result of local and national politics of memory and diverting interpretations of foreign policy developments. In political debates and in press reports about the non-removal of the plaque different reasons are offered. Arguments pointing to the peculiarities of Austrian politics of memory regarding controversial issues and also local (Viennese) priorities are dissected in this article. Another often quoted explanation for the memorial’s longevity is the alleged indifference of Viennese locals towards Stalin. These propositions are explored and contextualized in the political conflicts of memory in Austria.
Keywords: Stalin, Memorial, Austria, USSR, KPÖ, De-Stalinization, Stalin, Wien, Entstalinisierung, UdSSR, Erinnerungskultur
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
Year of publication: 17. September 2018