Letter to the editor: Austria turns back the clock to 1938 with COVID restrictions | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: Austria turns back the clock to 1938 with COVID restrictions

Rachel Steinmetz

With Austria in the news recently, I’m reminded of scenes from a favorite movie. Capt. Von Trapp sings “Edelweiss” in a melancholic farewell with his family before fleeing the country to escape being forced to join the Third Reich. Albeit “The Sound of Music” has little to do with the reason Austria is making headlines, or does it?

The Guardian reported: “Austria is to introduce a lockdown for unvaccinated people in two of Europe’s worst-hit coronavirus regions from Monday and could extend it across the country, the chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, has said.”

In 1938 as Hitler’s Nazi regime was growing in Europe, Austria’s new Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg was bullied into the Anschluss (union with Germany) and subsequent appointment of several Nazi party members in positions of power. The Nazis marched into Austria later that year.

So what do Schallenberg and Schuschnigg have in common?

They both seem to lack the backbone to stand up to bullies and stand up for their people.

The population was slowly conditioned to discriminate against and dehumanize Jews, thinking of them as filthy and scapegoating them as the reason for all of their problems — absent of any evidence, logic or ethical justification. If you can’t see the parallels, I forgive you.

Forgiveness, kindness, understanding and tolerance are the qualities we must cultivate if we are going to escape this dark winter of inhumanity.

This isn’t a left vs. right issue. It’s not about politics or even medicine. It’s a human rights issue. Less then a century later, Austria is pulling ahead in the world’s race to egregiously violate these rights again. Are we still a country that values protecting human rights like we did during World War II, or have we lost our way, as well?

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