November 8, 1881
|Died||September 6, 1955
|Term||1919 - 1923|
|Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei|
A native of Wiener Neustadt, Riehl was initially a disciple of conservative philosopher Othmar Spann. Despite this he joined the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP) in 1908. As a DAP member representing the middle classes he advocated a name change and a broadening of membership away from simply the working classes. He eventually became leader of the renamed Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei (DNSAP) immediately after the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
As leader Riehl moved the DNSAP, which had mainly been an anti-Czech party towards anti-Semitism. He sought to blame Austria's problems on the Jews and wanted them expelled from the country. He also supported profit sharing and land reform. and also sought to build up the party in universities, setting up a German Academic Association of National Socialists as early as June 1919. Riehl was not a supporter of union with Germany but nonetheless he accepted a subservient role to Adolf Hitler at an early stage, referring to him "unseren reichsdeutschen führer" (our German Reich leader) in 1922. Certainly contact was established between the two very early and Carsten has suggested that Hitler added the epithet 'National Socialist' to his German Workers Party in imitation of Riehl's movement. Riehl remained as leader of the DNSAP until 1923 when it split between the pro-Hitler and pro-independence factions. Riehl took charge of the pro-independence Deutschsozialen Verein wing of the party with Karl Schulz leading the Hitlerite group.
Return to favour
Riehl's profile fell somewhat after the split as the pro-Germany wing won the lion's share of support. However Riehl would come back into favour in 1925 when he defended Otto Rothstock at his trial for the murder of Hugo Bettauer. His involvement in the trial heped him to regain prestige in the DNSAP after resigning from the leadership following the schisms of 1923. Riehl gained notoriety for his defences of right wing leaders in a number of cases and in the aftermath of the Schattendorf Incident it was he who secured the acquittal of the accused rightist leaders.
He returned to a prominent position within the party and used this influence to again promote his anti-Semitic agenda. In 1931 he called for castration for any Jewish man caught having sex with an Aryan girl and when elected to Vienna council the following year he made a further call for expulsion of the Jews from the area. Indeed for Riehl anti-Semitism was the entire basis of the Nazis' appeal in Austria, along with their anti-communism.
Despite his extreme views on the Jews, Riehl was more committed to constitutional methods than some of his DNSAP colleagues and he became a critic of some of the group's excesses. He was especially critical of the leadership of Theodor Habicht and Alfred Frauenfeld, in particular the botched putsch of 1934 which resulted in the murder of Engelbert Dollfuss. Briefly held in detention by the Gestapo after the Anschluss he then attempted to join the Nazi Party but was rejected on account of his shaky record on supporting union with Germany.
- Riehl, Walter
- Eric Voegelin, The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, 1999, p. 15
- R.J.B. Bosworth, The Oxford Handbook of Fascism, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 441
- John T. Lauridsen, Nazism and the radical right in Austria, 1918-1934, 2007, p. 280
- John T. Lauridsen, Nazism and the radical right in Austria, 1918-1934, 2007, p. 283
- Bruce F. Pauley, From Prejudice to Persecution, 1998, pp. 192-3
- S.J. Woolf, Fascism in Europe, 1981, p. 97
- John T. Lauridsen, Nazism and the radical right in Austria, 1918-1934, 2007, p. 292
- John T. Lauridsen, Nazism and the radical right in Austria, 1918-1934, 2007, p. 301
- F.L. Carsten, The Rise of Fascism, London: Methuen & Co, 1974, p. 95
- Carsten, The Rise of Fascism, p. 129
- Bruce F. Pauley, From Prejudice to Persecution, 1998, p. 105
- Bruce F. Pauley, From Prejudice to Persecution, 1998, p. 194
- Günter Bischof, Anton Pelinka, Rolf Steininger, Austria in the Nineteen Fifties, 1995, p. 148
- Bruce F. Pauley, From Prejudice to Persecution, 1998, pp. 200-1
- Bruce F. Pauley, From Prejudice to Persecution, 1998, p. 202
- F. Parkinson, Conquering the Past, 1989, p. 44
- Proflie in German