The book of Austria by Ernst Marboe

I found this book in a 5p dumpbin outside Booth’s Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye. What a treasure! It is an illustrated history and travelogue of Austria, published in 1948 to try to rehabilitate the country’s image from that of being a more-or-less willing ally of Nazi Germany. (That’s a debate for another time and another place.) The introduction puts it thus: “There is a gap in the world’s knowledge of Austria. Perhaps we ourselves are to blame.”

The book is lusciously typeset and illustrated with illuminated typography and artwork throughout, all in full colour.

I had assumed that this was purely propaganda for the post-war Austria, labouring as it did under four-power occupation for ten years after the war. Yet in building this catalogue entry, I found evidence that this book stayed in print, both in English and its original German, for a number of years after the war. Perhaps, then, it is more than just an exercise in whitewashing.

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