This volume on the environmental history of contemporary Austria offers an overview of the field as well as several topical case studies. In addition to highlighting some innovative methodological approaches, the essays also show how critical the environment has been to some of the most crucial aspects of the recent Austrian past. Since the collapse of the Habsburg Monarchy, nature has continually been integral to the nation-building process within the new state. The economic mobilization of the National Socialist period was closely bound to reshaping landscapes and the changes endure to this day. Economic recovery in the postwar period also left its mark upon the country. Not only did the Marshall Plan provide crucial impetus to exploit natural resources on a previously impossible scale, but also the tourist industry which has become so important for the Austrian economy transformed the socio-natural world. In the past few decades, Austria's heavy reliance on tapping into the energy of its swift flowing waterways has transformed hydrology and given rise to a strong and politically savvy environmental movement. Together these essays demonstrate the potential of environmental history to open up new insight into contemporary Austrian history.
Marc Landry is an environmental historian of modern Europe, with a regional focus on Central Europe. His research interests center on the environmental history of Europe’s tumultuous nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly the environmental contexts of industrialization and the two world wars.
Patrick Kupper is Professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Innsbruck. He is the author of Creating Wilderness: a transnational history of the Swiss National Park (Berghahn 2014).