Starhemberg, Ernst Rüdiger, Count

   From one of the most distinguished and oldest of Upper Austria’s noble houses, Starhemberg, while a university student, fought with the German Freikorps Oberland, a volunteer private militia, after World War I . On 9 November 1923, he participated in Adolf Hitler’s abortive Munich putsch. He remained in Germany for some time after that, serving as a volunteer in the army. These experiences, along with the renown of his family, striking good looks, and genuine oratorical gifts, served Starhemberg well in his career as a politician and leader of the paramilitary Heimwehr in the First Austrian Republic. From 1930 to 1936 he was head of the organization, in which he represented the German-national position. He was deeply under the spell of Benito Mussolini and supported the Austro-Fascism of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, which drew much inspiration from Italian corporatism.
   Following the assassination of Dollfuss, the Heimwehr and Starhemberg reached the height of their direct political leverage with the government. Starhemberg became vice-chancellor and the head of the Fatherland Front. He held these positions until May 1936, when his vigorous advocacy of very close ties to Italy and his ambition to head the Austrian army led Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg to dismiss him.
   Starhemberg emigrated in 1937; from 1942 to 1945 he lived in South America. Over strong protests from the Austrian Socialists, he returned to the country in 1952.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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