The Traits of Austrians

Source: Quora

Some of the most important things one can say about Austrians are:

Austria is a country of homeowners. They do a lot of home improvement by themselves. Most of them love gardening.

They sometimes fail to recognise that the small Alpine Republic is not the glorious Habsburg Monarchy anymore. This can be often very endearing, but sometimes invalidates their opinion on, say, international affairs or other universal topics.

As opposed to the very direct communication style of most Northern Germans, they tend to be indirect or byzantine, being konfliktscheu. One of the most important Austrian dialect lessons is that “schau ma moi”, ( “we will see”) actually is a way of saying “no” without saying “no” and facing all possible reactions to a “no”.

They are extremely friendly and warm when receiving you as a guest: you will notice it especially when staying at a typical Austrian hotel or restaurants. They are also very friendly with temporary exchange students. This friendliness, sadly, disappears as soon as you decide to become a long-term expat: I think they are quite insecure and feel challenged or threatened by skilled non-Austrians. Which really should not be an issue, since they never consider foreigners skilled enough for most office jobs anyway!

Austrians are generally more conservative, than Germans. Most Austrians are Catholic. Austrians tend to deny their nation was complicit with Nazi Germany, saying they were “invaded” or “taken over” by Germany during the Anschluss; therefore they’re more likely to see themselves as victims of the Nazis. Most people in other nations disagree.

That depends a little bit where you are in Austria. Different areas have different traits. The people in Vienna are for example famous for being rude.

Christoph Waltz once said: “Austrian people are very polite, but they don’t mean it”.

The waiters in Vienna are renowned for their grumpiness. The “customer is always right” rule just doesn’t really apply here. Don’t be in a rush to order or even to settle your bill in many Austrian restaurants, as the waiter will often pay you zero attention – and expect them to argue back if they get your order wrong.

In many ways Austria is known for being technologically progressive and efficient – but many foreigners will soon realize that this is a myth.

Austrians love making everything official by what many foreigners may consider to be an outdated system – postal mail – and they also excel in writing terrifying letters. So if you forget to pay a bill or fail to register yourself with the authorities on time, don’t be surprised to get a letter by special delivery – threatening a prison sentence if you don’t pay up.

It was the first country incorporated into Nazi-Germany. Formally it was annexed after a referendum where 99.7% voted YES to join the Reich. Joining the Reich was seen as a duty by the Austrians, which had lost 80% of their former territory with the collapse of the Habsburg Monarchy after WWI.

Hitler was an Austrian, and proportionally the Austrian contributed the most members to the Waffen-SS. At the same time, they played up the “first victim of the Nazis”-scenario after the war.

The Austrian population is 8 million, the same as Sweden, but still they have managed to take in less refugees than them! They also managed to shuttle most of the invaders over to Germany during the worst period. Then they built a fence on the Slovenian and Italian borders to compliment the great work of the Hungarians.

Austria is quite a hierarchical society when you get down to it and most people, especially in an academic context are touchy about their titles. To omit the title (Professor, Doktor, Magister) is seen as quite an insult.

Galina Toktalieva

Kyrgyzstan-born author residing in Graz, Austria

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