Tanks, but no tanks

Gov. Schwarzenegger has mentioned a couple of times now -- most recently in his inauguration speech -- the chill of Communism he felt as Soviet tanks occupied his native Austria when he was a boy. Notwithstanding that the first Russians to enter Austria came as liberators from the Nazis, Patt Morrison's politics column in the L.A. Times says to wait just a minute:

Schwarzenegger's home province of Styria was in the British zone of Austrian occupation, from 1945, before Schwarzenegger was born, until the Allied occupation ended in 1955, when Schwarzenegger was about 8 years old.

Schwarzenegger's hometown of Thal, as a suburb of Graz, was at the heart of the British zone.

"It is very, very unlikely he saw Soviet tanks rolling in the British zone where he lived," said historian James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., and author of the recent book "Waltzing into the Cold War: The Struggle for Occupied Austria."

"In all likelihood, he saw British or American tanks."

A governor's spokesman tried to ask Schwarzenegger to clarify last week, but found him too busy in the first days of his administration.


Carafano pointed out that Soviet tanks were indeed on Austrian streets — but being driven by Austrian soldiers. The Soviets, like the Americans, left some of their tanks behind for the use of the new Austrian army when the occupation ended in 1955.

Rick Orlov in the Daily News adds that the Governor's first week will go down as "one of the shortest political honeymoons in history" and ended with a slap of celebrity reality -- now that the Terminator is just a politician, media coverage of his Rally in the Valley at Galpin Ford was largely preempted by the arrest of Michael Jackson.

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