History Podcasts

Anschluss

Anschluss

After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the First World War, the majority of the German speaking people in Austria wanted to unite with the new German Republic. However, this was forbidden by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

Demands for the union (Anschluss) of Austria and Germany increased after Adolf Hitler became German Chancellor. In February, 1938, Hitler invited Kurt von Schuschnigg, the Austrian Chancellor, to meet him at Berchtesgarden. Hitler demanded concessions for the Austrian Nazi Party. Schuschnigg refused and after resigning was replaced by Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the leader of the Austrian Nazi Party. On 13th March, Seyss-Inquart invited the German Army to occupy Austria and proclaimed union with Germany.

Austria was now renamed Ostmark and was placed under the leadership of Arthur Seyss-Inquart. The Austrian born Ernst Kaltenbrunner was named Minister of State and head of the Schutz Staffeinel (SS).

This day has placed us in a tragic and decisive situation. I have to give my Austrian fellow countrymen the details of the events of today.

The German Government today handed to President Miklas an ultimatum, with a time limit, ordering him to nominate as chancellor a person designated by the German Government and to appoint members of a cabinet on the orders of the German Government; otherwise German troops would invade Austria.

I declare before the world that the reports launched in Germany concerning disorders by the workers, the shedding of streams of blood, and the creation of a situation beyond the control of the Austrian Government are lies from A to Z. President Miklas has asked me to tell the people of Austria that we have yielded to force since we are not prepared even in this terrible situation to shed blood. We have decided to order the troops to offer no resistance.

So I take leave of the Austrian people with the German word of farewell uttered from the depth of my heart: God protect Austria.

On the day on which she was to have voted on her freedom and independence, Austria was last night officially proclaimed a "State of the German Reich." The Anschluss has been brought into being. A month hence the Austrian people will be asked to say what they think of it.

The law - enacted by the Austrian government and "accepted" by the German - states:

On the basis of the Federal Constitution law regarding the extraordinary measures within the scope of the Constitution, the Federal Government has resolved;

1. Austria is a state of the German Reich.

2. On Sunday, April 10, a free and secret plebiscite of the German men and women of Austria over twenty years of age will take place regarding the reunion with the German Reich.

It is explained in Berlin that Austria now becomes a Federal State of the Reich, such as Bavaria, Saxony and Württemberberg. Austria, like Bavaria, will retain her own Government, and for the present the existing laws will remain in force.

Herr Hitler has incorporated the Austrian Army in the German Army and placed it under his command.

Last night it was announced that President Miklas had resigned at the request of Dr. Seyss-Inquart, the Nazi Chancellor, who took over the President's powers.

In all countries-except Italy and Japan, partners with Germany in the anti-Comintern Pact, the annexing of Austria is condemned.

Certain foreign newspapers have said that we fell on Austria with brutal methods. I can only say; even in death they cannot stop lying. I have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my people, but when I crossed the former frontier (into Austria) there met me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators.


The Anschluss issue predated the war and far predated Hitler. It made a lot of sense in the context of European history. For centuries, the German-speaking center of Europe had been dominated by the Austrian Empire — partly because what became Germany was over 300 small states forming the Holy Roman Empire and partly because the Habsburg rulers of this empire held Austria. However, Napoleon changed all this. His success caused the Holy Roman Empire to cease and left a far smaller number of states behind. Whether you credit the fight back against Napoleon for birthing a new German identity or consider this an anachronism, a movement began which wanted all the Germans of Europe united into a single Germany. As this was pushed forward, back, and forward again, a question remained: if there was a Germany, would the German-speaking parts of Austria be included?

The Austrian (and later, Austro-Hungarian) Empire had a large number of different peoples and languages within it, only part of which was German. The fear that nationalism and national identity would tear this polyglot empire apart was real. To many in Germany, incorporating the Austrians and leaving the rest to their own states was a plausible idea. To many in Austria, it wasn’t. They had their own empire, after all. Bismarck was then able to drive through the creation of a German state (with more than a little help from Moltke). Germany took the lead in dominating central Europe but Austria remained distinct and outside.


Anschluss

Anschluss (English: “connection” or “joining”) is the term used to describe the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in March 1938. The idea of an Anschluss (Austria and Germany uniting to form a “Greater Germany”) began after the Unification of Germany excluded Austria and the Austrian Germans from the Prussian-dominated German nation-state in 1871. The idea of grouping all Germans into a nation-state country had been the subject of debate in the 19th century from the end of the Holy Roman Empire until the end of the German Confederation.

Following the end of World War I in 1918, the Republic of German-Austria attempted union with Germany, but the Treaty of Saint Germain (September 10, 1919) and the Treaty of Versailles (June 28, 1919) forbade both the union and the continued use of the name “German-Austria.”

The constitutions of the Weimar Republic and the First Austrian Republic included the political goal of unification, which was widely supported by democratic parties. In the early 1930s, popular support in Austria for union with Germany remained overwhelming, and the Austrian government looked to a possible customs union with German Republic in 1931.

When the Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, rose to power in the Weimar Republic, the Austrian government withdrew from economic ties. Austria shared the economic turbulence of the Great Depression, with a high unemployment rate and unstable commerce and industry. During the 1920s it was a target for German investment capital. By 1937 rapid German rearmament increased Berlin’s interest in annexing Austria, rich in raw materials and labor. It supplied Germany with magnesium and the products of the iron, textile, and machine industries. It had gold and foreign currency reserves, many unemployed skilled workers, hundreds of idle factories, and large potential hydroelectric resources.

The Nazis aimed to re-unite all Germans either born or living outside of the Reich to create an “all-German Reich.” Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that he would create a union between his birth country Austria and Germany by any means possible (“German-Austria must be restored to the great German Motherland.” “People of the same blood should be in the same Reich.”).

Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany on March 12, 1938. There had been several years of pressure from supporters in Austria and Germany (both Nazis and non-Nazis) for the “Heim ins Reich” (“back home to the Reich”) movement. Earlier, Nazi Germany provided support for the Austrian National Socialist Party (Austrian Nazi Party) in its bid to seize power from Austria’s Fatherland Front government.

On March 9, 1938, Iin the face of rioting by the small but virulent Austrian Nazi Party and ever-expanding German demands on Austria, Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg called a plebiscite referendum (popular vote) on the issue, to be held on March 13. Infuriated, on March 11 Adolf Hitler threatened invasion of Austria and demanded Chancellor von Schuschnigg’s resignation and the appointment of the Nazi Arthur Seyss-Inquart as his replacement. Hitler’s plan was for Seyss-Inquart to call immediately for German troops to rush to Austria’s aid, restoring order and giving the invasion an air of legitimacy. In the face of this threat, Schuschnigg informed Seyss-Inquart that the plebiscite would be cancelled.

Nevertheless, the Hitler underestimated his opposition. Schuschnigg did resign on the evening of March 11, but President Wilhelm Miklas refused to appoint Seyss-Inquart as chancellor. At 8:45 p.m., Hitler, tired of waiting, ordered the invasion to commence at dawn on March 12 regardless. Around 10 p.m., a forged telegram was sent in Seyss-Inquart’s name asking for German troops, since he was not yet chancellor and was unable to do so himself. Seyss-Inquart was not installed as chancellor until after midnight, when Miklas resigned himself to the inevitable.

As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edgar A Mowrer, reporting from Paris for CBS, observed: “There is no one in all France who does not believe that Hitler invaded Austria not to hold a genuine plebiscite, but to prevent the plebiscite planned by Schusschnigg from demonstrating to the entire world just how little hold National Socialism really had on that tiny country.” Clearly it was Hitler and not Schuschnigg who was terrified by the potential results of the scheduled plebiscite, and that was the best indication of where Austrians’ loyalty lay.

The newly installed Nazis within two days transferred power to Germany, and Wehrmacht troops entered Austria to enforce the Anschluss. The Nazis held a controlled plebiscite in the whole Reich within the following month, asking the people to ratify the annexation, and claimed that 99.7561% of the votes cast in Austria were in favor. Austrian citizens of Jewish origin were not allowed to vote.

Anschluss: German and Austrian border police dismantle a border post in 1938.


Anschluss of Austria

On the night of 11 to 12 March 1938, German troops, previously concentrated on the border in accordance with the plan entered the territory of Austria. The Austrian army, which received an order not to resist, capitulated.

March 13 at 7pm, Hitler solemnly entered Vienna, accompanied by Chief of the High Command of the German Armed Forces, Wilhelm Keitel. On the same day, the law “On the Reunification of Austria with the German Empire” was published, according to which Austria was declared “one of the lands of the German Empire” and henceforth became known as the “Ostmark”.

O April 10, Germany and Austria held a plebiscite about the Anschluss. According to official data, 99.08% of residents voted for the Anschluss in Austria, 99.75% of the vote in Austria.


IGCSE History

This event related to the ToV as it broke the term of Anschluss forbidden with Austria. It also achieved the Foreign Policy of Hitler: creating the Reich, achieving Lebensraum and the uniting of German speakers.

Hitler wanted to invade Austria because:

  • Hitler was from Austria
  • There were lots of natural resources like gold, iron and ore.
  • In Mein Kampf 2, Hitler stated that the two countries belonged together.
  • There were lots of German speakers.
  • There was a strong Nazi Party in Germany.
  • Many Austrians supported a German invasion due to their bad economy, which could be strengthened by Germany.
  • Hitler had tried to invade in 1934 however, he had been stopped by Mussolini. Now they were allies.

Hitler told Nazi’s in Austria to make riots, then the Chancellor of Austria came to Hitler for help. Hitler stated that this problem could only be fixed with Anschluss. Schuschnigg appealed to the LoN for help however they advised a plebiscite which was eventually carried out to see what the Austrians wanted. Hitler couldn’t afford to lose this so he sent over SS troops to guarantee a trouble-free victory. 99.75% voted in Hitler’s favour completing the event with no military confrontation from France and GB. Chamberlain (GB Prime Minister) felt that there was a right for Anschluss and the ToV was wrong. This was one of the first acts of appeasement.

Overall there was no response from the LoN apart from suggesting a plebiscite and approving Anschluss.

This was significant as Hitler gained land, support and confidence. The ToV was also outlined as a flawed treaty and GB and France weren’t prepared to go to war for it. Hitler’s actions were risky however they payed off.


INSTITUTE FOR HISTORICAL REVIEW

"The Sound of Music" is perhaps the most popular American musical picture ever produced. This entertaining 1965 movie, which includes such catchy tunes as "My Favorite Things" and "Do-Re-Mi," won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. But whatever its merits as entertainment, the film's presentation of history is deceitful. In particular, its portrayal of the 1938 union or Anschluss of Austria with the German Reich is a gross distortion of reality.

Ordinary Austrians are portrayed in the movie as decent, patriotic and devout, and unhappy with the grim German takeover of their country. For decades American educators and scholars have similarly presented the Anschluss as an act of aggression. Historian William L. Shirer, for example, in his best-selling book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, refers to the 1938 union as the "Rape of Austria."

According to the movie, the head of the von Trapp family decides to flee the country with his wife and children to avoid having to serve in the German navy. While it's true that Georg Ludwig von Trapp, who is played in the movie by Christopher Plummer, was a monarchist who was hostile to Hitler and National Socialism, he was never forced to choose between service in the German armed forces or emigration from the country.

In the movie, the von Trapps flee Austria in secret, hiking over the mountains into Switzerland carrying their suitcases and musical instruments. In reality, they left the country by train, and they did so quite openly. And instead of going to Switzerland they traveled to Italy before ultimately settling in the United States. As daughter Maria said years later in an interview: "We did tell people that we were going to America to sing. And we did not climb over mountains with all our heavy suitcases and instruments. We left by train, pretending nothing,"

A more serious distortion of reality is the movie's portrayal of Austria in 1938, and the attitude of Austrians toward Hitler and National Socialism. In fact, the vast majority of Austrians joyfully welcomed the union of their homeland with Hitler's Reich. This is explained in detail, for example, in Hitler's Austria, a scholarly and well-referenced book by Evan Burr Bukey, a professor of history at the University of Arkansas.

In the years before the March 1938 Anschluss, Austria was ruled by the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg regime, a repressive one-party dictatorship that called itself a "Christian Corporative" state. It imprisoned National Socialists, Marxists and other dissidents. But there was one important section of Austria's population that supported the dictatorial regime. That was the Jewish community, which made up 2.8 percent of the total. As Prof. Bukey writes: "The Jewish community regarded the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg regime as its protector . Under the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg regime the Jewish community recovered a measure of governmental protection it had not enjoyed since the days of the Habsburgs. The public was outraged."

In spite of their small numbers, Austria's Jews wielded vast and disproportionate wealth and power. As Prof. Bukey writes: "The predominant position of the Jews in an impoverished country only intensified the fear and loathing of the Austrians masses. As we have already seen, Jewish businesses and financial institutions managed much of the country's economic life. At the time of the Anschluss three-quarters of Vienna's newspapers, banks and textile firms were in Jewish hands . The extraordinary success of the Jews in the learned professions also inspired jealously and spite. Over 50 percent of Austria's attorneys, physicians and dentists were Jewish. "

On the eve of the Anschluss, Austria's economy was in a catastrophic condition, and nearly one-third of Austrians were out of work. But people also knew that, just across the border in the German Reich, unemployment had been eliminated, living standards and working conditions had greatly improved, and economic, social and cultural life was flourishing.

Even Hitler, who was himself a native of Austria, did not realize just how eagerly Austrians looked forward to the union of their homeland with the Reich. Commenting on his entry into his Austria in March 1938, Prof. Bukey writes: "What he [Hitler] did not take into account was the tumultuous welcome he would receive from the Austrian people, an outburst of frenzied acclimation seldom seen the days of the Caesars."

Virtually the only people in Austria who did not join in the general outpouring of joy was a small minority of Jews, Marxists and monarchists. Hitler ordered a free and secret national referendum on this great issue. As Prof Bukey notes:"Hitler sincerely believed that 'all state power must emanate from the people and [be] confirmed in free state elections'."

In the run-up to the referendum, Austria's Roman Catholic and Protestant leadership, along with the country's labor leaders, issued statements welcoming the incorporation of their country into Hitler's Germany. The Catholic primate of Austria, Theodor Innitzer, personally welcomed Hitler to Vienna. Together with the country's other Bishops, Cardinal Innitzer issued a pastoral letter urging the faithful to vote for Hitler. The Catholic leaders also authorized the draping of swastika banners from the country's churches. In Austria, well as in the rest of the German Reich, approval of the Anschluss -- as reflected in the plebiscite -- was nearly unanimous. Even foreign observers acknowledged that the lopsided, 99 percent "Yes" vote reflected popular sentiment.

Following Austria's incorporation into the Reich, conditions improved dramatically. As Prof. Bukey writes: "In one of the most remarkable economic achievements in modern history, the National Socialists reduced the number of unemployed in Austria from 401,000 in January 1938 to 99,865 in September in Vienna from 183,271 to 74,162 . By Christmas [1938] 27 percent more jobs existed in Austria than before the Anschluss." In 1940 the unemployment rate fell to just 1.2 percent.

Between June and December 1938 -- that is, in just seven months -- the weekly income of industrial workers rose nine percent. "All in all," writes Prof. Bukey, "the Austrian GNP rose 12.8 percent in 1938, and 13.3 percent in 1939." Seldom in history has a country experienced such rapid, dramatic economic growth.

Shortly after the Anschluss, Germany's National Labor Law and the Reich's comprehensive social security system were introduced in Austria. These guaranteed basic rights at the workplace, afforded protection from arbitrary dismissal, quickly provided relief to more than 200,000 desperately poor people, and extended health care benefits to the working class. A large-scale construction program was launched to provide affordable housing. Cultural life was greatly encouraged, with energetic promotion of music, the fine arts and literature. Together with the increase in prosperity and optimism came a jump in the birthrate.

Economic growth continued even after the outbreak of war in September 1939, in spite of a shortage of labor and other difficulties. In 1941, Austria's GNP increased by 7.2 percent. "By 1941," writes Prof. Bukey, "wartime mobilization was bringing palpable improvement in the material conditions of everyday life to many Austrians."

In November 1941, Austria's bishops issued a pastoral letter, which was read in all churches, affirming support for the war against Soviet Russia. In it the Catholic leaders solemnly declared that Germany was conducting a crusade against a monstrous "threat to Western civilization." Rather than "keep silent," the bishops went on, Catholics should "recognize the danger for all Europe should Bolshevism prevail."

During the war years, Austrians continued to apply in large numbers to join the National Socialist Party, so that by May 1943 two-thirds of a million had signed up. Austrian support for the regime remained strong to the bitter end in May 1945.

In short, the "Sound of Music" portrayal of the Austrian people's attitude toward Hitler and the National Socialist Reich is a deceitful perversion of historical reality.

Evan Burr Bukey, Hitler's Austria: Popular Sentiment in the Nazi Era, 1938-1945 (University of North Carolina Press, 2000).


Anschluss - History

ANCHLUß.

Hitler's quiet invasion of Austria in 1938 was the culmination of events that began much earlier. To understand the invasion of Austria by the Third Reich, one needs some background on the political climate of the European Continent in the mid-1930's.

Both Germany and Italy were controlled by fascist dictators. In Germany, of course, the leader was Adolph Hitler and and his National Socialist party, the NSDAP. In Italy, it was Benito Mussolini and the National Fascist Party, the PNF. Both had expansionist ideas for their countries. Italy had already expanded into Ethiopia and was in the midst of winning that country's control. Meanwhile, in Spain, General Francisco Franco and his facist troops were fighting to take control of Spain from the Loyalist government. Franco was getting help both from Italy and Germany in his attempts. For Germany, it was a training ground of sorts for his military which was growing quickly. It was Hitler's belief that the key to his country was a heavily armed military which could help achieve his expansionist ideas for a newly reunited German Reich. Prior to the rise of Adolph Hitler, Austria's Social Democratic party had dreamed of uniting with Germany. His authoritarian rule, however, dampened that desire. Continuing to put pressure on Austria, Hitler ordered the pro-Nazi Austrians to try to overthrow the government. It resulted in the murder of Engelbert Dollfuss.

While Hitler had yet to expand beyond his current boundries, he was feverishly ramping up his military power, while at the same time claiming he was not interested in other countries. In a speech to the Reichstag on May 21, 1935, Hitler declared

These words, despite the year before, an Austrian pro-Nazi gang murdered then Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss (right). The attempt was a German-controlled coup that failed despite Dollfuss' murder. The planned pretext for Germany's takeover was that Germany was moving to prevent an attempted Hapsburg restoration. At the time, Italy was Austria's protector and Dollfuss, a proto-fascist was friendly with Mussolini. Despite the Austrian Chancellor's leanings, he vowed to keep Austria independent of Germany. When he was killed, Italy sent troops to the border as a warning to Hitler to stay out of Austria. For Hitler this effectively killed any attempt for a coup.

Kurt von Schuschnigg (left) became the Austrian Chancellor. His Fatherland Front, a Christian Fascist party continued their control following the death of Dollfuss. Unfortunately, von Schuschnigg would prove weak against German threats. Despite a failed coup, National Socialist sympathizers were seizing the day in Austria growing ever more powerful. And the Socialists, whom Dollfuss had savagely suppressed were reviving their own party. Even Italy, which had strengthened ties with Germany, no longer supported Austria the way it had under Dollfuss. Hitler and his ilk were smelling blood.

In January, 1938 with von Schuschnigg's blessing, Austrian police raided Nazi headquarters and banned the Austrian Nazi party. Schuschnigg was banking that the Austrian Nazi's would be condemned by Italy, England and France.

But before he could move on Austria, Hitler had other business within his own country to attend business which would strengthen his resolve to take Austria. The two architects of the Nazi Germany military, Field Marshall Werner von Blomberg, minister of war and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and General Freiherr Werner von Fritsch, commander-in-chief of the army, were out - fired from their positions. von Fritsch was openly opposed to Hitler's plan for the seizure of Austria. To ensure this military shakeup was accepted, Hitler also relieved or transferred many other generals. And Hitler himself became the Supreme Commander of the Armed Services. He had taken a firm hold upon the military.

On the political front, Hitler removed Constantin von Neurath as foreign minister and replaced him with Joachim von Ribbentrop. Several other key ministers were also replaced including Franz von Papen on February 4th, his minister in Vienna who had helped Hitler come to power. Many of the ministers were from the old conservative school and stood in the way of Hitler's launching his foreign policy of expansion.

Finally, in February, 1938, Hitler was ready to act against Austria. He presented Schuschnigg with demands that the National Socialists in Austria be left unrestricted and that they be included in Austria's government. If Schuschnigg failed to act at once, Germany would invade Austria. But on February 16th, Hitler, still wanting satisfactory relations with England, contacted the Italian Ambassador in London, Count Dino Grandi, telling him that this would be the last chance for a reconciliation with England. He wrote "should the Anschluss be an accomplished fact. it would become increasingly difficult for us to reach an agreement or even talk with the English." Neville Chamberlain saw this as an opening to an appeasement with Hitler. But his desire was at adversity with Anthony Eden his foreign secretary. Eden felt that Chamberlain should have taken up Roosevelt's suggestion for an international conference on the European situation. Eden felt the conference would draw the U.S. into the situation, but Chamberlain believed that like the Brussels Conference on the Far East, the U.S. would "propound moral principles" and England and France would be the enforcers.

Generally abandoned by Italy and without hope of support from England or France, Schuschnigg had little choice but to give in to Hitler's demands. He agreed to lift the ban against the Austrian Nazi Party, to amnesty all Nazis in prison including Dollfuss' murderers, and to appoint Austrian Nazis to key cabinet posts giving them charge of the police, the army and the economy. Schuschnigg was in effect signing Austria over to Germany.

On Sunday, February 20th, Adolph Hitler gave a speech to the German Reichstag in which he warned that Germany would know how to protect the ten million Germans living on its borders - seven million in Austria and three million in Czechoslovakia.

On Thursday, February 24th Schuschnigg gave Hitler an answer to his Reichstag speech with a speech of his own in the Austrian Bundestag. While conciliatory, Schuschnigg declared that Austria had reached the limit of concessions "where we must call a halt and say: This far and no further." He already had Nazis in his cabinet, and Nazi mobs running loose in the streets undermining his own efforts to stabilize the country. Austria, he said, would never voluntarily give up its independence.

Austrian Nazis, with the blessing of the interior minister, Seyss-Inquart, who was in charge of the police and himself a Nazi, stormed the streets of some of the towns including Vienna. Desperate, Schuschnigg turned to the Social Democrats, whom he had previously banned and offered to allow their party and free their comrades from prison in exchange for their help. While the Socialists agreed to help, it was too little too late.

But Schuschnigg was determined to keep Austria separate. On March 7th, he contacts Mussolini seeking opinion on a plebiscite. Mussolini warns that it would be a mistake to do so. But Schuschnigg ignored the warning and on March 9th in a speech at Innsbruck, announced for March 13th, a plebiscite on whether Austria should remain separate from German control.

The next day, March 10th, Hitler ordered German troops to mobilize on the Austrian frontier and members of the Austrian National Socialist Party began riots in Vienna, Linz, Graz, and Klagenfurt. It is believed that Hitler instigated the rioting. But they were quickly quelled by Austrian police and the mood remained somber. Schuschnigg's hand was strengthened by the Austrian Socialst party and it appeared once more that Schuschnigg had won the day. Many believed that with the backing of the Socialists, Hitler would back away from his threats.

March 11th would turn out to be a critical day for Austria. Schuschnigg called up the Austrian reservists to bolster his strength. And in an apparent point for Schuschnigg, Germany demanded at 10 a. m. through Dr. Edmund von Glaise-Horstenau, Minister without portfolio, that the plebiscite be secret. President Wilhelm Miklas agreed to grant this. But in an about face, Germany at 4 p. m. demanded through Dr. Wilhelm Keppler that the plebiscite be postponed six weeks and that von Schuschnigg be replaced by Seyss-Inquart. Austria agreed to postpone the plebiscite, if the Nazis would stop disturbing the public order. Miklas did not agree to replace Schuschnigg because he would not break his oath by violating the duties of office, but yield only to force.

Germany would not back down. At 6:30 p. m., through Lieutenant-General Muff, the German military attaché at Vienna, Hitler said 200,000 German troops would cross Austrian frontier unless:

It appeared that Austria had lost. At 7:30 PM, Schuschnigg resigned his office saying

Almost immediately after, Dr. Arthur Seyss-Inquart requests Germany send troops into Austria since the arming of the Socialists had reached an alarming degree. He appealed for peace and order and nonresistance to the German Army saying:

As German troops entered Austria, Hitler flaunting his new victory arrived in Linz, the town of his youth later he arrived in Vienna where he spoke to the cheering crowds. The well-orchestrated appearance at the Heldenplatz in Vienna is phenomenal to hear as it is

Shirer, William L., 20th Century Journey: A Memoir of a Life and the Times, Volume II, The Nightmare Years. Little, Brown & Company, New York. 1984.

Jordan, Max, Beyond All Fronts: A Bystander's Notes on This Thirty Years War. The Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee, 1944.


Anschluss (The New Order)

The Anschluss, also known as the Anschluss Österreichs, refers to the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938.

The idea of an Anschluss (a united Austria and Germany that would form a "Greater Germany") began after the unification of Germanyexcluded Austria and the German Austrians from the Prussian-dominated German Empire in 1871. Following the end of World War I with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1918, the newly formed Republic of German-Austria attempted to form a union with Germany, but the Treaty of Saint Germain (10 September 1919) and the Treaty of Versailles (28 June 1919) forbade both the union and the continued use of the name "German-Austria" (Deutschösterreich) and stripped Austria of some of its territories, such as the Sudetenland.

Prior to the Anschluss, there had been strong support from people of all backgrounds in both Austria and Germany for unification of the two countries. In the immediate aftermath of the dissolution of the Habsburg Monarchy—with Austria left as a broken remnant, deprived of most of the territories it ruled for centuries and undergoing a severe economic crisis—the idea of unity with Germany seemed attractive also to many citizens of the political Left and Center. Had the WWI victors allowed it, Austria would have united with Germany as a freely taken democratic decision. But after 1933 desire for unification could be identified with the Nazis, for whom it was an integral part of the Nazi "Heim ins Reich"concept, which sought to incorporate as many Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans outside Germany) as possible into a "Greater Germany".

In the early 1930s, there was still significant resistance in Austria—even among some Austrian Nazis—to suggestions that Austria should be annexed to Germany and the Austrian state dissolved completely. Consequently, after the German Nazis, under the Austrian-born Adolf Hitler, took control of Germany (1933), their agents cultivated pro-unification tendencies in Austria, and sought to undermine the Austrian government, which was controlled by the Austrofascist Fatherland Front. During an attempted coup in 1934, Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss was assassinated by Austrian Nazis. The defeat of the coup prompted many leading Austrian Nazis to go into exile in Germany, where they continued their efforts for unification of the two countries.

In early 1938, under increasing pressure from pro-unification activists, Austrian chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg announced that there would be a referendum on a possible union with Germany to be held on 13 March. Portraying this as defying the popular will in Austria and Germany, Hitler threatened an invasion and secretly pressured Schuschnigg to resign. The referendum was canceled. On 12 March, the German Wehrmachtcrossed the border into Austria, unopposed by the Austrian military the Germans were greeted with great enthusiasm. A plebiscite held on 10 April officially ratified Austria's annexation by the Reich.


Nazi Germany – Sudetenland

At the end of World War One the treaties of Versailles, St Germain and Trianon broke the Austro-Hungarian Empire and took land from both countries and also from Germany to give to other countries.

The Sudetenland was taken away from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and given to Czechoslovakia. The region contained Czechs, Germans, Slovaks, Hungarians, Poles and Ruthenians. Although American President Woodrow Wilson had wanted people in disputed regions to be allowed to decide where they would live this did not happen.

When Adolf Hitler came to power he promised to rip up the treaty of Versailles and claim back land that had been taken away from Germany. In 1936 he had marched soldiers into the Rhineland region and reclaimed it for Germany. In March 1938 German troops marched into Austria. The Austrian leader was forced to hold a vote asking the people whether they wanted to be part of Germany. The results of the vote were fixed and showed that 99% of Austrian people wanted Anschluss (union with Germany). The Austrian leader asked Britain, France and Italy for aid. Hitler promised that Anschluss was the end of his expansionist aims and not wanting to risk war, the other countries did nothing.

Hitler did not keep his word and six months later demanded that the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia be handed over to Germany. Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Britain, met with Hitler three times during September 1938 to try to reach an agreement that would prevent war. The Munich Agreement stated that Hitler could have the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia provided that he promised not to invade the rest of Czechoslovakia. Hitler was not a man of his word and in March 1939 invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Despite calls for help from the Czechoslovak government, neither Britain nor France was prepared to take military action against Hitler. However, some action was now necessary and believing that Poland would be Hitler’s next target, both Britain and France promised that they would take military action against Hitler if he invaded Poland. Chamberlain believed that, faced with the prospect of war against Britain and France, Hitler would stop his aggression. Chamberlain was wrong. German troops invaded Poland on 1st September 1939.


Watch the video: Anšlus Rakouska (January 2022).