The Anschluss with Austria

All aspects including lead-in to hostilities and results.

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The Anschluss with Austria

Postby Otium » 1 year 11 months ago (Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:22 am)

The original thread by Lamprecht is no longer up, so I made my own thread.

I'm not going to write this like i'm writing the chapter of a book, detailed chronology and entertainment from this I don't think is in my capacity. But I feel the need to quote various books here and make my own comments on the Anschluss.

For one thing, do not read Wikipedia, do not read opinion pieces, read books and read articles that source books. Wikipedia doesn't really count as it is written for mass consumption and is patently false. For example. I was rather stunned to read on the Wiki page for the Anschluss that

Hitler told Goebbels in the late summer of 1937 that eventually Austria would have to be taken "by force".[35]

The source for this was page 45 of Ian Kershaw's second volume on Hitler, titled 'Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis'. And the sources Kershaw uses is the Goebbels diary of the 14th September 1937, if you download the full diary online the remark is made quite offhand on page 1126. He just says:

Ich danke ihm für diesen Parteitag. Er wird uns allen unvergessen bleiben . Ich teile ihm meine Ergriffenheit über seine Rede mit. Österreich, so sagt er, wird einmal mit Gewalt gelöst .

Which is aggressive, but at the same time isn't the full story. There was no need to solve the Austrian problem by force, and force wasn't the way Hitler went about it, it's well known that Hitler only marched on with Austria because the Italians supported him to do so. Otherwise Hitler even allowed Austria to be a write off similar to South Tyrol to secure good relations with Mussolini.

The Question here is whether this was immoral. After all, the allies were more than happy to solve the "Hitler problem" by force, and nobody can deny that the forceful separation of the Austrians from Germany not to mention the Sudetens/West Polish Germans was undesirable for peace in Europe as Hitler promptly showed the Allies. Hitler, to be a good German had to solve these problems and he was willing to use force to do it. That is noble.

And in any case, this one offhand remark by Goebbels isn't going to suffice. I should also say that I recommend anyone abiding by the orthodox morality that Hitler had only to obey the European status quo of the allies to be a good guy, thoroughly reexamine his objective moral compass. Hitler had the moral upperhand, the allies and Schuschnigg were more than happy to infringe the desires of Austrians to keep them separate from their German kinsmen. And the Nuremberg trials were no different.

And the comment by Goebbels is abrogated when Hitler:

In December, he informed von Papen, who had talked of ways of toppling Schuschnigg, that he wanted to avoid force in the Austrian matter as long as this were desirable to prevent international repercussions.15 Göring and Keppler both had the impression that Hitler would act on Austria in spring or summer 1938.16

Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis (Allen Lane, 2000), pp. 67

Kershaw, gives us some background on Hitler's motivation:

From remarks recorded by Goebbels, it is clear that Hitler was already by summer 1937 beginning to turn his eyes towards Austria and Czechoslovakia, though as yet there was no indication of when and how Germany might move against either state. Nor were ideological or military-strategic motives, however important for Hitler himself, the only ones influencing notions of expansion in central Europe.

ibid, pp. 45

Kershaw also makes clear some of Hitler's motivation.

By the end of 1937, as his remarks at the ‘Hoßbach meeting’ showed, Hitler acutely sensed that time was not on Germany’s side. The Reich, he had concluded, could not simply wait passively on international developments; by 1943–5 at the latest it had to be prepared to take military action, sooner if circumstances presented themselves. His keenness to accelerate the momentum of expansionism was partly sharpened by his growing feeling that he might not have long to live in order to accomplish his aims.5 But beyond that it reflected an awareness that the pressures accumulating could not be contained without the expansion which he in any case strove after, and a recognition that Germany’s current advantage in armaments build-up would be lost as other countries undertook their own armaments programmes.

ibid, pp. 64

The Hossbach meeting, as we all know is less than a convincing document. But in any case Hitler within that document if we accept it's validity only talks about Austria and Czechoslovakia, and not expansion anywhere beyond that. This is also illuminating for another reason, it explains the sense of urgency and riskiness of Hitler's actions in the years 1938-39 to him becoming older. This can hardly be a sinister motivation.

Kershaw, admits that Schuschnigg made that fatal blunder which cause the 'War of Flowers' upon Austria

a fatal miscalculation by the Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg over a plebiscite to back Austrian independence gave Hitler a welcome opportunity to turn the spotlight away from his domestic troubles – as Jodl had hinted he would like to do – through the drama of the Anschluß.6 It amounted to a defining moment in the Third Reich. Even more than following the Rhineland triumph two years earlier, Hitler felt after the Anschluß that he could take on the world – and win.



Since his boyhood days in Linz, Hitler had seen the future of Austria’s German-speaking population lying in its incorporation in the German Reich. Like many in his part of Austria, he had favoured the ideas of Georg Schönerer, the Pan-Germanist leader, rejecting the Habsburg monarchy and looking to union with the Wilhelmine Reich in Germany. Defeat in the First World War had then brought the dismembering of the sprawling, multi-ethnic empire of the Habsburgs. The new Austria, the creation of the victorious powers at the Treaty of St Germain in September 1919, was no more than a mere remnant of the former empire. The small alpine republic now had only 7 million citizens (compared with 54 million in the empire), 2 million of them in Vienna itself. It was wracked by daunting social and economic problems, and deep political fissures, accompanied by smouldering resentment about its loss of territory and revised borders.

The new Austria was, however, almost entirely German-speaking. The idea of union (or Anschluß) with Germany now became far more appealing and was overwhelmingly supported in plebiscites in the early 1920s. Hitler’s rise to power in Germany changed this. It accentuated the already acute divisions between socialists, pan-Germans, and Catholic-conservatives (with their own Austrian-nationalist brand of fascism). Only for the pan-Germans, by now entirely sucked into the Austrian Nazi Movement, was an Anschluß with Hitler’s Germany an attractive proposition.7 But, despite the ban on the Nazi Party in Austria following the German-inspired assassination of the Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß in July 1934, the increasing might of the Third Reich and the growing exposure of Austria to German dominance as Italy’s protection waned in the wake of the Abyssinian conflict kept the Anschluß hopes alive among one sizeable part of the Austrian population.

ibid, pp. 65

It's important to note, that while the wiki article might decry the suppression of Communists and Jews et al, the Austro-Fascist dictatorship of Dollfuss and Schuschnigg was no different, for they also suppressed the communists, Social Democrats and indeed the National Socialists.

The Austrian government had become a dictatorship. In 1931, the country elected Engelbert Dollfuss Bundeskanzler (National Chancellor). He dissolved parliament in 1933, founded the Fatherland Front, and proscribed other political parties. Dollfuss established detention camps in September, which corralled members of the Communist and National Socialist parties. Dollfuss reinstituted the death penalty. The following February, he ordered the police to disarm the Social Democrats' Defense League. This led to armed resistance in Vienna and in Linz. Dollfuss deployed the army, which bombarded workers' housing districts in the capital with artillery. Over 300 people died in the fighting. Having suppressed the revolt, he banned the Social Democratic Party, abolished the trade unions, and hanged eleven Defense League members.


Having attained power without a single vote, Schuschnigg relied on the Fatherland Front to maintain the dictatorship. Political dissidents, lumped together as “national opposition,” landed in concentration camps. Documented cases of inmate abuse include confinement without trial, house arrest for prisoners' relatives, two or more trials and sentences for the same crime, convictions and fines without evidence, the presumption of guilt until proven innocent, withholding medical care from inmates who were ill, sometimes resulting in death, and forced confessions.48 The regime denied persons of “deficient civic reliability” the right to practice their occupation. Schuschnigg judicially persecuted Austrians who favored unification with the Reich. The verdict often fell on members of choral societies and sports clubs nurturing cultural ties with Germany. “Suspicion of nationalistic convictions” cost civil servants their jobs. This included forfeiture of pension and loss of unemployment compensation.

Richard Tedor, Hitler's Revolution (Expanded Edition, 2013), pp. 108-109

Considering that Austria at this time was also a dictatorship of it's own Fascist sort, it begs the question why modern historians are so sympathetic towards it and even omit these kinds of details that perspective upon the European situation as a whole instead of just portraying Hitler alone as the mover and shaker of all events. There isn't one mention of the actions above in Kershaw.

Hitler was also felt safe that he could agitate in Czechoslovakia and Austria precisely because it wouldn't provoke a war.

On 19 November 1937 Halifax met Hitler at Berchtesgaden. It was a characteristically off-hand visit: officially Halifax was in Germany to see a hunting exhibition at Berlin. Halifax said all that Hitler expected to hear. He praised Nazi Germany ‘as the bulwark of Europe against Bolshevism’; he sympathised with past German grievances. In particular he pointed to certain questions where ‘possible alterations might be destined to come about with the passage of time’. They were: Danzig, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. ‘England was interested to see that any alterations should come through the course of peaceful evolution and that methods should be avoided which might cause far-reaching disturbances.’1 Hitler listened and occasionally rambled. He remained passive according to his usual method: accepting offers from others, not making demands himself. Here, in Halifax’s own words, was confirmation of what Hitler had told the generals a fortnight before: England would not seek to maintain the existing settlement in central Europe. There was a condition attached: the changes must come without a general war (‘far-reaching disturbances’). This was exactly what Hitler wanted himself. Halifax’s remarks, if they had any practical sense, were an invitation to Hitler to promote German nationalist agitation in Danzig, Czechoslovakia, and Austria; an assurance also that this agitation would not be opposed from without.

A.J.P. Taylor, Origins of the Second World War, Chapter 7: Anschluss: the End of Austria

(don't have the exact page because I'm using the epub, you can word search for it)


The visit to Germany in mid-November by Lord Halifax, Lord Privy Seal and President of the Council in the British Government, close to the recently appointed British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and soon to become his Foreign Secretary, had confirmed in Hitler’s mind that Britain would do nothing in the event of German action against Austria.12

The questions of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Danzig, Lord Halifax had told Hitler, ‘fell into the category of possible alterations in the European order which might be destined to come about with the passage of time’. (In his diary entry on the discussion, Halifax had noted telling Hitler that ‘On all these matters we were not necessarily concerned to stand for the status quo as today, but we were concerned to avoid such treatment of them as would be likely to cause trouble’.) Hitler had responded by stating that ‘the Agreement of July 11th [1936] had been made with Austria and it was to be hoped that it would lead to the removal of all difficulties’. Halifax’s subsequent confidential memorandum on the meeting noted Hitler as saying: ‘Germany did not want to annex Austria or to reduce her to political dependence – her desire was to bring about by peaceful means full economic, cultural, commercial, and possibly monetary and currency union with Austria and to see in Austria a Government really friendly to Germany and ready to work hand in hand for the common welfare of both branches of the Teutonic race.’13

Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis (Allen Lane, 2000), pp. 66-67

Basically Hitler and others were trying to broach the Italian support for the Anschluss

Hitler gave Göring instructions to tread delicately with his important guest on matters relating to Austria. He wanted Mussolini to understand that Germany had no intention in the foreseeable future of bringing the Austrian problem to a head, but that German intervention would be possible should a crisis be otherwise provoked in Austria. By whom or in what circumstances was left to the imagination. How much notice Göring took of Hitler’s instructions was plain when, on the Duce’s visit to Carinhall, he showed him a map of Europe which had Austria already incorporated within Germany. The lack of any negative reaction from Mussolini was taken by his host as a sign that Italy would not object to an Anschluß.22

ibid, pp. 68

Göring was pushing hard for currency union. But with Austria stalling for time, and Italy’s reactions uncertain, immediate results through diplomatic channels seemed unlikely. An Anschluß resulting from German intervention through force in the imminent future appeared improbable.
At this unpromising juncture, the idea emerged of a meeting between Hitler and the Austrian Chancellor, Schuschnigg. Such a meeting may well have formed part of Papen’s scheme for bringing down the Austrian Chancellor, noted by Goebbels in mid-December 1937.27 According to Papen’s own later account, he had suggested such a meeting to the Austrian Chancellor in December – in accordance with Schuschnigg’s own expressed wish that month for personal discussions with Hitler (which the Austrian Chancellor naively saw as the only hope of stabilizing his country’s deteriorating situation by reaffirming its independence and the terms of the agreement of July 1936). He had then put the same suggestion to Neurath and Hitler.28

ibid, pp. 69

During the meeting with Schuschnigg it does certainly appear that Hitler was trying to intimidate him into accepting concessions as a tactic, but without actually wanting a military conflict. It was a bluff.

Keitel returned to Berlin early next morning to organize fake military manoeuvres near the Austrian border to exert further pressure on the Reich’s eastern neighbours.47 There was no question of genuine military preparations for an invasion. Keitel had to report to the newly appointed supreme commander of the army, von Brauchitsch, that Hitler was not thinking of a military conflict.48

ibid, pp. 72


As a result of the agreements that were reached, actual military preparations did not even come into the question and, as I was to apprise the commander-in-chief of the army, at that time even the Führer had no thoughts of a military conflict.

In the Service of the Reich: The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Keitel Chief of the German High Command, 1938-1945, pp. 63

It might do one well to wonder what exactly drove Hitler to consider force as an option in the case of Austria. Going back to 1934 and the murder of Dollfuss by rowdy Austrian National Socialists (who had nothing to do with Hitler by the way) caused talks between Hitler and Schuschnigg who signed an agreement in 1936:

Hitler, unjustly blamed for the 1934 coup to topple Dollfuss, sought to break the diplomatic deadlock. He appointed Franz von Papen, a conservative aristocrat distant to National Socialism and a devout Catholic, special ambassador to Vienna. Papen presented Austrian Foreign Minister Egon Berger with the draft for an Austrian-German “Gentleman’s Agreement.” The compact corroborated Hitler’s strategy for incorporating Austria as an evolutionary process, promoting economic and cultural ties between both countries.49

The preamble stated, “The German Reich’s Government recognizes the complete sovereignty of the Austrian national state.” It bound Germany not to interfere in Austria’s internal political affairs. In return, the preamble obligated Schuschnigg “with respect to the German Reich, to maintain a basic position that conforms to the fact that Austria sees herself as a German state."50 The document required that “all decisive elements for shaping public opinion in both countries shall serve the purpose of developing mutual relations which are once again normal and friendly.” 51

The agreement offered general guidelines for promoting commerce, such as lifting restrictions on travel and trade across the frontier. Schuschnigg agreed to allow members of the “national opposition” to participate in government. He released 15,583 political prisoners. Many were National Socialists whom Hitler arranged to resettle in Germany. Upon the Führer’s insistence, Schuschnigg relaxed restrictions on the press. An important element of the agreement stipulated, “Both governments will exchange views in foreign policy matters that affect both countries."52

Papen and Schuschnigg signed the agreement in Vienna on July 11, 1936. Germany’s assurance to respect Austrian independence drew praise from the international press, even in France. Hitler summoned Josef Leopold, leader of the Austrian National Socialists, and instructed him to take the new treaty “very seriously.” The Führer warned Leopold that he wanted no encore of the 1934 coup: “The Austrian National Socialists must maintain exemplary discipline and regard unification as an internal German matter, a solution to which can only be found within the scope of negotiations between Berlin and Vienna."53 Hitler was hopeful, thanks in part to Schuschnigg encouraging remark that Austrian-German unification was “an attainable political objective for the future.”

The Bundeskanzler, however, had no interest in honoring the compact. He openly criticized Hitler for allegedly misinterpreting the mission of the Reich: “With his assertion that the unity of the Reich is based on the harmony of the race and the language of the people living within it, Hitler has falsified and betrayed the spirit of the Reich. The Reich is not determined by race and is not heathenish; it is Christian and universal."54 Schuschnigg publicly described Austria as “the last bulwark of civilization in central Europe,” a studied insult to his ethnic neighbor to the north. During 1937, Schuschnigg entreated the British government to guarantee Austrian sovereignty. This clandestine diplomatic maneuver, as well as the unfriendly public statements regarding Germany, directly violated the agreement signed in July.55

Richard Tedor, Hitler's Revolution (Expanded Edition, 2013), pp. 109-110

Hitler even

Hitler agreed to publicly condemn illegal acts, such as sabotage, of his followers there. The Führer approved Vienna’s request that aggressive National Socialists be relocated to Germany. The Germans withdrew those candidates suggested for Austrian cabinet posts that Schuschnigg objected to. Berlin abandoned its plan for a joint economic system and reduced the scope of military cooperation. At the conclusion of the conference, Hitler told Schuschnigg, “This is the best way. The Austrian question is regulated for the next five years."58

ibid, pp. 111

Kershaw, not surprisingly portrays the meeting as mentioned before as one of intimidation and coercion, which in reality means little to me, because the union of Germany and Austria was justified by whatever means as the will of both peoples. Whether it be by war or not. However I might feel about this, Tedor does take issue with the way this popular view is pushed.

Newspapers in England, France, and the USA claimed that Hitler presented his demands as an ultimatum, intimidated Schuschnigg by inviting three German generals to the conference, and threatened invasion if the Bundeskanzler failed to sign. The fact that the Austrians negotiated significant modifications demonstrates that Germany’s proposals were not an ultimatum. The generals attended to provide consultation on questions of integrating the two countries' armed forces. Schuschnigg brought along his own military advisor. Guido Schmidt testified later that he had no recollection of a German threat to invade Austria.59

Papen stated that it was his impression that Schuschnigg enjoyed full freedom of decision throughout the sessions. The Bundeskanzler confessed that he had been under considerable mental stress but nothing more. The British ambassador to Austria, Sir Charles Palairet, reported to London on a number of initial demands which Hitler withdrew. He confirmed that Schmidt told him nothing of German threats. Palairet cited “Herr Hitler’s desire to achieve his aims in regard to Austria by evolutionary means."60

Ibid, pp. 59-60

Even Kershaw had to admit that this was indeed Hitler's aims, and that he didn't decide to actually annex Austria until he was there and saw all the of jubilant excitement coming from the Austrian people, which I will get to in a little bit:

Two weeks after the notorious meeting at the Berghof, when laying down directives for the restless Austrian NSDAP, which had threatened to upset developments through its own wild schemes for disturbances, Hitler emphasized, according to Keppler’s notes of the meeting, that he wanted to proceed along ‘the evolutionary way whether or not the possibility of success could be envisaged at present. The protocol signed by Schuschnigg,’ he went on, ‘was so far-reaching that if implemented in full the Austrian Question would automatically be solved. A solution through force was something he did not now want if it could in any way be avoided, since for us the foreign-policy danger is diminishing from year to year and the military strength becoming year by year greater.’55 Hitler’s approach was at this time still in line with Göring’s evolutionary policy. He plainly reckoned that the tightening of the thumbscrews on Schuschnigg at the February meeting had done the trick. Austria was no more than a German satellite. Extinction of the last remnants of independence would follow as a matter of course. Force was not necessary.

In line with the ‘Trojan horse’ policy of eroding Austrian independence from the inside, following the Berchtesgaden meeting Hitler had complied with demands from Seyß-Inquart – matching earlier representations by Schuschnigg himself – to depose Captain Josef Leopold, the leader of the unruly Austrian National Socialists, and his associates.56

Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis (Allen Lane, 2000), pp. 72

Nevile Henderson, the British Ambassador in Berlin, when he met Hitler on 3 March. Hitler, in a vile mood, was unyielding. If Britain opposed a just settlement in Austria, where Schuschnigg had the support of only 15 per cent of the population, Germany would have to fight, he declared. And if he intervened, he would do so like lightning (blitzschnell). His aim was nevertheless ‘that the just interests of the German Austrians should be secured and an end made to oppression by a process of peaceful evolution’.62

Ibid, pp. 73

Now, we're getting to how Schuschnigg rigged his out of the blue plebiscite.

Schuschnigg’s wholly unexpected decision, announced on the morning of 9 March, to hold a referendum on Austrian autonomy four days later. The Nazis themselves had been pressing for years for a plebiscite on Anschluß, confident that they would gain massive support for an issue backed by large numbers of Austrians since 1919.63 But Schuschnigg’s referendum, asking voters to back ‘a free and German, independent and social, Christian and united Austria; for peace and work, and for the equal rights of all who declare themselves for people and fatherland’, was couched in a way that could scarcely fail to bring the desired result. It would be a direct rebuff to union with Germany.64 German plans were immediately thrown into disarray. Hitler’s own prestige was at stake. The moves that followed, culminating in the German march into Austria and the Anschluß, were all now improvised at breakneck speed.

Ibid, pp. 74

Even wikipedia does what Kershaw here doesn't do, and describes this plebiscite as rigged. As do many other historians I will quote forthwith to illustrate the point thoroughly.

, Schuschnigg, with the full agreement of the President and other political leaders, decided to proclaim a plebiscite to be held on 13 March. But the wording of the referendum which had to be responded to with a "Yes" or a "No" turned out to be controversial. It read: "Are you for a free, German, independent and social, Christian and united Austria, for peace and work, for the equality of all those who affirm themselves for the people and Fatherland?"[14]

There was another issue which drew the ire of the National Socialists. Although members of Schuschnigg's party (the Fatherland Front) could vote at any age, all other Austrians below the age of 24 were to be excluded under a clause to that effect in the Austrian Constitution. This would shut out from the polls most of the Nazi sympathisers in Austria, since the movement was strongest among the young.[14]

The German reaction to the announcement was swift. Hitler first insisted the plebiscite be cancelled. When Schuschnigg reluctantly agreed to scrap it, Hitler demanded his resignation, and insisted that Seyss-Inquart be appointed his successor. This demand President Miklas was reluctant to endorse but eventually, under the threat of immediate armed intervention, it was endorsed as well. Schuschnigg resigned on 11 March, and Seyss-Inquart was appointed Chancellor, but it made no difference; German troops flooded into Austria and were received everywhere by enthusiastic and jubilant crowds.[15] On the morning after the invasion, the London Daily Mail's correspondent asked the new Chancellor, Seyss-Inquart, how these stirring events came about, he received the following reply: "The Plebiscite that had been fixed for tomorrow was a breach of the agreement which Dr. Schuschnigg made with Herr Hitler at Berchtesgaden, by which he promised political liberty for National Socialists in Austria."[16] On 12 March 1938, Schuschnigg was placed under house arrest.

Norman Stone also illustrates the end to which Schuschnigg attempted to rig this false plebiscite to trick the Austrian people into accepting an autonomy they didn't want.

Schuschnigg decided to make a gesture of defiance, no doubt with the hope that Mussolini and the western powers would stir. He proclaimed a plebiscite for mid-March: voters were to answer the question, ‘Do you want a Free, Christian, German Austria?’ [b]The trouble was that a large number of Austrians, perhaps even a majority, did not want such a thing, if attachment to Germany were the alternative. Germany offered jobs and glory. What did Austria offer in comparison? Schuschnigg therefore put himself in poor moral shape by arranging to rig the plebiscite, doing so with characteristic clumsiness. Only male voters over twenty-five were allowed to vote; only yes answers were printed, the others having to be supplied by the voter; and officials of the government party would register the votes.

Norman Stone, Hitler (Little, Brown and Company, 1980), pp. 79

Displaying his customary lack of political finesse, Schuschnigg took a desperate step to rescue his career. In Innsbruck on March 9, he announced a national plebiscite to take place in four days' time. The purpose was to give voters the opportunity to affirm their confidence in the government and preference for Austrian independence. Such a poll could only accentuate the division between German and Austrian. It transgressed against the spirit of the evolutionary process of assimilating the two cultures, a process Schuschnigg had accepted by signing the agreement with Germany. Since no elections had taken place since 1932, there were no current lists of registered voters. There was insufficient time to prepare new rosters. Only citizens above 25 years of age were eligible. This prevented young adults, a disproportionately large percentage of whom backed National Socialism, from participating. The general secretary of the Fatherland Front, Guido Zernatto, prepared guidelines that allowed only members of the reigning political party to staff the balloting stations.

The ballot cards had the word “yes” printed on one side but were blank on the other. This required people voting “no” to write the word in the same size characters on the back of the card. Polling station personnel, all members of the Fatherland Front, would therefore be able to identify dissenters. During preparations for the election, the government press announced that anyone voting “no” would be guilty of treason.64


Hitler was aghast that Schuschnigg violated their agreement only weeks after signing. At first he simply refused to believe the news; however, once he did, his reaction was temperate. He flew his diplomatic trouble-shooter, Wilhelm Keppler, to Vienna. Keppler’s instructions were to either prevent the plebiscite “without military threats” or at least arrange for it to include the opportunity to vote for Anschluss, or unification, with Germany.67

Richard Tedor, Hitler's Revolution (Expanded Edition, 2013), pp. 112-114

Schuschnigg was accompanied by Dr. Guido Schmidt, the Foreign Minister, but the main portion of the negotiations was conducted by him alone with Hitler. As a result, an agreement was signed in which Schuschnigg consented to amnesty the imprisoned Nazis, to allow the Party liberty of action for the future, and to appoint one of its members, Dr. Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Minister of the Interior, while Hitler undertook to respect Austria's independence. It seemed that the question had been shelved for the time being; while there could be little doubt that the Nazis would eventually succeed in obtaining a majority in Austria, for the moment both governments were agreed not to force the situation.

It must, therefore, remain a psychological mystery why Schuschnigg, less than a month later, proclaimed at a meeting of his party at Innsbruck on the 9th of March his intention of holding a plebiscite in which the electors would be asked to vote on the question: "Are you in favour of a German, independent, Christian, social and free Austria?" It was a question which no Austrian could easily answer in the negative; whatever his views, at least one pf the five adjectives was bound to secure his support. The voting was to be on an old register, on which the names of the younger generation did not appear; in addition the age qualification was raised. The date of the plebiscite was fixed for the 12th of March, three days after its first announcement.

It was clear even to the least suspicious that a climsy effort was being made to snatch a vote from the people of Austria which could be represented to the world as a popular decision against the Anschluss; it was also clear that the question put to the electors and the general circumstances of that plebiscite were not designed to carry into effort the genuine opinions of the agreement which the Austrian Chancellor had signed a month earlier at Berchtesgaden.

Charles Bewley, Hermann Goring and the Third Reich : A Biography based on Family and Official Records, (The Devin-Adair Company, 1962), pp. 228-229

WITH ENGLAND’S BLESSING TO bring Austria into Germany’s sphere, if done peacefully, Hitler was left with but one problem: how to get the Austrians to agree. Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg would provide Hitler his opportunity.
“A devout Catholic and intellectual, a decent man with little vanity or driving ambition,” a veteran of the Great War, Schuschnigg had arrested the Nazis involved in the plot against Dollfuss, hanged the two who fired the fatal shots, and had himself become chancellor in 1934.26 On July 11, 1936, he had entered into a “Gentlemen’s Agreement” with Berlin. Vienna was to “maintain a policy based on the principle that Austria acknowledges herself to be a German state,” and Berlin recognizes “the full sovereignty of the Federal State of Austria” and agrees not to interfere in her internal affairs.27 Respectable pro-Nazis were to be permitted in politics and government, but Nazis were to end political agitation and street action. A Committee of Seven was set up to carry out the terms of the Gentlemen’s Agreement. Hitler wanted no repetition of the abortive 1934 coup.


Austria’s Nazis ignored the agreement and continued to plot the overthrow of Schuschnigg. In January 1938, Austrian police raided the Committee of Seven headquarters and discovered plans there for a Nazi coup. Hitler had assured Mussolini there would be no Anschluss and, according to historian Taylor, he “knew nothing of these plans, which had been prepared despite his orders…. [T]he Austrian Nazis were acting without authority.”29


HITLER HAD NOT ABANDONED his plan to convert Austria into a satellite, but believed this should and would come about through an “evolutionary solution.”40 Austria would drop like ripe fruit, for, with Italy now an Axis power, she was isolated, had nowhere else to go, and the Allies had neither the will nor the power to prevent her eventual merger with the Reich. As for Austria’s Nazis, Hitler was incensed that they had again disrupted and imperiled his “evolutionary solution.”

But while the crisis appeared over, it was not. For Schuschnigg, like Dollfuss a man of courage, seethed over the abuse at the Berghof and relit the fuse. After consulting Mussolini on March 7, who warned him he was making a mistake—“C’é un errore!”— Schuschnigg, on March 9 in Innsbruck, announced that on Sunday, March 13, a plebiscite would be held to decide, finally and forever, whether the country wished to remain a “free, independent, social, Christian and united Austria—Ja oder Nein?”41

After the army scandals and Cabinet debacle, Hitler could not abide humiliation at the hands of Schuschnigg. Yet neither he nor the army had prepared for a campaign against Austria. Hitler called in General Wilhelm Keitel and told him to make ready to invade. Keitel remembered that the army had drawn up an “Operation Otto” plan in the event Otto von Habsburg attempted to regain the Austrian throne. “Prepare it!” Hitler ordered.45 When Keitel got to army headquarters, he found that Operation Otto was a theoretical study. No German army plans existed for an invasion of Austria.

Patrick J. Buchanan, Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, (Three Rivers Press, 2008), pp. 189-190, 193-194

toward midday on March 9, 1938, Hitler heard rumours that Schuschnigg was to spring a snap plebiscite on Austria’s future. This was the Dummheit that Hitler had been waiting for. The plebiscite’s one question had been so formulated that any Austrian voting ‘No’ to it could be charged with high treason (since voters had to state their names and addresses on the ballot papers). Some of his ministers felt the voting age should be eighteen, with only his Party members allowed to vote; others recalled that the constitution defined the voting age as twenty-one, but Schuschnigg arbitrarily raised it for the plebiscite to twenty-four – the Nazis being primarily a Party of youth – and stipulated that votes were to be handed to his own Party officials, not the usual polling stations. Even if one of the printed ‘Yes’ ballot papers were to be crossed out and marked with a
large ‘No’ it would still count as a ‘Yes.’ There were no ‘No’ ballot papers. Hitler flew his agent Keppler to Vienna with instructions to prevent the plebiscite, or failing that to insist on a supplementary question sounding the Austrian public on its attitude toward union with the Reich. That evening Schuschnigg formally announced the plebiscite. Hitler listened to the broadcast from Innsbruck, then pounded the table with his fist and exclaimed, ‘It’s got to be done – and done now!’ A month later he announced, ‘When Herr Schuschnigg breached the Agreement on March 9, at that moment I felt that the call of Providence had come.’

David Irving, Hitler's War and the War Path (Focal Point Publications, 2002), pp. 76-77

As R.H.S. Stolfi does so well, he skewers the orthodox wisdom without bias and without emotional anger directed towards Hitler and rationally explains that what Schuschnigg did was no valiant deed. Recall, that if Hitler were caught ever doing such a thing we'd never hear the end of it.

Schuschnigg faced internal violence, lack of external support, and suspicion that he did not have the support of a majority of Austrians for his strident policy of independence. In this situation he made the decision to panic—to act in the desperation of an ill-considered idea—and announce on March 9, 1938, the holding of a national plebiscite the following Sunday.

In announcing the plebiscite, Schuschnigg would annul the Berchtesgaden agreement with Hitler and stabilize the Austrian situation in favor of his Fatherland Front if the Austrian people voted favorably on the question. The conventional wisdom has taken Schuschnigg's action to have been a courageous one in the face of Hitler's earlier bullying tactics, and a decisive one that would have made a union of Austria and Germany improbable. But Schuschnigg's courage, if we grant him such, would have resulted in the permanent division of the German peoples and the entrenchment of a single-party dictatorship in Austria. Schuschnigg would frame the question, “Are you in favor of a free and German, independent and social, a Christian and united Austria?” It was a heavily propagandized jumble of words that invited a yes answer. And the result of a yes-vote for the plebiscite would have been the almost diabolical outcome that an artificial state created by an Allied force of arms would have been transformed by a self-serving Austrian political dictatorship into a stable artificial state.

And Schuschnigg scores high marks for manipulation of the plebiscite. Only three days were available for its organization within Austria, and the same, apparently impossibly short, time period for Hitler to prevent it by outside pressure. Because the Austrian dictatorship had not allowed elections for the preceding four years, the electoral register had not been kept up to date. There would not be enough time to organize the ballot, particularly in the remote rural areas where the Nazis were strongly represented, and it would be impossible to register in three days the younger voters who had come of age since 1934.13
In summary, a somewhat common political dictator in Austria would attempt to keep in power a Fatherland Front through a desperate, shady plebiscite in the face of a neighboring dictator. The descriptor shady is a strong one for serious historical interpretation of Schuschnigg's action, but it is borne out by the following outlandish detail: a voter who wished to vote yes on the plebiscite question would be provided a ballot at polling stations. A voter who wished to vote no would have to present his own ballot of specified form and validated only with a stamp purchased from the government. It is difficult to separate good from evil in all of this. The great biographers must present Hitler as an uneducated, banal man immersed in wicked purpose and Schuschnigg as a calmer, nicer intellectual struggling to shield Austria from Hitler. But the Austrian Empire had vanished, and to conjure up its German fragment as a bona fide independent state was to proceed from false premise. With the empire gone, its German fragment had become what it had always been as the Ostmark—the eastern march or frontier area of the Germans in a half-enveloping sea of Slavs and Magyars. For various reasons, some wicked and some not-so-wicked, Hitler had determined to save the Germans of the Ostmark from their political defenselessness and economic isolation. And for various reasons, some wicked and others not-so-wicked, Schuschnigg had determined to enforce the division of the Germans in the southeast.

It is one thing to seize an opportunity and another to be forced to take action. Schuschnigg would spend Thursday resolutely adhering to his decision to abrogate the Berchtesgaden agreement.

R.H.S. Stolfi, Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny (Prometheus Books, 2011), pp. 353-354

Walendy explains further how Schuschnigg is to blame:

When Dr. Schuschnigg had announced at a moment’s notice on 9 March 1938 his referendum for the 13 March 1938 – keeping it deliberately vague, with a nod to separatism, impossible to conduct properly because of insufficient preparations and even being unconstitutional 36) – at which he called

“For a free and German, independent and Socialist, for a Christian and united Austria! For peace and jobs and equal rights for all who declare themselves for the people and the Fatherland!”

he had destroyed, without a doubt, the spirit and the essence of the agreement with Hitler and thus had brought the situation in the land to a head. There were already 40,000 Austrian refugees in the Reich.37)

“The date for the ballot is fixed for the following Sunday, the 13 March. A country which for the past five years has been governed by an authoritarian regime, where there have been no democratic elections for the past six years, where neither electoral registers nor any democratic parties are in existence, is now expected to carry out within a few days’ time an election which is claimed to be accepted by the world at large as an irrefutable, lawful and unquestionable declaration. The government is going to the country after practically excluding the people from all political activity for four years. The idea is sheer madness.”38)

After the signing of the Berchtesgaden agreement, Dr. Schuschnigg could have resigned in favour of President Miklas and requested that he revoke it. That at least would have shown a clear sense of direction, even though it would have contradicted Dr. Schuschnigg’s own statement that he was not an opponent of unification. The procedure adopted by Schuschnigg and the refusal to hold a genuine referendum three or four weeks later, as was demanded subsequently by Hitler on the 10 March, would now have in its wake the well known chain-reactions that were to realize Austria’s Anschluss to the Reich.

After the conduct of Dr. Schuschnigg, “he [Hitler] must either act or be humiliated ...”

“The crisis of March 1938 was provoked by Schuschnigg, not by Hitler. There had been no German preparations, military or diplomatic. Everything was improvised in a couple of days.” 39)

“It was still believed in Berlin throughout the day of the 10 of March that by changing the date and the text of the referendum, a solution had been found that made it still possible to continue the Berchtesgaden policy with Schuschnigg. Alone the consideration for Mussolini made Hitler keep to his previous programme with the tenacity of which he was capable in such situations....
From the diary of the future General Jodl, we know that only on 11 March 1938, midday at 1.00 p.m., did Hitler sign the military document known by the codename ‘Operation Otto’, which ordered a deployment of troops in the event of an intervention in Austria.” 40)

General von Manstein had to unexpectedly draw up on the 10 March a plan of operation of the type not requiring a mobilization and not requiring any preparations.41) Schuschnigg’s refusal to acknowledge the clearly becoming evident revolt in Austria against a referendum which could not be carried out lawfully (not even his Cabinet did he inform of his solitary decision, let alone asking them for advice!),42) his rejection of a postponement, justifiably gave Hitler licence, at the latest from the 10 March onwards, to accuse Schuschnigg of having violated the Berchtesgaden treaty and thus having provoked Hitler.

On 11 March, Schuschnigg ordered the cancellation of the referendum, accompanying the decision with extraordinary security measures and a curfew after 8.00 p.m. The annulment of the referendum was to give the impression – and was obviously designed to produce this effect! – to demonstrate principally to France, Britain and the USA that Austria’s yielding was due to an “act of violence” on the part the Reich government. Being familiar with the diplomatic correspondence of the preceding days and weeks, Schuschnigg was fully aware, after all, that the Western Powers, France especially, would only come to Austria’s defence – but in that event with all military might –

“if it were a clear case of violation, that is, if the Austrian government considers that her rights have been violated.” 43)

The “bomb” – as Mussolini described the rushed plebiscite – really did explode “in the hands of Schuschnigg”.44) The civil war which had been contemplated by Dr. Schuschnigg shortly before his resignation did not take place.45) When on 11 March Hitler had given to his troops the order to march into Austria, he did not have, as yet, a clear picture with respect to the future constitutional development of his homeland.46) He could neither have predicted with any certainty (apart from the occupation of the Rhineland 1936) a “War of Flowers” which now happened for the first time in human history, nor could he have anticipated the reaction abroad. The opinion of the British Ambassador in Berlin, Henderson, was already known to him, since he – perhaps by order or with the approval of his government –

“made no secret of his desire to see Germany and Austria united in one state.” 47)

Udo Walendy, Who Started the Second World War? (Castle Hill Publishers, 2014), pp. 89-91

Some historians pretend that Schuschnigg effort was, as you can read, a last attempt to 'save Austria'. But this is a lie. The same orthodox historians that genuinely think the motives of Schuschnigg to be so 'valiant' clearly don't understand the contradiction in that logic:

Schuschnigg suggested later in his own defense that he had been coerced into signing the agreement by the threat of an invasion of Austria; but in that case it is difficult to understand why the threat should have appeared any less actual on the 12th of March then on the 12th of February. The only solution which appears to fit in with the facts is that Schuschnigg lost his nerve when confronted by a stronger personality than his own and agree to make concessions which he knew would not be approved by his Cabinet, and that after his return, under pressure from conservative circles, he let himself be persuaded to go back on his first decision, even though he must have known that his failure to act in the spirit of the agreement would be bound to bring about that very invasion which he had feared. It was the typical expedient of a weak man turned reckless in a reaction against his own impotence. Neither of his predecessors Speipel nor Dollfuss would ever conceivably have adopted the futile expedient of a faked plebiscite.

Charles Bewley, Hermann Goring and the Third Reich : A Biography based on Family and Official Records, (The Devin-Adair Company, 1962), pp. 229-230

Bewley makes a very cogent point. Holding a plebiscite when you're supposedly scared of being invaded is hardly going to stop whoever wants to do the invading. It's utter madness to take Schuschnigg at his word here. It's most likely he was simply trying to elicit support from abroad which he would not get, while portraying Hitler in as negative light as possible.

However. Even after this little stunt by the Austrian Chancellor Hitler wasn't going to invade, in fact it was being discussed what was to happen:

The German government was completely taken aback by Schuschnigg’s gamble. For hours, there was no response from Berlin. Hitler had not been informed in advance of Schuschnigg’s intentions, and was at first incredulous. But his astonishment rapidly gave way to mounting fury at what he saw as a betrayal of the Berchtesgaden agreement.65 Goebbels recorded the decision to hold an Austrian plebiscite in his diary, though initially without further commentary.66 In the evening, when he was addressing a gathering of newspaper editors at a reception in the Propaganda Ministry, he was suddenly summoned to Hitler’s presence. Göring was already there. He was told of Schuschnigg’s move – ‘an extremely dirty trick’ (ganz gemeinen Bubenstreich) to ‘dupe’ (übertölpeln) the Reich through ‘a stupid and idiotic plebiscite’. The trio were still unsure how to act. They considered replying either by Nazi abstention from the plebiscite (which would have undermined its legitimacy), or by sending 1,000 aeroplanes to drop leaflets over Austria ‘and then actively intervening’.67 For the time being, the German press was instructed to publish nothing at all about Austria.68


But Hitler, who went on to discuss the situation alone with Goebbels until 5a.m., was now ‘in full swing’ and showing ‘a wonderful fighting mood’. ‘He believes the hour has arrived,’ noted Goebbels. He wanted to sleep on it. But he was sure that Italy and England would do nothing. Action from France was possible, but not likely. ‘Risk not so great as at the time of the occupation of the Rhineland,’ was the conclusion.69

Just how unprepared the German leadership had been was shown by the fact that the Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop, was in London, Reichenau had to be recalled from Cairo, and General Erhard Milch (Göring’s right-hand man in the Luftwaffe) was summoned from holiday in Switzerland.70 Göring himself was scheduled to preside over the military court to hear the Fritsch case, meeting for the first time on 10 March. The hearing was abruptly adjourned when a courier brought a message demanding Göring’s presence in the Reich Chancellery.71 Goebbels had also been called there, arriving to find Hitler deep in thought, bent over maps. Plans were discussed for transporting 4,000 Austrian Nazis who had been exiled to Bavaria, together with a further 7,000 paramilitary reservists.72

The Wehrmacht leadership was taken completely by surprise through Hitler’s demand for plans for military intervention. Keitel, abruptly ordered to the Reich Chancellery on the morning of 10 March, spinelessly suggested calling in Brauchitsch and Beck, knowing full well that no plans existed, but wishing to avoid having to tell this to Hitler. Brauchitsch was not in Berlin. Beck despairingly told Keitel: ‘We have prepared nothing, nothing has happened, nothing.’ But his objections were dismissed out of hand by Hitler. He was sent away to report within hours on which army units would be ready to march on the morning of the 12th.73

By this time, Goebbels had again had intensive discussions alone with Hitler. It seems to have been Goebbels who came up with the idea of having the two Nazi supporters in the Austrian cabinet, Seyß-Inquart and Gleise-Horstenau, demand the referendum should follow the procedures laid down for the Saar plebiscite in 1935. Should Schuschnigg refuse, as was to be expected, the two ministers would resign and 600–800 German planes would shower Austria with leaflets on the Saturday, exhorting the people to resistance against their government.


Prominent in Hitler’s mind that morning was Mussolini’s likely reaction. Around midday, he sent a handwritten letter, via his emissary Prince Philipp of Hessen, telling the Duce that as a ‘son of this [Austrian] soil’ he could no longer stand back but felt compelled to intervene to restore order in his homeland, assuring Mussolini of his undiminished sympathy, and stressed that nothing would alter his agreement to uphold the Brenner border.78 But whatever the Duce’s reaction, Hitler had by then already put out his directive for ‘Case Otto’, expressing his intention, should other measures – the demands put by Seyß-Inquart to Schuschnigg – fail, of marching into Austria. The action, under his command, was to take place ‘without use of force in the form of a peaceful entry welcomed by the people’.79


Hitler had put the first ultimatum around 10a.m., demanding Schuschnigg call off the referendum for two weeks to allow a plebiscite similar to that in the Saarland in 1935 to be arranged


At this point, the military preparations in Germany were continuing, ‘but march in still uncertain’, recorded Goebbels. Plans were discussed for making Hitler Federal President, to be acclaimed by popular vote, ‘and then eventually (dann so nach und nach) to complete the Anschluß’.87 In the immediate future, the ‘coordination’ (Gleichschaltung) of Austria, not the complete Anschluß, was what was envisaged.88

Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis (Allen Lane, 2000), pp. 74-77

There was no plan. It was all ad hoc and peaceful actions was at the top of Hitler's priority if he could help it. Being greeted enthusiastically, and wanting a popular vote was all in Hitler's schemes for Austria and all came to fruition. Hitler and his men were met with flowers and excited crowds. Hitler was fulfilling the mission of the German people, and only then did he decide to annex Austria, not before, only after. Kershaw tells us:

General Fedor von Bock, Commander-in-Chief of the newly formed 8th Army, hastily put together in two days out of troop units in Bavaria, reported to Hitler. The motorized Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler had joined them from Berlin. Bock could tell Hitler that the German troops had been received with flowers and jubilation since crossing the border two hours earlier. Hitler listened to the report of reactions abroad by Reich Press Chief Otto Dietrich. He did not expect either military or political complications, and gave the order to drive on to Linz.107

Back in Berlin, Frick was drafting a set of laws to accommodate the German takeover in Austria. A full Anschluß – the complete incorporation of Austria, marking its disappearance as a country – was still not envisaged; at any rate, not in the immediate future. Elections were prescribed for 10 April, with Austria ‘under Germany’s protection’. Hitler was to be Federal President, determining the constitution. ‘We can then push along the development as we want,’ commented Goebbels.108 Hitler himself had not hinted at an Anschluß in his proclamation, read out at midday by Goebbels on German and Austrian radio, stating only that there would be a ‘true plebiscite’ on Austria’s future and fate within a short time.109
Shortly before 4p.m. that afternoon, Hitler crossed the Austrian border over the narrow bridge at his birthplace, Braunau am Inn. The church-bells were ringing. Tens of thousands of people (most of them from outside Braunau), in ecstasies of joy, lined the streets of the small town.


Progress was much slower than expected because of the jubilant crowds packing the roadsides. It was in darkness, four hours later, that Hitler eventually reached the Upper Austrian capital. Seyß-Inquart and Glaise-Horstenau, along with Himmler and other leading Nazis, had long been waiting for him.110 So had an enormous crowd, gathered on the marketplace. The cars could go no further. Hitler’s bodyguards pushed a way through the crowd so that he could go the last few yards to the town hall on foot.111 Peals of bells rang out; the ecstatic crowd was screaming ‘Heil’; Seyß-Inquart could hardly make himself heard in his introductory remarks. Hitler looked deeply moved.112 Tears ran down his cheeks.113 In his speech on the balcony of the Linz town hall, he told the masses, constantly interrupting him with their wild cheering, that Providence must have singled him out to return his homeland to the German Reich. They were witnesses that he had now fulfilled his mission. ‘I don’t know on which day you will be called,’ he added. ‘I hope it is not far off.’ This somewhat mystical remark seemed to indicate that even up to this point, he was not intending within hours to end Austria’s identity by incorporating the country into Germany.114


The extraordinary reception had made a huge impact on him. He was told that foreign newspapers were already speaking of the ‘Anschluß’ of Austria to Germany as a fait accompli. It was in this atmosphere that the idea rapidly took shape of annexing Austria immediately. In an excited mood, Hitler was heard to say that he wanted no half-measures.


Göring, who before the events triggered by the Berchtesgaden meeting had, as we have seen, been the one most strongly pressing for the union of the two countries, was taken by surprise – astonished at the manner in which the actual Anschluß had come about.129


In mid-morning on 14 March, Hitler left Linz for Vienna. Cheering crowds greeted the cavalcade of limousines – thirteen police cars accompanied Hitler’s Mercedes – all the way to the capital, where he arrived, again delayed, in the late afternoon.131 On the orders of Cardinal Innitzer, Archbishop of Vienna, all the Catholic churches in the city pealed their bells in Hitler’s honour and flew swastika banners from their steeples – an extraordinary gesture given the ‘Church struggle’ which had raged in the Reich itself over the previous years.132 The scenes of enthusiasm, according to a Swiss reporter who witnessed them, ‘defied all description’.133 An English observer of the scene commented: ‘To say that the crowds which greeted [Hitler] along the Ringstraße were delirious with joy is an understatement.’134 Hitler had to appear repeatedly on the balcony of the Hotel Imperial in response to the crowd’s continual shouts of ‘We want to see our Führer.’135 Keitel, whose room faced the front of the hotel, found it impossible to sleep for the clamour.136

The next day, 15 March, in beautiful spring weather, Hitler addressed a vast, delirious crowd, estimated at a quarter of a million people, in Vienna’s Heldenplatz. The Viennese Nazi Party had been impatiently expecting him to come to the capital for three days.137 They had had time to ensure the preparations were complete. Work-places were ordered to be closed (though employees were still to be paid – some compensation for the hours spent standing and waiting for Hitler’s speech); many factories and offices had marched their employees as a group to hear the historic speech; schools had not been open since the Saturday; Hitler Youth and girls from the Bund Deutscher Mädel were bussed in from all parts of Austria; party formations had turned out in force.138 But for all the organization, the wild enthusiasm of the immense crowd was undeniable – and infectious.


After attending a military parade in the afternoon, Hitler had a short but important audience, arranged by Papen, with the Austrian primate, Cardinal Innitzer.142 The Cardinal assured Hitler of the loyalty of Austria’s Catholics, the overwhelming body of the population.143 Three days later, along with six other Austrian bishops and archbishops, he put his signature to a declaration of their full support and blessing for the new regime in Austria and their conviction ‘that through the actions of the National Socialist Movement the danger of godless Bolshevism, which would destroy everything, would be fended off’.144 Cardinal Innitzer added in his own hand: ‘Heil Hitler.’145

In the early evening, Hitler left Vienna and flew to Munich, before returning next day to Berlin to another ‘hero’s welcome’.146 Two days later, on 18 March, a hastily summoned Reichstag heard his account of the events leading up to what he described as the ‘fulfilment of the supreme historical commission’.147 He then dissolved the Reichstag and set new elections for 10 April. On 25 March, in Königsberg, he began what was to prove his last ‘election’ campaign, holding six out of fourteen major speeches in the former Austria.148 In both parts of the extended Reich, the propaganda machine once more went into overdrive.

Newspapers were prohibited from using the word ‘ja’ in any context other than in connection with the plebiscite.149 When the results were announced on 10 April, 99.08 per cent in the ‘Old Reich’, and 99.75 per cent in ‘Austria’ voted ‘yes’ to the Anschluß and to the ‘list of the Führer’.150 Goebbels’s Propaganda Ministry congratulated itself. ‘Such an almost 100 per cent election result is at the same time a badge of honour for all election propagandists,’ it concluded.151

From Hitler’s perspective, it was a near-perfect result. Whatever the undoubted manipulative methods, ballot-rigging, and pressure to conform which helped produce it, genuine support for Hitler’s action had unquestionably been massive.152 Once again, a foreign-policy triumph had strengthened his hand at home and abroad. For the mass of the German people, Hitler once more seemed a statesman of extraordinary virtuoso talents. For the leaders of the western democracies, anxieties about the mounting instability of central Europe were further magnified.


The Anschluß was a watershed for Hitler, and for the Third Reich. The backcloth to it had been one of domestic crisis. Yet almost overnight any lingering threat in the Blomberg–Fritsch affair had been defused by a triumph greater than any that Hitler had enjoyed before. The overwhelming reception he had encountered on his grandiose procession to Vienna, above all his return to Linz, had made a strong impression on the German Dictator. The intoxication of the crowds made him feel like a god. The rapid improvisation of the Anschluß there and then, fulfilling a dream he had entertained as a young Schönerer supporter all those years earlier, proved once more – so it seemed to him – that he could do anything he wanted. His instincts were, it seemed, always right. The western ‘powers’ were powerless. The doubters and sceptics at home were, as always, revealed as weak and wrong. There was no one to stand in his way. As Papen later put it: ‘Hitler had brought about the Anschluß by force; in spite of all warnings and prophecies, his own methods had proved the most direct and successful. Not only had there been no armed conflict between the two countries, but no foreign power had seen fit to intervene. They adopted the same passive attitude as they had shown towards the reintroduction of conscription in Germany and the reoccupation of the Rhineland. The result was that Hitler became impervious to the advice of all those who wished him to exercise moderation in his foreign policy.’154

Ibid, pp. 78-83

His (Hitler's) revisionist policy did not usually proceed by slow negotiation and its aims were extended as far as the demand for the return of Germany's colonies. While he was pursuing it, moreover, his eastern project receded. Even the Anschluss, Hitler's declared aim in the first paragraph of Mein Kampf, upon close analysis has been shown to be a response to a situation only partly of his own making and 'achieved almost against his own will'."11

11: See Jiirgen Gehl, Austria, Germany and the Anschluss 1931-1938 (Oxford, I964)

HW Koch, Hitler and the Origins of the Second World War: Second Thoughts on the Status of Some of the Documents, pp. 129-131

However, despite the evidence of widespread support for the Anschluss in Austria, the later defeat of the Third Reich gave Austrians an opportunity to reinvent their recent past. In April 1945 – while many Austrians were still fighting for the Third Reich – the ‘Proclamation of 27 April’ by the provisional Austrian government embraced the concept of Austria as victim. That summer the new Austrian Foreign Ministry put forward the new orthodoxy that Austria had not been a willing ally of Germany; instead, Austria had been ‘occupied and liberated’. This presented the Anschluss as the forcible occupation of a helpless people and Austria’s first post-war government encapsulated this view in a famous publication in 1946: Justice for Austria! Red-White-Red-Book.19 It was (as the historian Günter Bischof put it) a ‘“Rip van Winkle myth” of dormant Austrian statehood.’20 It is the same myth that is perpetuated in the charming musical The Sound of Music, where a concert audience sings Edelweiss as a sign of Austrian independence and defiance, to the annoyance of Nazi officials.

Martin Whittock, A Brief History of The Third Reich: The Rise and Fall of the Nazis

The truth is that the morality held over the west over the actions of Hitler and then National Socialists are false. Hitler isn't a criminal for wanting, by force if need be, to oppose unjust policies enforced by the allies. And certainly not for uniting his people.

To illustrate this I'm going to quote the best refutation i've heard of this false morality. A morality that had people killed at Nuremberg by the corrupt victors. By those same people like Kershaw, who rant and rave

The only question which arose on the fate of Austria after the Anschluss was whether it should be incorporated into Germany by stages or on the spot. Hitler's decision in favor of an immediate incorporation was determined by the enthusiasm of the crowds which greeted him on his arrival.

It is difficult to see wherein the gravamen of the charge lies -- more specially when it is remembered that although Hitler and Goring were convinced that they were acting in harmony with the wishes not only of the German, but also of the Austrian people. That their conviction was no error is proved by the testimony of all who were present in Austria at the time as well as by the result of the plebiscite. However much it may be deprecated that pressure was applied to Schuschnigg, it cannot be overlooked that he was acting in opposition to the wishes of the vast majority of his country-men and that Hitler rather than he was seeking that the will of the people, so long frustrated by the Treaty of St. Germain, should prevail. Nor does the suggestion to Seyss-Inquart that a telegram should be sent asking for German troops appear to be a crime calling for the death penalty; if the defenseless state of Austria had induced the Yugoslav Government to occupy Carinthia or the Hungarian Government the Burgenland, international complications might easily have resulted.

On the other hand, if it is remembered that Austria throughout its history as an "independent" republic had never ceased to demonstrate its desire for union with Germany, that such union had time after time been prevented by the superior force of the Allies, and that in spite of that force practically the whole of Austrian opinion, irrespective of party, still favoured the union with those of the same race in the Reich, then it is difficult to see where the criminality lay in bringing about the Anschluss.

The President of the International Military Tribunal was not of the same opinion. In his judgement he comments:

"It was contended before the Tribunal that the annexation of Austria was justified by the strong desire expressed in many quarters for the union of Austria and Germany; that there were many matters in common between the two peoples that made this union desirable; and that in the result the object was achieved without bloodshed. These matters, even if true, are really immaterial. . ."

Or, in other words, if Austria, instead of being German by speech and race, had had no matter in common with the Reich; if, instead of "strongly desiring the union of Austria and Germany," it had been bitterly opposed to such union; if, instead of welcoming the incoming German troops with flowers and banners, the Austrian population had shed its blood in a last hopeless resistance, then, the guilt of those responsible for the Anschluss would have been no greater, for "these matters, even if true, are really immaterial."

The ordinary man with a sense of fairness can only raise his eyebrows and ask himself with amazement how the President of the International Military Tribunal could utter sentiments so repugnant equally to justice and to common sense. The air of superiority with which Sir Geoffrey Lawrence brushes aside the desense without deigning to give it a minute's consideration will never convince him that union with a country which has repeatedly expressed its desire for that union is a crime equal to the invasion and forcible subjugation of a victim desperately struggling for its liberty. He will say to himself that, if "these matters, even if true, are really immaterial" to the Tribunal, then the Tribunal cannot have been concerned with the interests of Austria as the injured party, but only with the policy if the states composing the Tribunal, and that the crime of the accused was that of having opposed that policy.

I recommend reading all the books cited. Even Kershaw and Whittock if you can stomach it. Also read:

Peter Utgaard, Remembering & Forgetting Nazism: Education, National Identity, and the Victim Myth in Postwar Austria

"The Myth of Austrian victimization at the hands of both Nazi Germany and the Allies became the unifying theme of Austrian official memory and a key component of national identity as a new Austria emerged from the ruins. In the 1980s, Austria's myth of victimization came under intense scrutiny in the wake of the Waldheim scandal that marked the beginning of its erosion. The fiftieth anniversary of the Anschluß in 1988 accelerated this process and resulted in a collective shift away from the victim myth. Important themes examined include the rebirth of Austria, the Anschluß, the war and the Holocaust, the Austrian resistance, and the Allied occupation."

How 'The Sound of Music' Distorts History Hollywood Mythology About Austrians and Hitler

Evan Burr Bukey, Hitler's Austria 1938-1945: Popular Sentiment in the Nazi Era
Now what does it mean for the independent expert witness Van Pelt? In his eyes he had two possibilities. Either to confirm the Holocaust story, or to go insane. - Germar Rudolf, 13th IHR Conference.

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Re: The Anschluss with Austria

Postby Lamprecht » 1 year 11 months ago (Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:54 am)

Actually the thread/post was moved/merged here:

One obvious point is to wonder, why would the Treaty of Saint Germain (10 September 1919) and the Treaty of Versailles (28 June 1919) have to specifically forbid the union of Germany and Austria?

In the aftermath of WWI, The Republic of German-Austria (Republik Deutschösterreich or Deutsch-Österreich) was created. Later the name was changed to "Republic of Austria" because the aforementioned treaties forbade the use of the name "German-Austria" (Deutschösterreich).
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Re: The Anschluss with Austria

Postby Moderator » 1 year 11 months ago (Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:08 pm)

The original thread by Lamprecht is no longer up, so I made my own thread

As stated it was merged ...... per request from Mortimer.

Lets keep the annexations of Czechoslovakia & Austria as separate threads.
Thanks, M1
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Re: The Anschluss with Austria

Postby Lamprecht » 1 year 11 months ago (Sat Nov 09, 2019 5:47 pm)

John Wear's book "Germany's War" is provided for free on; Chapter 3 has a section on the Anschluss.

Germany's War: The Origins, Aftermath and Atrocities of World War II or ... manys-war/


- Plebiscites [public votes/polls] in Austria for a union with Germany in the 1920s found overwhelming public support for the Anschluss, but the treaties signed after these countries lost WWI prevented such a union.

- Lord Halifax told Hitler that Britain acknowledged issues with these post-WWI treaties and would not go to war over attempts to reunify Germans from Danzig, Austria and Czechoslovakia.

- Austria was ruled since 1934 by a dictatorship headed by Dr. Kurt von Schuschnigg, who persecuted Austrians supportive of the Anschluss as well as National Socialists.

- Schuschnigg attempted to hold a rigged plebiscite in order to prove that Austrians did not want a unification; it was announced that those who voted in support of unification would be declared traitors.

- As a response to this betrayal, Hitler marched into Austria [12 March 1938] after Mussolini accepted the Anschluss, where he was greated with enthusiasm by the public. Not a single shot was fired.

- Schuschnigg and his cabinet resigned from office after Britain, France and Italy denounced his unfair plebiscite.

- Later, on 10 April 1938, a plebiscite was in Germany and Austria to gauge public support for the Anschluss. Jews and criminals could not vote, but over 99% of people that could supported the unification.

The Anschluss

The statesmen at the Paris Peace Conference had wanted to divide rather than unify Austria and Germany. Austria had asked Allied permission at the Paris Peace Conference to enter into a free-trade zone with Germany. Austria’s request was denied. As far back as April and May of 1921, plebiscites on a union with Germany were held in Austria at the Tyrol and at Salzburg. The votes in the Tyrol were over 140,000 for the Anschluss and only 1,794 against. In Salzburg, more than 100,000 voted for union with Germany and only 800 against.[37] Despite the overwhelming desire of Austrians to join with Germany, the Treaty of St. Germain signed by Austria after World War I prevented the union.

Under the treaties of Versailles and St. Germain, Germany and Austria could not even enter into a customs union without permission from the League of Nations. In 1931, hard hit by the Great Depression, Germany asked again for permission to form an Austro-German customs union. The League of Nations denied Germany’s request. Germany later requested an end to its obligation to pay war reparations under Versailles because of Germany’s economic crisis caused by the Great Depression. Germany’s request was again refused. Many historians believe the resulting economic distress contributed to the rapid rise of National Socialists to power in Germany.[38] The Allied refusals also increased the desire of German and Austrian nationalists to exercise their right of self-determination.

Hitler was given encouragement for the peaceful incorporation of Austria into Germany when he met with Edward Frederick Lindley Wood (Lord Halifax) at Berchtesgaden on Nov. 19, 1937. Lord Halifax mentioned the important questions of Danzig, Austria, and Czechoslovakia on his own initiative without any prompting from Hitler. Halifax told Hitler that Great Britain realized that the Paris Treaties of 1919 contained mistakes that had to be rectified.[39] Halifax stated that Britain would not go to war to prevent an Anschluss with Austria, a transfer of the Sudetenland to Germany, or a return of Danzig to the Reich. Britain might even be willing to serve as an honest broker in effecting the return of what rightfully belonged to Germany, if this was all done in a gentlemanly fashion.[40]

Lord Halifax had given Hitler his approval for the peaceful incorporation of Germans in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Danzig into Germany if done “without far reaching disturbances.” British historian A.J.P. Taylor writes:

This was exactly what Hitler wanted…Halifax’s remarks, if they had any practical sense, was an invitation to Hitler to promote German nationalist agitation in Danzig, Czechoslovakia, and Austria; an assurance also that his agitation would not be opposed from without. Nor did these promptings come from Halifax alone. In London, Eden told Ribbentrop: “People in Europe recognized that a closer connection between Germany and Austria would have to come about sometime.” The same news came from France. Papen, on a visit to Paris, “was amazed to note” that Chautemps, the premier, and Bonnet, then finance minister, “considered a reorientation of French policy in Central Europe as entirely open to discussion….” They had “no objection to a marked extension of German influence in Austria obtained through evolutionary means”; nor in Czechoslovakia “on the basis of a reorganization into a nation of nationalities.”[41]

Lord Halifax’s message to Hitler underscores a crucial point in the history of this era: Hitler’s agenda was no surprise to European statesmen. Any German nationalist would demand adjustments to the frontiers laid down at Versailles. With Great Britain’s approval of the peaceful annexation of Austria into Germany, the problem was how to get the Austrians to peacefully agree to unification with Germany. Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg would soon force the issue.[42]

Since the summer of 1934, Austria had been governed by a conservative dictatorship headed by Dr. Kurt von Schuschnigg. Schuschnigg persecuted Austrians who favored unification with Germany. Political dissidents landed in concentration camps, and the regime denied persons of “deficient civic reliability” the right to practice their occupation.[43]

In January 1938, Austrian police discovered plans of some Austrian National Socialists to overthrow Schuschnigg in violation of a “Gentlemen’s Agreement” entered into with Germany on July 11, 1936. Schuschnigg met with Hitler at Berchtesgaden on Feb. 12, 1938, complaining of the attempted overthrow of his government by Austrian National Socialists. Hitler and Schuschnigg reached an agreement that day, but Schuschnigg claimed that Hitler had been violent in manner during the first two hours of conversation.[44] Some accounts of their meeting say that Schuschnigg was bullied by Hitler and subject to a long list of indignities.[45]

Schuschnigg began to consider means of repudiating the agreement made with Hitler in their meeting on Feb. 12, 1938. Schuschnigg’s solution was to hold a rigged plebiscite. On March 9, 1938, Schuschnigg announced that a plebiscite would be held four days later on March 13, 1938, to decide, finally and forever, whether Austria was to remain an independent nation.

The planned plebiscite was completely unfair. There was only one question, which asked the voter, “Are you for a free and German, independent and social, Christian and united Austria, for peace and work, for the equality of all those who affirm themselves for the people and the Fatherland?” There were no voting lists; only yes ballots were to be provided by the government; anyone wishing to vote no had to provide their own ballot, the same size as the yes ballots, with nothing on it but the word no.[46] During preparations for the election, the government press in Austria announced that anyone voting “no” would be guilty of treason.[47]

The Austrian government took additional steps to ensure that the vote would swing in their direction. The qualification age to vote was raised to 24, making it impossible for young National Socialists to register their views. Schuschnigg and his men also distributed a huge number of flyers, scattering some by aircraft in Austria’s most remote and snowbound corners. Trucks drove around the country transmitting the message of Austrian independence by loudspeaker. Everywhere the German theme was driven home: To be a good Austrian was to be a good German; to be German was to be free. Austrians were better Germans than the National Socialists.[48]

Hitler was shocked by Schuschnigg’s proposed plebiscite. Hitler had hoped for an evolutionary strategy in Austria that would gradually merge Austria into the Reich. However, Hitler felt humiliated and betrayed by Schuschnigg, and he could not let the phony plebiscite proceed. After receiving word on March 11, 1938, that Mussolini accepted the Anschluss, Hitler decided to march into Austria with his troops on March 12, 1938. Hitler was greeted with a joyously enthusiastic reception from the mass of the Austrian people.[49] Not a shot was fired by Hitler’s army.

Hitler was aware of the bad publicity abroad such an apparent act of force would generate. However, Schuschnigg and his entire cabinet had resigned from office after Britain, France, and Italy all denounced the phony plebiscite. Hitler feared that Austrian Marxists might take advantage of Austria’s momentary political vacuum and stage an uprising. Goering also warned of the possibility that Austria’s neighbors might exploit its temporary weakness by occupying Austrian territory. Hitler decided to militarily occupy Austria to prevent either of these possibilities from occurring.[50]

On April 10, 1938, joint plebiscites were held in Germany and Austria to approve the Anschluss. All Germans and Austrians over the age of 20 were eligible to vote, with the exception of Jews and criminals.

The result of the poll was 99.08% of the people in favor of the Anschluss. The plebiscite might have been manipulated to some extent as shown by the near unanimous assent from the Dachau concentration camp. Also, the ballot was not anonymous since the voter’s name and address were printed on the back of each ballot. However, there is no question that the vast majority of people in Germany and Austria approved the Anschluss. Hitler’s aims had struck a chord with national German aspirations, and the plebiscite reflected Hitler’s popularity with the German people.[51]

The invasion of Austria had hurt Germany’s public image. As historian A.J.P. Taylor states:

Hitler had won. He had achieved the first object of his ambition. Yet not in the way that he had intended. He had planned to absorb Austria imperceptibly, so that no one could tell when it had ceased to be independent; he would use democratic methods to destroy Austrian independence as he had done to destroy German democracy. Instead he had been driven to call in the German army. For the first time, he lost the asset of aggrieved morality and appeared as a conqueror, relying on force. The belief soon became established that Hitler’s seizure of Austria was a deliberate plot, devised long in advance, and the first step toward the domination of Europe. This belief was a myth. The crisis of March 1938 was provoked by Schuschnigg, not by Hitler. There had been no German preparations, military or diplomatic. Everything was improvised in a couple of days—policy, promises, armed force….But the effects could not be undone….The uneasy balance tilted, though only slightly, away from peace and toward war. Hitler’s aims might still appear justifiable; his methods were condemned. By the Anschluss—or rather by the way in which it was accomplished—Hitler took the first step in the policy which was to brand him as the greatest of war criminals. Yet he took this step unintentionally. Indeed he did not know that he had taken it.[52]

Winston Churchill made the following statement in the House of Commons shortly after the Anschluss:

The public mind has been concentrated upon the moral and sentimental aspects of the Nazi conquest of Austria—a small country brutally struck down, its government scattered to the winds, the oppression of the Nazi Party doctrine imposed upon a Catholic population and upon the working classes of Austria and Vienna, the hard ill usage of persecution which indeed will ensue—which is probably in progress at the moment—of those who, this time last week, were exercising their undoubted political rights, discharging their duties to their own country….[53]

Churchill’s statement is a misrepresentation of the truth. The overwhelming majority of Austrians had desired a union with Germany. The Anschluss was hugely popular in Austria. Churchill in his speech had begun the warmongering that led to World War II.
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Re: The Anschluss with Austria

Postby Otium » 1 year 1 week ago (Fri Oct 16, 2020 12:41 pm)

It would have been immoral for Hitler not to use force to incorporate Austria into the German Reich if all possibilities to ensure it came about peacefully had fallen through. Just like in Poland.

Austria had become a shadow of its former self. It was only natural that they'd not wish to be a second rate German nation. Humiliated by the Victors of World War I. So, the Anschluss was a natural occurrence, one that had support in a long history of German-Austrian German debate. That Hitler was the one to bring it about, is the only reason today that it's admonished. There's no rational reason beyond that.

Karl Renner, 3rd President of Austria.

An interesting fact to remember is that the 3rd President of Austria, Karl Renner - a much beloved Austrian leader who has statues dedicated to him in that country today, was a supporter of the Anschluss.

As State Chancellor from 1918-1920 at the cradle of the republic, he advocated that the republic should designate itself as "German Austria" and declare itself part of the German republic. In St. Germain, too, Dr. Karl Renner campaigned for the unification of Austria with Germany In 1931 he wrote to the later Nazi mayor of Vienna, Dr. Hermann Neubacher , in a letter that he, Renner, could be counted on when it came to joining Germany.


Here is what Renner had to say regarding his support for the Anschluss:

On 3 April a week before the referendum, the first post-war Federal Chancellor Dr. Renner declares in an interview in the New Viennea Day-Sheet (Neues Wiener Tageblatt):

"As a social democrat, and therefore as a defender of the nation's right to self-determination, as the first Chancellor of the Republic of German Austria and a past President of its Peace Delegation to Saint-Germain, I will vote YES."

Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof, 1939 - The War that Had Many Fathers (Olzog Verlag, George F. Held English Translation, 2011), Pp. 149.

Here is a scan of that edition of the Vienna Day-Sheet in which this interview was published:

Source: Archive:

There's an interesting New York Times opinion letter regarding the Anschluss and the post-war attempt to turn Austria into some sort of "victim" of Nazi aggression.

Austria Welcomed Hitler, and Its Anti-Semitism Persists
March 30, 1985

To the Editor:

In the interest of the historical record, Peter Jankowisch's attempt (letter, March 19) to extenuate Austria's past and present political aberrations should not go unchallenged.

The Big Three foreign ministers' decision of 1943 to declare Austria Hitler's first victim was probably justified for political and psychological reasons while the war against the Nazis was still going on. But to perpetuate this myth of a rape does not serve Austria's new generation.

Here are some of Dr. Jankowisch's omissions. It was the very same veteran Socialist leader, Karl Renner, cited by him as abolishing all Nazi laws in 1945, who on April 2, 1938, appealed to Austrians to vote ''yes'' in the April 10 plebiscite that legitimized the Anschluss; 99.3 percent of them followed his advice, and this was for once no trumped-up figure, as can be testified to by anyone, like me, who witnessed the enthusiasm with which the Austrians welcomed the Germans and Hitler himself.

Sumner Welles, former Under Secretary of State, in his ''Time for Decision'' quotes the Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg as telling the Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano a few weeks before the Anschluss: ''If Germany were to occupy Austria, a majority of Austrians would support the occupation, and if Italy were to send troops into Austria to prevent the occupation (as she threatened to do in 1934), the Austrians, as one man, would join the Germans.''

Nowhere else in Europe did the local population so willingly and wholeheartedly take the lead in eliminating the Jews. Even the Nazis had to put the brakes on to avoid economic chaos...

Source: Archive:

Here's the full quote made by Ciano from Welles' "Time for Decision". There's some interesting information here.

You will wonder why Italy did nothing at the time of Dollfuss's assassination and nothing later when Hitler occupied Austria. I will tell you, for there is a great deal of misunderstanding on that score. There are many people in Austria to-day who are unhappy, who are tormented; many who wish that Hitler's kind of Anschluss had not taken place. But, as an Italian, I tell you the great majority of Austrians would even to-day rather be part of Germany than have to live the life of starvation and of progressive exhaustion they were forced to lead in dependant Austria.

"Before the occupation of Austria, Dr. Schuschnigg came to Rome. He admitted to me frankly that, if Germany occupied Austria, the majority of Austrians would support the occupation and, if Italy sent troops into Austria to prevent the occupation, the Austrians as one man would join with the Germans to fight Italy.


"If any country could logically desire the reconstitution of an independent Austria, it would be Italy. But Italy knows that the Austrians are primarily German and that the Austrian people will never be content to go back to the state of inanition and of lingering death which they endured for twenty years after 1918."

Sumner Welles, The Time for Decision (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1944), Pp. 67-68

Ciano is undoubtedly a reliable source in this instance. However I disagree that there were "many Austrians" who were unhappy. Even when the war was lost, the Austrians had no desire to separate from Germany, but it was forced upon them yet again.

Ciano, as Welles tells us:

revealed not only his contempt and hatred for Ribbentrop but also an underlying antagonism toward Hitler.

Ibid., p. 68

So, this should satiate the Hitler Haters who otherwise would wish to deny the - probably begrudging comments - made by Ciano in this instance.

Another interesting take away is Ciano's description of a meeting with Hitler in October 1939 where he believed Hitler wanted to propose various plebiscites and a deal for peace:

Count Ciano told me that he had spent two days in Berlin the preceding October conferring with Hitler. At the time he believed that Germany would still have been willing to agree upon a peace based upon the retention of Austria, or a plebiscite in Austria - since he felt that Hitler was convinced that a real plebiscite would result in an overwhelming vote in favour of continued amalgamation with Germany; an independent Slovakia and an independent Bohemia-Moravia, both under the protectorate of Germany; and the reconstitution of a completely independent Poland, Germany retaining Danzig, the Corridor and the territory in Western Poland occupied by German minorities, and Russia retaining Eastern Poland, removing the inhabitants of Polish nationality to the new Polish state, which would be given access to the sea. The terms would also have included the return of Germany's former colonial possessions, of their equivalent.


Ciano wasn't sure if Germany would still accept these terms. But they were on the table. David Irving has also verified such desires by Hitler to reconstitute a Polish state and retain German assets. This is all known, but this admission by Ciano is certainly of interest in supporting the evidence that exists in that direction.

It becomes more and more untenable that Hitler demanded an exorbitant German Empire in Eastern Europe. Not that i necessarily have a problem with that anyway. I'm just saying that none of this makes sense in that narrative. Ciano, even though his diaries are a forgery, is still taken to be very reliable by the establishment historians. To deny these statements would be odd.

On the plebiscite, I would like to mention and interesting admission from Max Domarus which I believe he ignores the full extent of.

In the December 4 election in the Sudetenland, of the 2.94 million ballots cast, 2.64 million votes went to the NSDAP (98.8 percent). Hitler could not be content with such a “meager” showing. After all, the Saarlanders had reaffirmed his rule on March 31, 1936, by casting 99.9 percent of the votes in his favor. Earlier that year on April 10, the Austrians had demonstrated their support for his policies by dedicating to him 99.7 percent of the votes. Hitler felt that he had been done an injustice by the Sudeten Germans, whose gratitude for his willingness “to draw the sword” for them ought to have resulted in a far better showing.

Max Domarus, The Complete Hitler: A Digital Desktop Reference to His Speeches and proclamations 1932-1945 (Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers) Pp. 1260

Domarus likes to insult Hitler based on his own conjecture. Which isn't uncommon for historians when dealing with anything Nazi related.

The point I wish to make, is how odd it is on the one hand to make baseless statements about how any Nazi plebiscite was somehow "rigged" or otherwise implemented in such a way as to get the results they wanted through "intimidation". The latter, as opposed to rigging, is the most common conjectural statement I've seen. It all goes totally unsupported by any evidence. What there would be is more stories by anti-Nazis hand picked to tell historians what they want to hear.

It makes no sense for Hitler to have been upset over supposedly "rigged" or coerced plebiscite results. This to me suggests that they weren't rigged, and whatever "intimidation" that could've occurred was unsystematic, amounting to nothing more than peer pressure. Of course, this is just my own opinion, I cannot say for certain.
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Re: The Anschluss with Austria

Postby Otium » 6 months 1 week ago (Wed Apr 14, 2021 10:48 am)

Hitler is often said to have been rough on statesmen who came to visit him, particularly Kurt von Schuschnigg the Austrian Chancellor, and Emil Hacha the Czechoslovakian President. Hitler is said to have used threatening language and tactics designed to force his opponent to concede on Hitler's own propositions, often, as a result of such tactics labelled as "demands" (which was untrue). Some revisionists I feel, play down the truth of these facts to a misleading degree and orthodox historians misrepresent these facts in order to prove that Hitler was aggressive and intent on war.

Both positions are misleading. Hitler did use aggressive tactics to get his opponents to concede, although that doesn't mean he wanted war, he had other reasons as we'll see. It's also true that in both the former cases of the Czech president and Austrian Chancellor, both had not been summoned to Berlin by Hitler, but had come of their own accord, out of their own desires to meet Hitler. So one cannot make the claim that Hitler was going around summoning European statesmen to his desk in order to terrorize them.

I'm going in this thread to be focussing on the meeting between Adolf Hitler and Kurt von Schuschnigg on February 12th 1938 because I think the tactics Hitler used should be explained, and require some more context.


In late 1937 early 1938 there were a few internal crises' occurring in Germany, Schacht had been dismissed as President of the Reichsbank and replaced by Hermann Goering, and there was the Blomberg-Fritsch crisis which basically swept out the last Conservative vestiges from prominent positions.

Hitler had been brooding gloomily how he was to present the resignation of Schacht at a meeting of the Reichstag which he had summoned for 20 February. Here was a splendid diversion: Schuschnigg’s visit would provide him with some sort of success with which to cloak the awkward subject of Schacht’s financial protests. Hitler lit up: ‘An excellent idea. Please go back to Vienna immediately, and arrange for us to meet within the next few days.’ Papen shammed reluctance: he was no longer ambassador. Hitler was insistent; and Papen agreed. On 7 February he was back in Vienna with the invitation. Schuschnigg did not hesitate. After all, the idea of a meeting with Hitler had been his in the first place, or so he now imagined; Papen was the guarantor that all would be well

A.J.P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War (Hamish & Hamilton, 1985), Pp. 142.

As we can see, Hitler was rather despondent, and had no real way to distract from these issues that were unfolding. We can see then that Hitler's decision to strike a deal with Schuschnigg came about, not as part of a predetermined plan of aggression, but as a need for a diplomatic triumph to make up for the previous unsavoury events. It can also be reasonably concluded that Hitler's strong-arm tactics while negotiating with the Austrian Chancellor, was motivated by his trying to conclude a substantial agreement with him before the Reichstag convened on February 20th, not because Hitler was just aggressive by nature. As prior to this, the July 1936 agreement between Germany and Austria was intended by Hitler to bring about the Anschluss over the course of time:

Hitler assumed that Austrian Nazis would gradually penetrate the government there and would transform Austria into a Nazi state. But he was content that this should happen imperceptibly, without a dramatic crisis. The agreement of July 1936 gave him almost exactly what he had proposed to Mussolini at the Venice meeting two years previously, except that Schuschnigg did not make way for ‘a personage of independent outlook’. Instead Schuschnigg became this neutral personage, or so Hitler hoped. He was confident that the walls of Vienna would fall of themselves. As late as February 1938 he told the Austrian Nazi leaders: ‘The Austrian question can never be solved by a revolution…. I want the evolutionary course to be taken, not a solution by violent means, since the danger for us in the field of foreign policy becomes less each year.’

Ibid., p. 110.

And before I get into the actual meeting itself, I would like to quote an example of Hitler using these tactics, purely to bluff his way to victory:

How much of all this effort was serious, and how much was pure bluff, we shall never know. He (Hitler) often made warlike remarks to his intimates that seemed destined more for consumption in Prague. [...] The Hitler that the foreigners saw was often a clever act. Spitzy himself once witnessed this scene, after an excellent luncheon with Hitler and his private stall: a manservant announced the arrival of a British emissary on a matter of great urgency. Hitler started up in agitation. "Gott im Himmel! Don't let him in yet - I'm still in good humour." Before his staff's eyes, he then worked himself up, solo, into an artificial rage - his race darkened, he breathed heavily and his eyes glared. Then he went next door and acted out for the unfortunate Englishman a scene so loud that every word was audible from the lunch table. Ten minutes later he returned with sweat beading his brow. He carefully closed the door behind him and said with a chuckle, "Gentlemen, I need tea. He thinks I'm furious!"

David Irving, The War Path: Hitler's Germany 1933-1939 (New York: The Viking Press, 1978), Pp. 120.

The ranting and raving Hitler was an act, and he did it for reasons quite unknown to me. Although they clearly worked for a time, but nonetheless came to work against him in the long run. The caricature Hitler built up for himself was used by the Poles and British to publicly deny Hitler's sincere peace offensive, or offers to negotiate with Poland by citing these probably less than sincere outrages. In this way, Hitler's expedient scare tactics which so often worked, eventually failed him. But in the case of Austria, it worked. So this must be kept in mind, what Hitler did he did because he had ulterior motives, not sinister, as the establishment would claim, but actually much more moderate. That Hitler would portray himself to be more sinister than he really was, is a more apt description of what tactics he used, rather than proclaiming it was because he was purely aggressive.

Hitler was of the belief that the Gentleman's treaty signed with Austria in 1936 was going to gradually pull the two nations closer together. As one of the agreed upon issues was not to persecute National Socialists by locking them up. In fact 15,583 Austrian National Socialists were released from prison and the press was allowed to publish German Newspapers. Things of that nature, although it was more detailed than just these things (For the details on this, see: Udo Walendy, Who Started World War II? (Castle Hill Publishers, 2014), Pp. 81ff.).

Relations with Austria were formally governed by a treaty of July 1936. This purported to restore to the Austrian Nazis a semblance of legality; but the Schuschnigg regime had done little to implement it. Schuschnigg himself was autocratic and wilful, and refused to accept the harsh realities of Central European politics. To his friend the police president of Vienna, he once admitted that Austria’s future was “of course” inseparable from Germany’s – but he was damned if he was going to put up with Berlin dictating his own foreign policy to him. In many respects he resembled Hitler: a dictator, unsociable and little-travelled; but he possessed only a tithe of Hitler’s demonic stature, debating ability and ruthless cunning, so that in any encounter he was bound to come off worse.

Irving, op cit., p. 71.

Schuschnigg was much more concerned about retaining his own power in Austria, rather than actually abiding by the wishes of the Austrian people to unite with Germany. As we've seen he clearly understood that Austria was inseparable from Germany, but nonetheless he wished to maintain her independence at a time when it was impractical and immoral.

There was no democracy to save in Austria, only a separate name. Schuschnigg could stomach everything the Nazis wanted except his own disappearance; and he supposed that he was now secured from this. The agreement of July 1936 gave Schuschnigg the shadow, and Hitler the substance.

A.J.P. Taylor, op cit., p. 110.

Apparently the Austrians were arresting the Austrian National Socialists again, which was causing some strain between the two countries:

Over dinner with the Austrian envoy, Stefan Tauschitz, on January 21, Neurath amplified this: ‘If a boiler is kept heating, and there’s no safety valve, it’s bound to explode.’ This was a reference to the continued internment of Austrian Nazis, against the spirit of the July 1936 treaty.

Irving, op cit., p. 70.

However, it's likely this was occuring because the Austrian National Socialists continued to agitate underground, and they were caught having devised plans to overthrow the government when the police invaded their headquarters on January 25th:

Schuschnigg was however a victim, the last of them, of a peculiarly Austrian illusion—the belief that the conscience of Europe could be stirred into action if nationalist intrigue and agitation were clearly exposed. Austrian statesmen had this illusion about Italian nationalism in the middle of the nineteenth century; they had it about South Slav nationalism in the early years of the twentieth. It seemed to them axiomatic in 1859 that Cavour would be deserted by Napoleon III and denounced by the other Great Powers, once clear evidence was produced of his complicity in nationalist agitation. It seemed equally axiomatic to them in July 1914 that Serbia would be abandoned by all the Great Powers if the assassination of Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo were brought home to her agents. In each case they found evidence which they regarded as convincing; in each case this encouraged them along the road of decisive action to their own undoing—to defeat in the Austro-French war of 1859, to defeat and disaster in the first World war. The same spirit still lived in Schuschnigg. He, too, supposed that the Austrian Nazis would be universally condemned if decisive evidence were produced against them—condemned by the Western Powers and by Mussolini, condemned even by Hitler, who was after all the legal head of an ostensibly law-abiding state. Schuschnigg, too, found his evidence. In January 1938 the Austrian police raided Nazi headquarters, and discovered detailed plans for an armed rising. Hitler knew nothing of these plans, which had been prepared despite his orders. To this extent Schuschnigg was right: the Austrian Nazis were acting without authority. It was a different question whether Hitler would apologise for his over-zealous followers.

A.J.P. Taylor, op cit., p. 139-140.

Franz von Papen also confirmed that the Austrian Nazis were disobeying Hitler. He went to confront the Austrian National Socialist Leader Josef Leopold about his actions:

I wished to have nothing further to do with the members of an organization which employed such unpleasant and questionable methods and disregarded so completely Hitler’s specific instructions. ‘Your behaviour is intolerable and I wish to have nothing further to do with you,’ I told him. ‘ [...] it was not until January 1938 that the Chancellor authorized me to make representations to Hitler on his behalf to have Leopold expelled to Germany, and remove him, at least territorially, from the leadership of the illegal party. I was astonished at how willingly Hitler accepted this request. I can only assume that Leopold was too much of a bull in a china shop, even for him.

Franz von Papen, Memoirs (London: Andre Deutsch Ltd., 1952), Pp. 403-404.


The meeting between the two German Chancellors was initially suggested by Hitler's Ambassador to Vienna, Franz von Papen in order to cool the relations between the two countries:

At any rate Schuschnigg had his evidence. The problem was how to use it. Schuschnigg carried his evidence and his problem to Papen, the German ambassador. After all, Papen was a gentleman, wealthy and aristocratic, an impeccable conservative and a more or less impeccable Roman Catholic. Surely he would be shaken by this record of Nazi intrigue. Schuschnigg’s complaints were music in Papen’s ears. He resented the work of the Nazi underground in Austria, which cast doubt on his own good faith and impeded his efforts towards “an evolutionary solution”. His expostulations had gone unregarded in Berlin. Now Schuschnigg would reinforce them. Papen at once suggested that Schuschnigg should carry his complaints to Hitler. It is impossible to tell what was in Papen’s mind. Perhaps he hoped that Hitler would rebuke the Nazi extremists; perhaps he foresaw that Schuschnigg would be driven to make further concessions to the German national cause in Austria. Probably there would be a little of both.

A.J.P. Taylor, op cit., p. 140.

Just an aside here, Franz von Papen's memoirs are actually a good source on the Anschluss, I read his chapter on it and found it to be balanced, truthful and revealing. Papen, it should be noted, was not a National Socialist, he was one of the conservatives who maintained a prominent post after the National Revolution in 1933, and was a former German Chancellor before Hitler came to power, because at that time everyone under the sun was given a shot to be the Chancellor before Hitler got his turn. He confirms:

Since December, however, Schuschnigg had been expressing a wish to meet the Fuhrer personally, in an attempt to solve the many problems outstanding. I had welcomed the idea, which at least showed that the Austrian Chancellor was now convinced that a free exchange of Views, on the basis of the July Agreement, could do no harm. I therefore wished, as my last official act, to recommend again such a meeting before Hitler chose to adopt other methods

The idea seemed to capture Hitler’s attention. He had apparently forgotten that I had already made this suggestion when the Austrian police confiscated the Tavs papers. It seemed to me even then that direct conversations between the leaders of the two countries provided the only means of lessening the tension caused by Leopold’s activities. Now I felt that a discussion was even more necessary, since I had been relieved of my duties and was no longer in a position to prevent Hitler adopting more radical measures. Suddenly he seemed to grasp the fact that Schuschnigg was ready to meet him half way, and he became all enthusiasm. ‘That is an excellent idea,’ he said, ‘please go back to Vienna immediately and arrange for us to meet within the next few days. I should be very pleased to invite Herr Schuschnigg here and talk everything over with him.’

Papen, op cit., p. 408.

Much was made at Nuremberg and after the war to distil a consensus about Hitler's war guilt by lumping Schuschnigg together with Emil Hacha in order to show that Hitler would make unreasonable demands upon foreign statesmen to get what he wanted. As it pertains to the situation in Austria, this couldn't be further from the truth, even though Hitler certainly wasn't friendly, and did make threats towards the Austrian Chancellor. All of which I will do my best to explain.

Papen in his memoirs reveals a very startling truth that I haven't ever seen given enough emphasis in the history of the Austrian affair, which I will get to in a moment. First of all, these are the alleged German "demands" made by Hitler to the Austrians:

I. As a result of the thorough exchange of views between the Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor and Federal Chancellor, Dr Schuschnigg, the following communique has been agreed for publication in the press of both countries . .

II. In view of the agreement expressed in the above-mentioned communique, the Federal Chancellor undertakes to introduce the following measures by February 18:

(1) The Austrian Federal Government undertakes to consult with the Reich Government on all matters of foreign policy concerning the two States. The Reich Government gives the same undertaking to the Federal Government.

(2) The Austrian Federal Government recognizes that National Socialism is compatible with Austrian sovereignty, providing its aspirations are fulfilled within the framework of the Austrian Constitution. In this context the Austrian Government will introduce no measures which could be interpreted as a ban on the National Socialist movement. The Federal Chancellor agrees to the extension ofthe work of the Office for Greater German Affairs.

(3) Under-Secretary Dr Seyss-Inquart is to be appointed Minister of the Interior, with control over the security forces. It will be his right and responsibility to ensure that the National Socialist movement may conduct its activities in accordance with the provisions of Article 2.

(4) The Federal Chancellor will declare a general amnesty for all persons arrested or imprisoned for Natiorfal Socialist activity. Such persons, whose continued residence in Austria might endanger relations between the two countries, may, after each individual case has been examined by both Governments, take up residence in the Reich.

(5) The withholding or reducing of pension, public assistance and education rights from persons who have engaged in National Socialist activity will cease and be made good retrospectively.

(6) All commercial discrimination against National Socialists will cease.

(7) The implementation of the press agreement between the two Governments will be assured by the replacement of Minister Dr Ludwig and Federal Commissioner Colonel Adam.

(8) Relations between the German and Austrian Armies will be regulated as follows:
(a) Federal Minister Glaise-Horstenau will be appointed Federal War Minister.
(b) A regular exchange of officers (100 from each army in the first instance).
(c) Regular consultations between the General Staffs.
(d) A planned reorganization of personal and technical contacts.

(9) All discrimination against National Socialists, especially with regard to service in the armed forces, will be raised.

(10) The integration of the Austrian economic system with that of Germany will be started, and to this end Dr Fischboeck will be appointed Austrian Minister of Finance.

III. The Reich Government recognizes that Dr Seyss-Inquart, in his capacity as Minister of the Interior, alone becomes responsible for the implementation of Article II, Section 2, of this protocol. The Reich Government will take steps to prevent intervention by German party officers in internal Austrian affairs. Should differences of opinion arise concerning the implementation of Article II, Section 2, negotiations shall be conducted only through Minister Seyss-Inquart

Ibid., p. 415-417.

When Hitler presented Schuschnigg with these "demands" he was not "bullying" the Austrian Chancellor, nor was he giving him an ultimatum as has often been portrayed. The most important piece of information regarding these "demands" has been omitted time and time again by the standard histories - even those like John Toland's Adolf Hitler which I have found to be more objective than other works. The background of how these "demands" came about is quite interesting.

Guido Schmidt who was the Austrian State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, had heard in a cabinet meeting that Schuschnigg fully intended to meet Hitler and was of the belief that because German government was currently preoccupied with an internal crisis, that he could 'obtain concessions' as Papen politely puts it:

At his trial after the war, Guido Schmidt declared that on my return to Vienna on February 7, Schuschnigg told the Cabinet that he intended to go through with the arrangement to meet Hitler. Mussolini was informed and expressed approval of the idea, and Schmidt told the British and French Ministers and the Papal Nuncio of the Chancellor’s plans. I must confess it is not quite clear to me how he reconciled this with his request that the matter should be kept secret. Schmidt also mentioned in evidence the letter I had sent to him on February 10. ‘In this note von Papen drew attention to the serious view taken by Germany of the way relations were deteriorating. Von Papen feared that the Chancellor had no clear idea of the serious consequences that might result from failure to deal with the situation. Germany, he said, was going through an internal crisis, and this would be the best opportunity for Austria to obtain concessions.’

I think it is also only fair to quote a statement by the Secretary-General of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, who was certainly no Germanophile. Giving evidence at Schmidt’s trial, he said: ‘I had the impression that the visit to Berchtesgaden had been a favourite idea of Schuschnigg’s for some time. In conversation with me, the Chancellor had often suggested that the best solution would be for him to discuss the situation with the man [Hitler] himself.’

Ibid., p. 410-411.

This dispels the idea that Hitler was just summoning foreign statesmen into his den so he could abuse them, but rather that these foreign statesmen had ideas and ambitions of their own, only that Hitler was much better at achieving his ambitions than they were. That much is undeniable.

Before going to meet Hitler at the Berchtesgaden, Schuschnigg had secretly devised his own list of demands, and what he would be willing to accept. This is the part of the story often left out (even from revisionist accounts), because it totally unravels the myth that Hitler was unreasonable and putting all of his bearing on unwitting foreign victims. Papen tells us:

Schuschnigg took the preparatory step of instructing Zernatto, the Secretary-General of the Fatherland Front, to work out, in conjunction with Seyss-Inquart, a list of proposals and possible concessions. As questions of internal policy alone were involved, Schmidt was excluded, and it was only on his way to Berchtesgaden with the Chancellor that he was told what had been agreed. These proposals, which have become known as the Punktationen, went on record during Schmidt’s trial after the war. They show to what extent Zernatto, the watchdog of Schuschnigg’s policy, and indeed Schuschnigg himself, were prepared to make concessions without feeling that they were departing from the terms of the July Agreement. At the time, I had no knowledge whatsoever of this document.

A study of these Punktationen shows that Schuschnigg was ready to install Seyss-Inquart as the arbiter of all matters concerning the opposition. His ministry was to provide the channel for all communications on this subject with the German Government. The censorship on books and the press was to be lifted, and the armed forces of the two countries were to be closely co-ordinated, with the same system of training and weapons. Any Nazis still under arrest were to be released, and members of the opposition who joined the Fatherland Front were to receive their share of posts in the ministries, local government offices and town councils. A list of suitable persons was prepared, which included the names of Dr Jury, Reinthaller, Professor Menghin, and others.

Giving evidence at his trial, Schmidt referred to the drawing up of these proposals as a great misfortune. He suggested that Keppler, Hitler’s right-hand man in everything that concerned Austria, was in close contact with Seyss-Inquart and had obtained either a copy or at least some indication of the contents of these proposals. ‘Every demand made by Hitler at Berchtesgaden was based on this document,’ said Schmidt.

It will be seen that there was great similarity between these proposals and the terms presented by Hitler at the Berchtesgaden meeting. There is therefore absolutely no foundation for Schuschnigg’s claim that Hitler’s terms came as a surprise. Even less truth is there in his accusation that I tricked him into meeting Hitler, knowing full well the demands with which he was to be presented. If Seyss-Inquart did, in fact, pass on the details of the proposals to Keppler; this was a gross breach of confidence. Though Schuschnigg may have come to believe in later years that I shared this knowledge, I can only say that this is completely untrue.

Ibid., p. 411-412.

This is confirmed by a recent source as well:

Seyss-Inquart briefed aides of Hitler about the concessions Schuschnigg was willing to make. Seyss had access to conversations among the Austrian officials and to the document called the Punktationen prepared by Guido Zernatto and Schushnigg, which reflected that they understood, first, that they would have to concede that some Nazis would be allowed to participate in Austrian affairs and, second, that they were willing to free many of the Nazis still in jail since the July 1934 putsch. Seyss also gave the Nazis and unvarnished description of Schuschnigg's disappointment over the realization that he could expect no support at all from Britain.

Jack Bray, Alone against Hitler: Kurt von Schuschnigg's Fight to Save Austria from the Nazis (Prometheus Books, 2020), Pp. 135.

Schuschnigg therefore seems to have also been hoping to have support from Britain to bully Germany and encircle her, which eventually they did regarding Poland. In any case, it's clear from these details that Schuschnigg was not an unwitting victim, nor Hitler a bloodthirsty rapist (the Anschluss has disingenuously been referred to as the 'Rape of Austria'). Schuschnigg knew full well that he was ready to accept the "demands" Hitler put before him, because he himself had approved of them before he even arrived to meet the German chancellor - he just had no clue that Hitler was ready to ensnare him.

Hitler was thus given the diplomatic upper hand, and knew he had no reason to make any concessions to the Austrians because they had inadvertently shown him their cards. This fully explains why Hitler was so ruthless during their meeting, because although you might dislike the tactics, Hitler was simply putting on a show to get nothing less than the full pot. He knew full well that he could, so why not?

One can read the full account in Papen or any other history book for themselves to see how harsh Hitler was throughout the meeting, and that much does seem to be generally true, although not without purpose, which had been omitted. Hitler's faux outrage can be evidenced in part I think by the calm demeanour with which Hitler invited Field Marshal Keitel into his office in order to show Schuschnigg that he was 'getting serious', of course, as is known, he was bluffing the entire time.

We can sum up Hitler's attitude towards Schuschnigg with the words of von Papen:

The Austrian Chancellor has given a detailed account of this conversation in his book, and although he may be guilty of some exaggeration, I have no doubt that Hitler brought all his heavy guns to bear. Certainly Schuschnigg appeared worried and pre-occupied.

Papen, op cit., p. 415.

This was probably Hitler's intention. Nonetheless, the meeting went on for many hours because the Austrians were still attempting to argue one or two points in the ‘Keppler Protocol’ (the previously quoted list of "demands" given to Schuschnigg by Hitler).

Eventually the conversation reached an impasse:

A deadlock having been reached, Schuschnigg and Schmidt asked me to intervene, and I decided to do so. I went in to see Hitler and told him that this was no way to deal with the matter. Some of his demands were obviously unacceptable and all that he would get in the end would be a declaration by Schuschnigg that the Austrian Constitution did not permit him to make the changes suggested, and that he must discuss the matter with the Federal President. Would it not be better to obtain the Chancellor’s agreement to as many measures as possible, so that the meeting should result in some progress? I undertook to try to win over Schuschnigg and Schmidt to this view, and Hitler agreed to my doing so. For several hours Schuschnigg, Schmidt and I thrashed the matter out, and finally we agreed on a text. This laid down that the only measures to be carried through by February 18 were the appointment of Seyss-Inquart; the admission of National Socialists to the Fatherland Front; the amnesty; financial arrangements; and the agreement on the press. Section 2 of Article II was rejected and in its place an undertaking was given to admit individual National Socialists into the Fatherland Front, the Government, and other organizations. The amnesty was to cover only National Socialists living in Austria and would not refer to those who had sought refuge in Germany, whom Schuschnigg regarded as completely untrustworthy. No undertaking was given to appoint Glaise Horstenau as War Minister, although a change in the Chief of the General Staff was proposed. Dr Fischbocck was not to be appointed Minister of Finance, but only to be given a position of influence in the financial administration.

The main concession concerned the appointment of Seyss-Inquart. This was no great sacrifice on Schuschnigg’s part, as the post was already held by Glaise-Horstenau. What did provoke much argument was the extension of Seyss-Inquart’s powers to include control of the police. Schuschnigg might well have doubted the advisability of handing over to him the security services, in case he should use them to favour the radical elements in the country. In fact, nothing of the sort occurred. The Vienna Chief of Police, Skubl, a man who enjoyed Schuschnigg’s confidence, remained at his post as head of the security services. Many years later, at the Nuremberg trial he declared on oath that no attempt had been made to interfere with his authority.

Ibid., p. 417-418.

After this, Schuschnigg went back to see Hitler, and the latter flared up again. Papen heard this and interrupted the conversation and Hitler in the middle of his 'tirade'. Something which is quite remarkable considering how Hitler is routinely portrayed to be some villain that would kill you for doing such a thing. Yet history simply doesn't support this:

After our long conversation, the Chancellor went in to see Hitler again. I could soon hear that the tone of the discussion was not what it should have been, and I therefore took it upon myself to break in. Entering the study, I found Hitler launched on a tirade about Schuschnigg having no feeling for German history and joint responsibility. ‘I have now known the Chancellor for four years,’ I said, interrupting Hitler, ‘and I can guarantee that he is as German in his way of thinking as you are. Your differences are not based on divergent ideas of patriotism, but rather on your own attitude to the outside world. The representative of a sovereign state has the right and the duty to make his views known.'

Hitler seemed surprised. ‘That is so. But Herr von Papen, you proved yourself to be a great German on another occasion - when Hindenburg asked you to form a Cabinet under my leadership. If Herr von Schuschnigg were to offer me his hand today and enter into a new relationship between Austria and the Reich, he would also be known to history as a great German.'

‘I agree' I said, ‘that the position of Germany in Central Europe can only be restored in close association with Austria. Up till now you have always said that this situation must be reached not by force, but by gradually interweaving the two countries’ affairs. I don’t understand this sudden urgency. Give the Chancellor time. Do not demand measures which he is not able to carry out by himself'

Thereupon the two leaders parted again, in order that Schuschnigg should have time for further reflection.

Ibid., p. 418-419.

And this is where the meeting simmered down, and an agreement was eventually settled:

In his book Schuschnigg gives only a fragmentary account of this conversation, in which I, as German Ambassador, took his part against Hitler. However, he admits that when he re-joined Hitler about half an hour later, the Fuhrer said, ‘For the first time in my life I have made up my mind to reconsider a final decision. The ice was broken and the way clear for an agreed solution.

Ibid., p. 419. also see Irving, op cit., p. 75.

And indeed a solution was agreed upon:

It was late at night before the various differences were resolved and the agreed text signed by Schuschnigg and Hitler. All of us were worn out, and I could well understand why Schuschnigg and Schmidt declined Hitler’s invitation to dinner. His pressure tactics, which had overshadowed the results, made his concessions seem more negative than they were.

Ibid., p. 420.

Finally Papen makes the final point worth making. That what was agreed upon was not that different from what Schuschnigg had already been willing to accept, despite the strenuous and intense meeting with Hitler:

It only remains to add that a comparison of the signed agreement with the Punktatiotien worked out before he left Vienna, shows that the new appointment to the Ministry of the Interior, and the inclusion of control of the police in its provisions, were the only important concession not planned by Schuschnigg in advance.

Ibid., p. 420.

Hitler did indeed make all sorts of indirect threats about a potential invasion of Austria, but there was nothing actually to it. Papen confirms this, as does Irving on a few occasions. In context this strong-arm tactic was a way of inducing Schuschnigg to agree to these terms, and for Hitler to avoid making any concessions he didn't really have to make, which of course he knew.


Hitler's forceful, rather unpleasant attitude towards Schuschnigg can be explained, as I spoke of at the beginning of this post, by the need to lessen the impact of the internal crisis within the Wehrmacht:

Hitler still had publicly to explain the Wehrmacht crisis and its solution. He had therefore called a meeting of the Reichstag for February 20. He had told Schuschnigg that he wanted to deal with the Austro-German problem in his speech, and had therefore asked that certain measures they had agreed upon should be carried out by February 18. No doubt he wished to divert attention from the rather ugly picture of intrigue in the Wehrmacht by providing some outstanding success in the field of foreign policy. This may well explain the pressure he had brought to bear on Schuschnigg,

Ibid., p. 421.

Hitler therefore, in his mind at least (or so it seems), had to bring about a triumph in foreign policy.

When Schuschnigg went to see Hitler, he made it clear that he was unable to make any promises without the support from the rest of the Austrian government and the President, Hitler respected this:

Schuschnigg had intended to appear at Berchtesgaden as the aggrieved party, unfolding his complaints and offering concessions to the respectable nationalists only in exchange for a repudiation of the Nazi extremists. His plan miscarried. Hitler always believed that attack was the best form of defence; and he got his blow in first. Schuschnigg, on arrival, was at once overwhelmed with accusations that he had failed to honour the “gentleman’s agreement” of 11 July 1936. It was Hitler who laid down terms for future co-operation. Schuschnigg was to make Seyss-Inquart, a supposedly respectable nationalist, Minister of the Interior and to give him control of the police. Austria was to coordinate her economic and foreign policy with that of Germany. Schuschnigg raised constitutional objections: he could not make binding promises without the consent of the Austrian government and President. He was bullied by Hitler; German generals, waiting outside, were ostentatiously called in. Yet, though these methods were abominable, Schuschnigg got most of what he wanted. His constitutional scruples were respected: in the final draft he merely “held out the prospect of the following measures”. Seyss-Inquart was no worse than other German nationalists already in the Cabinet; and was indeed a boyhood friend of Schuschnigg—not that this prevented his becoming a Nazi later. Schuschnigg had long acknowledged that Austria was “a German state”; and this had implied a coordination of policy. He received what he believed to be the vital concession: the illegal activities of the Austrian Nazis were repudiated, and it was agreed that any unwanted Austrian Nazis should “transfer their residence to the Reich”.

The agreement of 12 February was not the end of Austria; it was a further step in the “evolutionary solution” which Hitler had laid down. Schuschnigg made no attempt to disavow it when he had escaped from Hitler’s presence. On the contrary he duly secured its confirmation by the Austrian government. Hitler, on his side, assumed that the crisis was over. On 12 February he told the attendant generals to keep up “military pressure shamming action” until 15 February. After this not even a show of action was maintained. On 20 February Hitler addressed the Reichstag. His main concern was to explain away the dismissal of the conservative ministers; but the agreement over Austria of 12 February enabled him to ride off on a more attractive subject. There was no attack on Schuschnigg, as there would surely have been if Hitler were already projecting aggression against Austria. Quite the reverse, Hitler announced in gentle tones: “Friendly co-operation between the two countries in every field has been assured”; and he concluded: “I would like to thank the Austrian Chancellor in my own name, and in that of the German people, for his understanding and kindness”. The following day Hitler kept his part of the bargain. Leopold, the leader of the Nazi underground in Austria, was summoned before Hitler; told that his activities had been “insane”; and ordered to leave Austria along with his principal associates. A few days later Hitler saw these Nazis again, gave them another rating, and insisted that “the evolutionary course be taken, whether or not the possibility of success could today be foreseen. The Protocol signed by Schuschnigg was so far-reaching that if completely carried out the Austrian problem would be automatically solved”.

Hitler was satisfied. He made no preparations for action, but waited impassively for the automatic solution to mature.

A.J.P. Taylor, op cit., p. 142-144.

The reality of the situation is that while Hitler was rough on Schuschnigg, this cannot be used to explain why the Anschluss occurred. It would probably surprise most people to learn that annexation wasn't even discussed at this meeting, and Hitler didn't demand such a thing (Walendy, p. 83.). Therefore nobody can honestly claim that Hitler "bullied" Schuschnigg into signing away Austrian independence. He may not have been nice to him, he may have issued threats, but ultimately they were bluffs and both parties got what they wanted. What happened was that Hitler made sure Schuschnigg would concede 100% of what he already knew the Austrian Chancellor was willing to give him, instead of say, 50% or 70% of what he was willing to give him. Hitler never demanded anything extraneous or unreasonable from Schuschnigg, like annexation, and what he did demand that Papen characterized as 'unreasonable' Hitler conceded on, which is certainly bizarre considering Hitler's oft cited ultimatum and threat to 'march into Austria if his demands were not accepted' (Papen, p. 417.). If this threat was genuine then Hitler wouldn't have made concessions, and he would've demanded a lot more, a lot quicker. Yet this wasn't the case, it was actually the opposite:

For all Hitler’s tough talk, the evidence – quite apart from the warship-launching ceremony that he was planning – is that he had no intention of starting a forcible invasion of Austria, provided that Schuschnigg kept his part of the bargain. Hitler told his Luftwaffe adjutant that Austria would come closer to the Reich of her own accord now – perhaps that very autumn of 1938 – unless Schuschnigg committed some Dummheit in the meantime.

Irving, op cit., p. 76.

Schuschnigg couldn't have been disappointed or upset, because, as Papen points out:

If Schuschnigg had known Hitler better, and had answered his insults in kind or shown the same determination, events might have taken a less dramatic turn. He was not yet bound to the agreement. If he had felt convinced that the draft they had signed meant the eclipse of Austria, he could still have sheltered behind the provision that the final decisions could only be taken by the Federal President, and he could then have offered his resignation.


If the Austrians wished to present themselves to the world as the injured party, and were already thinking of a plebiscite, this, rather than three weeks later, was surely the moment for an international showdown with Germany? The Cabinet, having told the world that the new agreement had been signed under duress and was inconsistent with the guarantees of sovereignty in the July Agreement, could have resigned. However, the Chancellor could not make up his mind.

Papen, op cit., p. 420, 421.

And, as Walendy points out:

During his meeting with Dr. Schuschnigg, Hitler did not request the annexation of Austria to the German Reich, but merely stressed the importance of a German awareness in peaceable domestic politics combined with an economically sensible policy in Austria. He did not even insist that the NSDAP be permitted again in Austria. He did, on the other hand, ask Schuschnigg not to drive the Austrian National Socialists underground by means of forcible exclusion from the Unity Party (Einheitspartei), the “Patriotic Front.” While Hitler may have “exerted pressure” on the Austrian Chancellor during the meeting, and while he may also have conferred with some of his generals during a recess, this does not, however, entitle any third party to assume the role of moraliser or judge regarding the manner as to how two statesmen have to reach an agreement and what practices during negotiations may or may not be permitted. Hitler was by far the stronger and the more competent in these talks with Dr. Schuschnigg, and this would naturally be reflected in the result of the negotiations – with or without any “pressure.”

Udo Walendy, Who Started World War II? (Castle Hill Publishers, 2014), Pp. 83.


The agreement signed between Hitler and Schuschnigg was nevertheless confirmed by the Austrian government and the Austrian President:

The Austrian President decided in the meantime to give the agreement his support. Berlin was advised on February 15 that it had been accepted, and on the 18th that the political clauses had been dealt with. The agreed communique was then published in both countries.

Papen, op cit., p. 421. Also see, Walendy, op cit., p. 84.


Franz von Papen confirmed that the conference was concluded to everyone’s satisfaction and, in a report written two days after the meeting, that

“Schuschnigg, deeply impressed, engaged in a sharp contest yesterday and today with all the opponents of pacification, since he is determined to carry out his Berchtesgaden pledge.”

Walendy, op cit., p. 83.

Further illustrative of the fact that the Austrian government was content with the Berchtesgaden agreement until Schuschnigg's change of heart, is that Papen was received by them quite warmly to celebrate his parting as Germany's Ambassador in the country:

The meeting in Berchtesgaden and the acceptance of the agreement had brought my mission to an end, and the President and the Austrian Cabinet now invited me to a farewell luncheon. If the ‘accepted’ version of my part in all that had happened were true, this function would surely have been a very stiff and formal affair. The president and his ministers, however, were quite exceptionally kind and friendly. I was given the highest Austrian decoration, and at the moment of the President’s toast in my honour, Guido Schmidt shouted, to the amusement of the whole company, ‘How about going to Berlin now as our Ambassador?’ In the course of the last few days, my wife and I were over- whelmed with handsome presents, each of them an appreciation of the efforts I had made in the last four years to improve the relations between the two countries.

Papen, op cit., p. 421.

And even after all of this Papen, the Conservative keep in mind, didn't consider for a moment that Hitler intended to use force against Austria:

I still contend that in speaking thus Hitler meant what he said. He was pleased at the success he had gained and wished to reach his goal without the use of force. By speaking in such friendly terms he certainly wished to make things easier for the Austrian Chancellor.


In the meantime there had been a meeting on February 21 between Hitler, Goering, Keppler and Leopold. I had insisted that Leopold should be forbidden residence in Austria. Hitler accused him of having pursued a thoroughly irresponsible policy, which had included plans for an uprising and an invasion by German troops. Most of the difficulties of the situation had now been removed by negotiation, and Leopold was told that his actions could very well have placed Hitler in a highly embarrassing situation. Relations with Austria must now be organized on an entirely different basis, and Hitler had therefore finally made up his mind that Leopold and his chief collaborators must live in Germany. The leadership of the party in Austria would devolve upon Klausner, who would have to understand that all illegal activities would be forbidden. Hitler pointed out that Seyss-Inquart had a very difficult task and must be fully supported by the Party, which must seek expression of its ideals within the framework of the Fatherland Front. The radical elements had got to be kept in check and it must be realized that from time to time Seyss-Inquart might even have to order the arrest of certain Nazis. These measures hardly confirm the arguments of those who suggest that Hitler was already plotting the Anschluss by force.

Ibid., p. 422, 423.

To say that Hitler's rough house tactics were used to gain concessions that were unreasonable or immoral is simply untrue. even if you find the tactics to be immoral, which is certainly understandable.

Hitler's tactics certainly didn't seem to win him many foreign friends, but he was dealing with people who he never wanted to be friends with in the first place. Having made Germany strong enough to resist subservience to those who didn't have her best interests in mind was the logical thing for Hitler to do (by any means), so that Germany would not need friends, but could stand by herself and rely on herself. As Hitler once so aptly stated:

I do not want to promise them that this resurrection of the German Volk will come of itself...We are willing to work, but the Volk must help us. It should never make the mistake of believing that life, liberty and happiness will fall from heaven...Everything is rooted in one’s own will, in one’s own work...we wish to have all of our efforts guided by one realization, one conviction: we shall never believe in foreign help, never in help which lies outside our own nation, outside our own Volk. The future of the German Volk lies in itself alone. Only when we have succeeded in leading this German Volk onwards by means of its own work, its own industriousness, its own defiance, and its own perseverance—only then will we rise up, just as our fathers once made Germany great, not with the help of others, but on their own.

Adolf Hitler, February 10, 1933. Quoted in: Max Domarus, The Complete Hitler: His Speeches and Proclamations 1932-1945 (Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers), Pp. 246-247.

At the end of the day Hitler stuck unswervingly to his principles and achieved what he claimed he would for the sake of his country. Even if it had some nasty consequences in the end.


Papen also provides details, which have been quoted in this thread already, concerning the plebiscite Schuschnigg planned to rig. It must be mentioned again, that if Hitler was sincere about invading Austria, no such thing as a vote would've stopped him. It seems likely to me that Schuschnigg planned this plebiscite in order to provoke a German reaction and to induce support from the French. And if the Germans didn't act, then he would've "won" the plebiscite he rigged. So it was a 'win win' for him. Or so it must have seemed:

Herr Vollgrubber, the Austrian Minister in Paris, had already sent a long report to Schuschnigg on February 26, giving a resume of the foreign affairs debate in the French Chamber. Most of the speakers had expressed their conviction that France must show a positive attitude on the question of Austrian independence, as the only means of maintaining peace and French influence in Europe.


M. Leger had made it clear that France had no intention of allowing her position in Europe to be threatened by Germany. The defence of Austrian independence was one of the principal aims of her foreign policy, though France could take no positive action unless there was an open threat from Germany against which Austria reacted. The French Parliament had been much exercised by reports of the pressure that Hitler had brought to bear on the Austrian Federal Chancellor, and the French Government, Vollgruber insisted, would be able to obtain almost any mandate it might require, should the situation develop unfavourably.

This despatch can only be taken to mean that if Schuschnigg felt himself threatened, and was able to prove that the majority of the Austrian people stood behind him, France would be prepared to intervene. The French Minister in Vienna, M. Puaux, a close friend and adviser of Schuschnigg, is said to have been the father of the plebiscite idea. Schuschnigg certainly adopted it on his own responsibility, but the French Government of the day must bear its share for the events which now followed.

Papen, op cit., p. 424-425.

Concerning the terms and sneaky nature of the plebiscite itself, Papen writes:

The Austrian Chancellor had gone to a meeting of the Fatherland Front at Innsbruck, where he had decided to announce the holding of a plebiscite on the question of Austrian independence. The population was to be asked to answer ‘yes’ or 'no' to the question whether they desired Austria to remain independent. This announcement was made on a Wednesday night, and the referendum was due to take place on the following Sunday; that is to say, three days were available for its organization. For years the electoral register had not been kept up to date, there would be no time to organize the ballot properly in the more isolated mountain regions (where, incidentally, the National Socialists were strongly represented) and the younger generation had not been registered as voters at all. Moreover, the Austrian Constitution made no provision for such a referendum, and neither the Government nor the President had promulgated any ordinance which would make it legal.

Ibid., p. 425.

This was known, even at the time:

An Austrian friend said to me: "I'm a business man, and I don't mix in politics more than I can help. I'm against the Nazis on the whole, but this plebiscite of Schuschnigg's is a ramp, and will lead to trouble."

It was a ramp. No voting lists were ready. The ballot papers were marked "Ja," so that if the voter wanted to record "Nein," he had to bring with him a white sheet of paper, nine centimeters by six. It was expressly stipulated that the papers could be handed in either open or folded, so that it would have required no Sherlock Holmes at the polling booth to have discovered a voter's political sympathies.

F. Yeats-Brown, European Jungle (Philadelphia: Macrae Smith Company, 1939), Pp. 129-130.

To the snide and hypocritical historian Schuschnigg's actions receive praise, despite him being no more unscrupulous than they claim Hitler to have been. Simply because Schuschnigg is not Hitler he gets a pass on his misdeeds, indicating that the real sin in any act is to be Hitler from the beginning. Although most historians avoid this inconvenient truth by simply ignoring the fact that Schuschnigg planned to rig his plebiscite. Kershaw for example, doesn't utter one single word about it.

Papen also relates how he tried to help Schuschnigg rephrase the plebiscite in order not to provoke Hitler, all of his recommendations were 'turned down flat', no doubt because a provocation was exactly what the Austrian chancellor wanted.

Hitler for his part addressed himself to the Austrian Minister of the Interior as per the Berchtesgaden agreement (p. 427) by contacting Seyss-Inquart about the plebiscite.

Papen implored Hitler to take a step back and consider the possible consequences, which he seemed to do:

I warned Hitler against taking any military measures. There was no way of telling how the other Great Powers would react, and the idea of a European war over the German 'question, or of the shedding of blood between the two brother nations, was equally appalling. The only solution which could have any historical justification would be one arrived at by peaceful means, not by the use of the sword. I thought my words had some effect. He certainly became quieter and more thoughtful.

Ibid., p. 428.


I am still convinced that any counter-proposal from Schuschnigg during this period would have entirely changed the situation.



Papen also provides us with a portrait of how utterly jubilant the Austrian population was to be embraced by the German Reich:

Contrary to my fears, not a shot was fired, and the German Army was greeted with jubilation and bouquets. Though Hitler’s methods were a disgrace to our history, for the moment they were overshadowed by the extraordinary enthusiasm with which the majority of Austrians greeted this act of union. Historians who still speak of the rape of Austria would do well to study the press reports of those days - not merely those published in Germany, but by foreign correspondents from all countries who either worked in Vienna or were attracted there by the crisis. Even those who were most critical of the political developments could not disguise the enthusiasm with which the German troops were greeted on their way to Vienna. The inner meaning of those historic days fired an immense number of people who had never at any time belonged to the illegal opposition. The tics of kinship and a common history lasting more than a thousand years proved stronger than political expediency. None of this excuses Hitler’s methods, but it shows how ill-advised were all those who, since 1918, had done their best to prevent the union of the two countries.

The referendum on April 10 approved the Anschluss law by an overwhelming majority. National Socialist electoral methods may have increased the percentage in favour of union, but there is no doubt whatever that the general feeling of relief and enthusiasm would have assured a strong majority.

Ibid., p. 430-431.

Papen describes the feeling of when he arrived in Vienna:

We landed at Aspern aerodrome, near Vienna. Driving into the city, I felt quite overcome by the extraordinary atmosphere of jubilation. Nazi flags, which had no doubt been brought in thousands from Germany, were flying everywhere. But it would have been useless to pretend that the immense waves of people thronging Vienna’s wide streets were there by order, or that their high spirits were not completely spontaneous. Hitler, whom I found at the saluting base opposite the Hofburg, I can only describe as being in a state of ecstasy.

Ibid., p. 431-432.

It was only after all of this, that Hitler decided to annex Austria:

It is not generally realized that Hitler at first ordered the military occupation authorities to draft a law in which the two countries were to be united in his person, as head of both States, with Austria retaining an autonomous administration, ft was only as a result of the fantastic welcome he received between Linz and Vienna that, on Goering’s insistence, he made up his mind to incorporate Austria into the Reich.

Ibid., p. 428.

Hitler had ultimately succeeded, and most magnificently:

In spite of all his assurances to me, and disregarding the fruits of my four years’ work, Hitler had brought about the Anschluss by
force; in spite of all warnings and prophecies, his own methods had proved the most direct and successful. Not only had there been no armed conflict between the two countries, but no foreign power had seen fit to intervene


I think it would also be worth quoting from some contemporary sources of that time, so as to really drive home how undeniably popular the Anschluss was.

The author Francis Yeats-Brown was in Austria at the time of the Anschluss and records his experience thusly:

The Saarlanders had every opportunity to learn the worst about Germany. Some of the cleverest propagandists in Europe were at work among them, telling them day by day how lucky they were not to be under the jackboots of the Germans. And yet, surrounded by all possible safeguards for a fair vote, the Saarlanders chose to re-join Germany with an enthusiasm and unanimity which up to that time had never before been seen in history.

It was the same in Austria. I was there during the Anschluss, and saw what happened.

I was at Kitzbühel on March 9th, 1938, when Dr. von Schuschnigg announced his famous plebiscite, to be held on Sunday, March 13th, in eighty-four hours' time.


In Kitzbühel, on Friday evening, we heard over the radio of the postponement of the plebiscite, of Dr. von Schuschnigg's resignation, and that Austrian Nazis were to maintain law and order if the German army advanced.

Next morning, Saturday, March 12th, when Dr. Goebbels read his Leader's fateful proclamation, we were sitting—some twenty or thirty of us—in a little weinstühe. We were just an average Kitzbühel crowd; people from the village, hotel guests, ski instructors, and some of us, I know, were by no means ardent Nazis when Dr. Goebbels began to speak in his resonant voice. But a miracle occurred when he said: "This morning the soldiers of the armed forces of Germany are marching across the Austrian frontiers, while in the blue sky above our German airplanes are soaring!"

The audience was German. There was magic in the name. Never have I felt so unmistakably the influence of unseen forces as in that little room, the scene of many careless hours, now suddenly being filled with history. Under the sway of a common emotion the audience rose to its feet and sang "Deutschland über alles" and the "Horst Wessel Lied." All over Kitzbühel, I heard later, wherever men and women had gathered, the effect was the same.

No one was coerced. The joy of the people was real; they felt that everyone must be delighted at the swift movement of troops, at this dramatic, decisive ending of uncertainty. No longer was Austria a lone child; now she was part of the most powerful nation in Europe. Austria was German, and answered the call of the blood. Seen from the London angle, the march of the German army looked like an act of aggression. Seen from the Kitzbühel angle, the troops were brothers, come to save Austria.

In the streets of the village Austrian Nazis grew out of the ground; their uniforms must have been hidden for four years. They were, in some cases, a tight fit, but good evidence that they were storm-troopers at heart. Everyone greeted them with the "Heil, Hitler" salute. All the police put on swastika armlets. German and Austrian flags hung out, side by side, from every window. The town band played. Peasants flocked in from the surrounding country and paraded through the streets with torches. The hillsides flamed with enormous bonfires. Kitzbühel was Nazi, to the last boy and last girl.

To be accurate, however, not to the last adult. The proprietor of a popular cafe, whose wife was a Jewess, sat at an empty bar, listening to the rejoicings outside. Some rich and elderly Austrians of my acquaintance mourned the passing of their hopes for a Hapsburg restoration. And I met an English friend who was depressed to see dear, casual little Austria becoming so political. "How fortunate," he said, "that this is the end of the skiing season!"

These events in Kitzbühel, typical of what happened in many places in Austria (not all, certainly, but many), entitle us to conclude that the Nazi regime is popular with the masses. Or does the reader believe that the masses were duped? In Kitzbühel he could hardly have sustained such an opinion, for during six months of the year it was filled with visitors from all over the world and newspapers in every language. If the masses were duped, then we cannot have much faith in democracy. But if, on the contrary, with first-hand information from visitors as to what was happening in Germany, they voted Nazi of their own free will, some of us must revise our estimate of the Third Reich.

F. Yeats-Brown, European Jungle (Philadelphia: Macrae Smith Company, 1939), Pp. 129, 132-134.

Yeats-Brown aptly describes the hypocrisy of those who would lament the Anschluss, and Hitler's actions (as previously addressed) by appealing to morality and what the 'right thing' would've been. Was it not wrong for Hitler to 'abuse' Schuschnigg the way he did? Maybe, but those who supported the Treaty of Versailles and St. Germain have no right to criticize:

If we meant to allow the Austrians the right to determine their own conditions of life, it is strange that they were given no chance to express their opinions until Dr. von Schuschnigg asked them to come to the polls to say that they wanted to be free. Christian, German, and independent of Germany. On April 10th, 1938, when the Austrians were asked clearly—Yes or No —whether they wanted reunion, 99 per cent of them jumped gayly into the arms of Germany.

Ibid., p. 132.

The British author Phillip Gibbs recognized, unlike many even now, that if it had not been for Schuschnigg, perhaps the Anschluss wouldn't have appended at all:

I think it still uncertain whether Hitler would have sent his troops over the frontier if Dr. Schuschnigg had not given him the excuse and opportunity by his sudden challenge. He played his cards badly, that unfortunate man. Austria might still have a shadow of independence if he had not taken that risk of a civil war by trying to raise an army of defence.

Phillip Gibbs, Across the Frontiers (London: Michael Joseph Ltd., Second Revised Edition, May 1939), Pp. 246.

He also records many of the same outbursts of enthusiasm of which we just read:

What was heard on the day of the entry of German troops into Vienna by countless millions of people listening to the wireless in their homes was the delirious enthusiasm of Austrian crowds shouting and marching and singing to greet their "invaders."

"Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!

That shout by young voices was repeated with passionate monotony hour after hour. It seemed as though Vienna regarded this invasion with joy. Later it seemed as though the whole of Austria had gone mad with joy, except some millions of Jews who stayed in their houses, stricken by terror and despair, and the Social Democrats who hated Hitler and all his works.

Ibid., p. 246,

That some historians and political commentators today speak of how Hitler should've been "stopped" as early as possible, one has to wonder how that would've been justifiable considering that despite his tactics, Hitler undoubtedly had his finger on the pulse of the Austrians better than those who derided her loss of independence by such "repugnant" means. In this case, the end did justify the means, although many would still loathe to admit it. Gibbs continues:

How could England fight a war for the independence of a State which did not seem to desire its own independence? It would be a frightful paradox unlikely to arouse the enthusiasm or fury of democratic nations. [...] It was a fait accompli, acclaimed by a majority in Austria with an enthusiasm reaching delirious heights. There are many people still in doubt about that. In the United States political writers in books and newspapers still refer to the "brutal conquest" of Austria as though the German troops had advanced upon a defenceless people and subdued them by terror. The Left parties in England still adopt that view. It cannot be maintained in history or in fact.

I went to Austria immediately after the State had been incorporated into the German Reich, and talked with Austrians of all classes. From their evidence I am bound to believe that the entry of the German troops and the coming of Hitler was not regarded as an invasion by the majority but as a brotherly union of two peoples united by blood and spirit. Those German infantry battalions and gunners were not received with rifle fire or with sullen resignation but with garlands and strewn flowers.

An English friend of mine, who was in Budapest at that time, motored from Hungary across the Austrian frontier all the way to Vienna on the day when Dr. Schuschnigg resigned and news came that the Germans were on their way. He was intellectually hostile to the Nazis. He hated that thought that Austria, which he loved, should lose its independence. But as an honest man he was bound to declare afterwards that whatever his own opinions might be about the tragedy of Austria, all that he saw on that journey seemed to prove that the mass of the Austrian people welcomed the coming of Hitler with a kind of madness. In every village through which he passed Nazis flags were being waved by singing, shouting and dancing crowds. In every town through which he went the streets were thronged by cheering and tumultuous folk. In Vienna itself he reached the climax of this delirium.

Other friends of mine, and people I met in Vienna, confirmed the evidence that the coming of Hitler was hailed in this spirit by the majority of the Austrian folk. Something happened in the minds of this people - something mystical perhaps and inexplicable by reason. One lady I know, highly educated and previously hostile to the Nazis, told me afterwards that when the German troops entered Vienna she found herself cheering, waving a Nazi flag, and tramping the streets in the tumultuous crowds like a drunken woman. She had gone "fey" as the Scots would say. She was beside herself.


From one of Hitler's lieutenants who was with the Führer when he entered Vienna I had a description of his demeanour at that time. He stood up in his car, unsmiling and silent. He was like a man in a dream. He was a man in a dream. This was the fulfilment of the dream which he had written on the first page of Mein Kampf and which had been in his mind since boy-hood. He showed no sign of exultation. Once he spoke the word "Destiny" and seemed to believe that he was the instrument of Fate. At one stage in the journey there was some doubt among his officers whether his car should go through a working-class district which had been the stronghold of the Social Democrats.

"I will go that way," said Hitler.

In the streets were crowds of men and women who had been the political enemies of his creed. They were silent when his car approached. They looked grim and hostile. But when they saw the figure of Hitler standing up in his car, an easy target for any pistol or bomb, slowly and with a kind of reluctance they stretched out their arms in the Nazi salute. Was it fear? Or was it some extraordinary spell which seems to be put on German people when Hitler passes by? Frankly I don't know.

Ibid., 247-250.

That about makes it clear.

I was going to write more and address some other controversial comments which are relatively minor, but I've had this post on hold for a while, so the information isn't as fresh as it was when I started working on this post and I've since forgotten how exactly I was going to approach it. Usually I start and finish posts in one go, but this one was a pain to organise. At some point I may post an update addressing anything else, otherwise I think this thread is fairly comprehensive.
Now what does it mean for the independent expert witness Van Pelt? In his eyes he had two possibilities. Either to confirm the Holocaust story, or to go insane. - Germar Rudolf, 13th IHR Conference.

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Re: The Anschluss with Austria

Postby Otium » 3 months 3 days ago (Sat Jul 24, 2021 2:52 am)

While imprisoned in Germany the former Austrian chancellor and alleged opponent of Hitler, Kurt von Schuschnigg wrote a book which was subsequently published in 1946. This book on it's publication as Schuschnigg admits in the preface, was altered with passages changed or omitted:

Im Kampf gegen Hitler (In the Fight against Hitler) is the title of Kurt Schuschnigg's third book.

He published his first book, Dreimal Österreich ("Three Times Austria"), while he was still acting chancellor.

This was followed after 1945 by Ein Requiem in Rot-Weiß-Rot (A Requiem in Red-White-Red) which he wrote during his time imprisoned in Germany. According to the preface, "not everything remained as it was originally written." Quite a few things were omitted or changed, as can as can be seen from the evidence in the Vienna National Library.

Historische Tatsachen Nr. 97: Ein Volk, ein Reich, p. 40.

One of these very interesting excised extracts from the books original manuscript actually has Schuschnigg praising Hitler and admitting that he was achieving great things for the German people. He even states that if he were allowed to have voted on the Anschluss, he would've voted "yes"!

"As I write down these lines, the bells of freedom are rejoicing over the German Sudetenland.

A historical achievement of the highest order, which has hardly any equal in the past.

One would like to stand by National Socialism as always, the successes are its loudest heralds, they became undeniable apologists for it and its founder. The Führer has the right to the historical title of honor of many German emperors who called themselves Mehrer of the Reich.

April 10, 1938 came, the day of the referendum (on the annexation of Austria to the German Reich). Interned in my apartment, I followed the events with the means at my disposal, especially through the radio. I therefore also heard some foreign comments. There is only one thing to say about this: To try to negotiate down a result of almost 100% is absolutely senseless. Certainly, the intensity of propaganda, the power of the given facts, the conclusion of a unique event, the tight authoritarian leadership, as we did not know it in Austria before -- certainly, all this is an enormous component that contributes to the chance of success. But all this taken together is not enough to explain such a clear victory of the idea. A victory of this magnitude can neither be forced nor organized.... Here is an expression of will which no one can overlook, which simply testifies to facts which are beyond all discussion.

I did not have the opportunity to go to the ballot box; the election propaganda certainly did not treat me lightly. I was accused of many things to which I could very well have replied if I had been given the opportunity to do so.

Nevertheless, if I had been allowed to vote, I would of course have thrown the "yes" ballot into the ballot box."

Helmut Sündermann, Wie deutsch bleibt Österreich? Antwort an Schuschnigg (Leoni: Druffel-Verlag, 1970), Pp. 11.
Now what does it mean for the independent expert witness Van Pelt? In his eyes he had two possibilities. Either to confirm the Holocaust story, or to go insane. - Germar Rudolf, 13th IHR Conference.

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