Contrary to popular belief, Austria was not annexed and not the”victim of Adolf Hitler” and of “Nazi aggression” as widely sold and popularly believed. After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Empire (which had consisted of Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia, including the Sudetenland, Slovakia, and parts of Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, and Italy) was forcibly dismantled by the victors, leaving the ethnically and culturally German state of Austria isolated. Of course, the German Empire (Second Reich) was also forcibly dismantled under the dictates of Versailles.
After 1933, when the National Socialists under Adolf Hitler came to power (legally and democratically), life for the Germans got much better within a relatively short time, and after only a few short years, unemployment and inflation were eliminated, social order was restored, German culture and national pride revitalized, and the standard of living eventually became the highest of all the industrialized nations. German workers received fair compensation for their labours, their working conditions were the best, and they received social benefits that existed no where else. Suddenly they were prospering while many other world economies were still floundering following the Great Depression, including Austria, which could only peer over the fence at their neighbours to the north with great envy. In comparison, they were a political, social and economic basket case. Most Austrians longed for the type of social and economic miracle that had taken place in the New Germany. It is essential, to revisit the historical relationships.
Until the Prussian-Austrian War of 1866, Austria and Germany had previously been united for nearly 1,000 years, in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which lasted from the coronation of Otto I as a Holy Roman Emperor in 962 to 1806, and also later in the “Deutscher Bund” (German Confederation). After the defeat of 1918, and subsequent annulment of the Habsburg Empire, the victors decimated it, leaving just its German speaking core: Austria.
The first National Assembly of Vienna decided in favour of a reunification of Austria with neighbouring Germany. Polls in some Austrian federal districts showed overwhelming support amongst the people for such a move. The “right of self-determination”, however, was apparently not extended to the vanquished of World War I. As such, the first attempt at reunification (initiated by the Austrians) failed, only because the allied victors, themselves, had refused to allow it.
In 1933 a conservative dictatorship emerged in Austria, which removed both the right of citizens to vote, and also denied reunification with the new German (Third) Reich. The despotic Austrian Chancellor, Dr. Engelbert Dollfuss, prohibited both trade Unions and political parties including the Social Democrats, National Socialists, as well as, the Communists. (None of which seemed to bother the WWI allies and the League of Nations who had claimed to be so concerned about “human rights, freedom and democracy”, and were probably behind it and backing Dollfuss).
Then, during an attempted coup by the Austrian National Socialists in July of 1934, and in attempt to arrest the dictator, Dollfuss was fatally shot. In March of 1938, his successor, Dr. Kurt Schuschnigg also attempted to circumvent the popular will for a reunification with the German Reich, by way of a very peculiar type of referendum, and on extremely short notice.
On March 9th, 1938, he announced a nationwide referendum on the question of reunification with the Reich, to be held on March 13th, just 4 days later. During this referendum, there were to be no electoral registrars. Supervision of the election would be entirely in the hands of his own party. Citizens in the public service were ordered to only go to the referendum under direct supervision of their superiors. Furthermore, they were to openly show their completed referendum ballots to their respective superiors. People were only permitted to vote against reunification with the German Reich. Those who wished to vote in favour of reunification were to make their own ballots.
Austria’s Home Secretary, a National Socialist, by the name of Dr. Seyss Inquart, on three occasions, demanded that Chancellor Schuschnigg postpone his referendum, and hold one later, in a lawful, constitutional manner, but his protests were in vain. Schuschnigg called that “nonsense”, and he categorically refused.
Finally, Seiss Inquart contacted his German counterpart, Home Secretary Göring, who had spent part of his youth in Austria, who then, in turn, “passed the ball” to Hitler. Göring, having lived in Austria in his youth, and Hitler, being born in the Austrian town of Braunau, (on the border with Germany) watched Schuschnigg’s attempts to manipulate the situation with disgust. All attempts to convince Schuschnigg to resign failed. It was only when Göring eventually threatened to send in German troops, that Schuschnigg would suddenly resign as Chancellor of Austria.
During the morning hours of the following day, German troops entered Austria, marching towards Salzburg, Linz and Innsbruck, through flower-filled streets, with National Socialist colours being openly displayed, and were greeted with jubilation and tears of joy from the Austrian people. When Hitler arrived in Vienna the next day, the Austrians welcomed him triumphantly. No force was needed, nor used!
“The pull of sentiment, language and history, reinforced by the material advantages offered by becoming part of a big nation, was strong enough to waken a genuine welcome when the frontier barriers went down and the German troops marched in garlanded with flowers…. there was a widespread sense of relief, even amongst those who were far from being Nazis.” – Alan Bullock, Historian
“The oldest branch of the German people, shall from now on be the youngest bastion of the German nation and Reich. I shall, in this hour of the German people, declare my greatest success: As the Leader and the Chancellor of the German nation and the Reich, in this moment of Germany history, I welcome the entrance of my homeland (Austria) into the German Reich” ~ Adolf Hitler
Almost simultaneously, Austrian troops enter Munich, Dresden, Stuttgart, and Berlin, as sign to the world, of a peaceful, (voluntary) reunification, and not one of conquest. In the meantime, on March 13th, Chancellor Seiss Inquardt of Austria and Adolf Hitler sign a pact declaring their joint intent, for the reunification of Austria with the German Reich.
Now let’s here from a witness:
Herr Karl-Wilhelm Krause was Hitler’s personal valet and bodyguard for 5 years, and was present on that day with the best seat available to view everything that happened, sitting or standing right behind Hitler, at all times. (Excerpt from my film “Hitler’s Shadow – In the Service of the Fuehrer“)
Then, on April 10th, 1939, a nationwide referendum is duly held and the approval of the Austrian people is confirmed, with 99.73 percent of the Austrians voting in favour of the reunification with the German Reich.
Following proper registration of Austria’s voting population, elections were held throughout Germany and Austria in order that both populations be given an opportunity to approve or reject German-Austrian unification:
On March 13th 1938 the Austrian Government enacted a constitutional law concerning a plebiscite for the reunion of Austria with the Third Reich.
On 18th March 1938 Hitler dissolved the Reichstag and announced conformity with the plebiscite which was announced on April 10th 1938.
This was totally “democratic” and the perfect example of the application of “the right of self-determination” which every nation and people is entitled too. To not accept such results would be a violation of the basic of internationally accepted human rights , unless of course one does not consider Germans to be human and worthy of such rights.
Stats and quotes: The Triumph Of Reason – The Thinking Mans Guide to Adolf Hitler by Micheal Walsh
Thus, the reunion of Austria with Germany was the greatest example of democracy in history!
Thankfully, there have been a few honest historians who have considered all of the facts and then came to conclusions far different than the popular (victor’s) version of WWII history…
“The crisis of March, 1938 was provoked by Schuschnigg, the Austrian Chancellor, not by Hitler.” – A.J.P.Taylor
“He (Chamberlain) had no difficulty in recognizing where this injustice lay. There were six million Germans in Austria to whom national reunification was still forbidden by the Peace Treaties of 1919. Three million Germans in Czechoslovakia whose wishes had never been consulted; three hundred and fifty thousand people in Danzig who were notoriously German.” – A.J.P.Taylor, noted British Historian.
So much for the “Annexation of Austria” !
This court finds the defendant Herr Adolf Hitler not guilty!