The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-19/tgmwc-19-182.09

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-19/tgmwc-19-182.09
Last-Modified: 2000/10/11

But on the battlefields of Koniggratz in 1866 the thousand
years' mutual bond between Austria and Germany was broken
and Austria was forced to leave the German federation. But
before the double eagle of the Hapsburgs was furled for
ever, Germans and Austrians again fought shoulder to
shoulder in 1914-1918, with true Nibelung loyalty, for the
freedom of the Fatherland. The common history of almost a
thousand years, but above all the common language and
origins, the same customs and mode of life, all combine to
form the bond of unity between the two countries in the
whole field of culture, of creative poetry and scientific
research. But is it not a symbol of spiritual unity that not
only the North-German poet Hebbel but also Beethoven and
Brahms made art-loving Vienna the permanent city of their
work? There is no German music without Austria. But Austria
not only made her contribution to the cultural life of the
German people in the field of art, but also in the fields of
science and technology.

THE PRESIDENT: I think it is possible for the Tribunal to
become acquainted with the history of Austria without having
it read to them as a part of your argument.

Up to now there has been nothing in your twenty pages but
history of Austria.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, I beg your pardon; I consider
it essential to portray the background in Austria which
influenced my client. I have now finished, and I shall pass
on to the facts.

                                                  [Page 161]

The massed common will of the forces of the Third Reich to
take over Austria at the opportune moment is the key to the
solution of the Anschluss question. For that, there is no
need for a conspiracy; those who participated were pawns on
the chess-board of the two responsible men, supers on the
great stage of the world.

But let us return to Austria. I have already pointed out in
the presentation of evidence that in my opinion there were
three reasons for the Anschluss, and I have also attempted
to reinforce these by the documents submitted, to which I
now refer.

1. The economic distress.

2. The disunity resulting from this.

3. The conduct of the Great Powers towards Austria,
especially during the critical days of March,

Dr. Karl Renner, the federal president of the Austrian
Republic, who enjoys the confidence of the four occupying
powers, and on whom the entire Austrian people look with
respect because he took the helm of the ship of State for
the second time in a period of dire distress, described the
history of the Anschluss very aptly in his memorandum in

  "The political reason why the Anschluss idea got hold of
  almost all of Austria at the conclusion of the First
  World War lay in the repeated proclamations of the
  victorious powers that the war was waged for the right of
  self-determination of the nations.
  "But it was not this political reason that decided the
  masses. Austria is a mountainous country with much too
  little arable land, a country with an entirely one-sided
  economic structure. Its capital alone sheltered a third
  of the population, its industry was able to maintain a
  large part of the people only by working for Austria's
  neighbours, receiving from them raw materials and bread.
  The sudden separation of the highly agrarian parts of the
  previously uniform tariff territory of the Danube
  Monarchy, and the measures of the successor States in
  1918, introducing high protective tariffs, deprived the
  country simultaneously of its food sources and its export
  territories. The fear of not being able to feed
  themselves and of not being able to find work at home,
  the sudden limitation of the labour market, were the
  factors which in 1918 made the Anschluss appear to almost
  everybody as the only possible solution. One cannot talk
  about the national Chauvinism of the Austrian working
  class, because a large percentage of this class derived
  from parents of non-German blood who had hardly lost
  their ties with the homeland. The overwhelming
  competition of the Reich German and Czechoslovakian
  industry loomed menacingly before the workers of all
  trades in this small country, cut off from the sea and
  poor in raw materials, and made it afraid that it would
  not be able to stand up against this competition. Not
  until we understand the economic situation can we
  understand the Anschluss movement, and why it was that
  Hitler's boastful announcement that he had done away with
  unemployment made such a deep impression on the Austrian
  working class, and why the will to resist the Anschluss
  was so weak within this working class at the beginning

I continue on Page 26.

By the decision of 5th September, 1931, the Permanent
International Court at the Hague declared the contemplated
customs union between Germany and Austria incompatible with
the Geneva Protocol of the 4th October, 1922, by 8 votes to
7. This was the last attempt of the governments to achieve a
closer mutual constitutional relationship with the express
agreement of the victorious powers. It failed. Was not the
conviction bound to arise in the minds of fanatical
Anschluss, partisans that this supreme national aim could
only be achieved through their own initiative?

A year later Austrian foreign trade showed a deficit of 613
million schillings. On the 15th July, 1932, Dr. Dollfuss
concluded a loan agreement in Lausanne on

                                                  [Page 162]

the condition that the Anschluss question would be put off
for another 10 years. The ratification took place during the
session of the National Council on 30th August, 1932, by 82
votes to 80. In the federal council, the Social Democrat
Korner, then mayor of Vienna, had protested this law in view
of a rapprochement with Germany.

Hitler came to power the year after. The Social Democrats
saw their party dissolved in the Reich and the trade unions
smashed; they saw the Reichstag fire and the start of the
persecution of the Jews, and their leaders turned away from
the Anschluss idea. The Catholic circles, who wanted to
strengthen the Catholic element in the Reich by means of the
Anschluss, also turned away because the persecution of the
Church in the Reich had begun; and only the National
Socialists; whose membership had increased tenfold within a
short time, were in favour of the Anschluss. As Dr. Dollfuss
had eliminated Parliament and thereby the way to power by
means of votes, the National Socialists, under the
leadership of Landesleiter Theo Habicht, strove with all
means to gain power in the State. We come to the bloody
events of the year 1934. Dr. Dollfuss is killed by the hands
of assassins and his successor Dr. Schuschnigg attempts to
restore order in the seriously shaken State system. The
Socialists, however, remain sulkily aloof because of the
events in February, 1934. There are changes in the political
situation abroad too. Whereas Italy in 1934 still stood at
Austria's side and Mussolini had deployed his divisions on
the Brenner menacingly against the North, the Ethiopian
adventure had forced Italy to Hitler's side. Austria is
forced to follow the changed course, and in order to improve
the economic situation concludes the agreement of 11th July,
1936. In this agreement Germany recognises the independence
of Austria and stops the economic war. The price for that,
however, is a series of measures which give the National
Socialists in Austria a new boost. In order to extend the
small platform of his Government and bring about a real
appeasement, Chancellor Dr. Schuschnigg declares himself
willing to invite also the so-called Nationals to co-
operate. Among these men is the defendant, who then became
Austrian State Councillor in May, 1937. As already
mentioned, the Anschluss idea constituted his political
programme. He never tried to hide this fact. He also comes
from the ranks of the National opposition, a factor which
must not be overlooked. The Anschluss also brought him
nearer to National Socialism and it seems idle to engage in
long investigations to find out at what time he officially
became a member of the Party. Among the documents
confiscated when he was arrested was his membership card
with the number above 7,000,000. The witnesses Gauleiter
Rainer and Uiberreither confirm the statements concerning
his Party membership. When, after taking office, the new
State Councillor paid his first visit to the Fuehrer's
deputy, Hess, the latter was very polite but cool and
expressed his regret that Seyss-Inquart was not an old
fighter. The task of Dr. Seyss-Inquart was to supervise the
execution of the July agreement and to act as a mediator
between the Austrian Government on one hand, the National
circles on the other hand, and the Reich. It was a thorny
and unthankful task. The Austrian patriotic circles
(Vaterlandische Kreise) could not forget the terror methods
of the National Socialists during the Dollfuss period. The
National Socialists, headed by Captain Leopold, were not
satisfied with the methods of the National representative
Seyss-Inquart in his dealings with the Government. Between
these two men there were constant differences of opinion
which went so far that Seyss-Inquart wanted to give up the
task entrusted to him, namely to bring about an agreement.
To save time I refer in this connection to Documents 44
(letter from State Secretary Keppler to General
Bodenschatz), 45 (Goering's telegram to Keppler) and 46 (USA
704) of my document book. There were continuous violations
of the July agreement, and the Austrian Police found the
plan for a revolution known as Tavs Plan, which was an
attempt to overthrow the Government by violence. Minister
Guido Zernatto has declared that the defendant kept himself
aloof from all these enterprises. Then came the conference
of 12th

                                                  [Page 163]

February, 1938, at the Obersalzberg. What happened at this
conference is well known. That the defendant discussed
things on the evening before this conference not only with
Zernatto, the representative and confidant of the Chancellor
in the Government, but also with the National leaders, is
understandable, for one must never lose sight of the fact
that the defendant had always openly declared his role as
mediator. He also had to know the demands of the opposition,
so that when the two statesmen met at Berchtesgaden the
differences could be cleared up. The defendant cannot be
charged with double dealing within the framework of a
conspiracy, because the National Socialist Party tried to
exploit the knowledge of the situation to their advantage;
and by dispatching Muehlmann were quicker than the
unsuspecting Chancellor Schuschnigg. Here, too, we must have
recourse to Zernatto, who died in exile, and who declared
that he was under the definite impression that Seyss-Inquart
did not know at the time about the agreements concluded at
the Obersalzberg. On the basis of this agreement Seyss-
Inquart was appointed Minister of the Interior and Security.
He went in that capacity to Berlin to pay a State visit to
the Chief of State of the German Reich and to present to him
his political programme for the relations between the two
States, as set down in the Memoranda for File (Exhibit No.
61) submitted to the Tribunal. The account of this
conference as given by the defendant in his testimony
appears to be quite authentic. For various reasons Hitler
had at that time obviously not yet decided to carry out the
Anschluss. Let us here refer to what the defendant Goering
says, when he testified as a witness on the 14th March:

  "I was not present at Berchtesgaden; moreover I was not
  in favour of this agreement, because I was always against
  any half-measures which would prolong this state of

In a sense the Berchtesgaden agreement gave the Nazis in
Austria a free hand to carry on their activities and
propaganda. The 2,000 Party members, released from prison on
the basis of the amnesty, and at least some of the members
who had returned from the Reich, became increasingly active
in the Federal States and sought to bring about a rapid
growth of the Party. Hitler's Reichstag speech of the 20th
February was used by them as a signal for hostile
demonstrations against the Government and thus to bring them
quickly to power. Not only Schuschnigg but also the great
mass of the working class realised how dangerous the
situation had now become. The threatening danger caused them
to sink their differences, and the negotiations between
Schuschnigg and the Socialist labour leaders and the
Christian Trade Unions seemed to provide a guarantee for the
defeat of the imminent attack of Nazism, by uniting all
democratic forces in a common defensive front. Prompt action
was necessary, and Schuschnigg proclaimed his plebiscite.
The whole country awoke from its lethargy. Workers and
peasants were called upon to defend their country, and under
the leadership of Zernatto swift electoral preparations were
made in the factories and in the remote mountain valleys. It
was clear that this attempt of Chancellor Schuschnigg to
veer round and alter course at the last moment could not
fail to call forth the resistance of the National Socialists
in Austria, as well as in Germany. Hitler raved, and
Mussolini's words, when before the election he warned
Schuschnigg that the bomb would explode in his own hand,
unfortunately proved only too true.

And now, let us come back to the defendant. He was not only
a Government member, he was the confidant of the National
opposition and guarantor answerable to the Reich for the
Berchtesgaden agreement. When the prosecution charges him
with having given Schuschnigg his word of honour about the
election and having failed to keep it, that is not correct.
Let us refer to the speech made by Gauleiter Rainer on the
11th March, 1942, to the Berlin Party members. On Page 12 of
this document, 400-PS, it is disclosed that Zernatto's woman
secretary was a secret member of the NSDAP and betrayed the
plebiscite plans to her co-members as soon as she came to
know of them. Rainer says we already knew the whole plan at
11.30 p.m. that same evening.

                                                  [Page 164]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will recess now.

(A recess was taken.)

DR. STEINBAUER: The protest against the plebiscite made to
the Chancellor by Seyss-Inquart in the name of the Nationals
was entirely justified legally. Apart from the fact that
there could be no guarantee for a proper vote at such short
notice, the vote itself was not constitutionally legitimate.
Article 65 of the Austrian Constitution of 1st May, 1934,
specifies exactly under what circumstances the nation can be
called upon to vote. Dr. Schuschnigg, therefore, bases his
proclamation of the election on Art. 93 of the Constitution
which article merely says generally: "The Federal Chancellor
determines policy."

The Austrian Patriotic Front (Vaterlandische Front) i.e.,
the political organization had the task of carrying out the
election. The subsequent developments are well known,
particularly the events of the 11th March, 1938. The main
charge in respect of the conspiracy is, I take it, that
Seyss-Inquart caused the entry of the German troops by his
telegram about alleged unrest. We find this historical lie,
which has brought the defendant the name of "Judas of
Austria", in the story of the Anschluss. We find this
historic lie, for instance, in Raphael Lemkin's Axis Rule in
Occupied Europe (page 109). We find it again in the opening
speech of the American Chief Prosecutor, Mr. Justice
Jackson, although it is incontestably proved by the
submission of Goering's telephone conversations (2449-PS),
in connection with Goering's testimony, that this telegram
was never sent and, what is more, was dictated and addressed
to a third party, at a time when the German troops had
already received the order to cross the frontier.
Consequently, these telephone conversations of Goering
represent an historical document of the greatest importance.

Rainer's speech in Carinthia and his testimony as a witness
before the Tribunal also give the lie to the charge that
Seyss-Inquart participated in the seizure of power.
According to this document (4005-PS) it was Globotschnigg
who wrongfully used the telephone in the Federal Chancellery
to give the alarm to the Federal States. Appointed Federal
Chancellor by virtue of Schuschnigg's withdrawal under
duress, the defendant discusses the constitution of the
Cabinet, invites the Ministers to enter it and takes the
retiring head of the Government home in his own car.

When it is further learned from the testimony of the witness
Stuckart and Glaise-Horstenau under what circumstances the
law of annexation came into being, then it can, indeed, be
said that Zernatto was right when he wrote that Austria was
conquered, in his opinion, even against the wishes of Seyss-
Inquart and his Government. I refer to Exhibit No. 63.
Whoever, therefore, dispassionately surveys the whole set of
events of March, 1938, relative to the Anschluss, and
examines particularly the part played by the defendant, can
only come to the conclusion that one cannot really speak of
a carefully thought out "conspiracy" for the perpetration of
a crime by co-ordinated stages. Where Austria is concerned,
however, the Englishman Goyde is right when he says the
curtain fell on the Tragedy of Austria when the troops
marched in. It was to rise again soon on a new play: The
Martyrdom of Austria.

On 15th March, 1938, Adolf Hitler came to Vienna. We have
seen in this courtroom the film record of his reception.
Deeply moved, the defendant addressed him as follows:

  "What centuries of German history have striven for, what
  untold millions of the best Germans have bled and died
  for, the final goal in fierce combat, the only solace in
  hours of bitterness, has today been achieved. The
  'Ostmark' has comeback to the homeland. The Reich is
  restored, the Empire of racial Germans is established."

With these words Seyss-Inquart defined his political aim,
which was and remained the guiding star of his actions.

With the Fuehrer came Josef Goebbels, who turned on his
gigantic propaganda machine at full pressure. There was
rally after rally. Festivals were held. There was not a
house in the land which was not beflagged. The leader of the
Socialist workers said: "I vote yes" and the Bishops made
exhortations for the fulfilment of a national duty: "Render
unto God the things that are God's and unto Caesar the
things that are Caesars.'' Both were to be disappointed. For
with Goebbels came Himmler and his Gestapo and SS. During
the night of the 13th March there was a wholesale arrest
operation in Vienna. It included the members of the former
military associations, as well as prominent leaders of the
Socialist para-military organizations; Jews who had been
active in political and public life, Communists and
Monarchists, priests and Freemasons, and even the leaders of
the Boy Scouts and of the Austrian youth organization. In
Vienna alone, 76,000 arrests were made. On the 2nd April,
1938, the first Dachau convoy left the West Station with 165
leading officials, including the present Federal Chancellor
Figl, Education Minister Jurdes and Minister of Justice Dr.
Geroe. The second convoy followed on the 21st May, the third
at the end of May, and so it went on. Punctually, every
eight days, convoys left for Dachau, Buchenwald and
Sachsenhausen. On the 10th May, 1946, the People's Court in
Vienna sentenced to death Anton Brunner, who caused 49,000
people, mostly Jews, to be sent to the extermination camps
in Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Minsk and Riga.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.