The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Austria
(Part 16 of 19)

And a few minutes later the conversation continued as follows:

"G: Then our troops will cross the border today

"G: Well, and he should send the telegram as soon as possible.

[Page 496]

"K: Will send the telegram to SI in the office of the Federal Chancery.

"G: Please, show him the text of the telegram and do tell him that we are asking himwell, he does not even have to send the telegramall he needs to do is to say: agreed.

"G: Either call me at the Fuehrer's or at my place. Well, good luck. Heil Hitler!" (2949-PS, Part L)

It will be recalled that in the first conversation (Part A), held at 3:05 p. m., Goering had requested Seyss-Inquart to send the telegram agreed upon. But now the matter was so urgent that Goering dictated the exact wording of the telegram over the telephone.

And an hour later, at 9:54 p.m., a conversation between Dr. Dietrich in Berlin and Keppler in Vienna went as follows:

"D: I need the telegram urgently.

"K: Tell the General Field Marshal that Seyss-Inquart agrees.

"D: This is marvelous. Thank you.

"K: Listen to the radio. News will be given.

"K: From Vienna.

"D: So Seyss-Inquart agrees?

"K: Ja wohl!" (2949-PS, Part M)

(4) The Order to Invade Austria. Communications with Austria were now suspended. But the German military machine had been set in motion. A Directive, dated 11 March 1938 at 2045 hours, from Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, initialled by General Jodl and signed by Hitler, ordered the invasion of Austria because of its failure to comply with the German ultimatum. The directive reads:

"Re: Operation Otto

"Directive No. 2

"1. The demands of the German ultimatum to the Austrian government have not been fulfilled.

"2. The Austrian Armed Forces have been ordered to withdraw in front of the entry of German troops and to avoid fighting.

"The Austrian Government has ceased to function of its own accord.

"3. To avoid further bloodshed in Austrian towns, the entry of the German Armed Forces into Austria will com-

[Page 497]

mence, according to directive No. 1, at daybreak on 12.3.

"I expect the set objectives to be reached by exerting all forces to the full, as quickly as possible.

(signed) ADOLF HITLER" (C-182)

(5) Communications with Rome -- Avoidance of Disaster. But at the very time that Hitler and Goering had embarked on this military undertaking, they still had a question mark in their minds Italy. Italy had massed forces on the Italian- Austrian border on the occasion of the 25 July 1934 putsch. Italy had traditionally been the political protector of Austria.

At 10:25 p.m. that evening, however, Hitler heard from Prince Philip of Hessen, his Ambassador at Rome, that he had just returned from the Palazzo Venezia, and Mussolini had accepted the whole affair in a very friendly manner. The telephone conversation went thus:

"H (Hessen): I have just come back from Palazzo Venezia. The Duce accepted the whole thing in a very- friendly manner. He sends you his regards. He had been informed from Austria, Schuschnigg gave him the news. He had then said it would be a complete impossibility. It would be a bluff, such a thing could not be done. So he was told that it was unfortunately arranged thus and it could not be changed any more. Then Mussolini said that Austria would be immaterial to him.

"F (Fuehrer): Then, please, tell Mussolini, I will never forget him for this.

"F: Never, never, never, whatever happens. I am still ready to make a quite different agreement with him.

"H: Yes, I told him that, too.

"F: As soon as the Austrian affair has been settled, I shall be ready to go with him through thick and thin, nothing matters.

"H: Yes, my Fuehrer.

"F: Listen, I shall make any agreementI am no longer in fear of the terrible position which would have existed militarily in case we had gotten into a conflict. You may tell him that I do thank him ever so much, never, never shall I forget that.

"H: Yes, my Fuehrer.

"F: I will never forget it, whatever will happen. If he should ever need any help or be in any danger, he can be convinced that I shall stick to him whatever might happen, even if the whole world were against him.

[Page 498]

"H: Yes, my Fuehrer." (2949-PS, Part N)

It will be recalled that Jodl referred in his diary (1780-PS) to the letter which Hitler sent to Mussolini. In this letter, dated 11 March 1938, after stating that Austria had been declining into anarchy, Hitler wrote: "I have decided to reestablish order in my Fatherland, order and tranquility, and to give to the popular will the possibility of settling its own fate in unmistakable fashion openly and by its own decision." He stated that this was only an act of self-defense, that he had no hostile intentions toward Italy. (2510-PS)

After the invasion, when in Linz, Austria, Hitler communicated his gratitude to Mussolini once more, this time by telegraph: "Mussolini, I will never forget you for this" (2467-PS)

(6) The Appointment of Seyss-Inquart as Chancellor. Late in the evening of March 11, President Miklas appointed Seyss- Inquart as Chancellor. The radio announcement of Seyss- Inquart's appointment was made at 11:15 p.m. (2465-PS)

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