The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Austria
(Part 17 of 19)

(7) Later Communications with London -- Misleading Explanations. On Sunday, 13 March 1938, the day after the invasion, Goering, who had been left in charge of the Reich by Hitler, telephoned Ribbentrop in London. Their conversation disclosed the way in which the Nazis soothed and misled other nations:

"G: As you know the Fuehrer has entrusted me with the administration of the current government procedures (Fuehrung der Regierungsgeshaft). And therefore I wanted to inform you. There is overwhelming joy in Austria, that you can hear over the radio.

"R: Yes, it is fantastic, isn't it?

"G: Yes, the last march into the Rhineland is completely overshadowed. The Fuehrer was deeply moved, when he talked to me last night. You must remember it was the first time that he saw his homeland again. Now, I mainly want to talk about political things. Well, this story we had given an ultimatum, that is just foolish gossip. From the very beginning the National Socialist ministers and the representatives of the people (Volksreferenten) have presented the ultimatum. Later on, more and more prominent people of the Movement Party participated, and as a natural result, the Austrian National Socialist ministers asked us to back them up, so they would not be completely beaten up against and be subjected to terror and civil war. Then we told them we would not

[Page 499]

allow Schuschnigg to provoke a civil war, under no circumstances. Whether by Schuschnigg's direct order, or with consent the Communists and the Reds had been armed, and were already making demonstrations, which were photographed with "Heil Moskau" and so on; naturally, all these facts caused some danger for Wiener-Neustadt. Then you have to consider that Schuschnigg made his speeches, telling them the Fatherland Front (Vaterlandsche Front) would fight to its last man; one could not know that they would capitulate like that and therefore Seyss-Inquart who already had taken over the government asked us to march in immediately. Before we had already marched up to the frontier since we could not know whether there would be a civil war or not. These are the actual facts which can be proved by documents. ***"


"G: No, no, I think so, too. Only, I did not know if you spoke already to these people. I want that you once more, but no not at all once more, but generally speaking tell the following to Halifax and Chamberlain: It is not correct that Germany has given any ultimatum. This is a lie by Schuschnigg, because the ultimatum was presented to him by S-I, Glaise- Horstenau and Jury. Furthermore, it is not true that we have presented an ultimatum to the Federal President, but it also was given by the others and as far as I know just a military attache came along, asked by S-I, because of a technical question; he was supposed to ask whether in case S-I would ask for the support of German troops, Germany would grant this request. Furthermore, I want to state that S-I asked us expressly by phone as by telegram to send troops because he did not know about the situation in Wiener-Neustadt, Vienna, and so on; because arms had been distributed there. And then he could not know how the Fatherland Front might react since they always had had such a big mouth.

"R: Mr. Goering, tell me, how is the situation in Vienna, is everything settled yet?

"G: Yes. Yesterday I landed hundreds of airplanes with some companies, in order to secure the airfield and

[Page 500] <>they were received with joy. Today the advance unit of the 17 division marches in, together with the Austrian troops. Also I want to point out that the Austrian troops did not withdraw but that they got together and fraternized immediately with the German troops, wherever they were stationed." (2949-PS, Part W)

In view of the previous conversations, these are interesting explanations -- that the ultimatum was made by Seyss-Inquart alone and not by Goering; that Lt. Gen. Muff, the military attache, came along merely to answer a technical question; and that Seyss-Inquart asked expressly by telephone and by telegram for troops. But perhaps this conversation can best be understood in light of the actual physical scene of time and place:

"G: Well, do come ! I shall be delighted to see you.

"R: I shall see you this afternoon.

"G: The weather is wonderful here. Blue sky. I am sitting here on my balconyall covered with blankets in the fresh air, drinking my coffee. Later on I have to drive in, I have to make the speech, and the birds are twittering, and here and there I can hear over the radio the enthusiasm, which must be wonderful over there.

"R: That is marvelous." (2949-PS, Part W)

The British Foreign Office had protested the tactics employed by the German Government. In a letter dated 12 March 1938 Ambassador Neville Henderson, at the British Embassy, Berlin, wrote to Lord Halifax, Foreign Minister, as follows:

"With reference to your telegram No. 79 of March 11th, I have the honor to transmit to Your Lordship herewith a copy of a letter which I addressed to Baron von Neurath in accordance with the instructions contained therein and which was delivered on the same evening.

"The French Ambassador addressed a similar letter to Baron von Neurath at the same time." (3045-PS)

The enclosure was the note of March 11th from the British Embassy to Von Neurath and it reads as follows:

"Dear Reich Minister,

"My Government are informed that a German ultimatum was delivered this afternoon at Vienna demanding inter alia, the resignation of the Chancellor and his replacement by the Minister of the Interior, a new Cabinet of which two-thirds of the members were to be National Socialists, and the re-

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admission of the Austrian Legion to the country with the duty of keeping order in Vienna.

"I am instructed by my Government to represent immediately to the German Government that if this report is correct, H.M.G. in the U.K. feel bound to register a protest in the strongest terms against such use of coercion backed by force against an independent State in order to create a situation incompatible with its national independence.

"As the German Minister for Foreign Affairs has already been informed in London, such action is found to produce the greatest reactions of which it is impossible to foretell the issues." (3045-PS)

Von Neurath wrote a letter of response dated 12 March 1938. He first objected to the fact that the British Government was undertaking the role of protector of Austria's independence:

"In the name of the German Government I must point out here that the Royal British Government has no right to assume the role of a protector of Austria's independence. In the course of diplomatic consultations on the Austrian question, the German Government never left any doubt with the Royal British Government that the formation of relations between Germany and Austria could not be considered anything but the inner concern of the German people and that it did not affect third Powers." (3287-PS)

Then, in response to the assertions regarding Germany's ultimatum, Von Neurath set out what he stated to be the true version of events:

"*** Instead, the former Austrian Chancellor announced, on the evening of the 9th of March, the surprising and arbitrary resolution, decided on by himself, to hold an election within a few days which, under the prevailing circumstances, and especially according to the details provided for the execution of the election, could and was to have the sole purpose of oppressing politically the predominant majority of the population of Austria. As could have been foreseen, this procedure, being a flagrant violation of the agreement of Berchtesgaden, led to a very critical point in Austria's internal situation. It was only natural that the members of the then Austrian Cabinet who had not taken part in the decision for an election protested very strongly against it. Therefore, a crisis of the Cabinet occurred in Vienna which, on the 11th of March, resulted in the resignation of the former Chancellor and in the formation of a new Cabinet. It is untrue that the Reich used forceful

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pressure to bring about this development. Especially the assertion which was spread later by the former Chancellor, that the German Government had presented the Federal President with a conditional ultimatum, is a pure invention; according to the ultimatum he had to appoint a proposed candidate as Chancellor and to form a Cabinet conforming to the proposals of the German Government, otherwise the invasion of Austria by German troops was held in prospect. The truth of the matter is that the question of sending military or police forces from the Reich was only brought up when the newly formed Austrian Cabinet addressed a telegram, already published by the press, to the German Government, urgently asked for the dispatch of German troops as soon as possible in order to restore peace and in order to avoid bloodshed. Faced with the immediately threatening danger of a bloody civil war in Austria, the German Government then decided to comply with the appeal addressed to it.

"This being the state of affairs, it is impossible that the attitude of the German Government, as,asserted in your letter, could lead to some unforeseeable reactions. A complete picture of the political situation is given in the proclamation which, at noon today, the German Reich Chancellor has addressed to the German people. Dangerous reactions to this situation can take place only if eventually a third party should try to exercise its influence, contrary to the peaceful intentions and legitimate aims of the German Government on the shaping of events in Austria, which would be incompatible with the right of self-government of the German people." (3287-PS)

In light of the documents already. adverted to, this version of events given by von Neurath is palpably untrue.

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