The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Austria
(Part 18 of 19)

F. The Invasion and Absorption of Austria.

(1) The Invasion and Immediate Events: Control of Austria in Fact. In accordance with the directive of March 11 (C-182), the German Army crossed the Austrian border at daybreak on 12 March 1938. Hitler issued a proclamation to the German people announcing and purporting to justify the invasion (TC- 47). The British Government and the French Government filed protests.

The German Government and the Austrian National Socialists swiftly secured their grip on Austria. Seyss-Inquart welcomed Hitler at Linz and they both expressed their joy over events of the day. Seyss-Inquart in his speech declared Article 88 of the Treaty of St. Germain inoperative. (2485-PS)

[Page 503]

A telegram from the American Legation in Vienna to the Secretary of State, on 12 March 1938, gave a picture of what was happening in Vienna:

"Secretary of State,

70, March 12, noon.

"Numerous German bombers flying over Vienna dropping leaflets 'National Socialist Germany greets its possession National Socialist Austria and its new government in true indivisible union'.

"Continual rumors small German troop movements into Austria and impending arrival Austrian legion.

"SS and SA in undisputed control in Vienna.

"Police wear swastika arm bands. Schuschnigg and Schmidt rumored arrested

"Himmler and Hess here.

WILEY" (L-292)

(2) Statutes of Consolidation: Control of Austria in Law. The la-making machine was put to work on the task of consolidation. First, Miklas was caused to resign as resident (2466-PS). Seyss-Inquart became both Chancellor and President. He then signed a Federal Constitutional Law of 13 March 1938, for the Reunion of Austria with the German Reich, which in turn vas incorporated into the Reich Statute of Reunion passed the same day (2307-PS). This Federal Constitutional Law declared Austria to be a province of the German Reich.

By annexing Austria into the German Reich, Germany violated Article 80 of the Treaty of Versailles, which provides:

"Germany acknowledges and will respect the independence of Austria within the frontier which may be fixed in a treaty between that State and the principle Allied and Associated Powers; she agrees that this independence shall be inalienable, ***"

Similarly, the Austrian invasion violated Article 88 of the Treaty of St. Germain, which provides:

"The independence of Austria is inalienable otherwise than with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations. Consequently Austria undertakes in the absence of the consent of the said Council to abstain from any act which might directly or indirectly or by any means whatever compromise her independence, particularly, and until er admission to membership of the League of Nations, by participation in the affairs of another Power."

[Page 504]

This basic constitutional law provided for a plebiscite to be held on 10 April 1938, concerning the question of reunion. But this was a mere formality. The plebiscite could only confirm the union. It could not undo Germany's union with and control over Austria. To illustrate the way in which legal consolidation was swiftly assured, with Austria occupied by troops, it is not necessary to do more than review some of the statutes passed within the month. Hitler placed the Austrian Federal Army under his command and required all members of the Army to take an oath of allegiance to Hitler as their Supreme Commander (2936-PS). Public officials of the Province of Austria were required to take an oath of office swearing obedience to Hitler, Fuehrer of the German Reich and People; Jewish officials, as defined, were not permitted to take the oath. (2311-PS)

Hitler and Frick signed a decree applying to Austria various Reich laws, including the law of 1933 against formation of new parties and the 1933 law for the preservation of unity of party and state (2310-PS). Hitler, Frick, and Goering ordered that the Reich Minister of the Interior be the central authority for carrying out the reunion of Austria with the German Reich. (1060-PS)

In connection with Germany's extensive propaganda campaign to ensure acceptability of the German regime, Goebbels established a Reich Propaganda Office in Vienna (2935-PS). The ballot, addressed to soldiers of the former Austrian Army as "German soldier", asked the voters whether they agreed with the "accomplishment" and "ratification" on 13 March 1938, of the reuniting of Austria with Germany (1659- PS). The groundwork was fully laid before the holding of the plebiscite "for German men and women of Austria" promised in the basic law of March 13. (2307-PS)

(3) The Importance of Austria in Further Aggressions. Germany's desire to consummate the Anschluss with Austria, and its determination to execute that aim in the way and at the time that it did (with threat of military force, quickly, and despite political risks), was due to the importance of Austria in its further plans of aggression. The conference of the conspirators held on 5 November 1937, which laid plans for aggressive war in Europe, outlined as objectives in Austria the conquest of food, through expulsion of a million people, and an increase in fighting strength in part through the improvement in frontier. (386- PS)

Austria yielded material resources. Moreover she provided ready cash, taken from the Jews and from the Austrian Govern-

[Page 505]

ment. One of the first orders passed after the Anschluss was an order signed by Hitler, Frick, Schwerin von Krosigk, and Schacht, for the transfer to the Reich of the assets of the Austrian National Bank. (2313-PS)

Austria yielded human resources. Three months after Anschluss, there was enacted a decree requiring 21-year-old men to report for active military service. (1660-PS)

And the acquisition of Austria improved the military strategic position of the German Army. In a lecture delivered by General Jodl, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, on 7 November 1943, at Munich, to the Gauleiters, Jodl reviewed the situation in 1938:

"The Austrian 'Anschluss' in its turn, brought with it not only the fulfilment of an old national aim but also had the effect both of reinforcing our fighting strength and of materially improving our strategic position. Whereas up till then the territory of Czechoslovakia had projected in a most menacing way right into Germany (a wasp waist in the direction of France and an air base for the Allies, in particular Russia), Czechoslovakia herself was now enclosed by pincers. Its own strategic position ha now become so unfavorable that she was bound to fall a victim to any attack pressed home with rigor before effective aid from the WEST could be expected to arrive." (L-172)

The Nazi conspirators were now ready to carry out the second part of their second phase of their aggressions. Czechoslovakia was next.

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