The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Franz Von Papen

(Part 14 of 15)

[Page 944]

(3) Conclusion of the Agreement of 11 July 1936 merely constituted another step towards Anschluss. Prior to 1936, sponsorship of political subversion was not the only pressure applied by Germany in its efforts to gain control of Austria. The German Government in addition had placed certain economic barriers against trade between German and Austrian subjects, the most serious of which was the 1000 mark law, which crippled the Austrian tourist traffic by levying a 1000 RM tax on any German citizen crossing the border into Austria. The effect of these pressures was to induce the Austrian Chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, to seek from Hitler an agreement to "lift the 1000 Mark barrier he had levied against Austria and reassure Austria that he had no political designs concerning our state, Austria"

The result was the agreement of 11 July 1936 between Germany and Austria, which was negotiated by von Papen as Hitler's representative. The published form of this agreement provided:

"Being convinced that they are making a valuable contribution towards the whole European development in the direction of maintaining peace, and in the belief that they are thereby best serving the manifold mutual interests of both German States, the Governments of the Federal State of Austria and of Germany have resolved to return to relations of a normal and friendly character. In this connection it is

"1) The German Government recognizes the full sover-

[Page 945]

eignty of the Federal State of Austria in the spirit of the pronouncements of the German Fuehrer and Chancellor of 21 May 1935.

"2) Each of the two Governments regards the inner political order (including the question of Austrian National Socialism) obtaining in the other country as an internal concern of that country, upon which it will exercise neither direct nor indirect influence.

"3) The Austrian Federal Government will constantly follow in its policy in general, and in particular towards Germany, a line in conformity with leading principles corresponding to the fact that Austria regards herself as a German State.

"By such a decision neither the Rome Protocols of 1934 and their additions of 1936, nor the relationships of Austria to Italy and Hungary as partners in these protocols, are affected. Considering that the detente desired by both sides cannot become a reality unless certain preliminary conditions are fulfilled by the Governments of both countries, the Austrian Federal Government and the German Government will pass a number of special measures to bring about the requisite preliminary state of affairs." (TC-22).

More interesting was the secret part of this agreement, the most important provisions of which have been summarized by Mr. Messersmith:

"Austria would (1) appoint a number of individuals enjoying the Chancellor's confidence but friendly to Germany to positions in the Cabinet; (2) would devise means to give the 'National opposition' a role in the political life of Austria and within the framework of the Patriotic Front, and (3) would amnesty all Nazis save those convicted of the most serious offenses." (1760-PS)

Especially interesting was the manner in which this agreement contained German economic concessions and further solemn assurances regarding Austrian independence and integrity, on the one hand, alongside far-reaching political concessions to the Nazi movement (2994-PS). The effect was to place Austria completely at the mercy of German good faith. Von Papen has correctly described it (in an interrogation at Nurnberg, 8 October 1945) as "the first step" toward preparation for Anschluss, notwithstanding his clear understanding at the time that the Austrian government desired and intended to retain its independence.

The Germans lost no time in making the most of their new opportunities, solemn assurances notwithstanding, The agree-

[Page 946]

ment merely heralded a new era in "legitimizing" the German fifth column in Austria. Thus, the immediate amnesty to political prisoners in itself presented serious police problems. The freedom granted to political demonstrations and organization by German Nazis made it difficult to police the propagandizing of Austrians. And the agreement specifically gave the German Nazis an opening wedge to representation in the Austrian government. The terroristic activities and pressure of the illegal Nazis continued without interruption under German sponsorship, until their hand was strengthened to the point of openly asking for official recognition (812-PS; 1760-PS; 2994-PS).

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