The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Franz Von Papen

(Part 15 of 15)


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The importance of this agreement to the Germans was underscored by the promotion of its negotiator from Gesandter to Botschafter, at the time of its signing (Announcement, Das Archiv, XXVIII, p. 571).

Von Papen himself participated in this pressure game by maintaining contact with the illegal Nazis, by trying to influence appointments to strategic cabinet positions, and by attempting to secure official recognition of Nazi "front" organizations. Reporting to Hitler shortly after conclusion of the 11 July 1936 agreement, he succinctly summarized his program for "normalizing" Austro-German relations under the regime of the new agreement:

"The progress of normalizing relations with Germany at the present time is obstructed by the continued persistence of the Ministry of Security, occupied by the old anti-National Socialistic officials. Changes in personnel are therefore of utmost importance. But they are definitely not to be expected prior to the conference on the abolishing of the Control of Finances [Finanzkontrolle] at Geneva. The Chancellor of the League has informed Minister de Glaise-Horstenau, of his intention, to offer him the portfolio of the Ministry of the Interior. As a guiding principle [Marschroute] I recommend on the tactical side, continued, patient psychological manipulations, with slowly intensified pressure directed at changing the regime. The proposed conference on economic relations, taking place at the end of October will be a very useful tool for the realization of some of our project. Discussion with government officials as well as with leaders of the illegal party (Leopold and Schattenfreh) who conform completely with the concordat of July 11, I am trying to direct the next developments in such a manner to aim at corporative representation of the movement in the

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fatherland front [Vaterlaendischen Front] but nevertheless refraining from putting National- Socialists in important positions for the time being. However such positions are to be occupied only by personalities, having the support and the confidence of the movement. I have a willing collaborator in this respect in Minister Glaise-Horstenau."

This activity continued through 1937. In fact, by 14 January 1937 the negotiations with the Austrian Minister of Security and the development of "front" organizations had proceeded so far that "a very intensive crisis has arisen for the illegal party" with respect to its future program. In urging a patient attitude toward these problems, von Papen appeared less concerned with the legitimacy of their position under the 11 July 1936 agreement than with his fear that

"a too strong and far-reaching connection (with a proposed conservative 'German Action' front organization) would be understood neither in our own ranks nor could it be of use to the action itself." (2831-PS)

On the other hand when an Austrian cabinet minister failed to show sufficient energy to suit von Papen's purpose, he showed no hesitancy, under the terms of his 11 July 1936 agreement, to urge replacement by a more cooperative individual. Thus, von Papen has summarized his efforts to remove the Austrian Minister of the Interior (monograph

"I had tried to persuade Schuschnigg to appoint another minister to his cabinet beside Herr von Glaise, who was not very active. The new minister was to act as trusted liaison man between the two governments, able to work on innumerable problems directly without diplomatic intervention. This simplification would also bring the men on both sides of the fence closer together."

By the beginning of 1938, the Nazi hand had been so strengthened in Austria, and the differences and misunderstandings regarding the agreement of 11 July had become so serious and frequent, that Chancellor Schuschnigg found it expedient to accept von Papen's invitation to meet Hitler at Berchtesgaden, notwithstanding serious misgivings on the part of Schuschnigg (2995-PS). Von Papen showed no hesitancy in extending this invitation despite the fact that he knew Hitler's "idea to swallow Austria" despite his knowledge of Schuschnigg's distrust of Hitler, and despite his own doubts concerning the value of Hitler's word. Notwithstanding the situation, he found it possible even to urge Schuschnigg that Hitler was a man upon whom Schuschnigg could rely. And in making these representa-

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tions, he was fully aware of the extent of German rearmament and of its possible use as a diplomatic pressure device (according to interrogations, Nurnberg, 19 September 1945 and 8 October 1945).

On 11 February 1938, Schuschnigg left for Berchtesgaden to meet Hitler. At this meeting the severest pressure was exerted to extort far-reaching concessions from Austria, including reorganization of the cabinet, appointment of Seyss-Inquart as Minister of Security and the Interior, and a general amnesty to Nazis convicted of crimes (2995-PS; 2461-PS; 1544-PS; 1780-PS).

It was at this meeting that Papen urged upon Hitler the appointment of Seyss-Inquart as Minister of Security and the Interior (according to monograph "Austria"

Thoroughly entrenched in the government, the Nazis were now able to seize upon Schuschnigg's plebiscite as an excuse to seize power, and to call for military intervention by Germany (812-PS; 2996-PS). (See also Section 3 of Chapter IX on Aggression Against Austria.)

Thereafter it was only a matter of hours before Austria became a province of the Reich -- by a law signed by von Papen's man, Seyss-Inquart (2307-PS).


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