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File:Austrian Anschluss postcard.png
The Anschluss. On 1 October 1938 the Sudetenland followed, and on 22 March 1939 the Memel Territory was reunited with (East Prussia).
File:Austrian anschluss.png
Reunion of the German people

The Anschluß (or Union), which was actually an accession (Beitritt), took place between Germany and Austria on 13 March 1938. Following the reunification, a vote proved 99.7 % support by Austrians.[1]

The British Ambassador in Vienna telegraphed Viscount Halifax early the following day:

It is impossible to deny the enthusiasm with which both the new government and last night's announcement of incorporation into the German Reich have been received here. Herr Hitler is certainly justified in claiming that his action has been welcomed by the Austrian population.[2]

Writing a year later, Sir Neville Henderson, the British Ambassador in Berlin, stated:

the incorporation of Austrians and Sudeten Germans into the Reich was in principle not an unnatural development, was not an ignoble aspiration for Germans, and was not even ethically immoral. Both the Ostmark [Austria] and Sudetenland were inhabited by populations almost entirely German living on the frontiers of Germany and their incorporation was in conformity with rights of self-determination.[3]


In the Treaty of St. Germain, signed 10 September 1919, imposed upon Austria by the western liberal plutocratic Allies (but not ratified by the United States), union with Germany was expressly forbidden without the consent of the council of the League of Nations.

However, from that time every German and Austrian Government and Chancellor, bar the last two Austrian ones, had called for union with Germany[4]: Chancellor Karl Renner, from 1919 onwards, had proposed a union of Austria with Germany, using the word Anschluss.[5] Like other Austrian socialists, Renner believed that the best future course was to seek union with Germany. The Treaty of Berlin in 1926 prescribed that its signatories should keep each other au curant on important political questions. In 1927 Austrian Chancellor Wilhelm Marx and Germany's Foreign Minister Stresemann gave the Austrians to understand that there was a schedule for revision of the imposed Treaties, Stresemann stating "the prepatarory work for a closer economic connexion between the two countries whould be taken up at once!". The Great Depression followed by the 1930-1 severe financial crises brought the issue to the fore again, and Austrian Foreign Minister & Chancellor, Johann Schrober, recalled that in 1930-1 Anschluss was on the agenda and something Austrians wanted. A Customs Union (Zollunion) was proposed when Schrober and Richard Schuller, head of the Economic Section of the Ballhausplatz had a meeting in Berlin with Germany's Foreign Minister Julius Curtius and Herman Muller, at that time still German Chancellor, when they agreed that "however great the shock may be here and there, the customs union must still be our goal". At the end of April 1930 Schober visited Paris. In a subsequent letter to Paris he reported Briand had expressed "complete understanding" for Austria's "especially close relationship with Germany". In August Schrober told the German Minister in Vienna, Count Hugo von Lerchenfeld,, that "Germany and Austria must energetically take up the policy of economic union". The newspapers in Vienna brought a harvest of glowing articles on the theme of brotherly co-operation and closer economic ties. However on March 18th the Czech Minister in Vienna very strongly warned Schrober against making such an agreement with Germany. His government immediately advised Paris where it caused "great consternation and anger". The Italian Foreign Minister, Grandi, told the German Ambassador that the affair was considered everywhere as a first step to Anschluss. [6]

It should be noted that all these negotiations had zero National Socialist input or consultation, either from the party or its leader.

The British and the French objected and then called in their outstanding loans. Almost within an instant the Austrian-German plans were torpedoed and the 1931 financial crisis was upon them. The union in any form was withdrawn, at least publicly. But like the matter of the eastern frontiers of Germany, Anschluss would continue as a political undercurrent in both countries.

In telegrams from the British Embassies in Rome and Berlin on 16 March 1933 it was observed that while "Austrian National Socialists" were carrying out "strong agitation" for Anschluss with Germany, the German Government "would not encourage the idea at present".[7]

The British historian E.H.Carr, writing in 1937, stated: "Never, from 1919 to 1933, had there been any doubt that the vast majority of the Austrian people desired union with Germany......since Herr Hitler's accession to power, a free vote in Austria would still have given a majority for union with Germany. But the majority would have been by no means as overwhelming and incontestable as prior to January 1933."[8]

The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs in Poland, Count Szembek, stated that "events in Austria are being observed with complete calm....we regard future developments as an internal affair of Austria."[9]

Following the Anschluss a new government was established in Vienna on March 15th by the new Austrian Chancellor Arthur Seyss-Inquart. Odilo Globotschnigg, who was alleged to have been a 'key player' in events, was appointed Gauleiter (Governor) of Vienna on 22 May 1938.


During World War II the Allied invasion forces occupied Austria and later made it a separate country. The Austrian State Treaty was signed on 15 May 1955. Upon the termination of allied occupation, Austria was proclaimed a neutral country, and everlasting neutrality was incorporated into the Constitution on 26 October 1955. As a result it is not a member of the American proxy force, NATO.


See also

Further reading

  • Dolfuss by Gordon Brook-Shepherd, Macmillan, London, 1961.
  • Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer by Dieter Wagner and Gerhard Tomkowitz, München 1968, English translation, Longman, London, 1971, ISBN 0-582-10803-9


  1. Woodward, Professor E. L., & Butler, Rohan, Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939, Third series, vol.1 (1938), H.M.S.O., London, 1949, p.155.
  2. Woodward & Butler, Rohan, 1949, p.43.
  3. Woodward, Prof. E.L., Butler, Rohan, & Lambert, Margaret, Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939, Third Series, vol.iv, His Majesty's Stationary Office, London, 1951, p.279.
  4. Ferguson, Niall, The War of the World, Allen Lane pubs., London 2006, p.161. ISBN:0-713-99708-7
  5. Ernst Panzenböck, Ein Deutscher Traum: die Anschlussidee und Anschlusspolitik bei Karl Renner und Otto Bauer. Materialien zur Arbeiterbewegung, PhD thesis, Vienna: Europaverlag, 1985 p.93.
  6. Bennett, Edward W., Germany and the Diplomacy of the Financial Crisis, 1931, Harvard University Press, second printing 1971, pps:2, 40-42, 52, 55-60, 78. ISBN: 674-35250-5
  7. Woodward, M.A., F.B.A., Prof. E.L., and Butler, M.A., Rohan, Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939 second series, vol.v, 1933, HMSO, London, 1956, p.60.
  8. Carr, Professor Edward Hallett, International Relations since the Peace Treaties MacMillan, London, 1937, revised 1940, 1941 and 1945, p.204-5.
  9. Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945 by an editorial board, Her Majesty's Stationary Office, London, 1953, series D, vol.v, p.41.