В stories Germany's takeover of Austria should also be noted the role of Italy. In the early years, Hitler, not having a powerful military industry and armed forces, could not seize Austria without the consent of Italy. Mussolini himself claimed part of Austria and was considered the guarantor of her independence. Italian duce then looked down on Hitler down. He has long built his regime, created a new Roman empire. Hitler seemed then only a new leader who copies the Mussolini regime.
In 1933 - 1934 Chancellor E. Dolphus established an ultra-right authoritarian regime in Austria (Austro-fascism). Dolphus and his successor, Kurt Schuschnigg, copied much from the fascist regime in Italy, with the support of Mussolini. Dolfus was a staunch enemy of German influence, and did not intend to go under Hitler. He banned the activities of the German National Socialists (NSDAP) in Austria. However, in July 1934, Dolphus was killed by Austrian Nazis while attempting a pro-German coup.
The rebels announced the Anschluss with Germany. But did not receive support from the army and police. Loyal to the government troops surrounded the parliament building. By the evening it became known that Mussolini, who had openly supported Dolphus, in response to the attempted coup, mobilized the troops, which immediately moved through the Brenner Pass to the Austrian border. As a result, Berlin did nothing to support the rebels. They needed only to capitulate. The German government disown the rebels. Like, to know them do not know, and this is an internal affair of Vienna. Everyone pretended to believe.
But soon everything changed. The Third Reich and the regime of Hitler strengthened, won the first victory. And “Roman Empire” Mussolini was experiencing problems. In the 1936 year, Mussolini, who needed German support in the face of a difficult war in Ethiopia, refused to argue with Hitler over Austria, thereby surrendering Austrian independence. In addition, the war in Spain, where Italy and Germany supported General Franco together, brought Rome and Berlin even closer together. Duce stopped clinging to Austria. As a result, the Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg concluded an agreement with 11 on July 1936, with the Third Reich, by which Austria was actually obliged to follow German policy. For its part, Berlin recognized the sovereignty and independence of Austria and promised not to exert any pressure on its foreign policy. To confirm the provisions of the treaty, Schuschnigg appointed Austrian Nazis to various administrative posts, agreed to admit some of their organizations to the Fatherland Front, and finally, pardoned several thousand convicted Nazis.
Realizing that Italy and England will not defend Vienna, the Nazis forced their plans to seize Austria. Relying on the Austro-German agreement 1936 of the year, they launched a widespread propaganda campaign for the accession of Austria to Germany. On the borders of Austria and Czechoslovakia, paramilitary groups, the Austrian Legion, and the Sudeten Germans Volunteer Corps were put together. It was declared that these were independent volunteer emigrant societies, and Berlin had nothing to do with it. In this case, the troops received an army weapon, they were trained by professional officers. At the same time, local Nazi parties and various organizations are becoming more active in Austria and Czechoslovakia itself. Berlin not only supported and directed their activities, but exerted frank diplomatic pressure when these parties and organizations came to the attention of the police and authorities.
Hitler, feeling the weakness of Chancellor Schuschnigg, increased the pressure. He sent sharp notes to Vienna. He began to call the Chancellor of Austria to himself, as if he had been at fault for his minister. Shouted at him, threatened. Schuschnigg, seeing the lack of external support, showed "flexibility", tried to satisfy any demands. But it only got worse. Austrian Nazis felt that their time had come, and openly ravaged them, terrorized their opponents. The police closed their eyes to this. The American ambassador in Vienna, Messerschmitt, said: "The prospect of the seizure of power by the Nazis does not allow the authorities to carry out effective police and judicial actions against them for fear of reprisals from the future Nazi government against those who, even if lawfully, would take measures against them."
Meanwhile, neither the United States, nor England, nor France did anything to protect Austria's sovereignty. They have already written off Austria. At the same time, Hitler's appetites, until a certain time, were restrained not only by Italy, but also by their own generals. It is worth remembering that the army in Germany had great strength, and many old-school generals despised Hitler's upstart, his party and the SS. The German generals were delighted with the policy of reviving the former military power pursued by Hitler. However, he was very afraid of a new big war. German generals thought soberly, learned the lessons of the First World War well, and remembered the dangers of war on two fronts. They knew perfectly well all the weaknesses of the Third Reich military machine, which was yet to become “invincible”. The Third Reich was extremely weak in these years, France and England could easily put the Fuhrer in place. It was enough of a threat and a military demonstration for the generals themselves to remove the Fuhrer and his entourage. Even to send troops into the demilitarized Rhine region near the borders of France in March 1936, Hitler had to grab his generals for a long time. After all, the Third Reich did not yet have a powerful army, an air fleet и tank armada. Everything was in the process of creation and formation. Therefore, the German generals were afraid. What if Germany's actions provoke a big war? Germany then could not fight, and she was in for a complete collapse in case France or England resolutely answered, and they were supported by Czechoslovakia, Austria and Poland.
It is obvious that the German generals did not know what Hitler understood - the masters of the West had already given him Austria, Czechoslovakia, all of Eastern and Central Europe, so that he organized a "crusade" to the East, against the "communist threat". Therefore, London and Paris were not going to fight with Germany. They pursued a policy of "appeasement" in order to direct the Third Reich to the East.
The generals did not know that. Therefore, among the military was a strong opposition to Hitler’s foreign policy. The generals wanted to first restore the armed forces, the military-industrial complex and only then carefully expand their sphere of influence. And before that, do not climb on the rampage. War Minister and Field Marshal-General Werner von Blomberg presented a report in which he noted that “Germany is not threatened with an attack from any side,” including from Russia. The conclusion was that Germany was not threatened with a war, therefore it was necessary to strengthen the defense and not to provoke a war with the great powers. At the November 5 meeting, 1937, von Blomberg and the Army Commander, General Werner von Fritsch (second in command, in the army) openly opposed Hitler's plans to seize the neighboring countries.
Then Hitler decided to change the military elite. However, he was not yet strong enough to simply send out generals for arguing and a different opinion. We decided to organize a provocation. The main organizers were the Reichsfuhrer SS and the head of the secret police, Himmler, along with the chief security officer Heydrich. Actively assisted and Goering, who wanted to take the post of Minister of War. Blomberg was seduced by a honey trap. On the way of an elderly widower, a cute stenographer Eva Grun suddenly appeared. She charmed the war minister. In January 1938, Blomberg married Eve. It seemed that all was well, Hitler and Goering himself were witnesses. But soon the dossier on Eve came up. Her mother held a "massage parlor", was convicted. Eva worked as a “masseuse” in her mother’s salon and in general was a girl with a “low social responsibility” and had long been noticed by the police as a prostitute, and in several cities. In addition, she was held accountable for posing for pornographic postcards. Blomberg after such a scandal had to resign.
Eliminated and the commander of the ground forces Fritsch. For this, they removed the old case of Schmidt, who was in prison. So, in 1936, the Gestapo interrogated a gay, pimp and blackmailer Otto Schmidt who was serving a sentence. His victims were mostly perverts. The Gestapo wanted information about political opponents. During the interrogation, the name of Fritsch emerged, whom Schmidt called a high officer. The Gestapo immediately decided that this was General Werner von Fritsch. Schmidt also said that this man gave him money for silence. Soon, Himmler put Hitler on the table the interrogation report of Schmidt, but he at that time did not want to hear about this “swine”. The slander found support in the fact that Fritsch did not communicate with women, was only interested in the service, and was never married. During the second interrogation, Schmidt again confirmed his testimony. Fritsch denied all charges.
During a parallel investigation initiated by Artur Nebe, the head of the criminal police, it turned out that Colonel General Fritsch had a namesake. Schmidt dealt with an elderly and retired officer. After von Fritsch joined Hitler's aggressive plans, this case was again dragged into the light. And although von Fritsch denied everything, he could not do anything. General fired "for health reasons." Soon it was revealed that the charge was false. 18 March von Fritsch 1938 was acquitted, but not reinstated. He was later reinstated to military service, but was not returned to high office.
Hitler, against the backdrop of this scandal, shuffled the military top as he needed. The Ministry of War was dissolved, and three were created in its place: for the ground forces, the navy, and the air force. Hitler himself became commander in chief. Keitel headed the Wehrmacht High Command (OKW). The command of the ground forces was entrusted to the Prussian General Brauchitsch. Goering promoted to Field Marshal aviation entered personally for him. Wilhelm Keitel did not dare to argue with the Fuhrer and was completely obedient. In addition, several dozen generals were lost during the reorganization, and several hundred senior officers were transferred to lower positions or dismissed. Serious cleaning was also carried out at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister Neurath was replaced by Ribbentrop, a number of ambassadors and officials were removed.
Thus, Hitler prepared the Third Reich for entry into a new stage of its history. The opposition, which could have hampered his plans to forcefully prepare and unleash a big war in Europe, was eliminated. Germany has matured, it is time for active foreign expansion.
Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg
12 February 1938, the Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg, was once again summoned to the Hitler residence of Berchtesgaden. Hitler intimidated Schuschnigg. That, under the threat of an immediate military invasion, was forced to sign an ultimatum presented to him from three points: 1) the ruling coalition of Austria, the Domestic Front, was joined by the Nazi Party; 2) the leader of the Austrian Nazis, Arthur Zeiss-Inquart, was appointed by the Minister of the Interior and the head of the investigative police, which ensured the Nazis complete control over the law enforcement agencies of Austria; 3) declared a new political amnesty for the Nazis, who still had restrictions on freedom or civil rights. In fact, it was the surrender of Vienna.
Immediately, Hitler received confirmation from London that no one would save Austria. 22 February 1938 of the year, British Prime Minister Chamberlain, told parliament that Austria cannot rely on League of Nations protection: “We should not deceive, much less reassure small, weak states by promising them protection from the League of Nations and the corresponding steps from our since we know that nothing like this can be done. ” In addition, Henderson, one of the most convinced supporters of the agreement with Hitler, was appointed British ambassador to Berlin at the end of 1937. He did not try to stop the Nazis, on the contrary, he sought an excuse for them. 3 March 1938, Henderson spoke with Hitler about the agreement between the two great powers. The English ambassador made it clear to Hitler that England wishes to help in the matter of appeasing Europe, which "can be facilitated by arms limitation and pacification in Czechoslovakia and Austria." London also conveyed a desire not only to consider the colonial question, but also to move forward in its resolution. Later, before the Anschluss, influential people from Chamberlain’s entourage, when meeting with German diplomats, showed that London does not oppose the seizure of Austria. But he wants to get paid: Hitler must not touch the colonial empire of England. In addition, London insisted that the accession pass without the use of force.
Returning to Vienna, the Austrian Chancellor tried to wriggle out. 9 March Schuschnigg announced on the coming Sunday, 13 March 1938, a plebiscite on the issue of Austrian independence. The only question it had to be was whether the people wanted to have “free and German, independent and social, Christian and own Austria”, and the forms - only contain the answer “yes”. The Austrian Chancellor hoped that Berlin would not have time to react, and the West and “world public opinion” would see the true mood of the majority of the people and intervene.
But miscalculated. Hitler did not fear the intervention of the West. The Fuhrer responded to the announcement of a plebiscite with an order to mobilize the 8 Army intended for the invasion of Austria. The border with Germany in Salzburg was closed, the railway communication between the two countries was blocked. On March 10, he ordered Zeiss-Inquart to present an ultimatum to the Chancellor and begin mobilizing supporters. The next day, the abolition of the plebiscite and the resignation of Schuschnigg in favor of Zeiss Inquart demanded Goering in an ultimatum. Later in the day, Goering again confirmed him in a telephone conversation with Schuschnigg. At the direction of Berlin, the Austrian National Socialists staged a riot. 11 March Schuschnigg agreed to the abolition of the plebiscite, and in the evening, under pressure from Hitler, resigned and agreed to the transfer of power to Zeiss-Inquart. Schuschnigg announced his resignation by radio and ordered the Austrian army in the event of the entry of German troops into Austria to retreat, not engaging in hostilities.
Austrian President Wilhelm Miklas at first refused to entrust the formation of the new government of Zeiss Inquart and offered the post of prime minister to other politicians. They all refused. As a result, Miklas also capitulated. The Austrian government made a last attempt to save the country. Vienna appealed to the governments of England and France. From Paris replied that France could not do anything. And from London they said that the British government cannot give any guarantees or even advice. So the West took a deal with the Third Reich at the expense of a sovereign state.
By order of Goering, with the consent of Hitler, a telegram was written with a request to send the German troops to Austria, which the new Austrian government sent on behalf of Seyss-Inquart. On the night from 11 to 12 in March 1938, German troops, previously concentrated on the border in accordance with the Otto plan, entered Austria. The Austrian army, having received the order not to offer resistance, capitulated. German troops were just crossing the border, and in Vienna early in the morning several planes landed. Arrived with a detachment of SS as the first representative of the Nazi government Himmler, accompanied by Heydrich, Schellenberg and Hess. They had lists of opponents of Nazi politicians, public figures, deputies, journalists, etc., prepared in advance. The Nazis had a lot of experience in “re-educating” the disgruntled. Thousands of people were arrested. In Austria, there was a concentration camp - Mauthausen and many of its branches.
13 March in 19 watches Hitler triumphantly entered Vienna, accompanied by Keitel. Crowds of people greeted them with ovations and flowers. Many were really happy - they again became citizens of a big and strong empire. Germany was on the rise, every year getting richer. Fuhrer, many loved. On the same day, the law “On the reunification of Austria with the German Empire” was published. Austria was declared "one of the lands of the German Empire" and now became known as "Ostmark". Speaking 15 March in the Vienna Hofburg Palace in front of people gathered in Heldenplatz Square, Seiss-Inquart proclaimed Hitler “the protector of the crown,” and Hitler himself declared: “I announce the German people about the most important mission in my life.” 10 April a plebiscite on the Anschluss was held in Germany and Austria. According to official data, in Germany 99,08% voted for the Anschluss, in Austria - 99,75%.
13 March 1938 of the year: Austrian citizens meet German troops
Thus, Hitler received a strategic foothold for the capture of Czechoslovakia and further offensive in Southeastern Europe and the Balkans, the Austrian industry, sources of additional raw materials and human resources. As a result of the Anschluss, the territory of Germany increased by 17%, the population by 10% (by 6,7 million people). The Wehrmacht included 6 divisions formed in Austria. The Austrians remained loyal to Hitler until the fall of the Reich.
As for the seizure of Austria, the “world community”, completely dependent on the masters of the West, said nothing and did not bother. Only the Soviet Union cast its vote! On March 17, the Soviet government made a statement in which it was noted that the Austrian people were forcibly deprived of political, economic and cultural independence as a result of a military invasion. Moscow proposed to convene an international conference to consider “practical measures against the development of aggression and the danger of a new world war”. England immediately blocked this initiative! London regarded Moscow’s proposal as “intensifying the tendency to form blocs and undermining the prospects for peace in Europe”! That is, Hitler acted with the consent of the owners of England, France and the United States. The policy of the Nazis "prospects for peace", in the opinion of London, did not undermine.
Hitler accepts applause of the Reichstag deputies after the announcement of the "peaceful" accession of Austria