"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Anschluß - 70 years ago - little to celebrate

A historian once remarked to Lord Patel that the Austrians were the cleverest people in Europe. They have convinced everyone that Adolf Hitler was German and Wolfang Amadeus Mozart was Austrian.

The Nazis marched into Austria on March 12, 1938, there was no resistance. Many thousands turned out to welcome them.

For decades , Austrians denied their role in the Holocaust. Oliver Rathkolb in his book “Die paradoxe Republik” (The Paradoxical Republic) made the case that Austrians adhered collectively to a belief that having lost their autonomy in 1938, they stuck to a policy of “comprehensive victim’s doctrine,”

The Holocaust and all that went with it was dumped on the defeated German Reich . The 600,000 Austrians who had joined the Nazi Party simply evaporated in the post war confusion.

This biased view was augmented by the 1943 Moscow Declaration signed at the 4 Nation Moscow Conference on October 30, 1943 named Austria as the first victim of Hitler’s aggression and called for the establishment of a free Austria after the victory over Nazi Germany.On March 28, 1945, Russian soldiers, coming from Hungary, entered and "liberated" Austrian territory. On April 10, the tower of St. Stephen’s was in flames. Terrible horrors followed: Theft, rape, kidnapping and murder it is not a period in which there is much documented history.

The Austrian Independence Treaty of 1955 which was signed when the occupying powers departed also included this victim thesis -- and still does.The state of victim hood only began to change as historians started to question and examine the the way the Ausirtain state responded to the Anschluss .It was the revelation that Austrian President Kurt Waldheim had concealed his past as a member of the SA -- and the scandal that followed -- opened up public discourse and made a post war generation aware of their history.

10 minutes to eight in the evening, March 11, 1938, Austrian chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg took to the radio to address his people. He bade them farewell with portentous words: “God protect Austria.”The Nazis marched into Austria on March 12, 1938.

On March 12th, early in the morning , at 5:00 a.m., SS leader Heinrich Himmler landed with his staff at the Aspern Airport in Vienna. Shortly thereafter “Operation Otto,” swung into action and the “reunification of Austria with the German Reich,” as Hitler formulated it for a law decreed earlier that same day, was in full swing. Schuschnigg's planned referendum on the topic of independence on March 13, sparked off Hitler 's resolve to solve his “Austrian question.”

The Austrian dream of independence was shattered ..."Für ein freies und deutsches, unabhängiges und soziales, für ein christliches und einiges Österreich!"

It also meant that around 2.7 billion shillings in gold and foreign currency would fall into the lap of the badly stretched German Reichsbank. Austria would be a brudghead for Eastward expansion and conquest.

Hitler headed first for his childhood home, Linz. he moved on Vienna as an Emperor would and excited crowds cheered him on saluting all the way. On March 15, he declared the “entry of my homeland into the German Reich” from the balcony of the Hofburg Imperial Palace. On Heldenplatz, 250,000 people gathered to celebrate the occasion. (see pic)

He said "Als Führer und Kanzler der Deutschen Nation und des Reiches melde ich vor der Geschichte nunmehr den Eintritt meiner Heimat in das Deutsche Reich!"

On the Ringstrasse, which circles central Vienna the German Eighth Army paraded with SA and SS units. Tanks and fighter planes rolled past as well -- a precisely staged performance for the cheering masses. One year later in Czechoslovakia Germans marched into Prague’s Wenceslas Square. The streets were empty and desolate.

On March 18, Austrian bishops spoke out decidedly in favor of unification. They calculated that, by supporting the new regime, they would be able to preserve their far-reaching privileges... "by working with the National Socialist movement the danger of the all destructive Godless bolshevism were repelled"."dass durch das Wirken der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung die Gefahr des alles zerstörenden gottlosen Bolschewismus abgewehrt wurde" Cardinal Innitzer signed the message of support. Leading politicians accepted the “Anschluss” (Annexation) without hesitation Chancellor Karl Renner welcomed it.

In London they asked later whether the Austrians raped or was enticed ("rape or seduction"). In London fragte man sich später, ob die Österreicher vergewaltigt oder verführt worden seien ( "rape or seduction" ).

Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer

The Nazis moved ahead quickly with their decisive grab for power. An emphasis was placed on propaganda, with banners hung everywhere. Stage managed to the finest degree , 200,000 pictures of Hitler arose , in the subsequent referendum, 99.73 % of the population voted for “reunification” with the German Reich. "Bist Du mit der am 13. März 1938 vollzogenen Wiedervereinigung Österreichs mit dem Deutschen Reich einverstanden und stimmst Du für die Liste unseres Führers Adolf Hitler?" (11,929 negative votes and 5,776 invalid voting cards votes for = 4.453.772 (= 99.73%) .

The collapse in 1918 of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was traumatic. The new state of German Austria, determined by the victors was settled at Versailles on November 12, 1918. many wanted annexation with Germany. The collapse of the Weimar republic, the consequent economic crisis, large-scale unemployment meant that by February 1933, 600,000 Austrians were unemployed.

In the 1932 state elections, the Nazis (DNSAP)(Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria (SDAPÖ))were able to substantially increase their share of the vote in Vienna, Salzburg and Lower Austria. Many hoped that the “party of the small people” would finally bring them a better life. “Austria,” says Brigitte Bailer, scientific director of the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW), “fell into Nazi Germany’s lap like a ripe fruit.”

Engelbert Dollfuß became Chancellor on May 20, 1932 as head of a coalition government. This diminutive (4'11") Jesuit educated bastard with only a one-vote majority and at his side the brilliant economic advisor, Ludwig von Mises, he was highly unpopular inside and outside of Parliament, especially among the (deeply hostile to Dollfuß) (Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria (SDAPÖ).

March 1933, was a time of poitical turmoil the president of the National Council (the lower house) resigned, and the two vice presidents resigned as well. Dollfuß declared that Parliament was unworkable, and advised President Wilhelm Miklas to issue a decree adjourning it indefinitely. Thereafter, he governed as a dictator without parliament by emergency decree.

This was the end of democracy of any sort in Austria until 1955 . Dollfuss seized power - he was concerned that the Austrian National Socialists (DNSAP) would gain a majority or a significant minority in future elections, to threaten Austria's existence as a completely independent He banned the DNSAP in June 1933 as well the communists.

As a counterweight to Hitler and the fascist threat Dollfuß allied himself with Mussonlini - a man drawn to secret alliances - Dollfuß exchanged 'Secret Letters' with Mussolini about ways to guarantee Austrian independence.

In September 1933 Dollfuß merged his Christian Social Party, the Nationalist paramilitary Heimwehr (Home Guard) and other conservative groups to form the Vaterländische Front, an militarised umbrella group to support both him and his government / dictatorship.

In February 1934 there was a brief internal civil war which was crushed and Dollfuss promulgated on May 1st a new Constitution.

Dollfuß was assassinated in July 25, 1934 by eight Austrian Nazis who entered the Chancellery building and shot him in an attempted coup d'état, the July Putsch, as a prelude to the Anschluss

Dollfuß’ successor, Kurt Schuschnigg, also proved unsuccessful in his attempts to prevent a Nazi dictatorship. The treaty Schuschnigg signed with Germany in July 1936 defined Austria as a “second German state.” Intended as a maneuver to reduce pressure from Hitler’s Germany, it instead led to a de facto erosion of Austrian sovereignty. This, in turn, led to the agreement signed at Berchtesgaden on Feb. 12, 1938. There, in the mountainous and isolated heights of the Obersalzberg mountainside, Schuschnigg met Hitler and, under massive pressure, sealed his country’s fate: Austria became completely annexed to Nazi Germany. The graphic illustration of Austria's new status came a month later with the invasion of German troops.

After Annexation came the terror, systematic intimidation, persecution, expulsion. The victims were Jews, Socialists, and also the representatives of the state. “By 1936, the judicial system and police had been infiltrated by Nazis,” says historian Bailer. “Thus, the Gestapo had immediate access to complete lists naming so-called ‘enemies of the people.'” Throughout the country, thousands joined the Nazis in their campaign of terror. Many stood to profit from the new regime: apartments stood empty and jobs were not available - many fled westwards.

Numerous Viennese train stations provided the starting point for transports heading to concentration camps. In total, 65,000 Jews were killed during the Nazi terror, with thousands more political opponents landing in prison. Around 2,700 resistance fighters -- there are no exact figures -- were sentenced to death.

Today, Austria still has a hard time with its own Nazi legacy. The debate surrounding Nazi perpetrators like Heinrich Gross -- who led a child ersatz eugenics and euthanasia program in Vienna, in which more than 800 girls and boys were killed, and enjoyed a career in justice after the war -- still touches open wounds. It was only on April 28th 2002 that the preserved remains of these murdered children were finally buried. Attempts to bring Gross to justice continued well into the earlier part of this decade. Still, says historian Bailer, “there is no legitimate research on the perpetrators.”

There appears to be little desire to go after the perpetrators -- there are too many family skeletons. so - the victims are necessarily neglected.

The planned Simon Wiesenthal Center in Vienna, fights for funding. So far, the Republic of Austria and the City of Vienna have been unable to reach a compromise.

A new book by Hans Petschar, called "Anschluss: Eine Bildchronologie" (Annexation: A Photo- Chronology), has just been published containing dozens of photos and movie stills that for years were lost in attics and cellars across Austria.

Hans Petschar: Der Anschluss – »Ich hole euch heim«
Eine Bildchronologie; Brandstätter Verlag, Wien; 208 Seiten, 250 Abbildungen, 29,90 € Erscheinungstermin: 1. März


barry monk said...

Dear Postman,
I enjoy your blog, and have put a link from my site www.vote4barry.blogspot to it.

I wonder whether you could put a link to mine

Shutter said...

Don't do links any more.

1. Blogs change - die and keeping up was simply too much work.

2. Continually asked and frankly the list would be too long.

3. Such a butterfly mind that there would be no coherence without a tedious taxonomy.

So perhaps over compensate by links to blogs where it is of importance to post.

Just seen your post on child poverty .... the poor , like the rich are always with us.

Note that you reference some time ago about the failure of the NHS to reduce Incapacity to work and that fascinating gap how it has risen is being addressed by the Government.

A similiar graph (probably the same profile) would illustrate the ineffectiveness of our penal system.

The Government response to that (and the Opposition) is equally Neanderthal.

(C) Very Seriously Disorganised Criminals 2002/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 - copy anything you wish