Hitlerin suunnitelma oli yhdistää kaikki saksankielinen väestö euroopan alueella.
Itävallassa kannatus heikkeni huomattavasti 1934 vallankaappaus yrityksen jälkeen,
jonka aikana Dollfuss, itävallan liittokansleri oli murhattu. Dollfussin seuraajaksi nousi
Schuschnigg, joka itsepäisesti jatkoi saksasta riippumatonta, itsenäistä politiikkaa, joka piti maan hitlerin vaikutusvallan ulkopuolella ja maa oli saksasta riippumaton.
Vuoden 1936 jälkeen Itävallan asema alkoi horjua kun se menetti kaksi tärkeää tukijaa, Ranskan ja Italian. Ranskan maan omien sisäisten ongelmien takia, italian sen allekirjoittaman sopimuksen johdosta jolla Saksa - Italia akselivallat perustettiin.
Espanjan sisällis-sodassa kokemusta saanut saksan sotavoima kasvoi sekä voimistui ja tämä sai Hitlerin painostamaan Itävaltaa jälleen uudelleen liittymisen kysymyksessä.
Itävalta joka oli jäänyt yksin ilman tukijoita vastusti yhä liittokansleri Schuschnigg
johdolla liittymistä vastaan. Sovittu tapaaminen Hitlerin kanssa Berchtesgadenissa
helmikuu 1938 oli kohtalokas.
Hitler ilmoitti selkeästi että kansallis sosialistinen puolue on laillistettava ja annettava
sille suuri osa itävallan hallituksessa, tai muussa tapauksessa saksan armeija tunkeutuu itävaltaan ja toteuttaa nämä ehdot asein.
Schuschnigg järjesti kansan äänestyksen jossa haluttiin päättää itävallan tulevaisuus
ja yritti näin torjua hitlerin vaikutusvaltaa itävallassa.
Kuitenkin hän joutui tappiolle näissä vaaleissa, kun Hitler ilmoitti saksan armeijan joukkojen marssivan heti itävaltaan ellei äänestystä peruta.
Lisäehtona oli vaatimus jossa valitaan uusi kansleri, jonka täytyy olla Seyss-Inquard.
Schuschnigg erosi kanslerin virasta 11.3. 1938. Itävallan uudeksi kansleriksi nimitettiin Arthur Seyss-Inquard, jonka ensimmäinen tehtävä 12.3. 1938 oli valmiiksi muotoilllun sähkeen avulla ilmoittaa hitlerin kansliaan ja pyytää apua, jossa saksan armeija tulee
turvaamaan rauhaa ja järjestystä itävallan alueella, ja estämään verilöyly.
13.3.1938 Seyss-Inquard saattoi julistaa, Itävalta on nyt liittynyt saksaan (anschluss).
Näin ollen itävalta ei ollut enää itävalta vaan Suur-Saksa valtakunnan itäinen osa.
1936 hän oli miehittänyt osan saksan menettämiä alueita ja anschluss tarkoitti
että myös Itävalta oli miehitetty.
Seuraava uhri oli jo katsottu valmiiksi.
Tämä maa oli Tsekkoslovakia jota saksan alue kehysti nyt kolmesta eri suunnasta.
Termillä Anschluss (saks. liittäminen) viitataan vuonna 1938 tapahtuneeseen Itävallan liittämiseen natsi-Saksaan (Anschluss Österreichs). Yhdistäminen tapahtui 12. maaliskuuta 1938. Sanalla tarkoitetaan myös aatesuuntaa, joka 1800-luvulta alkaen pyrki Itävallan liittämiseen Saksan yhteyteen.
Ensimmäisen maailmansodan jälkeen suurvalta-asemansa menettäneessä Itävallassa oli haluja yhdistymiseen Saksan kanssa, mutta sitä eivät voittajavallat sallineet. Kun sitten natsit nousivat 1930-luvulla valtaan molemmissa maissa, johti se Anschlussiin.
Toisen maailmansodan jälkeen Itävalta oli Saksan tavoin voittajavaltojen miehittämä, ja vuonna 1955 palasi itsenäiseksi valtioksi.
Austria was annexed into the German Third Reich on 12 March 1938. There had been several years of pressure by supporters in both Austria and Germany (by both Nazis and non-Nazis) for the "Heim ins Reich" movement. Earlier, Nazi Germany had provided support for the Austrian National Socialist Party (Austrian Nazi Party) in its bid to seize power from Austria's Austrofascist leadership.
Under considerable pressure from both Austrian and German Nazis, Austria's Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg tried to hold a referendum for a vote on the issue. Although Schuschnigg expected Austria to vote in favour of maintaining autonomy, a well-planned coup d'état by the Austrian Nazi Party of Austria's state institutions in Vienna took place on 11 March 1938, prior to the referendum, which they canceled.
German and Austrian border police dismantle a border post.
They transferred power to Germany, and Wehrmacht troops entered Austria to enforce the Anschluss. The Nazis held a plebiscite within the following month, asking the people to ratify the fait accompli. They claimed to have received 99.7561% of the vote in favor.
Although the Allies were committed to upholding the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and St. Germain, which specifically prohibited the union of Austria and the German Empire, their reaction was only verbal and moderate. No military confrontation took place and even the strongest voices against the annexation, particularly Fascist Italy, France, and Britain (the "Stresa Front") remained at peace.
The Anschluss was among the first major steps of Adolf Hitler's creation of a Greater German Reich which was to include all ethnic German and all the lands and territories which the German Empire had lost after World War I. Although Austria had never been a part of 20th-century Germany (the unification of Germany of the mid to late 1800s created a Prussian dominated nation state in 1871, leaving Austria as a part of "Lesser Germany"), it was seen as a German state.
Prior to the 1938 annexation, the Third Reich had remilitarized the Rhineland, and the Saar region was returned to Germany after 15 years of occupation through a plebiscite. After the Anschluss, Hitler targeted Czechoslovakia, provoking an international crisis which led to the Munich Agreement in September 1938, giving the Third Reich control of the industrial Sudetenland, which had a predominantly ethnic German population. In March 1939, Hitler then ended Czechoslovakia by recognizing the independence of Slovakia and making the rest of the nation a protectorate.
That same year, Memelland was returned from Lithuania.
With the Anschluss, the German-speaking Republic of Austria ceased to exist as a fully independent state. At the end of World War II, a Provisional Austrian Government was set up on 27 April 1945, and was legally recognized by the Allies in the following months. It was not until 1955 that Austria regained full sovereignty.
The rise of the Nazis led by Adolf Hitler to power in the Weimar Republic initially caused the Austrian government to withdraw from economic ties. Hitler, an Austrian German by birth [b] picked up his German nationalist ideas while serving in the German Army during World War I. In accordance to this, one of the Nazi's ideologies was to re-unite all Germans either born or living outside of the Reich in order to create an "all-German Reich". From the early beginning of his leadership in the Nazi Party, Hitler had publicly stated in his 1924 autobiography (Mein Kampf) that he would create a union between his birth country and Germany, by any means possible ("German-Austria must be restored to the great German Motherland." "People of the same blood should be in the same Reich.").
Austria shared the economic turbulence of the Great Depression, with a high unemployment rate, unstable commerce and industry. During the 1920s it was a target for German investment capital. By 1937, rapid German rearmament increased Berlin's interest in annexation, because Austria was rich in raw materials and labor. It supplied Germany with magnesium and the products of the iron, textile and machine industries. It had gold and foreign currency reserves, many unemployed skilled workers and hundreds of idle factories, and large potential hydroelectric resources.
The First Republic, dominated from the late 1920s by the anti-Anschluss Catholic nationalist Christian Social Party (CS), gradually disintegrated from 1933 (dissolution of parliament and ban of the Austrian National Socialists) to 1934 (Austrian Civil War in February and ban of all remaining parties except the CS). The government evolved into a pseudo-fascist, corporatist model of one-party government, which combined the CS and the paramilitary Heimwehr with absolute state domination of labour relations and no freedom of the press (see Austrofascism and Patriotic Front).
Power was centralized in the office of the chancellor, who was empowered to rule by decree. The predominance of the Christian Social Party (whose economic policies were based on the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum) was an Austrian phenomenon. Austria's national identity had strong Catholic elements that were incorporated into the movement, by way of clerical authoritarian tendencies not found in Nazism. Both Engelbert Dollfuss and his successor, Kurt Schuschnigg, turned to Austria's other fascist neighbour, Italy, for inspiration and support.
The statist corporatism often referred to as Austrofascism bore much more resemblance to Italian Fascism than German National Socialism. For his part, Benito Mussolini supported the independence of Austria, largely due to concern that Hitler would eventually press for the return of Italian territories once ruled by Austria. However, Mussolini needed German support in Ethiopia (see Second Italo-Abyssinian War). After receiving a personal assurance from Hitler that Germany would not seek territorial concessions from Italy, Mussolini began a client relationship with Berlin that began with the 1937 Berlin–Rome Axis.
On 25 July 1934, Chancellor Dollfuss was assassinated by Austrian Nazis in a failed coup. Afterward, leading Austrian Nazis fled to Germany but they continued to push for unification from there. The remaining Austrian Nazis started to make use of terrorist attacks against Austrian governmental institutions, causing a death toll of more than 800 between 1934 and 1938.
Following Dollfuss' assassination, his successor was Kurt Schuschnigg, who followed a similar political course. In 1935 Schuschnigg used the police to suppress the Nazi supporters in Austria. Police actions under Schuschnigg included gathering Nazis (and Social Democrats) and holding them in internment camps.
The Austrofascism of Austria between 1934–1938 focused
on the history of Austria and opposed the absorption of Austria into the Third Reich (according to the philosophy Austrians were "better Germans"). Schuschnigg called Austria the "better German state" but struggled to keep Austria independent. Eventually Schuschnigg gave up his anti-Nazi program and in July 1936 he signed the Austro-German Agreement, which, among other concessions, allowed the release of Nazis imprisoned in Austria and the inclusion of National Socialists in his Cabinet. This did not satisfy Hitler and the pro-Germany Austrian Nazis grew in strength.
Following increasing violence and demands from Hitler that Austria agree to a union, Schuschnigg met with Hitler on February 12, 1938, at Berchtesgaden in an attempt to avoid the take-over of Austria. Hitler presented Schuschnigg with a set of demands which included appointing known Austrian Nazi sympathizers to positions of great power in the Austrian government. The key appointment was that of Arthur Seyss-Inquart who would take over as Minister of Public Security, with full and unlimited control of the police forces in Austria. In return Hitler would publicly reaffirm the treaty of 11 July 1936 and reaffirm his support for Austria's national sovereignty. Schuschnigg accepted Hitler's "deal", returned to Vienna and made the changes to his government.
Seyss-Inquart was a longtime supporter of the Nazis who sought the union of all Germans in one state. Leopold argues he was a moderate who favoured an evolutionary approach to union. He opposed the violent tactics of the Austrian Nazis, collaborated with Catholic groups, and wanted to preserve a measure of Austrian identity within the Third Reich.
One week later, Hitler made a speech in which he stated, "The German Reich is no longer willing to tolerate the suppression of ten million Germans across its borders." This was clearly directed at Austria and Czechoslovakia.
On 9 March 1938, in an effort to preserve Austria's independence, Schuschnigg scheduled a plebiscite on the issue of unification for 13 March. To secure a large majority in the referendum, Schuschnigg dismantled the one-party state; he agreed to legalize the Social Democrats and their trade unions in return for their support of the referendum. He also set the minimum voting age at 24. Although this was a considerable risk, he believed younger voters were now supporters of the German Nazi ideology.
The plan backfired when by the next day, it became apparent that Hitler would not simply stand by while Austria declared its independence by public vote. Hitler declared that the referendum would be subject to major fraud and that Germany would not accept it. In addition, the German ministry of propaganda issued press reports that riots had broken out in Austria and that large parts of the Austrian population were calling for German troops to restore order. Schuschnigg immediately responded publicly that reports of riots were false.
Hitler sent an ultimatum to Schuschnigg on 11 March, demanding that he hand over all power to the Austrian Nazis or face an invasion. The ultimatum was set to expire at noon, but was extended by two hours. Without waiting for an answer, Hitler had already signed the order to send troops into Austria at one o'clock.
Schuschnigg desperately sought support for Austrian independence in the hours following the ultimatum. Realizing that neither France nor Britain was willing to offer assistance, he resigned as chancellor that evening. In the radio broadcast in which he announced his resignation, he argued that he accepted the changes and allowed the Nazis to take over the government 'to avoid the shedding of fraternal blood [Bruderblut]'. Seyss-Inquart was appointed chancellor, and sent a predrafted telegram requesting that German troops enter Austria to help restore order.
It is said that after listening to Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, Hitler cried: "How can anyone say that Austria is not German! Is there anything more German than our old pure Austrianness?"
On the morning of 12 March, the 8th Army of the German Wehrmacht crossed the border to Austria. The troops were greeted by cheering German-Austrians with Nazi salutes, Nazi flags, and flowers. Because of this, the Nazi annexing is also called the Blumenkrieg (war of flowers), but its official name was Unternehmen Otto. For the Wehrmacht, the invasion was the first big test of its machinery. Although the invading forces were badly organized and coordination among the units was poor, it mattered little because no fighting took place.
Hitler's car crossed the border in the afternoon at Braunau, his birthplace. In the evening, he arrived at Linz and was given an enthusiastic welcome. The enthusiasm displayed toward Hitler and the Germans surprised both Nazis and non-Nazis, as most people had believed that a majority of Austrians opposed Anschluss. Hitler had intended to leave Austria as a puppet state with Seyss-Inquart as head of a pro-Nazi government. However, the overwhelming reception caused him to change course and formally absorb Austria into the Reich. On 13 March Seyss-Inquart announced the revoking of Article 88 of the Treaty of Saint-Germain, which prohibited the unification of Austria and Germany, and approved the replacement of the Austrian states with Reichsgaue.
Hitler announces the Anschluss on the Heldenplatz, Vienna, 15 March 1938.
Hitler's travel through Austria became a triumphal tour that climaxed in Vienna, on 15 March 1938, when around 200,000 German-Austrians gathered around the Heldenplatz (Square of Heroes) to hear Hitler say in front of tens of thousands of cheering people that "The oldest eastern province of the German people shall be, from this point on, the newest bastion of the German Reich" followed by his "greatest accomplishment" (completing the annexing of Austria to form a Greater German Reich) by saying "Als Führer und Kanzler der deutschen Nation und des Reiches melde ich vor der deutschen Geschichte nunmehr den Eintritt meiner Heimat in das Deutsche Reich."
Translation: "As leader and chancellor of the German nation and Reich I announce to German history now the entry of my homeland into the German Reich." Hitler later commented: "Certain foreign newspapers have said that we fell on Austria with brutal methods. I can only say: even in death they cannot stop lying. I have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my people, but when I crossed the former frontier (into Austria) there met me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators."
The Anschluss was given immediate effect by legislative act on 13 March, subject to ratification by a plebiscite. Austria became the province of Ostmark, and Seyss-Inquart was appointed governor. The plebiscite was held on 10 April and officially recorded a support of 99.7% of the voters.
Voting ballot from 10 April 1938. The ballot text reads "Do you agree with the reunification of Austria with the German Reich that was enacted on 13 March 1938, and do you vote for the party of our leader Adolf Hitler?" The large circle is labelled "Yes", the smaller "No".
Hitler's forces worked to suppress any opposition. Before the first German soldier crossed the border, Heinrich Himmler and a few SS officers landed in Vienna to arrest prominent representatives of the First Republic, such as Richard Schmitz, Leopold Figl, Friedrich Hillegeist, and Franz Olah.
During the few weeks between the Anschluss and the plebiscite, authorities rounded up Social Democrats, Communists, and other potential political dissenters, as well as Jews, and imprisoned them or sent them to concentration camps. Within only a few days of 12 March, 70,000 people had been arrested. The plebiscite was subject to large-scale propaganda and to the abrogation of the voting rights of around 400,000 people (nearly 10% of the eligible voting population), mainly former members of left-wing parties and Jews.