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The Anschluss March 1938. Article 80 of Versailles Peace Treaty.
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Article 80 of Versailles Peace Treaty • Germany acknowledges and will respect strictly the independence of Austria, within the frontiers which may be fixed in a Treaty between that State and the Principal Allied and Associated Powers; she agrees that this independence shall be inalienable, except with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations.
Hitler’s views on Anschluss Adolf Hitler; Mein Kampf, 1924 page 1 ‘German–Austria must return to the great German mother country,……’ ‘ Only when the Reich borders include the very last German…. will the moral right to acquire foreign soil arise…’ BBC clip Was Hitler planning for war?
Why did Hitler want Anschluss? • To build a united and Greater German nation which meant: • get all German speaking people (the German race) into one nation (reich). Included 6 million Austrians • Strategically • Anschluss would be one more removal of terms of VPT • Bigger population + bigger armed forces for the Reich • Would give access to SE Europe (Yugoslavia, Hungary) • Italy could be dominated • Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland could be next area to bring back into Germany.
The Hossbach Memorandum Nov 1937 • What was it? • Notes taken by Colonel Count Friedrich Hossbach after a meeting of Hitler with his Foreign Minister and the 3 armed forces heads • Hitler's future expansionist policies were outlined. • Used as evidence by historians to argue Hitler either • had a master plan for war • OR • Was an opportunist who took chances as they arose.
The Hossbach Memorandum Nov 1937 • What was in it? • A discussion of what Germany should do if any one of 3 possible scenarios arose. • Case 1 – 1943 1945 • To achieve lebensraum Germany must act before this date. Her armed forces would be at their peak. Other countries would be catching up. • Case 2 • If France has a civil war making her army useless against Germany, then Germany should take action against the Czechs • Case 3 If France has a war with any other country so she cannot fight against Germany, the following action should be taken: • Take over Czechoslovakia and Austria • Assume Britain and France will not take action against Germany
The Hossbach Memorandum Nov 1937 • Its significance • Used in 1946 at the Nuremberg Trials as evidence to “prove” the Nazi government was planning for and intending to start a war in Europe. • However, some historians dispute the idea it was a plan with a start date and timetable for war. It was more of a wish list to take action when the possibilities arose.
How Anschluss happened • Austrian Chancellor in 1938 - Dr Kurt von Schuschnigg • Austrian Nazi leader in 1938 - Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Schuschnigg, Hitler meeting 12th Feb 1938 • What happened? • Jan 1938 Schuschnigg bans Austrian Nazi Party • Feb meeting at the Berghof (Hitler’s house in Bavaria).
Berghof meeting ctd • Hitler demands: • Sch’ to lift ban on Nazi Party • Nazi prisoners to be released and reinstated • Nazis to be put in key govt posts – • S-Inq as Minister of Interior (control of police) • Horstmann- Minister for War • Fisch- Finance Minister • If demands refused Hitler would occupy Austria • Outcome of meeting – see note after Qu. 52
Results of Berghof meeting • Schuschnigg arranges a plebiscite in Austria.
Results ctd. • Hitler incensed. Desperate to avoid a ‘No’ vote. WHY? • Would mean no mandate to unite with Austria. • Nazis create trouble in Austria declaring Austrian people asking for help from Germany. • 11 March Hitler sends ultimatum to Schuschnigg – hand over power to Austrian Nazis or face invasion. • Schuschnigg realises no help coming from GB or France so he resigns. • 12 March German troops cross the border unopposed into Austria. Anschluss complete.
Hitler’s plebiscite: April • Why were 99.7% in favour of Anschluss? • The vote was rigged by the Nazis • Many Austrians were actually in favour of Anschluss
"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."
The importance of Anschluss • Strategic • Austria now a gateway for Hitler to invade SE Europe • Czechoslovakia next to bring into Reich • Economic • Austrian gold can help repay rearmament deficit • Austrian iron and steel, engineering, armaments manufacturing • International relations • Hitler and Mussolini strengthen relations • GB and France clearly not prepared to act against Germany with force
Why no military response from Italy • Mussolini believed Hitler’s promise that the Brenner Pass would be the permanent border between Italy and Germany. • Mussolini firmly allied to Hitler and has lost faith in France and Britain. • Hitler thanks Mussolini for not reacting against him.
Why no military response from France • Maginot line – defensive stance. • No military support from Italy or Britain
British Government reaction to Anschluss • On 14 March, the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain noted in the House of Commons: “His Majesty's Government have throughout been in the closest touch with the situation. The Foreign Secretary saw the German Foreign Minister on the 10th of March and addressed to him a grave warning on the Austrian situation and upon what appeared to be the policy of the German Government in regard to it.... Late on the 11th of March our Ambassador in Berlin registered a protest in strong terms with the German Government against such use of coercion, backed by force, against an independent State in order to create a situation incompatible with its national independence.” • However the speech concluded: • “I imagine that according to the temperament of the individual the events which are in our minds to-day will be the cause of regret, of sorrow, perhaps of indignation. They cannot be regarded by His Majesty's Government with indifference or equanimity. They are bound to have effects which cannot yet be measured. The immediate result must be to intensify the sense of uncertainty and insecurity in Europe. Unfortunately, while the policy of appeasement would lead to a relaxation of the economic pressure under which many countries are suffering to-day, what has just occurred must inevitably retard economic recovery and, indeed, increased care will be required to ensure that marked deterioration does not set in. This is not a moment for hasty decisions or for careless words. We must consider the new situation quickly, but with cool judgement... As regards our defence programmes, we have always made it clear that they were flexible and that they would have to be reviewed from time to time in the light of any development in the international situation. It would be idle to pretend that recent events do not constitute a change of the kind that we had in mind. Accordingly we have decided to make a fresh review, and in due course we shall announce what further steps we may think it necessary to take.” • Within this speech, Chamberlain also stated in the House of Commons: "The hard fact is that nothing could have arrested what has actually happened [in Austria] unless this country and other countries had been prepared to use force"
More British responses to Anschluss • Majority view • Minority view • See handout – Anschluss – I’ve got to know this