The Anschluss: Failed Attempts and International Tensions
The failed attempt at Austrian Anschluss in 1934, the Rhineland Crisis, Franco's support from Germany and Italy during the Spanish Civil War, and Britain's return to old style diplomacy set the stage for Hitler's successful annexation of Austria in 1938.
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1. The Anschluss The story so far... 25 th July 1934: Assassination of Chancellor Dollfuss. The first attempt at Austrian Anschluss failed when Mussolini moved 100,000 troops to the border that Italian-Austrian border.
2. The Anschluss The story so far... 7th March 1936: Rhineland Crisis 17 th July 1936: Germany and Italy back Franco during the Spanish Civil War. 26th April 1937: Bombing of Guernica by German Condor legion May 1937: Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister of Britain. This marks a return to old-style diplomacy. 20th February 1938: Anthony Eden resigns as Foreign Secretary. Wanted action to be taken in Spain.
3. The Anschluss The story so far... October 1936: Agreement between Germany and Italy to secure Austrian independence. September 1937: Mussolini visits Berlin and is impressed by Nazi power. 5th November 1937: Hossbach Memo stated Germany must overthrow Austria and Czechoslovakia. [only discovered at the ended of the war]
4. The Anschluss The Anschluss 12 th March 1938
5. The Anschluss The Versailles Context Article 80 of Versailles Treaty states: “Germany acknowledges and will respect the independence of Austria…”
6. The Anschluss Key Dates January 1938: Memo to Papen [German Ambassador] from Austrian Nazis intercepted stating “the impossibility of progress under Schuschnigg, German invasion the only solution” February 11 th 1938: Hitler is aggressive towards Schuschnigg at meeting. Franz von Papen Kurt von Schuschnigg
7. The Anschluss 11th March 1938 The Czech Government was promised that: “Czechoslovakia has nothing to fear from the Reich.”
8. The Anschluss 11th March 1938 In a radio broadcast to the Austrian population, Chancellor Schuschnigg resigned: This day has placed us in a tragic situation. The German Government today handed to President Miklas an ultimatum, with a time limit, ordering him to nominate a Chancellor and appoint members of a cabinet designated by the German Government; otherwise German troops would invade Austria. I declare before the world that the reports launched in Germany concerning disorders by the workers, the shedding of streams of blood, and the creation of a situation beyond the control of the Austrian Government are lies. President Miklas has asked me to tell the people of Austria that we have yielded to force since we are not prepared even in this terrible situation to shed blood. We have decided to order the troops to offer no resistance. So I take leave of the Austrian people with the German word of farewell uttered from the depth of my heart: God protect Austria.
9. The Anschluss 12th March 1938 German troops crossed into Austria
10. The Anschluss 12th March 1938 Hitler crossed at about 4pm
11. The Anschluss 13th March 1938 Hitler entered Vienna
12. The Anschluss 13th March 1938 Hitler speaks in Heros’ Square, Vienna
13. The Anschluss 10th April 1938 Nazi organised plebiscite Propaganda, both leaflets and posters, encouraged Austrians to vote a particular way.
14. The Anschluss 10th April 1938 Billboard posters encouraged people to vote “Yes”.
15. The Anschluss 10th April 1938 The poster instructed voters how to vote "Yes".
16. The Anschluss What did Hitler and the Nazis gain from the Anschluss? Hitler had once again read the situation correctly and achieved what he set out to do. Hitler personally gained prestige. Nazis gained control of Austria’s iron and steel, engineering and armament industries. Austria could by used as a staging-post for South-East expansion. Nazis took control of the Austrian Central Bank and its gold reserves. Nazis could turn their attention to Czechoslovakia.
17. The Anschluss Why did the British Government appease Germany?
18. The Anschluss There was a reasonable belief within the British Cabinet that: Austria “fell into categories of possible alterations in the European order which might be destined to come about with the passage of time [Lord Halifax, the future Foreign Minister visited Hitler in Berlin] Chamberlain believed Schuschniggs’ plebiscite had provoked the situation. He personally thought “it had to come”. Lord Halifax
19. The Anschluss There was a belief within the British Cabinet that Hitler could be trusted : Lord Halifax after his visit wrote down “Germany did not want to annex Austria…” But The Hossbach Memorandum noted the German intention to annex Austria Lord Halifax
20. The Anschluss The British were military unprepared : 1936: Chamberlain gave RAF £59 million instead of £97 million asked for. ‘Cheap’ fighters built instead of bombers. 1937: Military chiefs reported that British defences were hopelessly inadequate. Jan 1938: stated that “forces…are still far from sufficient to meet our defensive commitments.” Spitfire
21. The Anschluss The League of Nations was considered weak . The League of Nations was so discredited after the Abyssinian crisis of 1935 that no member state referred the issue of the Anschluss to the League. British Government had no firm allies British government made it clear to the French that French aid to Republicans would stop Britain honouring Locarno. French backed down. The USA was neutral. The USSR was communist. The Empire were unwilling to commit The 1937 Conference of Imperial Prime Ministers reached the conclusion that the Empire Nations were unwilling to offer a firm commitment to Britain to resist Hitler. Weak Economy Financial constraints on British government. After 1938, rearmament produced new jobs but put pressure on scare resources.
22. The Anschluss British public were shocked by Nazi methods but there was no desire to go to war over a country whose population comprised ethnic Germans, a good proportion of whom enthusiastically favoured union. [Ian Kershaw, Making Friends with Hitler, 2004 ]
23. The Anschluss The British feared war 11 th March 1938: British ambassador in Berlin protested to the German Foreign Minister but admitted “verbal protests without the resolute intention to use force were not going to stop the German troops. 14 th March 1938: Chamberlain told the House of Commons “…nothing could have prevented this action by Germany unless we and others with us had been prepared to use force to prevent it”.
24. The Anschluss Criticisms of Government Policy Churchill stressed: The geographical importance of Austria. Control of this region gave the Nazis access the valuable communication routes in South-East Europe – roads, rivers and by rail. Expanded military power. Increased economic strength.
25. The Anschluss How useful is the following source for investigating the events surrounding the Anschluss, March 1938?
26. The Anschluss Think about the usefulness of this source in terms of: Origin Possible Purpose Context of the source Content Balance Origin One week after the meeting between Hitler and Schuschnigg, 3 weeks before the official Anschluss of Austria with Germany. David Low was a known critic of Government policy, a known anti- appeaser. David Low, London Evening Standard Friday 18 th February 1938 British person is saying: “Why should we take a stand about someone pushing someone else when it’s all so far away…”
27. The Anschluss Possible Purpose Low is trying to highlight that if Austria falls, other countries are at risk too including Britain. Spur the British Government into action against the Dictators David Low, London Evening Standard Friday 18 th February 1938 British person is saying: “Why should we take a stand about someone pushing someone else when it’s all so far away…”
28. The Anschluss Content Points out that Britain does not see the threat. Highlights the strength and aggressive nature of Germany by drawing the big soldier. Shows the fall of Austria makes, Czechoslovakia, the Balkans… France and Britain are all vulnerable to German aggression. France is looking to Britain to stop it. Hitlers’ hand on the lever, he is dictating the situation David Low, London Evening Standard Friday 18 th February 1938 British person is saying: “Why should we take a stand about someone pushing someone else when it’s all so far away…”
29. The Anschluss Context Versailles Context Failed Anschluss of 1934 Details of Hitler and Schuschniggs’ meeting, February 1938 and intended plebiscite. German rearmament Rome-Berlin Axis after the Spanish Civil War David Low, London Evening Standard Friday 18 th February 1938 British person is saying: “Why should we take a stand about someone pushing someone else when it’s all so far away…”
30. The Anschluss Balance This should focus on the reasons why the British Government chose to appease Germany over the issue of the Anschluss. David Low, London Evening Standard Friday 18 th February 1938 British person is saying: “Why should we take a stand about someone pushing someone else when it’s all so far away…”