What is the Anschluss?

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Anschluss - translated from German means "union" or "accession". The Anschluss of Austria took place on March 12-13, 1938. Austria regained its independence only towards the very end of World War II.

In 1931, the governments of Germany and Austria practically agreed on the creation of a customs union between their countries, but the victorious countries (of the First World War) were against this union, in the end, it did not take place.

With Hitler's rise to power, the idea of ​​an alliance with Austria loomed again on the German horizon. Agents from the Nazi regime were infiltrating many Austrian state institutions. Several major provocations were carried out, diplomatic pressure was also exerted on the Austrian side. By 1938 Hitler felt strong enough to plan an alliance with Austria for sure. This was part of his global goal: to unite all German-speaking people in one country. This was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles, so Hitler had to plan this mission very carefully.

Hitler began by ordering the Austrian Nazi Party to create as many problems as possible. Austrian Nazis held parades and marches, set fire to buildings, dropped bombs, and organized fighting. When the Austrian government began to suppress all of this, Hitler met with Austrian leader Kurt Schuschnigg. Hitler threatened to invade Austria if Schuschnigg did not grant the Nazis the highest positions in his government. Schuschnigg compromised by appointing the Nazi Seyss-Inquart as Minister of the Interior.

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France and Great Britain refused to help Austria, so on March 9, 1938, Schuschnigg announced his intention to hold a plebiscite to allow the Austrian people to decide for themselves whether to join Germany or not. Hitler moved troops to the Austrian border and demanded that Schuschnigg cancel the plebiscite. Schuschnigg had no choice but to comply and resign.

Seyss-Inquart, the Nazi interior minister took his place and immediately asked Hitler to send a German army to Austria to help restore order. Hitler was now able to enter Austria on March 13 by "invitation". Together with the army, the Gestapo and the SS came to fight the opponents of the Nazis. Schuschnigg found himself in the role of cleaning public toilets, while Austrian Jews were forced to clean the streets with their bare hands. They soon found themselves in concentration camps, while the Austrian people lived under the Nazi regime of terror.

A plebiscite about the Anschluss was nevertheless held in April 1938 both in Germany and in Austria. Almost 100% of the population in both countries was in favor of joining. Most Austrians believed that their country needed an alliance with Germany, albeit with the Nazi regime. Austria can survive only as part of a strong German Reich. There were also a huge number of ardent Nazis in the country.

Successful in conquering Austria, Hitler then used similar tactics to conquer the region of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, which contained more than three million Germans. And for the second time, Great Britain and France did not take any serious measures to prevent this action.

It is worth noting that this Anschluss was not the last in world history.

Prepared by: Nikita Smirnov nikita_smirnov@tempting.pro