March 11, 1938 – The Word Is Anschluss – Germany Annexes Austria – German Troops In Vienna

And a peculiar sort of madness took over.
And a peculiar sort of madness took over.

News From Radio Austria – News From Radio Prague – March 11, 1938 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.

The ominous tones in news for this March day in 1938 were inescapable. The situation in Europe had escalated and a new word was injected into the world vocabulary; Anschluss. The annexation of Austria by Germany into a federation, thus completing what had been attempted in 1918, but was prevented by the Treaty of Versailles.

Argued that Anschluss, or the reunification of Austria with Germany was a return to the way it was prior to the 1866 Austro-Prussian War when the German Confederation was dismantled. Under pressure from Germany and the Austrian Nazi Party, a referendum vote was planned. On February 12, 1938, Hitler had arranged a meeting with the new Austrian chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, who was appointed after his predecessor’s assassination. Hitler demanded that von Schuschnigg appoint members of Austria’s Nazi Party to his cabinet and give full political rights to the party or face an invasion by the German army. Fearful that Hitler intended to take over Austria, von Schuschnigg called for a national plebiscite, or vote, to take place on Sunday, March 13, so that Austrians could decide for themselves whether they wished their nation to remain independent or become part of the Third Reich. When Hitler heard this news, he decided to invade Austria immediately to prevent the vote. By Friday morning, March 11, von Schuschnigg was aware of the coming invasion. That afternoon, he canceled the plebiscite and offered to resign to avoid bloodshed. Hitler immediately demanded that the president of Austria, Wilhelm Miklas, appoint an Austrian member of the Nazi Party as the nation’s next chancellor. When the president refused to do so, Hitler ordered that the invasion begin at dawn the next day. And so Anschluss became a household word.

Here is news from Austrian Radio’s English Service, as well as a report from Radio Prague on March 11, 1938.

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