Anschluss with Austria

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The union of Austria and Germany (Anschluss) had been forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler was born within the boundaries of Austria. In 1934 the Austrain Nazis, encouraged by Hitler, had tried to seize power after the murder of the Austrian Chancellor, Dollfuss. This had been prevented by Mussolini who had been prepared to give support to Austria. By 1938, the situation had changed: Mussolini was now allied with Germany and occupied the Spanish Civil War, so he was unlikely to give help to Austria. One of Hitler's aim was to unite all German-speaking people under his leadership, and the Austrains were German-speaking.

The Nazi Party remained strong in Austria and early 1938 there was rumours of another Nazi plot overthrow the Austrian government. The Austriam Chancellor, Schuschnigg, appealed to Hitler for help to end the plotting. Hitler refused and, instead of helping, he put pressure on Schuchnigg and forced him to appoint Seyss-Inquart, the leader of the Nazi Party in Austria, as Minister of the Interior, in charge of the police force. This was followed by a series of riots and demonstrrations by the Nazi Party in Austria, encouraged by Hitler. In spite of his position, Seyss-Inquart supported the demonstrations and did nothing to stop them.

Schuschnigg made a bold move to end the disturbances and to try and save the independence of Austria. He called a Plebiscite on whether the Austrian people wanted to remain indepedent or not. This alarmed Hitler. There were many Austrian who favoured Anschluss because they felt that the Austriam economy was too weak to remain…


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