Austria History in the 1930's

Austria History in the 1930’s and 1940’s

According to IAMACCEPTED.COM, the results obtained in Austria with the plebiscite, called by Hitler, of 10 April 1938 and which gave 99.73% of approval, were largely due to the hopes conceived by the population. The precarious economic and political situation, the international subjection of the small state to the great powers had attenuated in the minds the sense of the Austrian homeland, accentuating, instead, that of belonging to the largest and strongest Germanic nucleus. The myth of annexation was created as a promise of well-being and power: we must not forget, moreover, that one of the first Austrian requests, after the fall of the Habsburg monarchy, had been the union with the Reich, prevented only by opposition of the victorious powers. National Socialist ideology also cherished nationalistic pride and, after the violent suppression of the Marxist parties by E. Dollfuss in February 1934, he presented himself as the exponent of a social policy that the Dollfuss and Schuschnigg regime had not managed to implement. Finally, the anti-Semitic slogan operated as a powerful demagogic tool in a country where Jewish elements had an important place in the direction of economic and political life, and thus served as an easy scapegoat for the real or supposed errors committed by the past regime. and aims at the greed of those who aspired to take their positions.

However, the results of the plebiscite cannot be explained without the psychological reflection of the collapse of independence and the pressure, at least indirectly, of the German occupation. Large sections of the population, especially in the countryside, were attached to the Austrian and Catholic traditions. The declaration of the episcopate (21 March), followed by that of the evangelical churches (1 April), which disavowed any preconceived hostility to National Socialism, had helped to calm the apprehensions: however, in the Catholic field, the ferments of an opposition that it did not have to take long to manifest itself, just as the Marxist opposition, whose leaders had taken refuge in neighboring countries, should not have been long in organizing. In intellectual circles, which had supported the Anschluss in the hope that the

In the period immediately following the annexation, government bodies with a certain autonomy remained in Vienna, under the leadership of the governor (Staathalter) Austria Seyss-Inquart, an exponent of the local Nazi forces. Immediately after the plebiscite, the Rhenish Gauleiter J. Bürckel (April 25) was appointed commissioner for the unification (Wiedervereinigung) of Austria to the Reich. In the directives he gave to the Gauleiters, “the direct dependence of the Gaue on the central offices of the Reich and therefore the disappearance of the governing bodies of Vienna” was established as the precise purpose of the reorganization. The work found its culmination in two laws, enacted on January 20, 1940 by the Minister of the Interior of the Reich, for which the powers of the ancient government of Vienna were partly transmitted to the ministries of Berlin, partly to the Gauleiter of the different Gaue. On 1 April 1940 the office of commissioner for the Reich meeting was suppressed, and Commissioner Bürckel was appointed Gauleiter of Vienna, while Seyss-Inquart was sent as governor to Holland. In September, Bürckel was replaced by Baldur von Schirach, former leader of the Hitler youth. The administrative unification was gradually accompanied by the extension to Austria of the laws of the Reich, while on 14 March 1939 the assets of the Habsburgs were confiscated. former leader of the Hitler youth. The administrative unification was gradually accompanied by the extension to Austria of the laws of the Reich, while on 14 March 1939 the assets of the Habsburgs were confiscated. former leader of the Hitler youth. The administrative unification was gradually accompanied by the extension to Austria of the laws of the Reich, while on 14 March 1939 the assets of the Habsburgs were confiscated.

This policy, which nullified any residue of Austrian autonomy and placed elements extraneous to the local environment in the management posts, revived the rooted aversion in the popular soul towards Prussia and Northern Germanism, while in the countryside the peasant mass, deeply religious, was deeply opposed to the dissolution of the Catholic league (Bund der Katholiken) which took place on 23 August 1938, and to the aggression suffered by Cardinal Innitzer, Archbishop of Vienna, on the occasion of a gathering of young Catholics, which was followed by the invasion of archbishopric by National Socialist demonstrators (October 1938). The suppression of the monasteries, which were preserved only in Lower Austria, increased the irritation.

The war worsened the situation, with increasing restrictions and police measures that increasingly gave the annexation the appearance of a military occupation. However, if this created the favorable terrain for the rise of a clandestine opposition within, the repercussions were scarce in the Austrian units framed in the Germanic army, which indeed distinguished themselves in the Norwegian campaign. Only in the final phase of the conflict did the dissolution of German power encourage a more open reaction, which led to demonstrations of true partisan guerrilla warfare in the peripheral territories (as in Tyrol).

The collapse of the Austrian front was caused by the invasion of the Russian armies of generals Tolbukin and Malinovskij, who were pressing from Hungary. Having entered Austrian territory on March 30, 1945, the Tolbukin army reached the Semmering, reaching as far as the southern borders of Vienna. Meanwhile, the Malinovskij army, coming from Slovakia, made a large circumvention of the capital, settling in the Viennese suburbs beyond the Danube. The city fell on April 13. At the beginning of May, the first French army (J. de Lattre de Tassigny) in the Bregenz area, the first American (A. Patch) in the Innsbruck area, and the third American (G. Patton) in the Innsbruck area also entered Austrian territory. Linz area. The occupation regime was defined at the inter-allied conference in Potsdam, with a declaration issued by the

Austria was divided into four occupation zones, Vienna subjected to a quadripartite administration. The central body is the Allied Council, made up of the four commanders of the occupation army, assisted by an executive committee. The council held its first meeting in Vienna on 11 September 1945.

The principle of Austrian independence had been formally proclaimed by the three powers (US, Great Britain, USSR) already in the final declaration of the Moscow conference of 19-30 October 1943. On 20 October 1945, the four occupying powers gave their recognition to the provisional government, set up in the aftermath of the occupation, on April 29, by the socialist leader Karl Renner, with the collaboration of the Communists and the new Catholic People’s Party which had taken on the inheritance of the ancient Christian-social party.

On 25 November 1945 the elections for the parliament took place: the popular party won a clear majority with 51% of the votes and 85 seats in parliament; the socialists got 44% of the votes and 76 seats; the communists 5% with 4 seats. A coalition government was formed: the chancellorship was taken over by the popular Leopoldo Figl, the presidency of the Republic by the socialist Karl Renner. But if Austria had a parliament and a government, the deliberations of the parliament and the acts of the government were not effective without the approval of the allied council. Only a year after the Potsdam declaration, on June 28, 1946, did a revision come about: the proposal was put forward by the US and, in order, Great Britain, France and Russia joined it. The allied council restricted its functions in favor of the Austrian government: at the same time the borders between the different areas were abolished, allowing the free movement of goods and travelers. However, the separation between the Russian and the Anglo-Franco-American zones remained and deepened, as the policies of the two groups became different.

The friction between Russia and the Western powers is one of the main causes of the protracted conclusion of the peace treaty. Only one of the problems in question has found a solution: that of relations with Italy regarding South Tyrol (see in this App.).

As early as December 19, 1945, President K. Renner had set up the Austrian claims on South Tyrol. At the end of May 1946, the Foreign Minister Gruber went to Paris and London, to coordinate his action: in August, he was called to support the Austrian thesis before the conference gathered in Paris for the peace treaty with Italy.. Rather than explicit claims, he advanced the request for a solution that would open the way to a “serene collaboration” with Italy. Direct negotiations then began: on 5 September the Italian and Austrian governments signed a convention that regulated the issue, with wide autonomy and guarantees to the German-speaking citizens of Alto Adige. The accent of agreement weighed on ethnic and linguistic problems but economic clauses were not lacking: the commitment to “regulate the free transit of goods and people between northern and southern Tyrol”, and to facilitate “a more extensive border traffic and local exchanges of products characteristic between Austria and Italy “. The agreement that was later included in the peace treaty between the powers and Italy aroused some alarm in the domestic and international field. The English minister Bevin had hinted at a possible economic Anschluss between Austria and Italy, almost as if to weld Austria with the Western economy, thus arousing the immediate Russian reaction. In an interview with United Press, Gruber was quick to state that the agreement did not mean taking a stance towards the West rather than towards the East. Inside, the reactions arose from the nationalistic spirit, aimed at an integral claim of the South Tyrolean territory. The same parliamentary commission for foreign affairs stressed that the agreement with Italy did not constitute a renunciation: on the contrary, it went so far as to hope that “a changed international situation could give the South Tyroleans the possibility of deciding which state they intended to belong to”.

However, other serious problems that the Austrian peace treaty involved remained unsolved. Thus the problem of the Yugoslav border. Yugoslavia made demand for much of southern Carinthia with Klagenfurt and Villach and the two border highlights northwest of Maribor (Marburg) and around the city of Radkersburg, both in southern Styria. A solution favorable to the Yugoslav requests would result in the cut in communications between Italy and Austria at the Tarvisio crossing.

Furthermore, economic disputes are also opposed to the conclusion of the peace treaty.

Thus the different interpretation given by the Austrian and Russian governments to the term “German assets”, subject to confiscation by the victor. The Western powers supported the Austrian government’s restrictive interpretation, that is, valuing as German assets only those that were such before the Anschluss. This placed a considerable limit on Russian confiscations. In addition, the Austrian government, relying on American renunciations, made requests for a reduction in the repairs to be carried out in the USSR, and for an extension of the delivery deadline. An important part of these assets is constituted by the oil wells of Zistersdorf, which with a production of 1,213,000 t. annual (data from 1944), make Austria the third largest European producer, after Poland and Romania.

All these problems still remain unsolved today, despite the assiduous work carried out by the foreign ministers and their substitutes for the formulation of the peace treaty with Austria. The Moscow conference of April 1947 decided to replace a commission of experts, based in Vienna, to examine the controversial points. But this commission, which met on 12 May, had still not made any progress after six months of work. However, the negotiations were not broken, as the USSR agreed at the last minute – at the London conference in December 1947 – to discuss a French compromise proposal on the problem of reparations. Subsequent discussions, resumed in February 1948, have so far not led to any tangible results.

On the other hand, the problem falls within the broader plan of international relations between Russia and the Allies. The strong Russian pressure has repercussions on domestic politics, where the Communists have taken an intransigent attitude by abandoning the coalition ministry following the law on the revaluation of the shilling, which they consider contrary to the interest of the people. The poor parliamentary consistency of the Communist Party and the repercussions on public opinion of the Czechoslovakian events are felt on the Austrian orientation: all the more so as on the Western side, especially the American one, the assistance and credit policy is accentuated, culminating in the Marshall plan, to which the Austrian government, the only one among the governments of Central and Eastern Europe, has given its support.

Austria History in the 1930's

About the author