Anschluss

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Anschluss

(än`shlo͝os), German term designating the incorporation of Austria into Germany in the 1930s. Anschluss was first advocated by Austrian Social Democrats. The 1919 peace treaty of St. Germain prohibited Anschluss, to prevent a resurgence of a strong Germany. After Hitler's rise to power the Nazis took over the idea. In 1938, Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg was forced to agree to Hitler's demands for Anschluss, but reneged, calling for a plebiscite. After the Chancellor's forced resignation, the Austrian president refused to name an Austrian Nazi, Seyss-Inquart, to replace him, and the German agent in Vienna telegrammed for German troops. Adolf Hitler occupied Austria on Mar. 11, 1938, and, to popular approval, annexed it as the province of Ostmark. In the Moscow Declaration (1943) the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union annulled the Anschluss, recognizing Austria's right to independence; an independent government was not established until the end of World War II.

Anschluss

 

(annexation in German), Germany’s policy of annexation of Austria; it was pursued by German imperialism after World War I and with particular vigor after the establishment of the fascist dictatorship in Germany in 1933.

The first attempts at anschluss were made by representatives of the bourgeoisie and right-wing social-democratic leaders of Germany after the defeat of Germany in World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary (Article 61 of the Weimar Constitution of 1919 provided for the possibility of anschluss). The policy of anschluss was actively supported by Austrian bourgeois circles and right-wing social democrats (decision of the Austrian Provisional National Assembly of 1918 on the unification of Austria and Germany). The Versailles and Saint-Germain peace treaties of 1919 contained clauses prohibiting anschluss, but the German imperialists did not abandon their plans to absorb Austria (proposal for an Austro-German customs union of 1931 and others). In July 1934 fascist Germany, with a view toward implementing anschluss, staged an armed putsch in Vienna with the help of Austrian Nazis. In July 1936 fascist Germany imposed an agreement on Austria: Austria was declared a second German state and virtually pledged to subordinate its policy to the interests of German fascism. Fearing that in the plebiscite on the fate of Austria set for Mar. 13, 1938, the Austrian people would vote against anschluss, fascist Germany occupied Austria on March 11–12. On March 13 the law on the reunion of Austria and the German Reich was published; this law declared Austria to be “a land of the German Reich.”

Anschluss was made possible by the British, French, and American policy of promoting fascist aggression as well as by the national betrayal of Austrian reactionary circles, which hoped to obtain the support of the Hitlerites in their fight against the workers’ movement. Of all the great powers, the USSR alone took a stand against anschluss and in defense of the independence of Austria (note of Mar. 17, 1938; speeches of Soviet representatives in the League of Nations).

In Austria itself the progressive forces of the Austrian people, headed by the Austrian Communist Party, fought against the invaders. During World War II the allies of the anti-Hitler coalition reached an accord on the restoration of Austrian independence (declaration of the Moscow Conference of Oct. 19–30, 1943, on Austria). In April 1945, after the liberation of Austria, its independence was restored. On May 15, 1955, the USSR, the USA, Britain, and France signed the state treaty on the restoration of an independent and democratic Austria, which restated the complete sovereignty and independence of Austria and prohibited anschluss.

REFERENCE

Kommunisty v bor’be za nezavisimost’ Avstrii (collection). Moscow, 1956. (Translated from German.)

I. S. KREMER