The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Artur Seyss-Inquart

(Part 6 of 18)

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On 9 March 1938, a meeting of the Austrian Nazis was held be-

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cause they had learned, through an illegal information service, that a plebiscite was to be held. Dr. Rainer describes this meeting in the following

"The 'Landesleitung' received word about the planned plebiscite through illegal information services on 9 March 1938 at 10 a. m. At the session, which was called immediately afterwards, Seyss-Inquart explained that he had known about this information only a few hours, but that he could not talk about it because he had given his word to keep silent on this subject. But during the talks he made us understand that the illegal information we received was based on truth, and that in view of the new situation, he had-been cooperating with the 'Landesleitung' from the very first moment. Klausner, Jury, Rainer, Globotschnigg, and Seyss- Inquart were present at the first talks which were held at 10 a. m. There it was decided that first, the Fuehrer had to be informed immediately; secondly, the opportunity for the Fuehrer to intervene must be given to him by way of an official declaration made by Minister Seyss-Inquart to Schuschnigg; and thirdly, Seyss-Inquart must negotiate with the government until clear instructions and orders were received from the Fuehrer. Seyss-Inquart and Rainer together composed a letter to Schuschnigg, and only one copy of it was brought to the Fuehrer by Globocnik, who flew to him on the afternoon of 9 March 1938."

Seyss-Inquart himself admits that he attended this meeting, which was held at the Regina Hotel, Vienna (3425-PS; 3254- PS). The defendant was informed at this meeting that he would receive a letter from Hitler by messenger the next morning. (3425-PS; 3254-PS).

Early on the morning of 11 March 1938, Seyss-Inquart received Hitler's letter. He describes it as having contained several erroneous statements and containing a demand that a decision should be arrived at before noon; that in case of rejection the Reich Government would denounce the agreement of 12 February 1938 and military action must be understood. According to Seyss-Inquart, Hitler also gave expression to his belief that there would be disturbances in Austria if Chancellor Schuschnigg would not relent and that the Reich would come to the help of Austria if Austria demanded go. Glaise-Horstenau arrived by plane in Vienna early that same morning with the information that Berlin was greatly excited and that military steps were in preparation. (3254-PS; 3425-PS)

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(8) Seyss-Inquart then proceeded to carry out Hitler's orders and to fulfill the plans made by himself and his fellow Nazi conspirators. Dr. Rainer in his report to Reich Commissar Gauleiter Josef Buerckel, and in his covering letter dated 6 July 1939, related his version of the sequence of events during this period and described the precise role of Seyss-Inquart, as he viewed it. He complained about the fact that Hitler and the general public seemed to give Seyss-Inquart all the credit for the annexation of Austria by Germany. The following quotation from this letter and report is significant:

"Soon after taking over in Austria, Klausner, Globocnik, and I flew to Berlin to report to Hitler's deputy, Hess, about the events which led to our taking over the government. We did this because we had the impression that the general opinion, perhaps also Hitler's own, was that the liberation depended more on Austrian matters of state rather than the Party. To be more exact, Hitler especially mentioned Dr. Seyss- Inquart alone; and public opinion gave him alone credit for the change and thus believed him to have played the sole leading role." (812-PS)

Dr. Rainer then proceeded to describe just what happened in those critical days, and outlined the final instructions given by him for Friday, 1 March 1938. He explained that three situations might develop within the following days:

"1st Case: The plebiscite will not be held. In this case, a great demonstration must be held.

"2nd Case: Schuschnigg will resign. In this case, a demonstration was ordered in taking over the government power.

"3rd Case: Schuschnigg will take up the fight. In this case, all party leaders were ordered to act upon their own initiative, using all means to capture the position of power." (812-PS)

Dr. Seyss-Inquart took part in these talks with the Gauleiters.

"On Friday, 11 March, the Minister Glaise-Horstenau arrived in Vienna after a visit with the Fuehrer. After talks with Seyss-Inquart he went to see the chancellor. At 11:30 a.m. the 'Landesleitung' had a meeting at which Klausner, Rainer, Globocnik, Jury, Seyss-Inquart, Glaise-Horstenau, Fishboeck and Muehlmann participated. Dr. Seyss-Inquart reported on his talks with Dr. Schuschnigg which had ended in a rejection of the proposal of the two ministers.

"In regard to Rainer's proposal, von Klausner ordered that the government be presented with an ultimatum, expiring at 1400 hours, signed by legal political, 'Front' men, includ-

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ing both ministers and also State Councillors Fishboeck and Jury, for the establishment of a voting date in three weeks and a free and secret ballot in accordance with the constitution.

"On the basis of written evidence which Glaise- Horstenau had brought with him, a leaflet, to be printed in millions of copies, and a telegram to the Fuehrer calling for help, were prepared.

"Klausner placed the leadership of the final political actions in the hands of Rainer and Globocnik. Schuschnigg called a session of all ministers for 2:00 p.m. Rainer agreed with Seyss-Inquart that Rainer would send the telegram to the Fuehrer and the statement to the population at 3:00 p.m. and at the same time he would start all necessary actions to take over power unless he received news from the session of the ministers' council before that time. During this time all measures had been prepared. At 2:30 Seyss-Inquart 'phoned Rainer and informed him that Schuschnigg had been unable to take the pressure and had recalled the plebiscite but that he had refused to call a new plebiscite and had ordered the strongest police measures for maintaining order. Rainer asked whether the two ministers had resigned, and Seyss-Inquart answered: 'No.' Rainer informed the 'Reichskanzlei' through the German Embassy, and received an answer from Goering through the same channels that the Fuehrer will not consent to partial solutions and that Schuschnigg must resign. Seyss-Inquart was informed of this by Globocnik and Muehlmann; talks were had between Seyss- Inquart and Schuschnigg: Schuschnigg resigned. Seyss- Inquart asked Rainer what measures the party wished taken. Rainer's answer: Reestablishment of the government by Seyss-Inquart, legalization of the party, and calling up of the SS and SA as auxiliaries to the police force. Seyss-Inquart promised to have these measures carried out, but very soon the announcement followed that everything might be threatened by the resistance of Miklas. Meanwhile word arrived from the German Embassy that the Fuehrer expected the establishment of a government under Seyss-Inquart with a national majority, the legalization of the party, and permission for the legion to return, all within the specified time of 7:30 p.m.; otherwise, German troops would cross the border at 8:00 p.m. At G:00 p.m. Rainer and Globocnik, accompanied by Muehlmann, went to the Chancellor's office to carry out this errand.

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