The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Artur Seyss-Inquart

(Part 9 of 18)

[Page 978]

(10) Despite Seyss-Inquart's modesty since arrest and indictment, his fellow Nazi conspirators recognized the importance of his part in the Austrian Anschluss.

Goering made a speech in Vienna on 26 March 1938 in which he said:

"At this moment [announcement of the plebiscite in Austria it has been established that now the decision really came. A complete unanimity between the Fuehrer and the N.S. confidants inside of Austria existed. According to their opinion also the hour of action had come, but they thought they could not use any more democratic methods in negotiations and they took the law of action in their own strong hand and forced the others to retreat. If the N.S. rising succeeded so quickly and thoroughly without bloodshed, it is first of all due to the intelligent and decisive firmness of the present Reichsstatthalter Seyss-Inquart and his confidants. But this too proved the correctness of the previous continued politics because if our confidants had not been in the government, this whole course of events would not have been possible." (3270-PS)

According to Dr. Rainer, Hitler and the general public gave Seyss-Inquart credit for playing the leading role in the annexation of Austria by Germany. This is evidenced by the covering letter' written by Dr. Rainer, dated 6 July 1939, to Reich Commissar Gauleiter Josef Buerckel:

[Page 979]

"We had the impression that the general opinion, perhaps also Hitler's own, was that the liberation depended more upon Austrian matters of state rather than the Party. To be more exact, Hitler especially mentioned 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)

In his report to Reich Commissar Buerckel, Dr. Rainer said:

"But as a result of the agreement at Berchtesgaden and the statement of the Fuehrer made to him during his state visit to Berlin, Seyss-Inquart was the personal trustee of the Fuehrer and directly responsible to him for the illegal NSDAP in Austria within the confines of his political sphere. *** The seizure of power was the work of the party supported by the Fuehrer's threat of invasion and the legal standing of Seyss-Inquart in the government.

"The national result in the form of the taking over of the government by Seyss-Inquart was due to the actual seizure of power by the Party on one hand and the political efficiency of Dr. Seyss-Inquart in his territory on the other." (812-PS)

Hans Frank recognized the importance of the services rendered by Seyss-Inquart to the Nazi cause in Austria. When Seyss-Inquart was about to leave Poland to become Reich commissar of the Occupied Netherlands Territories, Frank extolled him as follows:

"But your name without that is shining like a light through the history of the Third Reich, since you are the creator of the National Socialist Austria." (3465- PS)

(11) The Nazi conspirators within the German Reich evidenced their intentions of annexing Austria in many ways. Hitler, on the first page of Chapter 1 of Mein Kampf, said:

"Today it seems to me providential that Fate should have chosen Braunau on the Inn as my birthplace. For this little town lies on the boundary between two German states which we of the younger generation at least have made it our life work to reunite by every means at our disposal.

"German-Austria must return to the great German Mother Country, and not because of any economic considerations. No, and again no: even if such a union were unimportant from an economic point of view; yes, even if it were harmful, it must nevertheless take place. One blood demands one Reich. Never will the German Nation possess the moral right to engage in Colonial politics until, at least, it embraces its own sons within a single state. Only when the Reich

[Page 980]

borders include the very last German, but can no longer guarantee his daily bread, will the moral right to acquire foreign soil arise from the distress of our own people. Their sword will become our plow, and from the tears of war the daily bread of future generations will grow."

Seyss-Inquart devoted his efforts to legalize the sale and circulation of Mein Kampf in Austria. His letter to Keppler, German Secretary of State for Austrian Affairs, contained the following passage.

"The Teinfaltstrasse is very well informed even if not in detail about my efforts regarding the re-permission of the book 'Mein Kampf'." (3392-PS)

Goering-and Schacht both told an American diplomat that it was Germany's determination to annex Austria and Sudetenland to the Reich. (L-151)

One of the missions of von Papen, as German Ambassador to Austria, was to effect a change in the personnel of the Austrian Cabinet headed by Chancellor von Schuschnigg and to eliminate anti-Nazi opposition, particularly in the Ministry of Interior and Security. (2246-PS)

The German Reich applied economic pressure upon Austria. One of the means adopted was the law of 24 March 1933, which required payment of 1,000 Reichs Marks by every German crossing the border into Austria (3467-PS). Kurt von Schuschnigg, former Chancellor of Austria, in his-affidavit of 19 November 1945, described this economic pressure upon Austria by Germany in the following words:

" During my tenure of office as Federal Chancellor of Austria, more particularly on 11 July 1936, I negotiated with the then existing government of the German Reich, and with Adolf Hitler, an Agreement more particularly known as the Agreement of 11 July 1936.

"I further depose and say that prior to the consummation of the aforesaid Agreement, the German Government had placed certain economic barriers against trade between Germany and Austria such as -- to-wit -- the 1,000 mark barrier which said barrier provided that any German citizen who crosses the border of Germany into Austria is obliged to pay to the German Government the sum of 1,000 German Reichs Marks for the privilege thereof -- Austria had been accustomed before this edict of the German Government to receive into Austria some one hundred thousand visitors from Germany annually.

"I further state that the aforesaid barrier placed against

[Page 981]

Austria was extremely injurious to Austrian agriculture and industrial interests." (2994-PS)

Jodl stated in his diary that in 1938 the aim of German policy was the elimination of Austria and Czechoslovakia. The will of resistance in both countries was undermined by pressure on the government as well as by propaganda and the fifth column. At the same time German military preparations for attack were worked out (1780-PS). ("Case Otto" was the code name for the Austrian campaign, and "Case Green" was the code name for the battle plans against Czechoslovakia.)

Jodl also stated in his diary that when Chancellor von Schuschnigg announced the proposed plebiscite for 13 March 1938, Hitler was determined to intervene. Goering, General Reichenau, and Minister Glaise-Horstenau were called before Hitler. "Case Otto" was to be prepared, and the mobilization of army units and air forces was ordered on 10 March 1938. The march into Austria took place on 11 March 1938. (1780- PS)

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