Anschluss: The Rape of Austria by G. Brook-Shepherd

By G. Brook-Shepherd

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The first were the specific concessions offered in the propaganda and military fields, which simply opened these central floodgates to direct pressure from Germany. The second was the mere fact that any or all of these points should have been laid before someone like SeyssInquart less than 24 hours before the Berchtesgaden meeting. There was little need to discuss them with him if they were to be raised with his master in Germany the next day. On the other hand, the journey to Berchtesgaden itself would be pointless if, through these last-minute Vienna talks, the Fiihrer learned in advance of the retreat which his guests were busily planning.

Opinions were divided over the best diplomatic action. One group, headed by Zematto, the Secretary-General of the 'Fatherland Front', urged full publication of the conspiracy in the world's press, coupled with an appeal for the sympathy and support of the Western Powers, especially England. I But Schuschnigg overruled both propaganda in the West and protests in Berlin. He was prompted in this by two deep-seated impulses which were to weaken his own and Austria's position in the crisis that loomed ahead - his personal dread of publicity and his general policy of 'doing nothing to provoke Hitler'.

Yet, with or without Papen's farewell call, the issue would anyway have arisen within the next few days, and Hitler's decision would, in all 31 The Anschluss probability, have been the same. A diplomatic success abroad was the dictator's obvious diversion from a domestic battle at home. Austria was the equally obvious choice. Twice in January her Chancellor had agreed to pay him a visit and the reports from Vienna had suggested that he would be coming in a very pliant mood. It was not entirely a coincidence that in 1938, as in 1934, a blow at Austria should have come hard on an internal German crisis.

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