Produced in 1938, this American newsreel shows the Anschluss -- the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March 1938.
Austria was annexed into the German Third Reich on 12 March 1938. There had been several years of pressure by supporters in both Austria and Germany (by both Nazis and non-Nazis) for the "Heim ins Reich" movement. Earlier, Nazi Germany had provided support for the Austrian National Socialist Party (Austrian Nazi Party) in its bid to seize power from Austria's Fatherland Front government.
Under considerable pressure from both Austrian and German Nazis, Austria's Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg decided to hold a referendum to provide a popular vote on the issue, expecting Austria to vote in favour of maintaining its autonomy, but before this could take place there was a well-planned coup d'état by the Austrian Nazi Party, which seized control of Austria's state institutions in Vienna on 11 March 1938. The leaders of the coup then cancelled the referendum.
They transferred power to Germany, and Wehrmacht troops entered Austria to enforce the Anschluss. The Nazis held a plebiscite within the following month, asking the people to ratify the fait accompli, and claimed that 99.7561% of the votes cast were in favor.
Although the Allies were committed to upholding the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and that of St. Germain, which specifically prohibited the union of Austria and the German state, their reaction was only verbal and moderate. No military confrontation took place, and even the strongest voices against the annexation, particularly Fascist Italy, France, and Britain (the "Stresa Front") remained at peace.
The Anschluss was among the first major steps of Adolf Hitler's creation of a Greater German Reich which was to include all ethnic Germans and all the lands and territories which the German Empire had lost after the First World War. Although Austria had never been a part of 20th-century Germany (the unification of Germany of the mid to late 19th century created a Prussian dominated nation state in 1871, leaving Austria as a part of "Lesser Germany"), it was seen[by whom?] as a German state. Prior to the annexation of 1938 the Third Reich had remilitarized the Rhineland, and the Saar region was returned to Germany after 15 years of occupation through a plebiscite. After the Anschluss, Hitler targeted Czechoslovakia, provoking an international crisis which led to the Munich Agreement in September 1938, giving the Third Reich control of the industrial Sudetenland, which had a predominantly ethnic German population. In March 1939, Hitler then ended Czechoslovakia by recognizing the independence of Slovakia and making the rest of the nation a protectorate. That same year, Memelland was returned from Lithuania.
With the Anschluss, the German-speaking Republic of Austria ceased to exist as a fully independent state. At the end of World War II, a Provisional Austrian Government was set up on 27 April 1945, and was legally recognized by the Allies in the following months. It was not until 1955 that Austria regained full sovereignty.
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HDm and 2K. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com