Download e-book for iPad: Anschluss: The Rape of Austria by G. Brook-Shepherd

By G. Brook-Shepherd

ISBN-10: 1349816671

ISBN-13: 9781349816675

ISBN-10: 1349816698

ISBN-13: 9781349816699

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Extra resources for Anschluss: The Rape of Austria

Sample text

Indeed, as we shall see, the only vague General Staff plan that existed on the Berlin files for the invasion of Austria was for this contingency; it had been called 'Operation Otto', after the name of the exiled Habsburg Pretender. An anti-Restoration pretext for action was in fact about the best Hitler could hope for, and there were many Nazis on both sides of the Austro-German border to whom the sacrifice of von Papen seemed a very cheap price to pay for it. For the extremist 'Committee of Seven' in Vienna, his 16 The Tum of the Year death would remove the supreme champion of 'evolution' from the scene; for the radicals in Germany, it would destroy the very symbol of 'Conservatism' against which a decisive blow was being prepared during those same January weeks, with Papen himself on the purge lists.

Not many people who saw him off at the station would have staked a week's salary on his life, let alone on his political prospects. Yet to everyone's astonishment, he returned to Vienna, reinstated as German Minister, only two mornings later; and that same afternoon, more affable and persuasive than ever, called on Schuschnigg with Hitler's written invitation to Berchtesgaden. Papen's own version of this Jack-in-the-box performance (which is unfortunately the only one we have to go on) is that, at his interview with Hitler on the 6th, a distraught and absent-minded Fuhrer suddenly came to life when Papen put forward his 'last wish on retirement' - the realization of the long-planned Schuschnigg visit.

15 in the afternoon and did not escape from the FUhrer's eloquence until half-past eight in the evening. What they heard during that four and a quarter hours was solemnly described by Hitler as his 'political testament, to be treated as such in the case of my death'. Like many ordinary wills, it was a complicated and rather confused declaration of intention; so much so that its validity as a firm 'blueprint for the future' has been rightly called into question. IZ But whatever its true significance for Hitler's long-range strategy, it has some bearing on the more immediate question of the Anschluss, particularly when read against the broader contemporary background we have been setting out.

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


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