Austria After the Anschluss

Source: Year of Reckoning – by G. Ward Price, Chapter IX

Mr. Ward Price

Most of the month following upon the Anschluss was taken up in Germany and Austria with intensive propaganda for the plebiscite fixed for April 10.

It may seem strange that a Government with such avowed contempt for democratic methods should trouble to hold a referendum on a step which, even if it were unpopular, could scarcely be cancelled.

But though the Nazis rate leadership far above the ballot-box as the governing element in the State, they know that mammoth demonstrations of any kind automatically impress the human mind. Fifty Storm Troopers marching along the street are so common a sight in Germany that no one turns his head to look at them, but 500,000 Storm Troopers, parading through the streets of Nuremberg, provide the climax of the great Annual Party Congress. A gigantic vote for the Government has its effect not only on the German people but on the outside world as well. It also frees the administration from the charge of denying opportunities for the expression of political convictions.

Though the result of the plebiscite was a foregone conclusion, it did not necessarily give a false picture of the sentiments of the Germans and Austrians. It is difficult for the British, who have never had to experience a long period of national humiliation, to realise how the Anschluss stirred the hearts of the Germans. To the people of the Reich, it came as the first clear assertion outside their own frontiers of their new international standing. After twenty years, during most of which they had been sufferers and suppliants, they took pride in seeing their Government impose its will in defiance of Germany’s former conquerors, brushing aside their protests in contemptuous terms.

The Austrians, for their part, had so long been depressed and discouraged that in their view any change must be for the better. Some doubtless regretted that the heavy hand of Nazi repression would now control a country of such long easy-going and liberal traditions and that the Austrian Jews were doomed to become either victims or fugitives. But they were careful to conceal such sentiments, and the majority of both nations felt strong satisfaction in the amalgamation of the two Germanic stocks, combined with full confidence that it would prove to the benefit of both.

When Herr Hitler arrived in Vienna on April 9 to wind up a tour of oratory that had taken him all over Germany, he delivered the most eloquent and interesting speech of the many I have heard him make. It was an analysis of his own career, tracing the steps by which he rose from obscurity to the leadership of the Reich, then achieved its restoration as a Great Power, and finally fulfilled his boyhood ambition to unite the land of his birth with the country of his adoption.

He stood on a high pulpit, raised at one end of the long and lofty hall of the North-West Railway Station, which had been transformed by a white and gold awning overhead stretching its whole length, and by draperies along its walls.

As a young man, said Hitler, he had had no concern with politics. His sole ambition then was to be an architect. For four years he had remained a nameless soldier. He had never tried to become a politician or a journalist. He had never made a speech. Those were the days when Germany was being steadily ruined. The men then in power bore the responsibility for her downfall. And it had been the sight of the havoc which they wrought that had decided him to take up politics.

“As I lay half-blinded in hospital, I realised that those who had wrecked Germany could never restore her. Seeing my country ruined and its people divided, I made for the first time the resolve to speak.

“It was clear to me that, if the cleft between bourgeoisie and proletariat were not healed, Germany would be wrecked. Each of these factions hoped for foreign help. The bourgeoisie looked towards Geneva; the proletariat towards Moscow.

“And even these divisions were endlessly sub-divided. There were forty-seven political parties in Germany.

“I saw that no party could unite Germany; that her salvation could not come from Monarchy or Republic, from any Church or group, from bourgeoisie or proletariat. I studied all their programmes and records.

“Germany did not fall into my lap like ripe fruit. I worked bitterly hard for fifteen years. You cannot deny that I worked harder than all your earlier leaders,” proclaimed Hitler fiercely. “For years I had no single day’s rest. I used to speak every day that I was not prevented by hoarseness. My foreign critics sometimes say my success is based on terror. I could impose no terror then. It was my antagonists who had all the power.

“I never found a loyal adversary,” he interjected bitterly. “They never said ‘Give him a chance,’ but only ‘Lock him up!’ or ‘Kill him!’

“I hated to use force against my fellow-Germans, and I only did so when force was used against me. Then, however, I employed it with vigour, for I had been a soldier.

“I know that I have critics and detractors, but we can neglect them. Our critics are growing old, and we have won their children to our cause.

“Nineteen years ago I was a completely unknown man. Now I stand here with a great nation behind me, ready for anything. After achieving all this, do you suppose that such opposition as still exists can count for anything? I never gave in when I was weak, when I was in prison, or when I was forbidden to speak in public. And to-day the power is in my hands! “

The Führer’s strident voice rose to a shout. His face was flushed and his eyes blazed. In one of his triumphant gestures, he swept the microphone in front of him off its stand, and sent it crashing to the floor.

Listening to such an harangue, one appreciates how completely the German nation is dominated by the personality of this man, who, in turn, reacts to the impulses of his own temperament with the assurance of a prophet believing himself inspired. Of the 75,000,000 Germans under Hitler’s rule as he delivered his speech in Vienna, more than half were hearing his words as they resounded from the wireless receivers fixed in the streets of every town, or rang out in restaurants, theatres and cinemas; in all factories and workshops; in German mines below the ground; in German ships on the high seas and in millions of private homes, besides being printed in every newspaper next day. To Germans, every syllable uttered by the Führer on such an occasion is sacrosanct and constitutes an unchallengeable pronouncement upon the subject with which it deals.

“In the last five years, out of the once wretched and disorganised German people has grown a nation stronger and prouder than ever before,” he declared dramatically. “Have I not the right to stand here? This is my home! I do not know if Schuschnigg’s name will be remembered a hundred years from now, but I know that mine will as the greatest son of Austria!”

The sense of personal destiny that explains much in Herr Hitler’s character found expression in his words.

“I believe it to have been the will of God” he said, “that a boy from this country should have become the Head of the German nation, and then united his homeland to the Reich. Otherwise, one would have to doubt Divine Providence. There is a Supreme Power, and we are but instruments in its hands. When, on March 9, Schuschnigg broke his pledge to me, I made up my mind that the time had come, and in three days he was broken. On the very day for which he had planned that treasonable plebiscite, I brought my homeland into the Reich. I render thanks to God, Who showed me the way.”

In a climax of high-power publicity, the preparations for the plebiscite came to an end. On the Kahlenberg, Leopoldsberg, Cobenzl and other heights around Vienna, red swastikas glowed through the night. Giant bombers cruised in the dark over every Austrian town, flashing, in red electric lights from the underside of their wings, that slogan which had brought about the Anschluss, “Ein Reich, ein Volk, ein Führer.”

I spent the actual plebiscite day, Sunday, April 10, in visiting polling-booths. To some I went alone and unannounced. Into others I was taken with a party of journalists under the charge of Government officials. There was nothing to suggest that pressure was being brought to bear on the voters. Herr Buerckel, the organiser, had ordered polling-papers to be marked in the privacy of the curtained booths. I saw one or two men demonstratively make their cross in the “Yes” circle before the eyes of the polling-officers, accompanying the act with a loud “Heil Hitler!”, but so many other voters took their green envelopes and ballot-papers out of sight that they obviously did not fear being noted as hostile to the regime through doing so.

The former Austrian President, Dr. Miklas, who had lost his office a month before, sent a message to Dr. Seyss-Inquart to say that he intended to vote for the Anschluss. Cardinal Innitzer, the Archbishop of Vienna, walked over to a polling-booth at 8.0 a.m., and gave the Hitler salute as he came out. The day before I had myself seen two swastika emblems, surrounded by wreaths of gilt laurel, on the walls of the Cardinal’s palace, while above its door hung a large Nazi flag. In St. Stephen’s Cathedral that morning, which was Palm Sunday, many men bearing palms were also wearing swastika arm-bands.

The 70,000 Czechs and 15,000 Slovaks living in Vienna were allowed to vote at special polling booths, a privilege which they had always enjoyed. In Germany soldiers are excluded from elections, but the members of the Austrian Army were authorised to take part in the plebiscite.

Around midnight that evening the results of the voting were announced by Dr. Seyss-Inquart to a dense crowd filling the largest concert-hall in Vienna. They showed that out of 4,284,795 who had gone to the polls in Austria, 4,273,884, or 99.75 per cent., had said “Yes” to the Anschluss. We heard Herr Buerckel communicate this result on the wireless to Herr Hitler sitting in Berlin, and receive the Führer’s congratulation in return.

There was loud cheering, but, looking down from the gallery, I could not help thinking that this final interment of the old Austria deserved a more dignified setting.

Here was the last fraction of the 52 millions of people who had once lived under the House of Habsburg passing out of independent existence. Soon “Austria,” a name so great in history, would be used no more except to identify one of the smaller German provinces.

The reading of the figures by which, as everyone had expected, the annexation of Austria to Germany was confirmed to within a fraction of unanimity, completed a process which had begun when the Vienna Government took the first step towards the Great War by issuing its ultimatum to Serbia.

It had not been the cement of common welfare that held the mosaic of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire together, but only the tie of dynastic union.

Of its 52,000,000 inhabitants, nearly one-half were Slavs, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Ruthenians, Croats and Slovenes. These had enjoyed the special favour of the Imperial House. The inferiority to which the Germans of Austria believed that they were relegated under Habsburg rule was the influence which caused Hitler as a youth to make pan-Germanism his life’s ideal.

The German element in Austria numbered twelve millions. The Hungarians were ten millions, and there was a Latin fringe, consisting of Rumanians in Transylvania, and Italians at Trieste and in the Trentino, which amounted to four millions. Austria-Hungary also contained 1,500,000 Jews, mainly concentrated in Galicia and in the capital itself.

The lack of solidarity in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire was so obvious and long-standing that it was accepted as normal. The Hungarians held jealously to the constitutional privileges secured to them under the “Compromise” by which the Dual Monarchy took its final form. The Czechs refused to talk German, and formed a nationalist physical-training movement called the Sokols, which were really political clubs.

In most countries, the effect of war is to compose internal differences and consolidate national unity. In Austria-Hungary it had the reverse effect. Sections of the non-German races set themselves to gain their independence in the upheaval. The Czechs deserted to the Russians or the French; Croats went over to the Serbs; Italians of Trieste or Trentino joined up with their kinsmen fighting against the Government whose subjects they were.

With the defeat of the Central Empires, nationalistic claims became more clamorous. In some cases, they were supported by a record of services rendered to the Allies.

The. statesmen who drafted the terms of peace in Paris tried to prevent the reconstitution of the formidable block of Powers known in the war as the Central Empires by splitting up Austria-Hungary into its constituent parts. M. Tardieu, who was one of them, has argued that they had no choice, as the Dual Monarchy had already been dissolved in anticipation by the war-treaties of alliance made with Italy, Serbia, Rumania, and with representatives of the Nationalist elements in Poland and Bohemia. They failed to realise that this measure, by creating a series of small, weak States in Central Europe, would make it easier for Germany to establish her authority over them when she regained her national strength.

Not only did the Allied Powers overlook the disastrous consequences of disrupting a State which had given rise to the international axiom that “If Austria did not exist, it would be necessary to invent her,” but they followed conflicting policies in the Central European area which they had thus dissected.

The French subsidised the Little Entente, of which one State, Czecho-Slovakia, was wholly, and the other two, Rumania and Jugoslavia, were partly built up out of the wreckage of Austria-Hungary. Italy, on the other hand, supported the revisionist claims of Hungary, which the Little Entente had been formed to oppose. Great Britain disinterested herself entirely from Central European affairs.

In the years immediately following the Peace Treaties, British and French Socialists protested strongly against the denial to Austria of the right to join up with Germany. They were just as vigorous in demanding the Anschluss in the early 1920’s as they were in denouncing it when it came about in the late 1930’s.

With the passage of time, it became increasingly apparent that the mutilated fraction of territory which still bore the name of Austria was incapable of economic survival.

There had been no Customs barrier inside the great expanse of 240,000 square miles of Central Europe making up the old Austrian Empire. From 1919 onwards a network of them crossed it in all directions, dividing mutually complementary areas into small autarchic States, each engaged in costly and ineffective efforts to achieve self- sufficiency.

The small country left by the Allied peace-makers to bear the name of “Austria” was no more than the isolated control-station of a great economic mechanism that had been broken up. Like a limbless trunk, the Austrian Republic could do nothing for itself.

Austria thus became Europe’s perpetual “deserving case.” After the abandonment of the fantastic scheme to collect Reparations from this ruined country by means of a local Allied Commission which cost more to maintain than the Government itself, repeated attempts were made to “put Austria on her feet.” Loans were made to her, backed by the League of Nations and by the British Government; advances were granted by the Bank of England; there were plans for exchange of products with the Little Entente; an agreement with Italy and Hungary, known as the Rome Protocols; and a scheme, launched at the ill-fated Stresa Conference, for the creation of a Danubian Confederation, of which nothing was ever afterwards heard.

After Stresa, the break-up of the Western Powers into hostile camps finally opened wide the door to German intervention in the affairs of an adjoining country of the same blood and language.

In this way was the forecast fulfilled which the German Ambassador, Prince Bulow, made on leaving Rome when Italy declared war on Germany in 1916:

“Even if we lose the war, we shall still be winners, because we shall annex Austria.”

In the roundabout way which human affairs so often take, the Allies, by the use they made of their victory, laid the basis for Germany’s future expansion into Austria, and thence over Eastern Europe.

So ended the division of the German race into North and South which began in 1756, when Frederick the Great started Prussia’s career of conquest by his sudden attack upon Maria Theresa in time of peace.

During the Anschluss, I met a French colleague who had been with me in Vienna after the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in 1914. He reminded me that at their funeral, as we watched the parade of Austrian generals in their white tunics and green-plumed cocked hats, I had said to him:

“Let us take a good look at this Austrian pomp and circumstance. It may be the last time we shall ever see it.” A month later, the war put an end to all the old splendour of Austrian life, so rich in romance, charm, tradition and ceremonial dignity.

It was now the turn of Austria herself to disappear. The Führer had boldly carried out a policy from which even his hero the Iron Chancellor himself had recoiled. After the German victory in the war of 1866, Bismarck replied to those who urged the extension of German authority to the Danube that Vienna could never be governed from Berlin. The speed of modern communications, however, makes that task much simpler.

There is a marked difference of temperament between these 7,000,000 Catholic South Germans and the highly nationalist and aggressive Prussian stock in whose hands the administration of the Nazi regime principally lies. But the Führer himself is Austrian-born, and the example of Italy has shown how effective the methods of education and organisation employed by a totalitarian regime can be in modifying the habits and outlook of a nation.

The continuance of this ruined fragment of the once great Austro-Hungarian Empire had been, since the war, no more than an historical anachronism. Like the overthrow of the Byzantine Empire or the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire, the annexation of Austria was the suppression of an institution which had long lost its vitality.

The imposing buildings and broad streets of Vienna were but the memorials, and no longer the appurtenances, of a robust nation. When Hitler drafted on a single sheet of paper in that small hotel on the Danube bank at Linz the brief decree which removed Austria from the map of Europe, he was writing only the final paragraph of a chapter of history whose first pages were the Treaty of St. Germain.

The tangible benefits of the Anschluss to Germany were considerable; the strategical and moral advantages it brought were greater still.

The annexation of Austria added to the German frontiers 32,000 square miles, which were 25,000 square miles more than Germany had lost under the Peace Treaties. Her population was increased by 6,786,000, 94 per cent. of these being Catholics and 200,000 Jews, who were practically all concentrated in Vienna, and of whom, by the end of 1938, one quarter had been forced to emigrate. The extension of Germany’s political influence in Central Europe may be measured by the fact that this expansion brought her into direct frontier contact with four fresh Central European States -Hungary, Jugoslavia, Italy and the Principality of Liechtenstein. She now has more neighbours than any other country in Europe, her borders touching:

Denmark, in the North;
Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France in the West;
Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Italy in the South;
Jugoslavia and Hungary in the South-East; and
Slovakia, Lithuania and Poland in the East.

Marshal Goering’s strong hand soon made itself felt at the economic levers of Austria. As Minister responsible for the Four Year Plan, the organisation of the resources of this new Province of the Ostmark came under his authority. A swarm of his expert advisers descended upon it, and within a week he had announced certain measures which were to be immediately put in hand. They were:

  1. The amalgamation of the Austrian and German currencies,
  2. Abolition of Customs duties between the two countries.
  3. A scheme for the exploitation of Austrian water-power.
  4. Large developments in the armament, mining, chemical and agricultural industries.
  5. The building of a new aeroplane factory and Air Force barracks.
  6. Improvement of the Austrian railway-system.
  7. The construction of 775 miles of motor-roads in Austria on the model of the German Autobahnen, and the building of four new bridges over the Danube. Within a month of the Anschluss, Herr Hitler in person had turned the first sod of the new motor-road to be built from Salzburg to Vienna, which will form part of the transcontinental auto- mobile route from the English Channel to the Bosphorus.

Marshal Goering himself had not been able to come to Austria with the Führer at the time of the Anschluss. “You have seen something that I have not seen. I envy you,” he said, when I called on him at Karinhall a week or two later.

“It was impossible for me to go while the Führer was there. He will never allow me even to travel on the same train or in the same car as himself; it is too risky.”

The Marshal accordingly paid the newly annexed territory a visit about a fortnight after the annexation, and made a State tour of the country, which included a journey down the Danube by steamer and took him to Mauterndorf, an old castle in Tyrol belonging to his mother’s family, where as a boy he had sometimes spent the summer-holidays.

The industrial equipment of Austria proved to be of poor quality. An expert examination of every factory was ordered, and even some of the best-known works in the country were found to be largely furnished with out- of-date plant, which was replaced without delay.

The greatest undertaking established there since the Anschluss is the Hermann Goering Iron Works, near Linz, for whose 50,000 employees an entirely new town was built close by.

One of the most serious of German forfeits under the Treaty of Versailles had been that of the iron ore of Lorraine, for since then the country had produced only about 20 per cent. of its national requirements in this material. Austria has largely made up the loss by bringing into the German stock additional deposits estimated at 220,000,000 tons with an iron-content of about 40 per cent. There is a mountain so rich in ore as to bear the name of Eisenberg.

Of timber Austria had plenty. Her annexation increased the forest-area of the Reich by 25 per cent. She possessed also mines of magnesite, graphite, copper, lead and salt.

In agricultural produce, the new territory was barely self-supporting, and the Anschluss did not diminish Germany’s own dependence upon imports for about one fourth of her food-supply. The annexation was, however, a paying proposition in the sense that Austria had a favourable trade balance of close on £2,000,000 a year. This was largely due to her flourishing tourist-industry and the income derived from transit goods-traffic.

The gold reserves of Vienna were estimated at £10,000,000, and were added to the scanty Reichsbank store of that metal which, according to published figures, was, at the time, down to £6,000,000. Austrian water-power was a national resource whose capacities had never been developed to more than about 10 per cent. They were calculated at 25,000 million kilowatt-hours annually.

But the advantages of the Anschluss were not to be measured in material gains alone. The Austrians benefited by the opening up to them of the vast German field of opportunity; by the stimulus of German energy and example, and by the increase of prestige which citizenship of a Great Power brings. The Reich, through the extension of its frontiers into the heart of Central Europe, won a dominating economic position in that part of the Continent. The principal road, river and rail communications of the Balkans with the West of Europe lay henceforth across German territory.

Some disturbance was caused in the summer of 1938 by a declaration from Dr. Funk, the German Minister of Economics, that his Government would not recognize the Austrian foreign debts, of which £17,000,000 had at various times been issued in the form of sterling bonds, bearing interest at 7 per cent., 4 ½ per cent. and 3 per cent., and guaranteed by the British Government. Of these, £11,000,000 were held by British investors. The United States also held $50,000,000 of Austrian liabilities, of which half consisted of the unpaid bill for food-supplies sent to relieve starvation in Austria after the war.

German repudiation of these debts was based upon the pretext that the loans had not been granted for economic reasons, but only for the political purpose of preventing union with the Reich.

It soon transpired, however, that this attitude had been taken up to secure a bargaining counter for obtaining a reduction in the rate of interest payable upon the Dawes and Young Reparation Loans, and within a fortnight from Dr. Funk’s speech of June 17, a German delegation in London had negotiated a settlement satisfactory enough for the prices of all Austrian and German securities on the Stock Exchange to advance considerably.

One benefit of the Anschluss to Austria became immediately effective. It was the disappearance of unemployment. Herr Buerckel, the newly-appointed Administrator, had told me on March 13 that the workless in that country numbered 600,000. Within a month, a very large proportion of these had been absorbed. In September I was informed by Dr. Seyss-Inquart that unemployment was down to 5 per cent.

For years the Austrian workless had been living on the scantiest of relief in collections of leaky wooden huts on the outskirts of Vienna and other towns, surrounded in winter by morasses of mud. Some of these squalid hovels had served, twenty years before, as prisoner-of-war camps or base hospitals, and had since been allowed to decay without repair.

In those that I visited around Vienna and Linz, families were living under the most abject conditions, as many as eight in a room, without bed-linen or change of clothing; with no sanitary arrangements; no water laid on, and the minimum of food and fuel. Stunted children splashed in the muddy lanes between the rows of huts. Many of these squatter-families kept rabbits-in one case even pigs-in the hovels where they lived.

With impressive speed, these people were organised on higher standards of citizenship. The men were drafted into the new jobs which sprang up in the stagnant industries directly German authority had been established; the children were gathered into creches and kindergartens, and the wives and mothers were provided with the elementary essentials of decent existence.

Even Colonel Sepp Dietrich, the commander of Hitler’s bodyguard, one of the toughest soldiers I know, was moved by the conditions in which he had found the poorest children of Vienna existing.

“I have 1700 men here,” he told me, “and out of their rations they are daily feeding 1100 children.”

Before the Anschluss was a month old, the German Government had made plans, at a cost of £2,000,000, to replace the Vienna slum-camps by proper housing-accommodation, and £400,000 was allotted to the supply of food and clothing for the Austrian poor whose need was greatest.

The “Bavarian Help Train” was sent to the working-class quarters of Vienna to bake bread and provide medical attention.

This “Help Train,” a gift from State technical employees to the Government, consists of a dozen giant motor-coaches elaborately fitted up. Some are equipped as surgeries; some as bakeries, or field-kitchens; some with pumps for dealing with floods, or for maintaining a water- supply. The idea was to create a mobile unit which could bring the conveniences of civilisation at high speed to any area which had been devastated by catastrophe, or where refugees had unexpectedly concentrated.

Seven dental ambulance-waggons were dispatched to tour the country, treating the children free. Holidays in Germany for the approaching summer were arranged for 10,000 Austrian workers and 10,000 children of war- veterans. Large camps were prepared for boys and girls of the poorer classes. It is by such measures of public welfare, and not only by tireless propaganda and mammoth parades, that the Nazi regime maintains its popularity with the mass of the German people.

The delight and relief displayed by the great majority of the population of Austria when the Anschluss was suddenly thrust upon them had thus a basis in practical benefit. The people were tired of being a poverty-stricken, divided little nation, uncertain of its future, incapable of self-defence, lacking the material resources necessary for prosperity, dependent upon the goodwill of stronger powers, whose capital city, and administrative, banking, industrial and commercial equipment, designed for a nation of 52,000,000, were now reduced to serving a land populated only by 5,000,000, most of them poor peasants.

For several years they had been looking on at the rapid development of their German kinsmen across the border into a highly organised and relatively prosperous nation, and though the regimentation which is the secret of Nazi success may not have been attractive to the Austrian temperament, there was no denying its efficiency and success. The energetic rulers of Germany knew what they wanted; they went after it ruthlessly, and no one in their own country or outside it seemed able to resist them.

At the time of the Anschluss, Austria felt like a small and bankrupt shopkeeper whose business has been taken over by a flourishing chain-store company. He may have sentimental regrets for the loss of his identity and independence, but he rejoices to be freed from anxieties and worries, and to gain the confidence that comes from association with a powerful and prosperous organisation.

This spirit, which brought about the ready Austrian acceptance of the Anschluss, was not understood in England, where the series of ultimatums issued by Herr Hitler on the evening of Friday, March 11, followed by the advance of German troops across the frontier, had created a mental picture of Germany enforcing her will upon a cowed and reluctant population.

Some of the enthusiasm for the Anschluss in Austria may have evaporated during the past year, since realisation seldom comes up to expectation.

The Viennese regret the fall of their historic city from the status of a European capital to that of a provincial town like Dresden or Stuttgart. Many former enthusiastic Austrian workers for the Nazi cause are disappointed that they have not got better jobs. The provinces declare that the falling-off in the number of British and other foreign visitors for summer-tours and winter-sports is not compensated by the large influx of North Germans who are far from being such free spenders.

But the utter poverty in which many Austrians lived has disappeared. As evidence of the increase of popular purchasing power, a Brewers’ Congress held at Vienna in April, 1939, reported that the sale of beer in Austria had trebled since the Anschluss.

Adolf Hitler – speech before the Reichstag – 18.03.1938

Berlin, March 18, 1938

Deputies, Men of the German Reichstag!

I have had you summoned to attend this short session today, myself moved to the depths of my heart, in order to give you a report on the events whose significance you all appreciate. Furthermore, I must inform you of decisions affecting the German Volk and the German Reichstag itself.

When I was able to speak to you a few weeks ago, I gave you an account of the five-year work of constructing the National Socialist State, which may well be described, in terms of overall outcome, as beyond compare.

Wilson’s right of self-determination of the peoples, which was used in part to persuade our Volk to lay down its arms, was replaced by the most brutal national violation of countless millions of German Volksgenossen. Rights which were self-evidently accorded to the most primitive colonial tribes were withheld from one of this world’s old civilized nations for reasons as unacceptable as they were insulting.

In my speech on February 20, I explained that it will hardly be possible to reach a settlement concerning the volkisch and territorial conditions in Europe to the satisfaction of everyone involved; i.e. we do not believe that it should be the objective of a national leadership of state to use every means available, be they protests or actions, of enforcing territorial claims which, although motivated by national necessities, ultimately cannot lead to general national justice. The countless volkisch enclaves in Europe make it, to a certain degree, simply impossible to establish borders which do equal justice to all the interests of the peoples and states. However, there do exist political structures that so strongly embody the character of conscious and intentional national injustice that they cannot be maintained for any length of time except by means of the most brutal force.

The formation of a new, mutilated Austrian state was also a measure which signified a naked violation of the right of self-determination of six and a half million people belonging to the German race. This violation was admitted with cynical frankness-for it was of no importance whatsoever at that time, either to the reputed inventors of the right of self-determination, the independence, and the freedom of nations, nor to the extremely curious, pious world rulers who otherwise profess to be so very concerned about justice being done on this earth-that the free will of six-and-a-half million people was simply cut off by the so-called peace Diktats and that these people were being coerced by force to surrender to the robbery of their right of self-determination and to accept their unnatural separation from the great common motherland.

When the decision was nonetheless made in Austria at that time to hold referenda on the Anschluss-and I might particularly remind the Mister Democrats in London and Paris of the fact that this was a tune at which National Socialism existed neither in Germany nor in Austria-and the referenda resulted in more than 95 percent of all votes in favor of unification, the apostles of the new international law simply made use of the power of brutal force to prohibit without further ado this peaceful demonstration of the true desire of unhappy people who are separated from their Volk.

The tragic part about it was that, from the very beginning, this state of Austria was simply not viable! The economic distress was horrendous as could be anticipated; the annual mortality rate rose alarmingly. Alone in a city such as Vienna, there were 24,000 fatalities and only 10,000 births. I am not saying this in the belief that it might make an impression on democratic world Philistines, because I know that their hearts are completely hardened to such things. They can calmly look on while half a million people are butchered in Spain without being moved in the least. At the same time, they are equally capable of feigning profound indignation without blushing in the least, when in Berlin or in Vienna some Jewish agitator is divested of his means of doing business. No, I mention this only in order to ascertain in all objectivity how the perpetrators of the peace Diktats succeeded, by the simple fact of establishing this inviable figment of state, in passing a sentence of slow but sure death for millions of people.

The fact that the Saar-with the exception of a few thousand people of French nationality-is inhabited exclusively by Germans was proven in the plebiscite conducted there under international supervision. However, the fact that these few percent nonetheless sufficed to coerce a territory to submit to a plebiscite before its reunification with the Reich was allowed is a crass contradiction to the attitude taken when millions upon millions of German beings are involved. In that case, complying with their wish to return to their fatherland is simply rejected as inopportune for the democracies, and indeed the mere hope is virtually branded as a crime. In the long run, a violation of rights of this sort cannot be glossed over with the transparent morals of certain international institutions! Justice will be done, even if Germans are concerned! And who would not be surprised that the peoples who are being stubbornly denied this right ultimately see themselves compelled to procure their human rights for themselves. The nations are created according to God’s will and are everlasting, but the League of Nations is a highly dubious construction of human fallibility, human greed, and human bias.

And one thing is certain: just as the peoples have been existing for countless millenniums without a League of Nations, there will come a time when the League of Nations is a thing of the distant past, and the peoples will nevertheless prevail throughout the millenniums.

Germany has once again become a world power. Yet which power in the world would calmly tolerate for any length of time that, before its very gates, a mass of millions (Millionenmasse) belonging to its own national race are so bitterly abused? There are moments when it becomes simply impossible for a self-confident nation to bear that sight any longer!

It was for these reasons I had decided to arrange for that conference in Berchtesgaden with the former Chancellor Schuschnigg of which you are all aware. In all earnestness, I confronted him with the fact that a regime totally lacking in legitimation, which was governing virtually by force alone, would, in the long run, necessarily come into ever greater conflict with the will of the Volk running diametrically opposed to its own currents. I endeavored to make it clear to him that this situation must ultimately lead to an ever increasing opposition on the one hand and to an ever mounting use of force on the other.

Yet particularly in consideration of the great power of the resurrected German Reich, revolutionary uprisings were impossible to be ruled out. Under these circumstances, the only consequence was a further increase in terror. And in the end, a situation would arise making it impossible for a major power with a sense of national honor to patiently stand by any longer, much less to take an indifferent standpoint.

I left no doubt in Herr Schuschnigg’s mind that there was not a single German-born Austrian with national decency and a sense of honor who would not, at the bottom of his heart, yearn and be willing to strive for a unification with the German Volk. I asked him to spare German-Austria, the German Reich and himself a situation that, sooner or later, would inevitably lead to very serious disputes. In this context, I suggested a path to him which could lead to a gradual lessening of tensions internally and, hence to a slow reconciliation not only among the people within Austria themselves, but also between the two German states!

I pointed out to Herr Schuschnigg that this would be the final attempt on my part and that I was resolved, in the event that this attempt were to fail, to protect the rights of the German Volk in my homeland with the only means ever left on this earth when human insight closes itself off from the precepts of common justice: for no decent Volk has ever sacrificed its life for the sake of democratic formalities. And, by the way, this is something which is out of the question in precisely those democracies where there is the most talk about it.

On February 20, I offered my hand to former Chancellor Schuschnigg before the German Reichstag. Even in his initial reaction, he rejected my offer of reconciliation. Indeed, he began to only haltingly fulfill the obligations he had assumed as soon as it became evident that certain other states were propagating a negative attitude. Moreover, we are now in a position to know that a part of the campaign of lies being launched against Germany was inspired by Herr Schuschnigg’s own press office. There could no longer be any doubt that Herr Schuschnigg, who had no legal justification whatsoever for his existence and who had been ravaging German-Austria with a dwindling minority’s reign of terror, was determined to violate this agreement.

On Tuesday, March 8, the first reports on plans for a referendum appeared. They were so fantastic and so unbelievable that they could only be dismissed as rumors. Then on Wednesday evening, by way of a truly astonishing speech, we were made aware of an attempted assault not only against the agreements reached between us, but above all, against the majority of the Austrian population. In a country which has not held a single election for years, in which there are neither voters’ registration nor lists of voters, an election was scheduled to take place within scarcely three days’ time. The question at issue was to be worded such that a rejection would seem to be punishable as a criminal offense according to the prevailing legislation in Austria at the time.

There were no voters’ lists; hence it was impossible to examine such lists from the very beginning; there was no way of contesting the results; secrecy was neither guaranteed nor desired; the “nay” voters were stigmatized from the very beginning; the “yea” voters were provided with every opportunity to falsify the results; in other words: Herr Schuschnigg, who was perfectly aware that only a minority of the population was behind him, attempted to procure for himself, by means of an unprecedented election fraud, the moral justification for an open breach of the obligations he had undertaken. He wanted a mandate for continuing to oppress-with even more brutal force- the overwhelming majority of the German-Austrian Volk.

The fact that he both broke his word and resorted to this measure could but lead to rebellion. Only someone who was crazy and blind could believe this could possibly serve to silence a tremendous majority of the Volk, allowing him to create a legal foundation upon which he could present his illegal regime to the world. Yet the rebellion which was undoubtedly to come and which did, in fact, announce itself immediately, would have led to renewed-and this time terrible-bloodshed. For once the embers of a passion fanned by such a permanent state of injustice begin to flame, experience has always shown that they can only be extinguished by blood. Of this, history has given us sufficient examples.

I was thus resolved to put an end to the further violation of my homeland! Hence I immediately initiated that the requisite measures be taken designed to ensure that Austria could be spared the fate of Spain.

The ultimatum which the world suddenly began to complain of consisted solely of the firm assurance that Germany would no longer tolerate any further oppression of German-Austrian Volksgenossen-and hence of a warning not to choose a path which could only have led to bloodshed.

The fact that this attitude was right is proven by the fact that, in the midst of the intervention which had nonetheless become necessary, within the space of three days my entire homeland came rushing to meet me without a single shot having been fired and without a single casualty, as far as I know- naturally to the great disappointment of our international pacifists. Had I not complied with the wishes of the Austrian Volk and its new National Socialist Government, in all probability circumstances would have evolved in such a manner that our intervention would subsequently have been necessary in any case. I wanted to spare this magnificent country endless misfortune and suffering. For when hatred has once begun to smolder, reason is obscured.

Then a just assessment of crime and punishment becomes a thing of the past.

National wrath, personal vindictiveness, and the primitive instincts of egotistical drives together raise the torch and frenziedly go about their mad hunt for victims with total disregard for what is right and total ignorance of the consequences! Perhaps Herr Schuschnigg did not believe it possible that I could make the decision to intervene. He and his followers can thank the Lord God for that.

For it was my resolve alone that probably saved his life and the lives of tens of thousands of others, a life they by far do not deserve, given their complicity in the deaths of innumerable Austrian victims of the Movement, but which the National Socialist State generously gives them as a sovereign victor! I am also happy that I have thereby now become the one to fulfill this supreme historic assignment.

Can there be a prouder satisfaction for a man in this world than to have joined the people of his own homeland to the greater Volksgemeinschaft? And you can all appreciate my feeling of joy that I did not need to conquer a field of corpses and ruins for the German Reich, but that I have been able to bestow upon it an intact Land filled with overjoyed people! I have acted in the only way for which I can assume responsibility as a German before the history of our Volk, before the past and living witnesses to our Volksgemeinschaft, before the holy German Reich, and before my cherished homeland! Seventy-five million people are standing behind the decision I have made, and before them stands, from now on, the German Wehrmacht!

It is almost tragic that an event that, at bottom, merely eliminated a tension in Central Europe which in time would have become unbearable, has met with such an utter and complete lack of understanding, particularly on the part of our democracies. Their reactions were in part incomprehensible and in part insulting. However, a number of other states had declared from the very beginning that the matter was no interest of theirs, while others expressed their hearty approval. This was the case as regards not only the majority of the smaller European countries, but many of the larger states as well. Of these, I might mention the dignified and sympathetic attitude of Poland, the warm-hearted approval of Hungary, the declarations submitted by Yugoslavia in cordial friendship, and the assurances of absolutely sincere neutrality on the part of many other countries.

Yet I cannot conclude my enumeration of these votes of friendship without going into more detail on the stand taken by Fascist Italy. I had felt myself under an obligation to explain in a letter to the leader of the great Fascist state, who is a close personal friend of mine, the reasons for my actions and, moreover, to assure him that not only would nothing change in Germany’s attitude toward Italy subsequent to this event, but that moreover, just as this was the case as concerned France, Germany would regard the existing borders to Italy as given.

At this time I would like to express our warmest thanks to this great Italian statesman, on behalf of the German Volk and on my own behalf! We know what Mussolini’s attitude during this time has meant for Germany. If any further reinforcement had been possible in the relations between Italy and Germany, it has now come about. What was originally a mutuality based on Weltanschauung and interests has now become, for us Germans, an indissoluble friendship. For us, the land and borders of this friend are inviolable.

I may repeat that I will never forget Mussolini for taking this attitude! Let the Italian Volk know that the German nation backs up my word! Hence once again the axis which joins our two countries has done a supreme service for the cause of world peace. Germany desires only peace. It does not intend to do harm to other peoples. Yet under no circumstances will it tolerate that harm is done to itself; it is prepared at all times to go to the bitter end in defense of its honor and its existence. May no one believe that these are empty words, and may it be, above all, understood that no great Volk with a sense of honor can sit by idle and look on while great masses of millions who share its blood are subjected to unremitting oppression!

I believe that-in these great and historic hours when, thanks to the power of the National Socialist idea and the strength which it gives to the Reich, an ageold dream of Germans has come true-not only one part of our people can be called upon to verify, by its affirmation, the tremendous feat of the long-awaited foundation of a truly great Reich of the German Volk. On April 10, millions of German-Austrians will make their pledge before history to the great German common destiny and the great German Volksgemeinschaft. And they shall not be alone in taking this first great step in the new German Reich. They will be accompanied from now on by the whole of Germany. For beginning with March 13, their path will be the same as the one taken by all the other men and women of our Volk. Hence on April 10, for the first time in history, the entire German nation, to the extent that it is today a part of the great Reich of the Volk, will come forward and make its solemn vow. Not six and a half million will be asked, but seventy-five. [-] I am thereby dissolving the Reichstag of the old German Reich and ordering elections to be scheduled for the representatives of Greater Germany. This date I am also setting for the 10th of April.

I am thereby calling upon nearly fifty million of our Volk eligible to vote and asking them to give me a Reichstag which will enable me, with the generous help of the Lord God, to accomplish our great, new tasks. Now the German Volk shall once more weigh and consider what I have achieved with my staff in the five years since the first Reichstag election in March of 1933. It will come to the conclusion that these achievements are historically beyond compare. I expect of my Volk that it has the insight and the power to make a decision both honorable and unique! Just as I asked the German Volk in 1933, in view of the tremendous work lying ahead of us, to give me four years’ time to solve the greatest problems, I must now request of it a second time: German Volk, give me another four years so that I can consummate the consolidation which has now been performed externally in an internal sense as well, for the benefit of all. When this term has expired, the new German Reich of the Volk shall have grown to become an indissoluble unit, firmly anchored in the will of its Volk, under the political leadership of the National Socialist Party, protected by its young National Socialist Wehrmacht, and rich from its flourishing economic life.

When today we see the boldest dreams of so many generations coming true before our very eyes, we are filled with a feeling of boundless gratitude to all those who have done their part, by their labors and above all by their sacrifices, to help us achieve this highest goal. Every German tribe and every German landscape has made its own painful contribution to make this work a success. In this moment, let there rise from the dead before us those who constitute the last victims for the cause of German unification-all those many fighters who, in the old Ostmark which has now come home to the Reich, were the faithful heralds of the German unity we have achieved today and, as blood witnesses and martyrs, gasped with their dying breath those last words which shall, for us, be more sacred now than ever before: one Volk, one Reich.

Deutschland! Sieg Heil!

Sonderkonzert of Wiener Festwochen (1962)

Conductor: Hans Knappertsbusch
Performance: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Live recording: Theater an der Wien, 31-st May 1962.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827):
1. Leonore Overture No. 3
2. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58 (Pianist: Wilhelm Backhaus)

Richard Wagner (1813-1883):
3. Tristan und Isolde, Vorspiel & Isolde‘s Liebestod (Soprano: Birgit Nilsson)

Adolf Hitler – proclamation for the Anschluss of Austria to the Great German Reich – 12.03.1938

(broadcast read by Dr. Goebbels)


For years we have witnessed the fate of our fellow Germans in Austria with deep distress. An eternal historical bond, severed only by the events of the year 1866 but forged anew in the World War, has from time immemorial destined Austria to take its place in the German national community and share its fate. The suffering which was imposed on this country, first from outside and then from within, we experienced as our own, and we know that the misfortunes of the Reich caused millions of German Austrians similar anxiety and concern!

When the German nation regained the proud self-confidence of a great People, thanks to the triumph of the ideals of National Socialism, in Austria a new period of suffering and most bitter adversity began. A regime with no legal mandate was attempting by means of the most brutal terror and physical mistreatment as well as punitive and destructive economic measures, to maintain an existence which was rejected by the vast majority of the Austrian People. Thus, we as a great People saw how a numerically small minority, which had simply been able to seize the necessary instruments of power, was suppressing more than six million people with whom we share a common origin. Their political disenfranchisement and the deprivation of their freedom was accompanied by an economic decline which was a shocking contrast to the blossoming of new life in Germany.

Who could blame these unfortunate fellow Germans if they looked toward the Reich with longing eyes? To that Germany with which their forefathers had been united for so many centuries, with which they had once fought shoulder to shoulder in the most terrible of all wars, whose culture was their culture and to which they themselves had contributed their most cherished values in so many areas. To suppress these longings was to condemn hundreds of thousands of people to the most profound spiritual distress. Whereas years ago, this suffering was still borne patiently, as the prestige of the Reich steadily increased, the determination to end this oppression became stronger and stronger.

Germans! In recent years I have tried to warn the former rulers in Austria not to continue on this path. Only a maniac could believe that suppression and terror can deprive human beings of their love of their own People. European history proves that this causes nothing but more intense fanaticism. This fanaticism then forces the suppressor to employ ever more cruel and violent methods, which in turn only increase the revulsion and hatred felt by the victims of this violence.

I also tried to convince those in power that in the long run it is impossible, because it is unworthy, for a great nation to be forced constantly to watch as a People of the same nationality are persecuted and incarcerated merely because of their origin, or their allegiance to a People, or their dedication to an idea. Germany alone has had to accept more than 40,000 refugees, 10,000 others have been in jails, prison cells and holding camps in this small land. Hundreds of thousands have been made beggars, reduced to misery and poverty. In the long run no nation in the world could tolerate such conditions on its borders without itself deserving same disrespect.

In 1936 I tried to find some way which could offer the prospect of alleviating the tragic fate of this German brother nation, and in this way perhaps achieve genuine reconciliation. The Agreement of July 11 was signed only to be breached a moment later. The vast majority remained deprived of their rights. Their humiliating position as a pariah in this state was in no way changed. Anyone who openly supported the ideal of one German nation continued to be persecuted, no matter whether he was a National Socialist street labourer or an old meritorious army commander who had fought in the World War.

I tried a second time to reach an understanding. I attempted to explain to the representative of this regime, who without any legitimate mandate of his own stood before me in my capacity as the elected leader of the German People, I tried to explain to him that in the long run this situation would become intolerable, since the growing outrage of the Austrian People could not be suppressed forever by the increasing use of force, and that from a certain point in time the Reich would find it impossible to continue to stand idly by and silently observe such outrageous treatment.

Today, when even the solution to colonial problems must take into consideration the right of inferior nations to self-determination, it is intolerable that six and a half million members of an old and great civilized People are in practical terms deprived of these rights by the nature of the governing regime. Hence in a new agreement I wanted all Germans in this country to be granted the same rights and be subject to the same obligations. This agreement was to fulfil the terms of the Treaty of July 11 1936.

A few weeks later it unfortunately became obvious that the men of the Austrian government in power at that time had no intention of complying with the terms of this agreement. However, in order to acquire an alibi for their continued failure to grant equal rights to the Austrian Germans, a plebiscite was devised which was intended to finally deprive the majority in this country of its rights! The modalities of this procedure were to be unique. A country which has not had an election for many years, which lacks all the documentation required to compile voters’ lists, announces a vote which is to take place within just three and a half days.

There are no electoral lists. There are no voters’ cards. There is no scrutiny of the eligibility to vote. There is no obligation to preserve secret ballot. There is no guarantee that the voting will be conducted with impartiality. There is no method of ensuring fair counting of the votes, and so on. If these are the methods to give a regime legality, then we National Socialists in the German Reich were utter fools for 15 years! We went through a hundred election campaigns and took great pains to gain the approval of the German People!

When the late Reichspräsident finally called upon me to form the government, I was the leader of the party which had by far the strongest support in the Reich. Since then I have repeatedly sought to have the legality of my existence and my actions confirmed by the German People, and it was confirmed. If the methods Herr Schuschnigg wanted to use were the right ones, then the plebiscite we once held in the Saar can only have been a device to harass a People whose return to the Reich we wanted to make more difficult. We, however, do not subscribe to that view. I believe we can all be proud that it was in this very plebiscite in the Saar that we received such an indisputable vote of confidence from the German People.

The German People of Austria themselves finally rose up in protest against this unprecedented attempt at election fraud. If, however, it was again the intention of the regime to simply crush the protest movement with brute force, the result could only be a new civil war. The German Reich will, however, henceforth not permit Germans to be persecuted in this territory because of their membership in our nation or because they profess certain views. It wants peace and order.

I have therefore decided to offer the millions of Germans in Austria the assistance of the Reich. Since this morning soldiers of the German armed forces have been crossing all of the German-Austrian borders. Armoured units, infantry divisions and SS units on the ground and the German Luftwaffe in the skies, summoned by the new National Socialist Government in Vienna, will ensure that the Austrian People are within the very near future finally given the opportunity to determine for themselves their future, and thus their fate, through a genuine plebiscite. And these units are supported by the will and determination of the entire German nation.

I myself, as Führer and Chancellor of the German People, will be happy once again to be able to enter the country which is also my homeland as a German and a free citizen. The world, however, shall see for itself that for the German People in Austria these days are filled with hours of blissful joy and deep emotion. They regard their brothers who have come to their aid as saviours who have rescued them from great distress!

Long live the National Socialist German Reich! Long live National Socialist German Austria!

Berlin, March 12, 1938
Adolf Hitler

Soldiers of Europe: The Men of the Waffen-SS

Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Volume 6, Number 3, Whole Number 33,
January – March 1984

Since a number of „establishment“ historical books written about the Waffen-SS have liberally garnished their hatchet jobs with negative letters attributed to members of the Waffen-SS. we thought that it was high time that the more prevalent positive side of the picture was given some exposure. Hence the various European volunteer letters that will appear in this and future issues of SIEGRUNEN. The letters originally appeared in the SS wartime publication: Aufbruch, Briefe Germanischer Kriegsfreiwilliger, a booklet that was translated into a number of different languages for circulation in the appropriate countries at the time. The letters seem to accurately reflect the most widely held sentiments of the Germanic volunteers and provide an interesting glimpse into the motivating factors that made the Waffen-SS into a truly international army.

Letter from a Swiss Volunteer

Dear Father:

I know that you will be disturbed when you learn that I have crossed over the border into Germany. But I have my course well set in place and my conscience to follow. Haven’t we talked each evening about how Switzerland is virtually the only country that is foregoing its duty to the European lands by not taking its part in the struggle against Bolshevism?

How could I stand aside when the leader of the common struggle against the enemies of Germany calls. We Swiss are of the same blood as the Germans, the same race as the Swabians and Carinthians. Immediately after crossing the border I reported in to the Waffen-SS, was accepted, and enlisted.

Letter from a Danish Volunteer

We are the sons of a people who have conquered the sea since the days of the Vikings. We are the sons of a people that bear a Nordic heritage and have always fought to maintain their place among the Nordic nations.

It is one of the greatest sins of democracy that our youth have not obtained a good knowledge of our Nordic background and culture. Now we must observe and learn the example of the life and work of our ancestors from Germany, and we must prepare those of our blood to return back to that example

Letter from a Dutch Volunteer

(The father mentioned was a bridge attendant who was killed during the German advance into Holland.)

On 26 April 1941 I went into the Waffen-SS. But don’t think that I have forgotten about my father. No day passes that I don’t think of him and often look at my picture of him. It is my conviction that he fell because of the actions of the financiers, led by the Jews, whose goals are not in the interest of the Dutch people. Thank God there are still other men in the world that think not just of money, but who are able to do other things with their lives for the betterment of the social conditions of their people. There is much hostility in Holland, even from my family, over the way we have been treated so offensively (i.e. by the big-money interests), so that I feel I must live for my people and not give up the fight, though one should understand that we are not fighting for our own particular advantage but for the higher ideals that we hold. It is on the Eastern Front that a good many Dutchmen have fallen, and even if I were to die, my last thoughts will be for my father, my wife, my children and above all my people, with the firm conviction that our victory will be for the salvation of Europe, and yes, even for the exploited English and American workers.

Letter from a Swedish Volunteer

I hope to become an officer in the Regiment ‘‘Nordland.” I have enlisted because I believe that our future will be made better by my doing so, and when the war is over we can get married if you will wait that long. As a German SS officer, I will have many, many great opportunities in life that I could not have in Sweden where so many Jews and other ilk carry on with their mischief. It will be a hard school for me, though not impossible —an idealist can accomplish anything. I have signed on only for the duration of the war, however, when it is finished I will remain in Germany and you must come to glorious Germany as my wife. When I become an SS officer it will be the happiest hour of my life.

SS Panzer troops receiving decorations.

Obituary from the Liechtenstein newspaper „Umbruch” (Revolution). 26 January 1942:

He Died For Us All:

SS-Mann Alois Hoop

Killed Before Moscow

On this past Saturday the severely tested parents received the news of the heroic death of their son.

Alois Hoop, born 4 September 1923 in Ruggell, reported in as a volunteer to the Waffen-SS during the previous summer. He followed the idealistic urgings of his heart in leaving our homeland to place himself directly in the battle for our German people. During his training period he very quickly made an impression through his conduct and bearing and became a model for his comrades.

In numerous letters from the front, he showed that he had not lost his spirit or beliefs. Not a complainer, he never wrote about the difficulties and hardships. His vision was always directed forwards. With the clear-seeing eyes of a young fighter he recognized the necessity of this European war for survival. He understood the dangers that threatened Europe from the East and was prepared to enter the struggle, even if it meant that he must die.

Comrade Alois Hoop will become one of the immortal heroes of his people. He gave his young life so that his nation would live and Europe would not go under. His sacrifice is not in vain.

Full of proud grief we gaze upwards toward him. His life and heroic death will be an example for us to emulate. We will walk to his hero’s grave and hold up the bright shield of our comrade with devout hands so that the clear shine will strengthen our grieving souls with the uplifting thought of his heroic memory.

Comrade Hoop, you were one of the greatest men of our homeland.

While we must with difficulty take our leave from you, you will always live on in our hearts.

To your family, our most deep-felt sympathy.

Letter from a Finnish SS volunteer

In a few days we will meet the Russians for the first time with our forces. Our division commander (Felix Steiner) has visited us here and greeted each man with a handshake. We were quite surprised that during his inspection he did not treat us as a superior does an inferior.

He made no fuss over the state of our equipment, but only wanted to make a friendly, get-acquainted visit with the battalion. We got a good impression of this man and he won the men over. Each man says that with this sort of leader to go with —an irreproachable fellow with sympathy for us Finns —we can all do well.

Here behind the front the factories are going again and coal and iron are being mined from deep in the earth. The Ukraine produces much food that the railroads can take directly to Germany (for processing) and then ship to the front with much speed. And this is only the beginning. The new Europe has awakened and no man can prevent it. When the spring comes and the vehicles roll forward again, we must go too; then there will be no more secluded places for us behind the front.

This is now a difficult time in Finland, but if we are to win all must make sacrifices. The Finnish people now bear a great burden, but even if it gets bigger, it can still be dealt with. After the war, Finland will become strong and great but only after we have been hard on ourselves and remained the same against others. Man can only survive with his skill and wisdom. To all of Europe has come a new vision, and our generation will build this new Europe. In this struggle the importance of the individual counts for little; many must desire to fight so that our people can live in a decent future. We live in a great time and it is an honour to offer our assistance for the fulfilment of this great mission.

Everything is going well with me, I am happy that we will soon be allowed to demonstrate in the southern sector of the front how the Finns can fight… .

Letter from a Waffen-SS volunteer from Liechtenstein

My recruit training time is now past and my ardent wish has been fulfilled: I serve as a soldier of the Greater German Reich in the struggle against Bolshevism.

About that, and what I have seen and lived through here, I cannot write about very well in detail; the experiences you undergo are best described by our SS „PK” [Propaganda Kompanie] men. But I must tell you, that while I had not expected very much from this land [Soviet Union] with its reign of terror, I have now seen and experienced things which I had only previously heard through hearsay and never really believed. I have often wished that the enemies of National Socialism in my Liechtenstein homeland could experience what we have learned about this great disaster and see our prisoners from the so-called Red Army, before their „world revolutionary” culture is brought to the west. I believe with all my might that no enemy can take Germany. I came to the realization that the German soldier in this gigantic struggle is fighting not only for the freedom of the Germanic nations, but also particularly for the culture of all the worthwhile people on this earth.

There is much hardship to bear here, but this is incidental to me. Despite everything I have not the slightest regret over becoming an SS man. I am proud that I am able to make a contribution through the deeds of a German soldier, rather than just as a political fighter.

The Rise of the NSDAP, 1921 – 1934


Alfred Rosenberg describes the early National-Socialist struggles for power.“ Reichsleiter Rosenberg, seated in office and wearing uniform, speaks to camera, recalling early cooperation with Dietrich Eckart, Kapp Putsch, meeting Adolf Hitler through Eckart, taking over from Eckart as editor of the Völkischer Beobachter, and the March to Feldherrnhalle.

Brief film shots show Communist headline, brigades along street, young Dr. Goebbels addressing crowd, headline in his Berlin evening paper “Der Angriff”, Adolf Hitler entering hall, Gauleiter Goebbels at microphone, crowds passing Ausstellung Barcelona sign, police dispersing crowds in early 1920s with Café Raimund visible, fighting inside hall with chairs and baton-wielding police (feature film, „Hans Westmar“ ?), Vorwärts headline on Hitler’s arrest and removal to Landsberg, headline calling for reconstruction of National-Socialist Party, hand filling in Adolf Hitler’s membership card giving profession as writer and date 21 March 1925.

SA passing through town, NSDAP sign on door to office where Dr. Goebbels is writing before picking up phone, Italian telegram announcing that university Fascists will be represented at Nuremberg NS Deutscher Studentenbund by Santoni, signed Maltini. Dr. Santoni in morning coat and NSS Bund Reichsführer von Schirach emerge from building together at Congress, and unidentified delegates, not all in SA, arrive saluting in Nuremberg for Party Rally in August 1927.

Titled film of Rally continues with film of SA walking along country road holding banner marked „Berlin-Nuremberg Walk July-August. Despite the ban, not dead“, Adolf Hitler standing with Rudolf Hess, Julius Streicher – Gauleiter of Franconia, captain von Pfeffer, same banner through town, the Führer saluting, flag ceremony with Hitler and Hess, Streicher standing in front of Reichsparteitag banner, the Führer welcoming delegates who include some not in uniform though respectably dressed, Hitler and Hess departing by car, parade on Luitpoldhain and comment in Fränkisch-Kurier of 22 August 1927, Adolf Hitler speaking to his followers proclaiming „Germany’s freedom will arise again, just as the people and fatherland will arise again, stronger than ever“, Hitler taking salute from car at marchpast by SA, with Rudolf Hess, von Pfeffer and Streicher in front row.

1929 Rally shows another SA marchpast in Nuremberg, Adolf Hitler in a car through crowds, and Goebbels, Rosenberg, General Ritter von Epp in helmet and Goering all visible, Hitler throwing banners to SA who catch them. Autumn 1932 Reichstag elections: Adolf Hitler speaking at Nuremberg, Der Angriff and Vorwärts campaign headlines, the Führer in car. Reichsleiter Rosenberg continues his historical summary of the NSDAP, recalling move to Berlin in 1933 after fourteen years struggle in Bavaria over film of Hitler and Hess emerging from Hindenburg’s residence, Hitler’s assumption of power on 30 January 1933 over film of SA torch procession, his own nomination as head of the Party Office for Foreign Politics and in charge of Party ideological matters. Hindenburg and Hitler appear at the Reichs Chancellery window at night time.

Der Angriff headline of 11 February reports Adolf Hitler’s Sportpalast speech of 10 February before film of actual event (English title incorrectly states „Hitler’s first speech as Chancellor, 30 January 1933“), with Hitler speaking against crimes of past from which lessons must be learnt if Germans are to overcome their impoverishment, Horst Wessel anthem and banner parade. „Goering named Prussian Minister of Interior by Hitler, outlines his programme, February 1933.“ Hermann Goering seated at desk speaks to camera promising to remove from office reds who are stifling national aspirations and expressing his determination to make Prussia the strongest and foremost bastion of Germany. „Election day in Bavaria, 5 March 1933.“ Völkischer Beobachter headline „With Adolf Hitler for a new Reich“ and National-Socialist Münchner Post of 5 March 1933; National-Socialist election poster; SA torchlight parade and band; exterior of Münchner Post and SA Heim Sturm 16L guarded by armed SA, standing in Holzstrasse; SA man machine gun outside Trade Union building in Munich with SS also present. „Election day in Berlin, 5 March 1933.“ President Hindenburg emerges from a polling booth, followed by his son Oskar and latter’s wife; Vice-Chancellor von Papen at polling station answers request for comment by saying „This election will be of decisive importance for Germany and the world“. Völkischer Beobachter headlines Adolf Hitler’s victory. „Meeting of Reichstag at which the Führer and his cabinet receive plenary powers of legislation, 24 March 1933“ (actually 23 March). Hitler declares in Reichstag „the economy exists not for capital, but capital serves the economy and the economy the people“.


„Opening of the official anti-Semitic campaign, 1 April 1933.“ Goebbels in suit addresses outdoor crowd, speaking of machinations of Jews in Paris, London and New York. One member of crowd holds up Nationalsozialistische Betriebszellen-organisation placard. Tracking shot follows SA in truck with placard „Germans! Defend yourselves! Don’t buy from Jews!“, as same slogan is chanted on soundtrack. Truck passes Bata shoe shop and U-bahn entrance (i.e. Berlin). Sign „Beware! Kosher!“ and Star of David are painted on shop windows, plus a death’s head with warning „Beware Jews!“. Cafe Unter den Linden. Anti-Semitic signs are placed outside other shops, including a shoe shop and restaurant. Angry exchange between SA man and civilian. Another sign reads „The Jewish owners of the 5-pfennig shop are parasites and grave-diggers of the German working class quarter. They pay starvation wages to the German workers. The proprietor is the Jew Nathan Schmidt“. SA shout „Wehrt Euch!“ slogan to camera from back of truck.

„Foreign press conference, April 1933.“ (actually Union of German foreign press, 6 April 1933). Reichsminister Dr. Goebbels in dark suit at podium reads speech declaring that the national revolution which broke out on 30 January is an event of elemental importance which came as a surprise only to people out of touch with their time, a revolution which will overflow into every aspect of German life. Adolf Hitler in dark suit then speaks, recalling the violence done to Germany since November 1918 and the determined suppression of „national elements“ in the same period.

„The burning of the books, 10 May 1933.“ Newsreel report describes burning of un-German and immoral books in university towns by German students over film of bonfire in Berlin’s Opernplatz. Students bearing National-Socialist flags march past fire, throwing on books. Goebbels in raincoat speaks to night-time gathering of youth, declaring „the era of footling Jewish intellectualism is now over“ and that the burning is a great symbolic act for all the world to see. Students then sing „Deutschland verwehrt!“.

„Christening of new great German aircraft in presence of Cabinet members.“ Hermann Goering in formal attire declares „German industriousness, German labour, German invention and German organisation have given here new proof of their unique force and strength. Hindenburg’s name is today famous throughout the whole world“ before christening the four-engine plane after the President. Von Papen and other ministers are present.

„Reichstag address on disarmament, 17 May 1933.“ Adolf Hitler at podium declares „in the name of the German government and the German people. Germany has disarmed and has fulfilled way beyond the limits of all reasonableness and sense the conditions imposed on her in the Peace Treaty“.

„Youth meeting in Thuringia, 18 June 1933.“ Adolf Hitler addresses huge open-air gathering of SA at Ehrfurt, declaring that in four months his government has already reduced the unemployed by 1.2 million and that they will not rest until their goal (i.e. full employment) is reached.

„Swastika becomes a national symbol, 9 July 1933.“ The Führer declares to a huge SA gathering in Dortmund that the Party flag has become a symbol of the German Reich. Röhm stands by his side.

„Fifth Party Congress, September 1933.“ Adolf Hitler, followed by Rudolf Hess, Robert Ley and Julius Streicher, approaches platform in Nuremberg Stadium and addresses huge crowd of followers, declaring „the most precious thing on earth is one’s own people, and for these people we want to speak, fight, never tire nor adjourn nor give up hope“.

„Inauguration at Frankfurt am Main of new section of the super-highway net-work, 23 September 1933.“ Autobahn workers march past with shovels raised, singing before intoning the national anthem, at site of first autobahn linking Frankfurt to Heidelberg. Adolf Hitler, with Hoffmann taking pictures and Hierl behind, declares his commitment to the German worker: „before many years pass a gigantic work will bear testimony to your service, industry, skill and determination. German labourers! To work!“

„Over radio network Hess administers oath of allegiance to more than one million leaders of the NSDAP and all affiliated organisations, 25 February 1934.“ Rudolf Hess, outside the Party Building in Munich’s Königsplatz , with Robert Ley and Baldur von Schirach behind, leads assembled gathering in oath to Hitler, which they repeat.