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Directive of 31 January 1933 by
Conversation with the Fuehrer in
Vol. | Page
on 7 November 1943 at Munich to
Reich and Gauleiters. (USA 34). VII *TC-44
Notice by German government of
Proclamation to German People
German memorandum to Signa-
Rhineland, 7 March 1936.... VIII
Naval Policy 1933–1939 by
Erich Raeder, Moscow, fall 1945... VIII
many Before and During the War
3. AGGRESSION AGAINST AUSTRIA
A. The Events Leading up to the Autumn of 1937 and the Strategic Position of the National Socialists in Austria.
(1) The National Socialist Aim of Absorption of Austria. In order to understand more clearly how the Nazi conspirators proceeded after the meeting in the Reichschancellery on 5 November 1937, at which Hitler laid plans for the conquest of Austria and Czechoslovakia (386-PS), it is advisable to review the steps which had already been taken in Austria by the National Socialists of both Germany and Austria. The position which the Nazis had reached by the Fall of 1937 made it possible for them to complete their absorption of Austria much sooner and with less cost than was contemplated in this meeting.
The acquisition of Austria had long been a central aim of the German National Socialists. On the first page of Mein Kampf, Hitler had written, "German-Austria must return to the great German mother-land." He continued by stating that this purpose, of having common blood in a common Reich, could not be satisfied by a mere economic union. This aim was regarded as a serious program which the Nazis were determined to carry out.
This fact is borne out by an affidavit executed in Mexico City on 28 August 1945 by George S. Messersmith, United States Ambassador in Mexico City (1760-PS). Mr. Messersmith was Consul General of the United States of America in Berlin from 1930 to the late Spring of 1934. He was then made American Minister in Vienna, where he stayed until 1937. In this affidavit he states that the nature of his work brought him into frequent contact with German Government officials, many of whom were, on most occasions, amazingly frank in their conversations, and made no concealment of their aims.
In particular, Mr. Messersmith states that he had contact with the following twenty governmental officials, among others: Hermann Goering, General Milch, Hjalmar Schacht, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Count Schwerin von Krosigk, Josef Goebbels, Richard Walter Darré, Robert Ley, Hans Heinrich Lammers, Otto Meissner, Franz von Papen, Walter Funk, General Wilhelm Keitel, Admiral Erich von Raeder, Admiral Karl Doenitz, Dr. Behle, Dr. Stuckart, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen, and Dr. Davidson. Mr. Messersmith further states that in addition to this contact with officials of the Government he maintained contact with individuals in all parties in Germany in order to keep himself and the Government informed of political developments in Germany.
With regard to the Austrian matter, he states that from the very beginning of the Nazi Party he was told by both high and secondary government officials in Germany that incorporation of Austria into Germany was both a political and economic necessity and that this incorporation was going to be accomplished “by whatever means were necessary.” He further states:
"I can assert that it was fully understood by everyone in Germany who had any knowledge whatever of what was going on that Hitler and the Nazi Government were irrevocably committed to this end and the only doubt which ever existed in conversations or statements to me was 'how' and 'when.'
(1760-PS). As Mr. Messersmith relates, at the beginning of the Nazi regime in 1933 Germany was too weak to make open threats of force against any country. It developed a policy of securing its aims in Austria in the same manner as in Germany - by obtaining a foothold in the Cabinet, particularly in the Ministry of Interior which controls the police, and quickly eliminating the opposition elements. Mr. Messersmith states that throughout his stay in Austria he was told on any number of occasions by high officials of the Austrian Government, including Chancellor Dollfuss, Chancellor Schuschnigg, and President Miklas, that the German Government kept up constant pressure upon the Austrian Government to appoint ministers with Nazi orientation.
(2) Pressure Used, including Terror and Intimidation, Culminating in the Unsuccessful Putsch of 25 July 1934. To achieve their end the Nazis used various pressures. They used economic pressure. The law of 24 March 1933 imposed a prohibitive 1,000 reichsmark penalty on trips to Austria, thus bringing hardship to Austria, which relied heavily on its tourist trade (Reichgesetzblatt 1933, I, 311). The Nazis used propaganda. And they used terroristic acts, primarily bombings.
Mr. Messersmith's affidavit (1760-PS) goes into some detail with respect to these means. Although they were committed by National Socialists in Austria, high Nazi officials in Germany admitted to Mr. Messersmith that they were instigating and directing these waves of terror in Austria. They made no effort to conceal their use of terror, which they justified on the ground that terror was a necessary instrument to impose the will of the party not only in Germany but in other countries. Mr. Messersmith recalls specifically that General Milch of the Air Force stated that the terrorism in Austria was being directed by the Nazi Party in Berlin.
Mr. Messersmith points out that all these outrages were a common occurrence. They had peaks and distinct periods, one in mid1933 and another in early 1934. He points out that the wave of outrages in May and June 1934 diminished markedly for a few days during the meeting of Hitler and Mussolini in Venice, in mid-June 1934. (At that time Mussolini was strongly supporting the Austrian Government and interested in its independence.) Mr. Messersmith's affidavit quotes extensively from dispatches sent from the American Legation in Vienna to the State Department during this period. These dispatches indicate that the terror was often directed at Catholic Churches and institutions, and at railways and tourist centers.
Mr. Messersmith also recalls that in addition, the Nazis maintained a threat of violent action against Austria through the "Austrian Legion.” This was a para-military force of several thousand men, armed by the Nazis in Germany, and stationed in Germany near the Austrian border. It included Austrian Nazis who fled from Austria after committing crimes.
These terroristic activities of the Nazis in Austria continued until July 25, 1934. On that day members of the NSDAP at