THE "ANCHLUSS" - ANNEXATION OF AUSTRIA BY GERMANY

The content of this page comes from the original pages of the City of Linz archives. Sometime in 2008, they altered their pages shifting everything to the German language only and reducing the history previously presented of the Anschluss. I have decided to preserve their content since it was a valuable resource that I previously linked to. The content is not mine, but theirs. The altered design is mine, however.

On 9th March 1938, the Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg announced a plebiscite on the independence of Austria. Adolf Hitler took this as an opportunity to take action against the Austrian State. Schuschnigg was pressed to resign. The National Socialist Arthur Seyss-Inquart took over the chancellorship and formed a new government. The Austrian National Socialists took power in Austria.

On the morning of 12th March 1938, troops of the German Wehrmacht and the SS crossed the German-Austrian border. On 13th March 1938, Hitler announced in Linz the legislation on the ?Anschluss? (Annexation) of Austria into the German Reich.

During the great celebrations in all of Austria, many potential opponents of the regime were arrested, as well as the Jews who were expropriated and deprived of civil rights. National Socialist rule was established now in Austria through propaganda, terror and enticements.


THE "PLEBISCITE"

After the Anschluss in March 1938,  the Austrian army was incorporated into the German Wehrmacht. German laws came into force without delay. A Plebiscite was set for 10th April on the annexation of Austria to the German Reich, which was only a mockery.

Austrian citizens who were of Jewish descent were excluded from the election. People who were of other political opinions were arrested. Despite this, many Austrian intellectuals and known personalities from all areas publicly supported Hitler's annexation. The former Chancellor Karl Renner who had founded the First Republic and the Austrian bishops did their best to convince the many who had remained sceptical.

A free democratic election was not possible on 10th April: Election publicity was present in front of and in the election booth, the votes were surveyed and the voting papers were manipulated.

Despite the complete lack of choice that the voters had, the former National Socialist Mayor of the City of Linz, Franz Langoth, voiced his opinion in 1951 that the election on 10th April 1938 in Austria had been an example of a true, democratic plebiscite and would be recorded as a pure and clean vote in future history?.

THE "PATENSTADT" - HITLER?S BUILDING PLANS FOR LINZ

Linz, the City of his youth, was singled out for the special favour of Adolf Hitler after the "Anschluss". He intended it to be developed as a Centre of Industry and Culture on the Danube and ultimately to provide room for between 320,000 to 420,000 inhabitants.

Out of these enormous building projects, only the Nibelungen Bridge and the two buildings to the left and right of the bridge on the side of Linz Town, the industrial facilities and the port facilities on the bend in the Danube were erected. The commencement of the Second World War, together with the lack of human and material resources, stopped further projects.

However, in the residential sector, within five years, 11,000 residences in 2,700 buildings were built. Through an enormous influx of workforce - the level of the population rose from 112,000 (1938) to 185,000 in 1943 - locally, the unresolved requirement for residences rose from 507 residences (1937) to over 15,000 (1943).

THE CONCENTRATION CAMP IN MAUTHAUSEN AND THE SUBCAMPS IN LINZ

As early as 8th August 1938, a few months after the "Anschluss", the first prisoners were transferred into the new concentration camp in Mauthausen. The National Socialist regime established the Mauthausen Concentration Camp to obtain more prison space for political-ideological opponents. It was intended that they should in the Mauthausen Quarry extract the materials for the magnificent building projects in Linz.

The Mauthausen/Gusen Double Camp became the only concentration camp classified as a "Level III Camp". This meant that for the prisoners, there should be no return.

In total, more than 190,000 people of different nationality became imprisoned in the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, the Gusen Branch Camp and the subcamps, which numbered over 40. Systematic terror, deliberate killings, exploitation of labour, deficient feeding, inadequate clothing and lack of medical care led to the deaths of about 100,000 prisoners.

JEWS IN LINZ

Of the approximately 600 Jews who had lived in Linz in March 1938, about 305 fled abroad. 23 died during the course of the years until 1942 (including suicides). Most of the 205 Jews who fled to Vienna and Bohemia and Moravia were killed in National Socialist concentration camps.

The Jews who had remained in Linz were nearly all taken to the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp. Hardly any Upper Austrian Jews died in the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, where many Jews died who had been deported from other parts of Europe.

Only about 26 Jews survived the National Socialist regime in Linz/ Upper Austria and, up to 1947, there were only 13 who actually returned to Linz. Although this number was slightly increased later it, nevertheless, shows the end of the old Jewish community in Linz.

THE KILLING OF "LIFE NOT WORTHY OF LIVING"

According to National Socialist concepts of public health and racial purity, there was no room for human beings who could not be useful to the National Socialist State in a visible or measurable way. In order to establish which patients were not worthy of living, questionnaires were despatched to all psychiatric institutions. They had to report on all people suffering from schizophrenia, epilepsy and other mental illnesses. Assessors decided on these questionnaires as to whether patients were to be killed. A decisive criterion was if the patient had the ability to work.

One of the few institutions, in which the killing of people took place who were considered as not worthy of living, was Schloss Hartheim in Upper Austria. In 1939, Dr. Rudolf Lonauer was made head of this institute. Lonauer, who also was the director of the Niedernhart Mental Institute in Linz, commenced the systematic killing of people in Hartheim in 1940. About 1000 people were taken secretly from Niedernhart to Hartheim and were killed there.

THE NATIONAL SOCIALIST SOCIAL POLICY

The National Socialists considered the German people to be threatened by an over-proportionate reproduction of inferior individuals - mentally or physically handicapped people, the mentally ill or people whose behaviour was deviant. Furthermore, it was thought one could prevent any damage from collective hereditary factors which resulted from the mingling with inferior races, above all, with Jews.

The priority aim for National Socialist social policy was, therefore, to prevent such a threat at all cost and by all means. This meant in actual fact, expulsion, persecution and finally the murder of those people defined as not worthy of living. For the others, the Aryan comrades, state support was envisaged.

While selecting the inferior, often with the help of communal organisations, such as youth, health and social security offices, the comrades erected an effective propaganda-like social apparatus. National Socialist Welfare (NSV) and the German Labour Front (DAF) used skilfully arranged mass activities to achieve high acceptance of National Socialist policies by the population.

All photos and text copyright Archives of the City of Linz.