Chancellor of Austria Assasinated - History

Chancellor of Austria Assasinated - History


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On July 25, 1934, the Nazis tried to take over Austria by killing Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfus. They succeeded in assassinating him. However, Austrian forces regained control of the government building, and the coup failed.


In 1934 Chancller of Austria Engelbert Dollfus decided to crush his prime opposition the socialists. He thus sent the army with artillery and tanks to attack the significant socialist neighborhoods, the large residential apartment blocks that were called Karl Max Hof and Geoth Hof were overrun by the army. When some of the socialist resisted they were arrested, and 12 of them were hung for opposing the government. Dollfus thus destroyed his socialist opposition, but his real enemy was, in fact, the Nazis who were trying to bring about a union with Germany.
On June 25th the Austrian Nazis began a series of acts to sow terror in Austria. Dolfuss announced a series of steps to crack down on the Nazis violence, but it was too little too late. On July 25th 154 German-trained Austrian Nazis broke into the Chancellery and shot Dolfuss in the throat. The Nazis did not allow Dollfuss to get medical attention, so he slowly bled out and died. The Nazis were not successful as the Minister of Justice Dr. Kurt von Schuschnigg led a counter-attack and regained control of the Chancellery. All the attackers were either killed in the counter-assault or later executed.


Engelbert Dollfuss

Engelbert Dollfuss was born on Oct. 4, 1892, near Texing, Lower Austria. Trained in law at the University of Vienna and in economics at the University of Berlin, he served as an officer in World War I. After the war he was secretary of the Peasant's Association of Lower Austria and became director of the Lower Austrian Chamber of Agriculture in 1927. In 1930 he was appointed president of the Austrian Federal Railways system because of his association with the Christian Socialist party, and in 1931 he was named minister of agriculture and forests.

On May 20, 1932, Dollfuss became chancellor of Austria, although his government possessed only a one-vote majority in the Nationalrat (lower house of Parliament) and a minority in the Bundesrat (upper house). To strengthen Austria's financial position, Dollfuss obtained a loan of £9 million sterling from the League of Nations in return for an agreement not to enter a customs union with Germany for 20 years, a stipulation which angered pan-German, Nationalist, and Socialist elements in Austria.

Subject to bitter attacks from all sides, Dollfuss suspended Parliament when its three presidents resigned on March 4, 1933, and thereafter ruled by decree. In May he founded the Vaterländische Front to mobilize support for his rule, and it was with this organization that the notorious Heimwehr merged in 1934. The latter was a defense force formed after World War I it later espoused Italian Fascist principles, became a political party in 1930, and perpetrated acts of terror and violence against its opponents.

To bolster his foreign position and prevent Austria from uniting with Nazi Germany, Dollfuss met Mussolini at Riccione in August 1933 and received a guarantee of Austrian independence at the cost of abolishing all political parties and revising the Austrian constitution along Fascist-corporatist lines. On the prompting of Mussolini, he utilized an outbreak of rioting by leftist elements in February 1934 to destroy the Social Democratic party organization, thus removing Austria's most strongly anti-Nazi force from the scene.

Announcing his wish to order the state according to the encyclical Quadragesimo Anno of Pope Pius XI, Dollfuss proclaimed a new constitution on May 1, 1934, providing for state organization through professional corporations like those in Fascist Italy. The opposition of German and Austrian Nazis to his government only increased, however, as he evidenced his determination to oppose the surrender of Austrian independence. Finally, during an abortive Nazi putsch on July 25, 1934, Nazi agents entered the Chancellery in Vienna and during their brief occupation of the building assassinated Dollfuss.

While Dollfuss's dogged determination to maintain the integrity of Austria made him a martyr, the weakness of his political position coupled with that of his small state forced him to implement the very authoritarian principles antithetical to the Christian ideals articulated in his 1934 constitution and to the continued independence of Austria.


Rise of the right

1995 - Austria joins EU. Coalition collapses over budget disagreements and strict convergence criteria for European monetary union.

1999 October - Far-right Freedom Party led by Joerg Haider wins 27% of vote in national elections, equal second with centre right People's Party. Social Democrats remain largest party.

2000 February/March - International outcry as People's Party head Wolfgang Schuessel forms coalition government with Freedom Party. EU imposes diplomatic sanctions.

2000 September - EU ends seven months of diplomatic isolation after report concludes that it is counterproductive.

2001 January - Deal signed on compensating Jews whose assets were seized by Nazis. Government and companies to pay $360m into settlement fund.

2001 November - Chancellor Schuessel and Czech government move to settle dispute over Temelin nuclear power plant by agreeing tough measures to improve safety and monitor impact on environment.

2002 August - Devastating floods as Danube bursts banks following torrential rain.

2002 November - Wolfgang Schuessel's People's Party makes sweeping gains in elections, largely at expense of Freedom Party.

2003 May - Pension reform plans spark first nationwide strike action in several decades.

2003 October - Package of asylum laws introduced, widely seen as among the most restrictive in Europe.

2005 May - Parliament ratifies the EU constitution.

2006 October - Social Democrats narrowly defeat the ruling conservative People's Party in elections. After weeks of bargaining, the two parties agree on a coalition.


In 1934 Chancellor Dollfuss was assassinated by an Austrian Nazi

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This edited article about Austria first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 567 published on 25 November 1972.

It began with a lie and ended in brutal murder.

The lie was first broadcast over Austria’s radio one summer day in 1934, after a lilting waltz by Johann Strauss was interrupted without any warning and an announcer told millions of listening Austrians: “The Government of Dr Dollfuss has resigned. Dr Rintelen has assumed power.”

In fact, Dr Engelbert Dollfuss, Chancellor of Austria, had not resigned but soon after that broadcast he was shot down by an Austrian Nazi, one of a group who longed for the German dictator Hitler to seize their country. After prolonged agony, he died at a quarter to four that day, July 25, 1934.

A shudder of horror and fear ran through Europe when the news broke, and, for a few grim hours it seemed that the Second World War might break out five years before it actually did. As it was, the assassination was a landmark on the road to Europe’s ruin.

Dollfuss was a mere 4ft 11in high, so tiny that legend had it that he sometimes stood on a chair to thump the table when he wanted to make a point! Born a peasant in 1892, after fighting in the 1914-18 War he soon made his mark as head of the Austrian Peasants’ Union. Naturally enough when he entered politics as a member of the Christian Social Party he soon found himself Minister of Agriculture.

It is hard for the average Briton or American, victorious in two world wars, to imagine the nightmare of defeat and the bitter years that follow it. The once mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed in 1918 when Germany collapsed, and Austria became a small poor country of some 6 millions, a third of whom lived in the once gay capital of Vienna. Torn with crises the country seemed almost ungovernable and, when Dollfus took over as Chancellor in 1932, he found himself under attack from many quarters.

To begin with, Dollfuss was faced with the menace of the National Socialists, Austria’s Nazi Party, which supported their hero Hitler’s plan to swallow Austria whole, and which thoroughly approved of his anti-Jewish Propaganda. Although the Nazis were not yet in the majority in Austria, to most Austrians Dollfuss seemed like a David challenging the monstrous Goliath that was Hitler.

As well as the Nazis, Dollfuss was faced with the Socialists, whom he misguidedly believed were as big a menace as the Nazis, though this does not excuse his later treatment of them. Meanwhile, he soon established himself as a dictator, though not a wicked one, even though he modelled himself on Mussolini at a time when that Italian dictator had many admirers. It could be argued that with the Nazis perpertrating bomb outrages, murders and beatings up, and poisoning the atmosphere with propaganda leaflets and obscene speeches. Dollfuss was right to assume dictatorial powers.

On October 4, 1933, a Nazi tried to kill him, firing two shots at close range, but Dollfuss was only slightly wounded. His broadcast from his sickbed made him more of a national hero than ever. But early the next year, Socialist demonstrations led him to send in the Army against huge housing estates in the suburbs of Vienna, and hundreds of workers were killed. After his own death, this division between his own party and the Socialists played into Hitler’s hands and made his conquest of Austria in 1938 a mere formality.

It also helped the Nazis at the time. The Austrian Nazis began agitating seriously with Hitler’s encouragement, but the encouragement was negative, for he was not quite powerful enough in 1934 to flout world opinion and upset Mussolini, who regarded Dollfuss as a useful friend. Considering the feeble, unenthusiastic display that Mussolini’s Italy gave in the Second World War, it is hard to realise just how powerful he seemed in the mid-30s.

The Austrian Nazis prepared to strike, their first objective after capturing the radio station being to arrest the entire Government! They shot their way into the radio centre and took it over, but a brave telephone girl gave the alarm, an engineer cut the wires, and the Nazis could not keep up their false broadcasts about the downfall of Dollfuss.

Meanwhile other Nazis, dressed as police and soldiers, broke into the Chancery where the Government were meeting. Squads of cars carrying heavily armed Nazis made enough uproar to alert the Chancery but it was too late. Most of the Cabinet was forced into a small room, while Dollfuss found himself faced by a brutish excorporal Otto Planetta, pointing a gun at him.

“Do what you like with me,” said Dollfuss. “I am leaving the building now. If you want to shoot me, then I shall die for the Fatherland!” Then he grabbed the door-handle.

At once Planetta shot him at close range in the armpit. As Dollfuss reeled in his tracks another bullet tore into him and he fell, cracking his head on the floor. His injuries were terrible, but it took him an hour and a half to die. His captors refused him a doctor or a priest.

Yet the Austrian Nazis had failed. There were too many Dollfuss men and they soon got control of the radio station. Most of the Army remained loyal and, more significant, Hitler remained silent. It was one of the only occasions in the 1930s that he suffered a rebuff. With Mussolini against him there was nothing he could do but wish his ardent supporters had waited.

The leading rebels were hanged and Dollfuss was given the greatest funeral that Vienna had ever seen. The President of Austria spoke of how Dollfuss had saved his country’s soul and the peace of Europe.

But it is wrong to blame Hitler and the Nazis for everything in this case, easy as it would be. Because of Dollfuss’s detestation of socialism, his successor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, found it impossible to unite the country when the threat of Hitler became all too real. Not that in the long run it would make the slightest difference for nothing could have stopped Hitler and nothing did, from swallowing Austria whole. Dollfuss must be regarded as one of his first victims outside Germany and, for all his blind spots about his political enemies, and his reprehensible treatment of them, he remains in the memories of countless Austrians as one of their greatest heroes.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 at 2:51 pm and is filed under Famous crimes, Historical articles, History, Politics. You can follow any comments on this article through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


Contents

Austria's chancellor chairs and leads the cabinet, which is composed of the Chancellor, the vice chancellor and the ministers. Together with the president, who is head of state, the cabinet forms the country's executive branch leadership.

Austria is a parliamentary republic, the system of government in which real power is vested in the head of government. However, in Austria most executive actions of great extent can only be exercised by the president, upon advice or with the countersignature of the chancellor or a specific minister. Therefore the chancellor often requires the president's consent to implement greater decisions. Furthermore neither the ministers nor the vice chancellor report to the chancellor.

In legislature, the chancellor's power depends on the size of their affiliated parliamentary group. In case of a coalition cabinet, the chancellor commonly is the leader of the party most represented in the National Council, with the leader of the party able to grant a majority, usually serving as the vice chancellor.

The first Austrian sovereign head of government was the State Chancellor of the Austrian Empire, a position only held by Klemens von Metternich. The office was later renamed to Minister-President of the Austrian Empire and remained from there on until the dissolution of Austria-Hungary. The first head of government after the monarchy was the State Chancellor of German-Austria, an office again only held by one person Karl Renner. After allied powers declined a union between Austria and Germany, the office was renamed to just State Chancellor of Austria and later changed to Federal Chancellor, which remained the position's final form until present day.

The official residence and executive office of the chancellor is the chancellery, which is located at the Ballhausplatz in the center of Vienna. Both the chancellor as well as the cabinet are appointed by the president and can be dismissed by the president.

The current officeholder is Sebastian Kurz, who was sworn in as chancellor on 7 January 2020 by President Alexander Van der Bellen. His predecessor Brigitte Bierlein served at the helm of a non-party cabinet until a new coalition government was formed and sworn in the wake of the 2019 elections. [3]

The use of the term Chancellor (Kanzler, derived from Latin: cancellarius) as head of the chancery writing office can be traced back as far as the ninth century, when under King Louis the German the office of the Archchancellor (Erzkanzler), later Imperial Chancellor (Reichserzkanzler), was created as a high office on the service of the Holy Roman Emperor. [4] The task was usually fulfilled by the Prince-Archbishops of Mainz as Archchancellors of the German lands.

In the course of the Imperial reform, the Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I in 1498 attempted to counter the spiritual power of the Reichserzkanzler with a more secular position of an Imperial Court Chancellor (Hofkanzler), but the two became merged. These were also the times when attempts were made to balance Imperial absolutism by the creation of Imperial Governments (Reichsregiment), ultimately a failure.

Habsburg Monarchy Edit

Nevertheless, when Maximilian's grandson Ferdinand I succeeded him as Archduke of Austria in 1521, his elder brother Emperor Charles V (1519–1556) appointed Mercurino Gattinara as "Grand Chancellor of all the realms and kingdoms of the king" (Großkanzler aller Länder und Königreiche). The separate position of an Austrian Court Chancellor appeared as a Österreichische Hofkanzlei around 1526, when the Habsburg Monarchy arose with the Bohemian and Hungarian inheritance it was however once again merged with the equivalent Reichshofkanzlei office of the Holy Roman Empire in 1559.

Upon the 1620 Battle of White Mountain and the suppression of the Bohemian revolt, Emperor Ferdinand II had separate Court Chancelleries established in order to strengthen the unity of the Habsburg hereditary lands. Beside a Bohemian and Hungarian chancellery, he created the office of an Austrian chancellor in Vienna, responsible for the Archduchy of Austria proper (i.e. Upper and Lower Austria) with the Inner Austrian territories and Tyrol. Under Emperor Leopold I (1658–1705) the term again became Hofkanzler with Johann Paul Freiherr von Hocher (1667–1683), and Theodor von Strattman (1683–1693). [5]

The eighteenth century was dominated by Prince Wenzel Anton of Kaunitz-Rietberg (1753–1792), who was Chancellor to four Habsburg emperors from Maria Theresa to Francis II, with the titles of both Hofkanzler and Staatskanzler. He was succeeded by Johann Philipp von Cobenzl (1792–1793), who was dismissed by Emperor Francis II over the Partition of Poland and was succeeded by Johann Amadeus Francis de Paula (Baron Thugot) (1793–1800). Thugot's chancellorship did not survive the Austrian defeats by the French at the battles of Marengo and Hohenlinden in 1800 and he was replaced by Johan Ludwig Joseph Cobenzl (1800–1805), his predecessor's cousin, but who in turn was dismissed following the Austrian defeat at Austerlitz in 1805.

Austrian Empire Edit

With the consequent dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and founding of the Austrian Empire, Francis II abdicated the former Imperial Throne, but remained Emperor Francis I of Austria in 1806. He had replaced Cobenzl with Johan Philip Charles Stadion (1805–1809) the previous year, but his career was in turn cut short in 1809 following yet another Austrian defeat by Napoleon at the Battle of Wagram and subsequent humiliation at the Treaty of Schönbrunn. Prince Klemens von Metternich was appointed by Francis I to the positions of Hofkanzler and Staatskanzler (1821–1848). However, there is some opinion that the Chancellor title was not used between Prince Kaunitz-Rietberg's resignation in 1792 and 1821. [6] As the Metternich system had become a synonym for his reactionary politics, the title of a State Chancellor was abolished upon the 1848 revolutions. The position became that of a Minister-President of Austria, equivalent to Prime Minister, with the exception of Count Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust (1867–1871) [5] [7] the title only re-emerging at the birth of German Austria after World War I in 1918, when Karl Renner was appointed Staatskanzler. With the enactment of the Constitution of Austria on 10 November 1920, the actual term Bundeskanzler was implemented as head of the executive branch of the First Austrian Republic.

The Chancellor is appointed and sworn in by the President. [8] In theory, the President can appoint anyone eligible to be elected to the National Council, essentially meaning any Austrian national over the age of 18. [9] In practice, a Chancellor is unable to govern unless he or she commands the confidence of the National Council. For this reason, the Chancellor usually is the leader of the largest party in the National Council, or the senior partner in a coalition government. A notable exception to this occurred after the 1999 election. The Freedom Party won the most seats and went into coalition with the People's Party. While this would have normally made Freedom Party leader Jorg Haider Chancellor, he was deemed too controversial to be a member of the Cabinet, let alone Chancellor. He thus stepped aside in favour of People's Party leader Wolfgang Schüssel.

The Chancellor has no term limits. As a matter of constitutional convention, the Chancellor usually offers his or her resignation to the President upon dissolution of the National Council. The President usually declines and directs the Chancellor and his or her cabinet to operate as a caretaker government until a new National Council is in session and a new majority leader has emerged. In fact, the constitution expressly encourages the President to use a Chancellor as his or her own interim successor. [10]

A Chancellor is typically appointed or dismissed together with his or her ministers, which means the whole government. Technically, the President can only appoint ministers on advice of the Chancellor, so the Chancellor is appointed first. Having been sworn in, the Chancellor presents the President with his or her list of ministers they will usually have been installed just minutes later. Neither Chancellors nor ministers need to be confirmed by either house of parliament the appointees are fully capable of discharging the functions of their respective offices immediately after having been sworn in. [11]

The National Council can force the President to dismiss a Chancellor or a minister through a vote of no confidence. The President is constitutionally required to dismiss a cabinet member the National Council declares it wants gone. [12] Opposition parties will sometimes table votes of no confidence against ministers, and occasionally whole cabinets, in order to demonstrate criticism these votes had not been expected to pass. The first successful vote of no confidence in Austrian federal politics took place in May 2019 when Sebastian Kurz was ousted as Chancellor. [13] [14]

The Chancellor chairs the meetings of the cabinet. The constitution does not vest the Chancellor with the authority to issue directions to ministers it characterizes his or her role in the cabinet as that of a primus inter pares. [15] The power of the office to set policy derives partly from its inherent prestige, partly from the fact that the President is required to dismiss ministers the Chancellor requests removed, [11] and partly from the Chancellor's position of leadership in the party or coalition controlling the National Council.

Most articles of the constitution that mention the office of Chancellor are tasking the incumbent with notarizing decisions by the President or by various constitutional bodies, with ensuring that these decisions are duly announced to the general public, or with acting as an intermediary between various branches of government. In particular, the Chancellor

  • submits bills passed by the National Council to the President for certification,
  • countersigns certifications of bills made by the President, [16]
  • announces the bills that have thus become laws,
  • announces treaties the Republic of Austria is party to upon ratification, [17]
  • announces Constitutional Court decision overturning laws or executive orders, [18]
  • announces the results of Presidential elections, [19]
  • announces changes to the Rules of Procedure adopted by the Federal Council, [20]
  • countersigns decisions reached by the Federal Assembly, [21]
  • announces declarations of war, [21] and
  • notifies provincial governments of bills passed by the National Council that require their assent to become law. [22]

The Chancellor also convenes the Federal Assembly if the National Council moves to have the President removed from office, [19] or if the National Council moves to lift the immunity of the President from criminal prosecution. [23] In the former case, the Federal Assembly votes on whether to allow a referendum on the matter. In the latter case, the assent of the Federal Assembly is required for the President's immunity to be rescinded.

Finally, the Chancellor becomes Acting President if the President is incapacitated. However, if the President remains incapacitated after twenty days, the role of Acting President is passed to the three Presidents of the National Council. [24]


Taking Austria

In his 1925 book Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote about Austria, his country of birth:

German-Austria must return to the great German motherland, and not because of economic considerations of any sort. No, no: even if from the economic point of view this union were unimportant, indeed, if it were harmful, it ought nevertheless to be brought about. Common blood belongs in a common Reich. As long as the German nation is unable even to band together its own children in one common State, it has no moral right to think of colonization as one of its political aims. Only when the boundaries of the Reich include even the last German, only when it is no longer possible to assure him of daily bread inside them, does there arise, out of the distress of the nation, the moral right to acquire foreign soil and territory. 1

In July of 1934, a pro-Nazi group tried to overthrow the Austrian government. The coup was planned in Germany, with Hitler’s approval and assistance from German officials. But although the group assassinated Austria’s chancellor, the attempt failed when Austrian military leaders did not support the coup as the Nazis hoped. 2 Then, despite his previous words and actions, Hitler said in a May 21, 1935, speech to the Reichstag: “Germany neither intends nor wishes to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria, to annex Austria, or to conclude an Anschluss [union with Austria].” 3

But on February 12, 1938, Hitler changed course again. He arranged a meeting with the new Austrian chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, who was appointed after his predecessor’s assassination. Hitler demanded that von Schuschnigg appoint members of Austria’s Nazi Party to his cabinet and give full political rights to the party or face an invasion by the German army. Fearful that Hitler intended to take over Austria, von Schuschnigg called for a national plebiscite, or vote, to take place on Sunday, March 13, so that Austrians could decide for themselves whether they wished their nation to remain independent or become part of the Third Reich. When Hitler heard this news, he decided to invade Austria immediately to prevent the vote. By Friday morning, March 11, von Schuschnigg was aware of the coming invasion. That afternoon, he canceled the plebiscite and offered to resign to avoid bloodshed. Hitler immediately demanded that the president of Austria, Wilhelm Miklas, appoint an Austrian member of the Nazi Party as the nation’s next chancellor. When the president refused to do so, Hitler ordered that the invasion begin at dawn the next day.

The German military parades through Vienna on March 15, 1938, after the Anschluss.

Around midnight, the president gave in and named Hitler’s choice as chancellor. Nevertheless, early on Saturday, March 12, German soldiers in tanks and armored vehicles crossed the border into Austria, encountering no resistance.

The Nazis justified the invasion by claiming that Austria had descended into chaos. They circulated fake reports of rioting in Vienna and street fights caused by Communists. German newspapers printed a phony telegram supposedly from the new Austrian chancellor saying that German troops were necessary to restore order.

As his troops rushed toward Vienna, Hitler decided to accompany them to his birthplace at Braunau am Inn on the south bank of Austria’s Inn River and then on to Linz, where he had attended school. There he called for an immediate Anschluss. The next day, Austria’s parliament formally approved the annexation. Austria no longer existed as a nation it was now a province of Germany.

On April 10, 1938, Austrians were asked whether they supported the March 13 Anschluss. 99.75% of voters said that they supported Germany’s annexation of Austria into the Third Reich.

After returning to Germany, Hitler issued a new call for a plebiscite on the annexation of Austria. It took place on April 10 under the supervision of the German army. That day, more than 99.75% of Austrian voters supported a union with Germany. Historian Evan Burr Bukey suggests four reasons “for the euphoria with which most Austrians greeted the loss of their country’s independence”:

First, there can be no doubt that the initial enthusiasm was both genuine and spontaneous . . . Second, it is clear that the populace was profoundly relieved that bloodshed had been avoided . . . The sight of well-equipped Landsers [German soldiers] marching through the country revived memories of wartime solidarity and evoked a sense of satisfaction that the humiliations of 1918 had at last been overcome. Third, nearly all hoped for a dramatic improvement in the material conditions of everyday life most Austrians were aware of Hitler's economic achievements and had good reason to believe that their expectations would soon be fulfilled. Fourth, there can be little doubt that millions of people welcomed the Anschluss as a chance to put an end to the so-called Jewish Question. The antisemitic violence that followed . . . was perpetrated by the Austrian Nazis and their accomplices, not by the German invaders. That the new regime openly sanctioned persecution and Aryanization, in other words, could only enhance its popularity. 4

Most Germans were also supportive: Bukey notes that “even sections of society that had been cool towards Hitler up to this point, or rejected him, were now carried along by the event and admitted that Hitler was after all a great and clever statesman who would lead Germany upwards again to greatness and esteem from the defeat of 1918.” 5 Earlier, Benito Mussolini, the leader of Italy, had publicly defended Austria’s independence. Now he backed Hitler. Other world leaders were silent they seemed to feel that Austria was not worth fighting for. In Britain, for example, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain reminded Parliament that their country had no treaty obligations with Austria. Only Winston Churchill, then a member of Parliament, disagreed. In a speech to the British government, he declared:

The gravity of the event of March 12 cannot be exaggerated. Europe is confronted with a program of aggression . . . unfolding stage by stage, and there is only one choice open, not only to us but to other countries who are unfortunately concerned—either to submit, like Austria, or to else take effective measures while time remains to ward off the danger and, if it cannot be warded off, to cope with it. 6


Chancellor of Austria Assasinated - History

Adolf Hitler not implicated in the Dollfuss Murder

On July 25, 1934 Austrian Nazis stormed into the office of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss in Vienna, and shot him dead.

Adolf Hitler has of course been accused of plotting the assassination.

On June 6, 1994, David Irving wrote this correction of history in a letter to The Times (which they did not publish)

To: The Letters Editor, The Times (by fax)

THE ASSASSINATION of the Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss sixty years ago is not a good example [of Hitler's assassination policies], as the diary of Dr Joseph Goebbels , which I obtained in Moscow two years ago, shows that he was with Hitler all that day and -- while there is no doubt Hitler had approved the coup by the Austrian Nazis -- the shooting of the chancellor in the skirmish was definitely an unwelcome development. Here are some of the relevant entries (which have not been published before). The

Nazi leaders were attending the Richard Wagner festival at Bayreuth:

Sunday [July 22] with the Führer: General [Walther] von Rathenau [of the general staff, then Pfeffer [ von Salomon , of the Brownshirts], [Theo] Habicht [Austrian Nazi leader], [Alfred] Rosenberg . The Austrian question. Will it come off? I'm very sceptical.

Wednesday [July 25] with the Führer. Alarm sounds from Austria. Chancellery occupied. Big rumpus. Colossal tension. Awful wait. I'm still sceptical. Pfeffer more optimistic. Habicht too. Wait and see! Constantly on phone to Berlin. Lines to Vienna cut. Over to the festival. 'Rheingold', we listen with only half an ear. More and more alarums: Dollfuss and [Emil] Fey captured. Then, Dollfus dead. Then, honourable withdrawal of the insurgents. Then, government victory. Lost! Habicht was all talk. I just manage to suppress a crazy communiqué by Pfeffer . . . Führer remains quite calm. Casting new plans. Dollfuss is out: that's a serious blow to the Austrian regime.

Thursday [July 26] Habicht and Pfeffer here. Very small. Report on the putsch almost incredible. I get Habicht sacked.

There is no archival evidence that Hitler knew of any intent to kill Dollfuss, or gave such an order.


Austria: History

During the past 10 centuries, the term Austria has designated a variety of geographic and political concepts. In its narrowest sense Austria has included only the present-day provinces of Upper and Lower Austria, including Vienna in its widest meaning the term has covered the far-flung domains of the imperial house of Hapsburg. Its present connotation—German-speaking Austria—dates only from 1918. This article deals mainly with the history of German-speaking Austria. For wider historical background, see Holy Roman Empire Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Monarchy Hungary Bohemia and Netherlands, Austrian and Spanish.

Austria is located at the crossroads of Europe Vienna is at the gate of the Danubian plain, and the Brenner Pass in W Austria links Germany and Italy. From earliest times Austrian territory has been a thoroughfare, a battleground, and a border area. It was occupied by Celts and Suebi when the Romans conquered (15 BC–AD 10) and divided it among the provinces of Rhaetia, Noricum, and Upper Pannonia. After the 5th cent. AD, Huns, Ostrogoths, Lombards, and Bavarians overran and devastated the provinces. By c.600, Slavs from the east had occupied all of modern Styria, Lower Austria, and Carinthia.

In 788, Charlemagne conquered the area and set up the first Austrian (i.e., Eastern) March in the present Upper and Lower Austria, to halt the inroads of the Avars. Colonization was encouraged, and Christianity (which had been introduced under the Romans) was again spread energetically. After Charlemagne's death (814) the march soon fell to the Moravians and later to the Magyars, from whom it was taken (955) by Emperor Otto I. Otto reconstituted the march and attached it to Bavaria, but, in 976, Otto II bestowed it as a separate fief on Leopold of Babenberg, founder of the first Austrian dynasty. Emperor Frederick I raised (1156) Austria to a duchy, and, in 1192, Styria also passed under Babenberg rule.

The 11th and 12th cent. saw the height of Austrian feudalism and also witnessed the marked development of towns as the Danube was converted to a great trade route. After the death (1246) of the last Babenberg, King Ottocar II of Bohemia acquired (1251–69) Austria, Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola. Fearing his power, the German princes elected (1273) Rudolf of Hapsburg German king. Rudolf I asserted (1282) his royal prerogative to reclaim the four duchies from Ottocar and incorporate them in his domains. After the murder (1308) of Rudolf's son, Albert I, the German princes balked at electing another member of the ambitious family.

Albert's ducal successors enlarged the Hapsburg holdings by acquiring Tyrol (1363) and Trieste (1382) and extended their influence over the ecclesiastic states of Salzburg, Trent, and Brixen (see Bressanone), which, however, remained independent until 1803. Marriage allowed Albert II to be elected German king in 1438. Beginning with Albert II, the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire were always chosen from the Hapsburg dynasty. Despite their vast imperial preoccupations, the emperors always considered German Austria the prized core of their dominions. During the long reign of Frederick III (1440–93), the protracted Hapsburg wars with France began. In 1526, Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary were united under one crown (see Ferdinand I, emperor). In the same year Vienna was besieged for two weeks by troops of the Ottoman Empire under Sulayman the Magnificent, who had made a forceful advance into Europe. The Turkish threat to Austria ebbed and then climaxed again in the second siege of Vienna in 1683.

The patterns of medievalism were weakening in Austria, especially as the money economy spread, and in the 16th cent. the commercial revolution diminished the importance of Austrian trade routes and of the ancient gold and silver mines of Tyrol and Carinthia. Economic and political instability in the 16th cent. precipitated the spread of the Protestant Reformation, which the Hapsburg rulers attempted to counter by nurturing the Counter Reformation. The alliance then formed between church and state continued throughout the history of the monarchy.

The Austrian peasantry, especially in Tyrol, had gained some advantages in the Peasants' War of 1524–26 in general, however, the rising, backed by some Protestants but not by Luther, was defeated. Suppression of Protestantism was at first impossible, and, under Maximilian II, Lutheran nobles were granted considerable toleration. Rudolph II and Matthias pursued policies of partial Catholicization, and, under Ferdinand II, anti-Protestant vigor helped to precipitate the Thirty Years War (1618–48). Protestant Bohemia and Moravia, defeated by the Austrians at the White Mt. (1620), became virtual Austrian provinces. Austria proper remained relatively unscathed in the long holocaust after the Peace of Westphalia the Hapsburg lands emerged as a distinct empire, whereas the Holy Roman Empire drifted into a mere shadow existence.

The monarchy, although repressive of free speech and worship, was far from absolute taxation and other powers rested with the provincial estates for a further century. Emperor Charles VI (1711–40), whose dynastic wars had drained the state, secured the succession to the Hapsburg lands for his daughter, Maria Theresa, by means of the pragmatic sanction. Maria Theresa's struggle with Frederick II of Prussia in the War of the Austrian Succession (see Austrian Succession, War of the) and the Seven Years War opened a long struggle for dominance in the German lands.

Except for the loss of Silesia, Maria Theresa held her own. The provincial estates were reduced in power, and an efficient centralized bureaucracy was created as the nobles were attracted to bureaucratic service their power as a class was weakened. Maria Theresa's husband, Francis I, became Holy Roman emperor in 1745, but his position was largely titular. The major event of Maria Theresa's later reign was the first partition of Poland (1772 see Poland, partitions of) in that transaction and in the third partition (1795) Austria renewed its eastward expansion.

Joseph II, who succeeded her, impetuously carried forward the reforms which his mother had cautiously begun. His attempts to further centralize and Germanize his scattered and disparate dominions met stubborn resistance his project to consolidate his state by exchanging the Austrian Netherlands for Bavaria was balked by Frederick II. An exemplar of benevolent despotism and a disciple of the Enlightenment, Joseph also decreed a series of revolutionary agrarian, fiscal, religious, and judicial reforms however, opposition, especially from among the clergy and the landowners, forced his successor, Leopold II, to rescind many of them. In Joseph's reign the Austrian bourgeoisie began to emerge as a social and cultural force. Music and architecture (see Vienna) flourished in 18th-century Austria, and modern Austrian literature (see German literature) emerged early in the 19th cent.

In the reign of Francis II, Austria was drawn (1792) into war with revolutionary France (see French Revolutionary Wars) and with Napoleon I. The treaties of Campo Formio (1797) and Lunéville (1801) preluded the dissolution (1806) of the Holy Roman Empire, and in 1804, Francis II took the title Francis I, emperor of Austria. His rout at Austerlitz (1805) led to the severe Treaty of Pressburg (see Pressburg, Treaty of).

An upsurge of patriotism resulted in the renewal of war with Napoleon in 1809 Austria's defeat at Wagram led to the even more humiliating Peace of Schönbrunn (see under Schönbrunn). Austria was forced to side with Napoleon in the Russian campaign of 1812, but in 1813 it again joined the coalition against Napoleon an Austrian, Prince Karl Philipp von Schwarzenberg, headed the allied forces. The Congress of Vienna (1814–15 see Vienna, Congress of) did not restore to Austria its former possessions in the Netherlands and in Baden but awarded it Lombardy, Venetia, Istria, and Dalmatia.

As the leading power of both the German Confederation and the Holy Alliance, Austria under the ministry of Metternich dominated European politics. Conservatism and the repression of nationalistic strivings characterized the age. Nevertheless, the Metternich period was one of great cultural achievement, particularly in music and literature.

The revolutions of 1848 shook the Hapsburg empire but ultimately failed because of the conflicting economic goals of the middle and lower classes and because of the conflicting nationalist aspirations that set the revolutionary movements of Germans, Slavs, Hungarians, and Italians against each other. Revolts were at first successful throughout the empire (see Risorgimento Galicia Bohemia Hungary) in Vienna the revolutionists drove out Metternich (Mar., 1848). Emperor Ferdinand granted (April) a liberal constitution, which a constituent assembly replaced (July) with a more democratic one. After a new outbreak Vienna was bombarded, and the revolutionists were punished by troops under General Windischgrätz. Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg became premier and engineered the abdication of Ferdinand in favor of Francis Joseph.

Absolutism returned with the dissolution of the constituent assembly. Austrian leadership in Germany was reasserted at the Convention of Olmütz in 1850. Alexander Bach intensified (1852–59) Schwarzenberg's centralizing policy, thus heightening national tensions within the empire. But economic prosperity was promoted by the lowering of internal tariff barriers, and several reforms dating from 1848 were upheld, notably the complete abolition of feudal dues.

The military and political weakness of the empire was demonstrated by the Austrian loss of Lombardy in the Italian War of 1859. Attempts to solve the nationalities problem—the October Diploma (1860), which created a central legislature and gave increased powers to the provincial assemblies of nobles, and the February Patent, which transferred many of these powers to the central legislature—failed. Prussia seized the opportunity to drive Austria out of Germany. After involving Austria in the war over Schleswig-Holstein in 1864, Bismarck found an easy pretext for attacking. Overwhelmingly defeated by Prussia at Sadová (or Sadowa also know as the battle of Königgrätz) in 1866 (see Austro-Prussian War), Austria was forced to cede Venetia to Italy. With this debacle Austria's political role in Germany came to an end.

A reorganization of the government of the empire became inevitable, and in 1867 a compromise (Ger. Ausgleich) with Hungarian moderate nationalists established a dual state, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. But the realm, a land of diverse peoples ruled by a German-Magyar minority, increasingly became an anachronism in a nationalistic age. Failure to provide a satisfactory status for the other nationalities, notably the Slavs, played a major role in bringing about World War I. Important developments in Austrian society during this period were the continued irresponsibility of the nobility and the backwardness of the peasantry, the growth of a socialist working class, widespread anti-Semitism stimulated by the large-scale movement to Austria of poor Jews from the eastern provinces, and extraordinary cultural creativity in Vienna.

The disastrous course of the war led to the breakup of the monarchy in 1918. Charles I renounced power after a peaceful revolution staged by the Socialist and Pan-German parties, German Austria was proclaimed (Nov. 12) a republic and a part of Greater Germany.

The Treaty of Saint-Germain (1919) fixed the present Austrian borders and forbade (as did the Treaty of Versailles) any political or economic union (Ger. Anschluss) with Germany. This left Austria a small country with some 7 million inhabitants, one third of whom lived in a single large city (Vienna) that had been geared to be the financial and industrial hub of a large state. The Dual Monarchy had been virtually self-sufficient economically its breakup and the consequent erection of tariff walls deprived Austria of raw materials, food, and markets. In the postwar period, starvation and influenza exacted a heavy toll, especially in Vienna. These ills were followed by currency inflation, ended only in 1924 by means of League of Nations aid, following upon chronic unemployment, financial scandals and crises, and growing political unrest.

Red Vienna, under the moderate socialist government of Karl Seitz, became increasingly opposed by the Black (i.e., clericalist) rural faction, which won the elections of 1921. The cabinet of Social Democrat Karl Renner was succeeded by Christian Socialist and Pan-German coalitions under Schober, Seipel, and others. Unrest culminated, in 1927, in violent riots in Vienna two rival private militias—the Heimwehr of the monarchist leader E. R. von Starhemberg and the Schutzbund of the socialists—posed a threat to the authority of the state. Economic crisis loomed again in the late 1920s. National Socialism, feeding in part on anti-Semitism, gained rapidly and soon absorbed the Pan-German party.

Engelbert Dollfuss, who became chancellor in 1932, though irreconcilably opposed to Anschluss and to National Socialism, tended increasingly toward corporative fascism and relied heavily on Italian support. His stern suppression of the socialists precipitated a serious revolt (1934), which was bloodily suppressed by the army. Soon afterward a totalitarian state was set up, and all independent political parties were outlawed. In July, 1934, the National Socialists assassinated Dollfuss but failed to seize the government.

Kurt von Schuschnigg succeeded Dollfuss. German pressure on Austria increased Schuschnigg was forced to legalize the operations of the National Socialists and to appoint members of that party to cabinet posts. Schuschnigg planned a last-minute effort to avoid Anschluss by holding a plebiscite, but Hitler forced him to resign. In Mar., 1938, Austria was occupied by German troops and became part of the Reich. Arthur Seyss-Inquart became the Nazi governor.

In 1943, the Allies agreed to reestablish an independent Austria at the end of World War II. In 1945, Austria was conquered by Soviet and American troops, and a provisional government was set up under Karl Renner. The pre-Dollfuss constitution was restored with revisions the country was divided into separate occupation zones, each controlled by an Allied power.

Economic recovery was hindered by the decline of trade between Western and Eastern Europe and by the division into zones. Austria was formally recognized by the Western powers in 1946, but because of Soviet disagreement with the West over reparations, the occupation continued. On May 15, 1955, a formal treaty between Great Britain, France, the United States, the USSR, and Austria restored full sovereignty to the country. The treaty prohibited the possession of major offensive weapons and required Austria to pay heavy reparations to the USSR. Austria proclaimed its perpetual neutrality. In 1955 it was admitted to the United Nations.

By the 1960s unprecedented prosperity had been attained. Austria had joined the European Free Trade Association in 1959, but association with the European Economic Community (Common Market) was held back by Soviet opposition. Politically, a nearly equal balance of power between the conservative People's party and the Socialist party resulted in successive coalition cabinets until 1966, when the People's party won a clear majority. They were ousted by the Socialists in the 1970 elections, and Bruno Kreisky became chancellor. A long-standing dispute with Italy over the German-speaking population of the Trentino–Alto Adige region of Italy was dealt with in a treaty ratified in 1971.

In 1983 the Socialist government fell, and the Socialists were forced to form a coalition with the far-right Freedom party. Austria captured world attention in 1986 when former UN secretary-general Kurt Waldheim was elected president despite allegations that he had been involved in atrocities as a German army staff officer in the Balkans during World War II. Also in 1986 the Socialists (subsequently the Social Democrats) and the People's party again joined together in a grand coalition, with Social Democrat Franz Vranitzky as chancellor it retained control of the government through the 1990s.

Austria began a partial privatization of state-owned industries in the late 1980s and entered the European Union (EU) in 1995. Waldheim was succeeded as president in 1992 by Thomas Klestil, the candidate of the People's party Klestil was reelected in 1998. In 1997, Chancellor Vranitzky resigned and was replaced by Social Democrat Viktor Klima.

In the Oct., 1999, elections, the People's party placed third, just barely behind the far-right Freedom party, whose leader, Jörg Haider, was criticized as demagogic and nativist. The electoral results complicated the formation of a stable new government, which was only achieved in Feb., 2000, when Wolfgang Schüssel of the People's party became chancellor of a People's party–Freedom party coalition. Austria was quickly ostracized by other EU nations because of the Freedom party's participation in the government, and Haider—who had not joined the government—subsequently resigned as party leader. The sanctions imposed by the EU came to be regarded as threatening by smaller EU countries, however, and on the recommendation of an EU fact-finding commission they were lifted in Sept., 2000. Feuding within the Freedom party led to the collapse of the government two years later.

Elections in Nov., 2002, were a major setback for the Freedom party, which was a distant third, while the People's party won a plurality. Despite the collapse of their coalition several months before, the People's party again formed (Feb., 2003) a government with the Freedom party, with Schüssel as chancellor. A little more than a year later, in Apr., 2004, Heinz Fischer, a Social Democrat, was elected president his victory, the first by a Social Democrat since 1986, was regarded as a sign of voter unhappiness with the government. A split in the Freedom party led party leader Haider to form (2005) the Alliance for Austria's Future and exclude extremist Freedom party members, and the Alliance replaced the Freedom party in the government.

In the Oct., 2006, parliamentary elections the Social Democrats won the largest number of seats, besting the People's party, but Social Democratic leader Alfred Gusenbauer needed to form a coalition in order to govern, and by the end of 2006 he had not succeeded in doing so. The Freedom party finished third in the voting, while Haider's Alliance finished fifth, after the Greens. In Jan., 2007, the Social Democratic and People's parties formed a coalition government with Gusenbauer as chancellor, but the government collapsed in July, 2008.

The Sept., 2008, elections saw the Social Democrats again win a plurality, but with slightly less than 30% of the vote the two far-right parties combined nearly equaled that. Haider died in an automobile accident the following month. In December, the Social Democratic–People's party coalition was re-formed, with Social Democrat Werner Faymann as chancellor. Fischer was reelected president in Apr., 2010. The share of the vote won by the Social Democratic and People's parties further eroded, to 27% and 24% respectively, in the Sept., 2013, parliamentary elections two months later, they again formed a coalition government, with Faymann as chancellor.

After neither candidate of the governing parties secured enough votes to make the presidential runoff in 2016, Faymann resigned. Christian Kern, a Social Democrat and head of the Austrian Federal Railways, succeeded Faymann as chancellor. In May, Alexander Van der Bellen, a long-time member of the Greens, narrowly won the presidency, defeating the Freedom party candidate, Norbert Hofer, but irregularities in the ballot counting led Austria's constitutional court to order a revote. In December, Van der Bellen won again but by a sizable margin.

In the Oct., 2017, parliamentary elections the People's party, led by Sebastian Kurz, won a plurality with a third of the vote Kurz formed a coalition government with the Freedom party, the third largest party. A political scandal involving members of the Freedom party, who were videotaped offering public contracts to a woman posing as a wealthy Russian if she purchased an Austrian newspaper and supported them, led to the collapse of Kurz's government in May, 2019. A technocratic cabinet headed by Brigitte Bierlein was then appointed, and new elections were held in September. Kurz's People's party won a larger plurality, while the Social Democrats and Freedom party lost seats and the Greens, who had had no seats, became the fourth largest party. In Jan., 2020, the People's party and the Greens formed a coalition government, with Kurz as chancellor.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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Chancellor Lloyd George later recalls a timely warning .

"I remember that some time in July, an influential Hungarian lady called upon me at 11 Downing Street and told me that we were taking the assassination of the archduke much too quietly that it had provoked such a storm throughout the Austrian Empire as she had never witnessed - and that unless something were done immediately, it would certainly result in war with Serbia, with the incalculable consequences which such an operation might precipitate in Europe. However, such official reports as came to hand did not seem to justify the alarmist view she took.

· The War Memoirs of David Lloyd George (Nicholson & Watson, 1933-38)


Otto Ender

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Otto Ender, (born Dec. 24, 1875, Altach, Austria—died June 25, 1960, Bregenz), statesman and government official who served as chancellor of Austria during the early months of the Great Depression.

Ender served (1918–30, 1931–34) as governor of the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, on the Swiss border, and after World War I he negotiated unsuccessfully for the incorporation of Vorarlberg in the Swiss confederation. Despite his leadership of the Vorarlberg Heimwehr (rightist paramilitary defense force), his allegiances were considered to be democratic and anti-Fascist. Ender was appointed chancellor of Austria in December 1930 and held office through six months of economic depression, marked notably by the collapse of the Creditanstalt, the most important Austrian banking house. Later, as minister without portfolio in the government of Engelbert Dollfuss, he supervised the drafting of a new federal authoritarian constitution (1933–34). He headed (1934–38) the Austrian supreme board of accountancy. Imprisoned by the Nazis after the Anschluss (Austria’s incorporation into Germany in 1938), he was later interned at the concentration camp at Dachau, Ger., and finally released during the Allied liberation (1945).

This article was most recently revised and updated by Heather Campbell, Senior Editor.


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