Bachelor of Arts
Austria, Adolf Hitler, National Socialism, Anschluss, German Reich, Nazi, Europe
The Anschluss of Austria and the greater German Reich is often pinpointed as the beginning of Nazi Germany's attempt for European Hegemony. With the annexation of Austria came an improved strategic position regarding Czechoslovakia, Yugoslovakia, and Hungary, and would provide Hitler with a springboard from which he could launch his thrust into Eastern Europe. The road toward Anschluss was a difficult one to travel: Germany needed to be wary of the threat from the Western Powers during her quest for a greater German Reich, and also had to consider the Austrian domestic situation as she laid plans for a union. In order to successfully complete the Anschluss, Germany and her allies within Austria needed to strike at the precise moment when both the Austrian internal situation and the attitude of the European powers were ripe for exploitation.
While it is possible to view the fall of Austria as an event planned and implemented in full by an insightful Adolf Hitler, scholars are generally in agreement that this was not the case. As Gordon Brook-Shepherd states, "it was at once the most inevitable of his conquests and the most accidental; the best-planned,and the most improvised." Hitler and the German government worked slowly and diligently (and without much success) toward the Anschluss throughout the 1930s; but the events of early 1938 suddenly tipped the scales in favor of the National Socialists and, in less than three months time, executed a plan for union which had eluded pan-Germanic demands for decades.
Bent, George R., "Austrian National Socialism and the Anschluss" (1985). Honors Papers. 617.