This is an apolitical forum for discussions on the Axis nations, as well as the First and Second World Wars in general hosted by Marcus Wendel's Axis History Factbook in cooperation with Michael Miller's Axis Biographical Research and Christoph Awender's WW2 day by day.
To resolve the political uncertainty in the country and to convince Hitler and the rest of the world that the people of Austria wished to remain Austrian and independent of the Third Reich, Schuschnigg, with the full agreement of the President and other political leaders, decided to proclaim a plebiscite to be held on 13 March. But the wording of the referendum which had to be responded to with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ turned out to be controversial. It read:
"Are you for a free, German, independent and social, Christian and united Austria, for peace and work, for the equality of all those who affirm themselves for the people and Fatherland?"
But there was another issue which drew the ire of the National Socialist. Although members of Dr Schuschnigg’s party (the Fatherland Front) could vote at any age, all other Austrians below the age of 24 were to be excluded under a clause to that effect in the Austrian Constitution. This would shut out from the polls most of the Nazi sympathisers in Austria, since the movement was strongest among the young.
SaFol wrote:Hi WilliSaenger,
However, I also think that without Nazi propaganda, the post-Anschluss poll would not have resulted in 99.73% pro-Anschluss. According to the results of the former polls that have been taken after WWI (google!), I guess it had only resulted in around 95%. Only my personal guess...
When the Austro-Hungarian Empire broke up in 1918, many German-speaking Austrians hoped to join with Germany in the realignment of Europe. On 12 November 1918, German Austria was officially declared a republic. The provisional national assembly drafted a provisional constitution that stated that "German Austria is a democratic republic" (Article 1) and "German Austria is a component of the German Republic" (Article 2). Later plebiscites in the German border provinces of Tyrol and Salzburg yielded majorities of 98 and 99% in favor for a unification with Germany.
The Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Saint-Germain (both signed in 1919) explicitly prohibited the inclusion of Austria to politically join the German state. This measure was criticized by Hugo Preuss, the drafter of the German Weimar Constitution, who saw the prohibition as a contradiction of the Wilsonian principle of self-determination of peoples, intended to help bring peace to Europe. Following the destruction of World War I, however, both France and Britain feared the power of a larger Germany, and had begun to dis-empower the current one. Austrian particularism, especially among the nobility, also played a role in the decisions; Austria was Roman Catholic, while Germany was dominated by Protestants, especially in government (the Prussian nobility, for example, was Lutheran). The constitutions of the Weimar Republic and the First Austrian Republic included the political goal of unification, which was widely supported by democratic parties. In the early 1930s, popular support in Austria for union with Germany remained overwhelming, and the Austrian government looked to a possible customs union with Germany in 1931.
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