The definition of a 'fact' is:Sid Guttridge wrote:It is only a plausible assertion that "the majority of Austrians did not want Austria to remain as an independent state.", not a fact.
a thing that is known or proved to be true.
It is known to be true that the vast majority of Austrians supported the idea of an Anschluss with Germany. The idea that the majority of Austrians thought of themselves as Germans and wanted to be part of the Reich was supported before the Nazi Party or even Hitler existed. Ever since 1866 many Austrians felt annoyed that Austria never became part of the German Empire in 1871.
There is nothing to doubt about the sincerity of the Austrians approval of the Anschluss. After WW2 there was a widespread theory which propagated that Austria was the first "victim" of the Nazis. The theory held weight for a few decades after the war but since the 1980s it has been widely accepted as a myth.
Even after WW2, the Holocaust and being an independent country, in 1956 a survey carried out showed that 46% of Austrians still considered themselves to be Germans. In 1964 only 15% considered themselves to be Germans.
As someone else has already mentioned, the Schussnigg regime was a dictatorship. How can the reliability of a result from the Schussnigg leadership be any different to the Hitler leadership? Both were dictators and neither Austria nor Germany were democratic.Schussnigg's plebiscite ("Are you in favour of a free and German Austria, an independent and social Austria, a Christian and united Austria; for peace and employment and for equality for all who stand for their people and their nation?") would have tested this very premise and yet Hitler invaded Austria precisely to stop this proposition being put to the Austrian people.
No, sometimes a "majority" can be very very subtle, in the March 1933 election the Nazi Party got 43.91% of the votes and had a 10.82% increase in votes. So even though Hitler never got a majority, he was by far the most prominent politician and the Nazi Party was by far the biggest party in Germany.You write, "The Nazis never even won a majority in any open election but the Nazi Party was still by far the most popular party in Germany prior to Hitler becoming Chancellor in 1933." Surely this only serves to reinforce my point, not detract from it? What might appear to be majority sentiment isn't necessarily so.
There is a key difference between the annexation of Austria and the proclamation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The former was inhabited by predominantly ethnic Germans, the latter was predominantly inhabited by Czechs and Slovaks and clearly signaled to the rest of the world that Hitler was not only interested in occupying ethnically German areas.There is no doubt that the Anschluss was welcomed by large crowds, but this does not prove that anything like a majority of the population was in favour of Anschluss. It just shows that most of those present in the crowds were probably (though not necessarily) in favour. One can tell by the identical Swastika banners conveniently flying down the streets in the photos you put up that there was a degree of stage management in the whole exercise, and not just a matter of popular spontaneity. Similar scenes were staged in Prague a year later, but the sullen Czechs were definitely not in favour of Anschluss with the Reich.
The annexation of the Sudetenland which was predominantly inhabited by ethnic Germans but was part of Czechoslovakia showed similar approval of the Nazi annexation:
I've not seen any photos of any Austrian resistance or disapproval of the Anschluss. Do you have any photos of such kind?
The idea that the photos I have posted are just simply Nazi propaganda is too naive. They show the general attitude of the Austrians when the Anschluss was being announced by Hitler.
But there was no disapproval from the Austrians themselves. Even until the final days of WW2, a majority of Austrians supported the Anschluss and the war effort. Even after a decade of being independent, just under half of Austrians still thought of themselves as Germans.The reason why there was no Austrian resistance in 1938 was that Schussnigg backed down when it was apparent that it was militarily futile. Austria had no allies, Mussolini's Italy had sold it out, it had a Versailles-type army that was only a fraction of the size of the Reichswehr, let alone the Wehrmacht. There were military deployments under way and the Government militia was armed, but Schussnigg, not the Nazis, prevented bloodshed.
Even before 1918 there was genuine support for an Anschluss during the time when Austria was part of Austria-Hungary. The Austrians still considered themselves as Germans and an ethnic German identity was used in a lot of schools. Hitler thought of himself as a German from his early youth days. The only reason Austria ("German-Austria") never joined Germany was because of the treaties signed at the end of the war. The fact that prevailed annoyed many Austrians who thought it denied them the right to self-determination. It's quite clear to see what different Austrians thought. There were several surveys carried out in various parts of Austria, some showed results that were not too pleasing for the Nazis yet at the same time many areas showed an almost 100% approval of an Anschluss.There is little doubt that immediately after WWI there was a majority in favour of Anschluss with Germany, but the peace treaties prevented this. However, in the 1920s elected governments were often of a persuasion for which Anschluss was not a point of principle or a priority. In 1934 the Nazis attempted a coup in order to bring Anschluss about, but were quite easily suppressed. Even some politicians in favour of Anschluss in principle were not in favour of Anschluss with a Nazi Germany. Austrian public opinion, as expressed in election results, was changeable on the subject and It is not possible to assert with certainty where public opinion lay in 1938 if asked a neutral question on the subject.
The Nazis invaded precisely to cut out any possibility of matters not going their way.
Have you read Evan Burr Bukey's Hitler's Austria: Popular Sentiment in the Nazi Era, 1938-1945? If you have not, I recommend you get a copy and read it, the book explains quite clearly the general feeling of the Austrians from the 1920s to 1938.