Anschluss

The Anschluss (German: [ˈʔanʃlʊs] (listen), or Anschluß before the German orthography reform of 1996,[1] "joining"), also known as the Anschluss Österreichs (pronunciation , English: Annexation of Austria), was the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938.

Austrian citizens gather in the Heldenplatz to hear Hitler's declaration of annexation.
The territory of the German Reich and Austria after World War I
Events leading to World War II
  1. Treaty of Versailles 1919
  2. Polish–Soviet War 1919
  3. Treaty of Trianon 1920
  4. Treaty of Rapallo 1920
  5. Franco-Polish alliance 1921
  6. March on Rome 1922
  7. Corfu incident 1923
  8. Occupation of the Ruhr 1923–1925
  9. Mein Kampf 1925
  10. Pacification of Libya 1923–1932
  11. Dawes Plan 1924
  12. Locarno Treaties 1925
  13. Young Plan 1929
  14. Japanese invasion of Manchuria 1931
  15. Pacification of Manchukuo 1931–1942
  16. January 28 incident 1932
  17. World Disarmament Conference 1932–1934
  18. Defense of the Great Wall 1933
  19. Battle of Rehe 1933
  20. Nazis' rise to power in Germany 1933
  21. Tanggu Truce 1933
  22. Italo-Soviet Pact 1933
  23. Inner Mongolian Campaign 1933–1936
  24. German–Polish declaration of non-aggression 1934
  25. Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance 1935
  26. Soviet–Czechoslovakia Treaty of Mutual Assistance 1935
  27. He–Umezu Agreement 1935
  28. Anglo-German Naval Agreement 1935
  29. December 9th Movement
  30. Second Italo-Ethiopian War 1935–1936
  31. Remilitarization of the Rhineland 1936
  32. Spanish Civil War 1936–1939
  33. Italo-German "Axis" protocol 1936
  34. Anti-Comintern Pact 1936
  35. Suiyuan Campaign 1936
  36. Xi'an Incident 1936
  37. Second Sino-Japanese War 1937–1945
  38. USS Panay incident 1937
  39. Anschluss Mar. 1938
  40. May crisis May 1938
  41. Battle of Lake Khasan July–Aug. 1938
  42. Bled Agreement Aug. 1938
  43. Undeclared German–Czechoslovak War Sep. 1938
  44. Munich Agreement Sep. 1938
  45. First Vienna Award Nov. 1938
  46. German occupation of Czechoslovakia Mar. 1939
  47. Hungarian invasion of Carpatho-Ukraine Mar. 1939
  48. German ultimatum to Lithuania Mar. 1939
  49. Slovak–Hungarian War Mar. 1939
  50. Final offensive of the Spanish Civil War Mar.–Apr. 1939
  51. Danzig Crisis Mar.–Aug. 1939
  52. British guarantee to Poland Mar. 1939
  53. Italian invasion of Albania Apr. 1939
  54. Soviet–British–French Moscow negotiations Apr.–Aug. 1939
  55. Pact of Steel May 1939
  56. Battles of Khalkhin Gol May–Sep. 1939
  57. Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact Aug. 1939
  58. Invasion of Poland Sep. 1939

The idea of an Anschluss (a united Austria and Germany that would form a "Greater Germany")[lower-alpha 1] began after the unification of Germany excluded Austria and the German Austrians from the Prussian-dominated German Empire in 1871. Following the end of World War I with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1918, the newly formed Republic of German-Austria attempted to form a union with Germany, but the Treaty of Saint Germain (10 September 1919) and the Treaty of Versailles (28 June 1919) forbade both the union and the continued use of the name "German-Austria" (Deutschösterreich); and stripped Austria of some of its territories, such as the Sudetenland.

Prior to the Anschluss, there had been strong support from people of all backgrounds in both Austria and Germany for unification of the two countries.[3] In the immediate aftermath of the dissolution of the Habsburg Monarchy—with Austria left as a broken remnant, deprived of most of the territories it ruled for centuries and undergoing a severe economic crisis—the idea of unity with Germany seemed attractive also to many citizens of the political Left and Center. Had the victors of World War I allowed it, Austria would have united with Germany as a freely taken democratic decision.

But after 1933, when the Austrian-born Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany, desire for unification could be identified with the Nazis, for whom it was an integral part of the Nazi "Heim ins Reich" concept, which sought to incorporate as many Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans outside Germany) as possible into a "Greater Germany".[4] Nazi Germany's agents cultivated pro-unification tendencies in Austria, and sought to undermine the Austrian government, which was controlled by the Austrofascist Fatherland Front. During an attempted coup in 1934, Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss was assassinated by Austrian Nazis. The defeat of the coup prompted many leading Austrian Nazis to go into exile in Germany, where they continued their efforts for unification of the two countries.

In early 1938, under increasing pressure from pro-unification activists, Austrian chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg announced that there would be a referendum on a possible union with Germany to be held on 13 March. Portraying this as defying the popular will in Austria and Germany, Hitler threatened an invasion and secretly pressured Schuschnigg to resign. The referendum was canceled. On 12 March, the German Wehrmacht crossed the border into Austria, unopposed by the Austrian military; the Germans were greeted with great enthusiasm. A plebiscite held on 10 April officially ratified Austria's annexation by the Reich.