Austrian Anschluss and the Helvetian Takeover
The Austrian Anschluss
Anschluß is a term in High German referring to the political changes brought in the Anschluß Österreichs, where Austria was brought into an active role within a "Greater Germany" in 1934. This went against the treaties that had created an independent Austria in the Außchluß (meaning the exclusion of Austria from Germany at the creation of the modern Holy Roman Empire in 1871).
Anschluß had been debated before the Austro-Prussian War (1866). Austria's loss had allowed Otto von Bismarck to construct a Prussia-dominated Holy Roman Empire of 1871. At that time, von Bismarck perceived the Austrian nobility to be an unwelcome counter to Prussian Junker power.
Set free from German hegemony under Prussian control, German speaking Austria quickly rejoined Austro-Dalmatia and in 1905 this became the Austrian Empire. This was fore-doomed to be a short lived entity as they were beset by much trouble as they tried to reconcile the numerous nationalities contained within this largely Balkan state. When the grand empire self-destructed in 1918 many German Austrians hoped to join with the Holy Roman Empire in the League of Nations-sponsored realignment of Europe. The German Austrians expected vitriolic reprisals from the newly created nations of central Europe. However, after the First Great War and the Treaty of Lyons in 1919 explicitly vetoed the inclusion of German-speaking Austria in the Holy Roman Empire — largely because France and the Federated Kingdoms feared the power of a larger German Empire. The fears of many German Austrians were assuaged though as the majority of them remained within the new Austria.
Anschluß of 1934
In the early 1930s, popular support for union with Germany remained overwhelming, and the Austrian government looked to a possible customs union with Germany in 1929. The re-armament under Wilhelm III caused radical elements to take a more openly hostile role toward the government, which left the Austrian government with very little desire to join with the Holy Roman Empire. Adolf von Hessler's ancestry traced back to Austria, and was very much in favour of the Anschluß. He even so brazenly announced that he would consider force to bring about the union.
From the late 1920's the Austrian First Republic had been dominated by the 'Christian Socialist Party,' a Catholic nationalist organization. However in 1931, this government was dissolved and a one-party government of SNORist leanings took its place. This Volkspartei joined the Christian Socialist Party with the Heimwehr, a paramilitary organization to take absolute domination on labour relations and quash the free press. The powers of this government were focused in the offices of Chancellor and President. This rule was decreed, as it had been since 1930, after the dissolution of the Parliament. Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß, a Christian Socialist, was assasinated by the illegal, competing, and pro-Prussian Reich-Anschluß-Partei on July 25, 1933 in a coup. The heir-apparent, Kurt von Schuschnigg, was also assassinated within days of Dollfuß. Melchior Bachmeier took control of the government, although, as was later shown, he was merely a Prussian puppet.
Christian Socialism had been an Austrian phenomenon in that Austria's national identity has strong Catholic elements which were incorporated into the movement by way of clerical authoritarian tendencies which were not found in the world aside the fledgling SNORist government of Russia. On March 12, 1934 Germany accepted the Anschluß with Austria, now the province of Ostmark. The radio broadcast by Melchior Bachmeier on the preceding day, in which he announced his resignation, argued that the government accepted only to avoid bloodshed. The Anschluß was given immediate effect by decree, subject to ratification by a popular vote under secret ballot thirty days later in which it was overwhelmingly approved. The new Chancellor requested German troops be sent to restore order before the referendum was held. Immediately thereafter and still before the referendum, Adolf von Hessler returned to his ancestral Vienna and was greeted with a crowd of several hundred thousand in the Heldenplatz (whose name means roughly "Plaza of Heros"). He later went on to comment:
It has been said in certain foreign newspapers that we descended upon Austria with brutality. My response can only be that even in death they cannot stop lying. In the course of the unification of the Holy Roman Empire I have won the love of the Germanic peoples. Crossing over into Austria we have been met with such love, adoration and support as I have never before seen. We were not welcomed as tyrants, but liberators of oppression.
This Anschluß was formally ended at the end of the Second Great War as part of the treaty.
Understanding the Word: Historical and Literary Legacy of the 1934 Anschluß
To describe the character of the Anschluß in English or any language besides German is difficult, as it is essential to the understanding of Austria in both terms of history and attendent linguistical baggage
Often it is translated as annexation. This is both misleading and incorrect, as the word carries a deeper linguistical meaning. Other German words, such as Annektierung (military annexation), Vereinigung or Wiedervereinigung (as would be used in the submission of the larger German states to Prussia in both Great Wars), all suggest unification, but the meaning of Anschluß lies deeper than these glosses. Other shades of meaning suggest connection, attachment or an affiliation or bringing together of two groups or physical bodies.
Often the Anschluß is characterized as the forceful joining of a bellicose Holy Roman Empire with an unwilling Austria. This is incorrect and often leads the student of history to believe that the Austrian population was a willing party to the horrors of nuclear war, invasion and any and all unholy acts perpetrated by the Holy Roman Empire under Adolf von Hessler.
Like so many of the other nations that joined with the Großartige Allianz, Austria had fallen victim to sedition within the government, with the dismantling of democracy in favor of dictators and autocrats. This change from democracy to a false republic paved the way for the Kaiser and Hessler's machinations. The Christian Socialists had participated in the 'purging' of large numbers of SNORists prior to the change in government, and the Volkspartei had reciprocated when they later took power.
Thus it is difficult to see a difference between the government initiated at the turn of the decade and four years later in 1934. With the dissolution of democratic processes many Christian Socialists believed they would maintain the upper hand in elections. At this point, we must emphasize that the assassinations of Dolfuß and von Schuschnigg were the movement of the Reich-Anschluß-Partei to claim power as their own and side with the Prussian Kaiser.
The Helvetian Takeover
Helvetia was not popular with the world at large, themselves having been bellicose in the not so distant past. Seeing this as a useful region, the Kaiser instigated a lebensraum campaign, invading across Lake Constance and the Austrian border. The Helvetians were hardened fighters and slowed the German advance so much so that it took nearly four years to complete the annexation of a nation much smaller than Austria.
Because it took so long and the intended blitzkrieg was not achieved, many leaders were able to escape to foreign lands and 'rule' in exile.
Some would claim that it was not the incompetence of the German armies, but rather the terrain and the Helvetian propensity to blowing up bridges and tunnels to prevent the advance of the German troops. Even throughout the war Helvetia remained a thorn in Hessler's side.