Austrian Anschluss - four days in March

Wednesday 9th March 1938

On the 9 March 1938, in a desperate act, Schuschnigg announced a referendum whereby the Austrian people would decide for themselves if they wanted to be a part of Hitler's Germany. Hitler was furious. If the Austrians voted against joining Germany his excuse for invasion would be ruined.

Thursday 10th March 1938

Hitler told his generals to prepare for the invasion of Austria. He ordered Schuschnigg to call off the referendum. Knowing he would receive no help from Italy, and that France and Britain would not interfere in Hitler's plans, Schuschnigg conceded. He called off the referendum and resigned.

The Nazi-Austrian Interior Minister, Seyss-Inquart, was ordered by Hitler to ask for German help in restoring order in Austria.

Friday 11th March 1938

Hitler reassured Czechoslovakia that they had nothing to fear.

Saturday 12th March 1938

German troops marched into Austria unopposed. Hitler now had control of Austria. A month later, Hitler held a referendum on whether Austria should be reunited with Germany.

10th April 1938 - Anschluss Referendum

  • a propanganda campaign encouraged people to vote for Anschluss
  • Austrian citizens of Jewish or Gypsy heritage were not allowed to vote
  • voting was not secret - having to vote under supervision of campaign workers may have pressured people to vote yes
  • "Yes" was placed in the centre of the paper and was much larger than "No"

The result showed that 99.7% of voters approved of German control of their country.