Though the term is especially associated with the Nazi takeover of Austria on 11 March 1938, the notion of Anschluss, from the German anschliessen (Eng.: to connect), has a long history in Austrian thinking. For centuries the Austrian lands were part of the German Holy Roman Empire and contributed materially to its defense. Austrian territorial rulers sat and voted in the imperial estates. Save for a few years in the 18th century, the Habsburgs served as German kings and Holy Roman Emperors from 1440 until they assumed the title of Emperors of Austria in 1806. Linguistically and culturally, the inhabitants of the Austrian lands were largely “German” and called themselves that. The Habsburgs presided over meetings of the German Confederation, the loose organization of German states created at the Congress of Vienna.
   Proponents of Germany’s unification in the 19th century could find no place in their schemes for the Habsburg Empire and its huge non-German population. With Prussia’s defeat of Emperor Franz Joseph’s armies in 1866 and the establishment of the Hohenzollern Empire in 1871, there were two central European states with claims to German loyalties. From then until the collapse of Austria–Hungary in 1918, several political movements in the German-speaking regions of the Habsburg lands argued for closer connections with the new Germany.
   At the end of World War I, this sentiment became a political priority for many Austrians. Doubting the viability of an independent Austria, the national assembly declared its desire to join Germany on 12 November 1918. Both the Social Democratic Party of Austria and a new Greater German Party supported the idea. They were opposed by the Christian Social Party, which was strongly Catholic in outlook and loathe to cooperate with a state in which 64 percent of the population was Protestant. The discussion became somewhat academic when the Treaty of St. Germain stipulated that such a move required approval from the Council of the League of Nations. Nevertheless, support for Anschluss in Austria remained high for a time. Both the Tyrol and Salzburg voted in 1921 to become part of the Weimar Republic. Though nothing came of these actions, private clubs, political groupings, and even factions within the Christian Social movement continued to promote close coordination with German policy. Few Austrians, however, endorsed outright annexation. In 1931, Germany and Austria agreed on a tariff union, only to have the decision overturned by the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
   Once Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933, Austrians advocating union with Germany received greater encouragement from Berlin. The Austrian Nazi movement did what it could to destabilize the government in Vienna through boycotts, terrorism, and the like. Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss and his successor, Kurt Schuschnigg, tried to curb these activities. Indeed, following an abortive Nazi putsch in July 1934, which ended with the murder of Dollfuss, the party was declared illegal. Hitler continued his pressures, though he made no outright military preparation for the move until the beginning of 1938. On 11 March, German troops crossed the border of the two countries. Enthusiastic crowds greeted them wherever they appeared. The government resigned, to be replaced by a Nazi-controlled regime headed by Arthur Seyss-Inquart (1892–1946), a lawyer from Vienna. On 13 March, Austria was declared to be a province of Germany. In a plebiscite held on 10 April 1938, almost 100 percent of those who voted endorsed the arrangement, which endured until 1945. Article 4 of the Austrian State Treaty (1955) forbids Anschluss once again.
   See also Language; Seven Weeks’ War.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Anschluss — 1. ↑Kontakt, 2. Affiliation …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

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