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Vienna (first district)

This "place of heroes" furnished the splendid stage for Hitler’s first great speech in Vienna. He chose the Heldenplatz partly for its huge size, but also because of its tradition, especially for German nationalists. The "heroes" were the heroes in the 19th century wars of liberation against Napoleon, the 17th century heroes in the war with the Turks, and the unknown soldier, whose monument is still part of the Heldentor, the heroes’ gate, that separates the Heldenplatz from the Ring. In 1908, Hitler was cogitating renovation plans for the Heldenplatz.  Hitler wanted to connect the court museums on the opposite side of the ring with the Heldenplatz, thus making the Heldentor a centerpiece. On the opposite side of the Heldenplatz from the imperial palace (Hofburg), Hitler wanted to build two mighty triumphal arches. In the gigantic new Heldenplatz Hitler envisioned "an ideal spot for mass marches," where the marchers would "feel a great, monumental impression." In fact, these ideas for the Heldenplatz were not Hitler’s own. He had filched them from a 19th century architect, Gottfried Semper. Semper’s plans had never come to fruition, and Hitler had simply read about them. On March 15, 1938, Hitler spoke from the balustraded balcony of the newest part of the Hofburg, the neue Burg, facing the Heldenplatz. Before 250,000 wildly cheering Viennese, the Führer proclaimed the "homecoming of Austria" into the German Reich. In the meantime, the Gestapo was hunting down political opponents and Jews.  

Hitler arrived in Vienna March 14, 1938, to the pealing of church bells. The Neue Basler Zeitung  wrote, "The scenes of infatuation at Hitler's arrival defy description." Hitler stayed in the royal suite in the Hotel Imperial. At 7pm, when the cries from the ecstatic populace did not die down, Hitler walked onto the hotel balcony and made the following speech: 

Hitler & Himmler on Hotel Imperial Balcony, Vienna, April 1938
Hitler on hotel balcony

"My German comrades, ladies and gentlemen! What you feel, I myself have experienced deeply in these five days. A great historic change has confronted our German Volk. But what you experience at this moment, the other whole German Volk also experiences with you: not the two million people in this city, but 65 million of our Volk in an empire! I am seized and moved by this historic change. And all of you live for this oath: whatever may come, no one will shatter and tear asunder the German Empire as it stands today!" "Meine deutschen Volksgenossen und Genossinnen! Was Sie empfinden, habe ich selbst in diesen fünf Tagen auf das Tiefste miterlebt. Es ist eine große geschichtliche Wende, die unserem deutschen Volk zuteil wurde. Was wir aber in diesem Augenblick erleben, erlebt mit Ihnen auch das ganze andere deutsche Volk. Nicht die zwei Millionen Menschen in dieser Stadt sind es, sondern 65 Millionen unseres Volkes in einem Reich! [Ich] bin ergriffen und bewegt von dieser geschichtlichen Wende. Und Sie alle leben in einem Gelöbnis: Was immer auch kommen mag, das deutsche Reich, so wie es heute steht, wird niemand mehr zerbrechen und niemand mehr zerreißen!"
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Hitler speaks in the Heldenplatz, March 15, 1938:

"As Führer and Chancellor of the German Nation and the Reich, I report before history the entry of my homeland into the German Reich."


Hitler speaks from the balcony of the Hofburg, March 15, 1938
"Als Führer und Kanzler der deutschen Nation und des Reiches melde ich vor der Geschichte nunmehr den Eintritt meiner Heimat in das Deutsche Reich."

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At noon, March 12, 1938, Joseph Goebbels read Hitler's Anschluss proclamation over all German and Austrian radio stations:

Das Deutsche Reich duldet es aber nicht, daß in diesem Gebiet von jetzt an noch Deutsche verfolgt werden wegen ihrer Zugehörigkeit zu unserer Nation oder ihrem Bekenntnis zu bestimmten Auffassungen. Es will Ruhe und Ordnung. Ich habe mich daher entschlossen, den Millionen Deutschen in Österreich nunmehr die Hilfe des Reiches zur Verfügung zu stellen. Seit heute morgen marschieren über alle Grenzen Deutsch-Österreichs die Soldaten der deutschen Wehrmacht. Panzertruppen, Infanterie-Divisionen und die SS.-Verbände auf der Erde, und die deutsche Luftwaffe im blauen Himmel werden, selbst gerufen von der neuen nationalsozialistischen Regierung in Wien, der Garant dafür sein, daß dem österreichischen Volk nunmehr endlich in kürzester Frist die Möglichkeit geboten wird, durch eine wirkliche Volksabstimmung seine Zukunft und damit sein Schicksal selbst zu gestalten. Hinter diesen Verbänden aber steht der Wille und die Entschlossenheit der ganzen deutschen Nation. Ich selbst als Führer und Kanzler des deutschen Volkes werde glücklich sein, nunmehr wieder als deutscher und freier Bürger jenes Land betreten zu können, das auch meine Heimat ist. Die Welt aber soll sich überzeugen, daß das deutsche Volk in Österreich in diesen Tagen Stunden seligster Freude und Ergriffenheit erlebt. Es sieht in den zu Hilfe gekommenen Brüdern die Retter aus tiefster Not! Es lebe das nationalsozialistische Deutsche Reich! Es lebe das nationalsozialistische Deutsch-Österreich!
Berlin, den 12. März 1938.
Adolf Hitler.
The German Reich will not tolerate persecution of Germans in this region because they belong to our country or because they hold certain opinions. There must be peace and order. I have therefore decided to help the millions of Germans in Austria with the resources of the Reich. Since this morning, soldiers of the German Wehrmacht have marched over the German-Austrian borders. The new National Socialist government in Vienna has itself summoned panzer troops, infantry divisions, and SS legions on the ground and the German Luftwaffe in the blue sky. Our soldiers guaranty that the Austrian Volk will shortly be given the opportunity to determine their future themselves and thereby their fate with a plebiscite. Behind the legions stand the will and decisiveness of the entire German nation. I myself, as Führer and Chancellor of the German people, will be pleased to enter Austria, my homeland, once again as a German and a free citizen. But the world must convince itself that the German people in Austria have been seized by a soulful joy, and see that their rescuing brothers have come to their aid in their hour of great need. Long live the National Socialist German Reich! Long live National Socialist German Austria!
Berlin, March 12th, 1938
Adolf Hitler

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In Vienna, Edward R. Murrow broadcasts a description of preparations for Hitler's arrival, March 13th, 1938.

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International News Service journalist Pierre J. Huss describes Hitler's first night in Vienna, 1938:

He took over the royal suite, a high-ceilinged affair of three main rooms done up in much red drapery and furniture of white and gold. The bathroom was modernized, but not much else. The Imperial Hotel definitely had been coasting along on its reputation and made no attempt to rival the up-to-date Bristol and Grand across the way. But Hitler had his reason for coming to the Imperial, and that night he gathered a small circle of intimates around him and talked to them until the small hours of Vienna and his days there. He had [Julius] Schaub, the personal adjutant, pull the glossy boots off his feet and occasionally bring him a glass of warm milk. Then he reclined in loose comfort on the sofa and delved into reminiscences, waxing excited enough to sit up straight and rumple his hair when telling of some of the hard times he had seen in that city.

"Even as a boy I knew inside of me that I could never reconcile myself to living for very long in a small Austrian village like Braunau," he told the listeners around him, who were served all the food and drinks they wanted but did not smoke. "My father wanted me to enter government service but even in those days I had a horror of the Beamte (official) who carries his letters from house to house day by day or who sits for a fixed number of hours behind a desk and fills out the same papers until he can retire on pension. I left home when I was seventeen years old to escape this fearful future and came to Vienna to create my own life....

"In the old days the Viennese used to have a sentimental way of saying: ‘And when I die, I want to go to Heaven and have a little hole among the stars to see my Vienna, my fair Vienna.’ I didn't feel very much that way. The Hapsburgs and the spendthrifts may have looked at Vienna as a playground and paradise, but to me it was a city going to decay in its own grandeur. Only the Jews made money, and only those with Jewish friends or those willing to do the work for Jews made a decent living. I, and a lot of others like me, practically starved, and some went begging.

"I used to walk past the Imperial Hotel of nights when there was nothing else to do and I hadn't even enough money to buy a book. I'd watch the automobiles and the coaches drive up to the entrance and be received with a deep bow by the white-mustached porter out in front, who never talked to me if I came near him. I could see the glittering lights and chandeliers in the lobby but I knew it was impossible for me to set foot inside. One night, after a bad blizzard which piled up several feet of snow, I had a chance to make some money for food by shoveling snow. Ironically enough, the five or six of us in my group were sent to clean the street and sidewalk in front of the Imperial Hotel.

"That was the night the Hapsburgs were entertaining. Old Josef [Kaiser Franz Josef] was still alive but he didn't appear. I saw Karl and Zita step out of their imperial coach and grandly walk into this hotel over the red carpet. We poor devils shoveled the snow away on all sides and took our hats off every time the aristocrats arrived. They didn't even look at us, although I still smell the perfume that came to our noses. We were about as important to them, or for that matter to Vienna, as the snow that kept coming down all night, and this hotel did not even have the decency to send out a cup of hot coffee to us. We were kept there most of the night, and each time the wind blew hard it covered the red carpet with snow. Then I'd take a broom and brush it off, glancing at the same time into the brilliantly lit interior, which fascinated me. I heard the music and it made me wish to cry. It made me pretty angry, too, and feel the injustice of life. I resolved that night that someday I would come back to the Imperial Hotel and walk over the red carpet into that glittering interior where the Hapsburgs danced. I didn't know how or when, but I have waited for this day and tonight I am here.

"I shall have this hotel listed as our party hotel and I shall come here each time I am in Vienna. I shall have it renovated and modernized, but the name shall remain the same. And a red carpet shall be on the sidewalk every time I come so that I can walk over it into the hotel the same as those aristocrats did back in the days when I shoveled snow. I have never forgotten the resolution I made. Providence fulfilled my wish."