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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 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."
|"Als Führer und Kanzler der deutschen Nation und des Reiches melde ich
vor der Geschichte nunmehr den Eintritt meiner Heimat in das Deutsche
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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.
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
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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
"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
"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."