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Austria 1930-1938: The Totalitarian Temptation

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Stefan Wedrac

on 20 March 2018

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Transcript of Austria 1930-1938: The Totalitarian Temptation

The Totalitarian Temptation

mutual distrust among big parties
paramilitary organizations
difficult economic conditions
ideologies are mutually exclusive
Phase 1: Tension

Phase 2: Violence

Phase 3: "Austro-Fascism"

from the inside...
...and the outside
Constitutional Crisis 1929
Great Depression beginning in October 1929
Oct. 1929: Austrian Bank "Boden-Credit-Anstalt" is forced to merge with the "Creditanstalt" (Rothschild-Bank)
May 1931: The "Creditanstalt" has to be safed by nationalization. Cost: about a billion Schillings
St. Lorenzen Aug. 1929: Fight between Heimwehr and Schutzbund, 3 dead, 55 wounded
Heimwehr demands constitutional reform (stronger executive and president, less democracy
Chancellor resigns, government dissolved
new government under Johann Schober 1929-1930
Johann Schober (1874-1932)
reform of the constitution
Hague Conference: end of reparations
Customs union with Germany planned & negotiated
unemployment rate rises sharply
Heimwehr marches towards Vienna and demands new constitution
Radicalization of the Heimwehr in the early 30ies
Oath of Korneuburg (May 18th 1930): heimwehr positions itself openly against democracy and marxism, for a national "Volksgemeinschaft" (People's Community) on a "corporative" basis without parties
(customs union with Germany denied by allied powers)
Civil War
February 12, 13 & 14 1934
A new political force: the nazi party "NSDAP"
catch-all party
anti-semitic propaganda
political success only after 1930
slogan "Volksgemeinschaft" (people's community)
1932: Local elections in Salzburg, Lower Austria and Vienna: the national socialists get 10-14 % of the votes
New Government from 1932 on
riots, fights with Socialists
Engelbert Dollfuß
new bond ("Lausanne", 300 million)
government has sometimes no majority in parliament
program of economy measures
helped and influenced by Mussolini
"Self-eliminantion of parliament"
March 4th, 1933: The Austrian parliament debates a resolution against the strike of railway workers
during a heated debate over the rules of procedure all three presidents step back consecutively
Feb. 12: Schutzbund shoots at police conducting a weapon's search
Dollfuß hindered the parliament from meeting again and persuades Constitutional Court justices to resign. Effect: a dictatorship of the government, backed by a law of 1917 ("Economic Empowering Act")
Civil liberties abolished:
freedom of speech
freedom of press
freedom of assembly
Response of the NSDAP
celebrations, bombings, propaganda
Response of the Social Democrats
Nothing. Party leadership wants to take action only if (a) the party would be forbidden (b) trade unions would be closed (c) Vienna would be lost or (d) the constitution would be altered
Schutzbund rises against government, general strike declared but not followed, Socialist party leaders flee
Result: over 300 dead, 700 wounded
"July-Putsch": A Nazi-Rebellion on July 25, 1934
May 1934: new constitution
Austrian Nazis attempt to overthrow government without consent of Hitler
actions planned in Vienna and in the states
SS-men dressed in police and army uniforms storm the government building and the RAVAG
"social, christian, german state on a corporative basis with authoritarian leadership" (3rd way between liberalism and socialism)
Chancellor Dollfuß killed
message to the other Austrian groups: revolt starts on the countryside
Single Party System: "Fatherland Front"
Camps for political enemies
5 councils: Council of State, Cultural Council, Economic Council, Provincial Council, Federal Diet
"corporations": agriculture, public service, industry, manufacturing, banking, commerce, free professions
all other parties subsequently forbidden
1933-1936: Italy as the foreign proector
Nazis respond with terror, and ifiltrate organisations together with socialists
Mussolini forces Dollfuß before 1934 to smash Socialism
Rome Protocolls 1934: mutual consultation, economic agreements
Austria's diplomacy on the Italian side during the war in Ethiopia
situation only changes with the establishment of the Axis Berlin-Rome
included before 1936, disbanded afterwards because of universal military service
Central Figure: Kurt von Schuschnigg
1936-1938: on the Road to a German unification
1933-1936: Hitler not in favour of a unification, 1000-Mark-ban
1936: July-Pact: lift of the ban, Austria includes nationals in gov't, "second german state"
1937: Austria is fully isolated
1938, Feb. 12: Schuschnigg meets Hitler: Hitler forces Schuschnigg to grant freedom of speech for nazis and request Seyss-Inquart to be part of the government, full amnestie was to be granted to nazis and politics were to be conducted with mutual consultation and information
Situation 1918-1933
consolidation of territory
construction of democratic republic
coalition CS/SD
governments CS/nationalists
big loans, foreign supervision
stabilization of economy
radicalization of all actors
polarization of parties
no foreign supervision
Mass stock speculation on credit, stock issue without subsequent investment:
US stock market skyrockets and then crashes on October 24, 1929
US investors withdraw money from Europe, US creditors make loans due immediately:
Austrian banks fail to collect debts to pay US and other bonds
Full transcript