Kurt von Schuschnigg

Kurt von Schuschnigg : Nazi Germany

Kurt von Schuschnigg was born in Trento, Austria-Hungary, on 14th December, 1897. He fought in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War.

After the war Schuschnigg became a lawyer in Innsbruck. He joined the Christian Social Party and was elected to the Nationairat in 1927.

In 1932 Engelbert Dollfuss, the Austrian chancellor, appointed Schuschnigg as his minister of justice. The following year he became minister of education.

When Dollfuss was assassinated in 1934, Schuschnigg became the Austria's new chancellor. He attempted to eliminate the threat to his government by Heimwehr, a national paramilitary defence force, by disbanding it on October, 1936

Schuschnigg capitulated to Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden in February, 1938. He attempted to gain control of the situation by arranging for a plebiscite to be held on 13th March, 1938. However, this move was undermined when the German Army invaded two days before the plebiscite was due to take place. Schuschnigg was imprisoned by the Nazi Government until he was liberated by American troops in 1945.

After the Second World War Schuschnigg was a professor of political science at St. Louis in the USA (1948-67) and wrote The Brutal Takeover (1971). Kurt von Schuschnigg died in Innsbruck, Austria on 18th November, 1977.

Primary Sources

(1) Kurt von Schuschnigg, radio broadcast (11th March, 1938)

This day has placed us in a tragic and decisive situation. I have to give my Austrian fellow countrymen the details of the events of today.

The German Government today handed to President Miklas an ultimatum, with a time limit, ordering him to nominate as chancellor a person designated by the German Government and to appoint members of a cabinet on the orders of the German Government; otherwise German troops would invade Austria.

I declare before the world that the reports launched in Germany concerning disorders by the workers, the shedding of streams of blood, and the creation of a situation beyond the control of the Austrian Government are lies from A to Z. President Miklas has asked me to tell the people of Austria that we have yielded to force since we are not prepared even in this terrible situation to shed blood. We have decided to order the troops to offer no resistance.

So I take leave of the Austrian people with the German word of farewell uttered from the depth of my heart: God protect Austria.