Were there any Austrians in Nazi Germany's government before the Anschluss?

Were there any Austrians in Nazi Germany's government before the Anschluss?

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Apart from Adolf Hitler himself, who was born in Braunau am Inn in what is now Upper Austria, were there any Austrians in the upper echelons of the German Nazi party or Germany's Nazi government before the Anschluss of 1938?

A quick skim through the list of Hitler's cabinet ministers up to 1938 doesn't reveal anyone born in Austria. But perhaps there were other, slightly lower-ranking Austrian-born Nazis who nonetheless wielded some appreciable degree of political power.

Note that I'm not asking about prominent Austrians who may have served in the German military (unless they also held some important party or political post), nor am I asking about anyone who rose to power or fame only during or after the Anschluss. So this would exclude, for example, Otto Skorzeny, who was more important as a soldier than as a party member, and in any case was not a notable personage until the Anschluss began.

It looks ike the title of the question is less the focus than the body part for answering a question about:

Q perhaps there were other, slightly lower-ranking Austrian-born Nazis who nonetheless wielded some appreciable degree of political power.

Since Austria had its own nazi-party since 1903, called NDSAP (1918-1926), and a string of related predecessor and related organisations, there are quite a few candidates for 'Austrian born nazis' in Germany as NSDAP members and of 'some influence'.

Most notably the tiny number of 14000 Austrian legion activists, who were all Austrians and either fled after their party was banned in Austria in 1933 or because they remained and were participating in the failed coup of 1934 and fled then or were expelled.

One of the more notorious Austrian nazis would perhaps be Otto Wächter

Born in Vienna, joined the Austrian SA in 1923.

After the failed coup, Wächter fled to Nazi Germany. He entered the SS on 1 January 1932, (SS No: 235368) and completed his German military service in Freising, Bavaria. In 1935 his Austrian citizenship was denied and German citizenship conferred upon him while he completed his academic training and education as a lawyer in Germany. In 1937 he started working in the relief organization of Austrian NS-refugees in Berlin.

He then went on to a usual nazi career: State Secretary in the Nazi government in Vienna, Governor of Kraków, Poland, Governor of Galicia, General Government with the ranks of SS-Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant der Polizei. He then tried to flee via a Catholic rat line via Tyrol but died in Rome in 1949.

Insofar that the far older Austrian Nazi party DNSAP cooperated since 1920 with the German NSDAP, but remained weak and after the onset of the Great Depression in Austria the roughly halving faction within it of the 'Hitler-Movement' became dependent and loyal to Hitler and Hitler Germany, this faction has to be seen as Germany's fifth column in Austria. Starting from 1926 and at the latest in 1931, Austrian members of the Austrian now also called NSDAP, were de facto members of a not only pan-German but just German party. Hitler's, to be precise, as they already called him their 'Führer'. This considerably increases the number of candidates to satisfy this question, albeit most remaining in Austria, as long as it existed. While initially it might have made some sense to distinguish NSDAP members in Austria from those in Germany, but the closer we move towards 1938, and almost certainly as early as after 1934, an Austrian NSDAP member is directed by Germany's 'Führer', and the distinction becomes quite meaningless. One well known example:

On 18 October 1930, Kaltenbrunner joined the Nazi Party with member number 300,179. In 1931, he was the Bezirksredner (district speaker) for the Nazi Party in Upper Austria. Kaltenbrunner joined the SS on 31 August 1931, his SS number was 13,039. He first became a Rechtsberater (legal consultant) for the party in 1929 and later held this same position for SS Abschnitt (Section) VIII beginning in 1932. That same year, he began working at his father's law practice and by 1933 was head of the National-Socialist Lawyers' League in Linz.

In January 1934, Kaltenbrunner was briefly jailed at the Kaisersteinbruch detention camp with other National Socialists for conspiracy by the Engelbert Dollfuss government. While there he led a hunger strike which forced the government to release 490 of the party members. In 1935, he was jailed again on suspicion of high treason. This charge was dropped, but he was sentenced to six months imprisonment for conspiracy and he lost his license to practice law.

From mid-1935 Kaltenbrunner was head of the illegal SS Abschnitt VIII in Linz and was considered a leader of the Austrian SS. To provide Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich and Heinz Jost with new information, Kaltenbrunner repeatedly made trips to Bavaria. Hiding on a train and on a ship that traveled to Passau, he would return with money and orders for Austrian comrades. Kaltenbrunner was arrested again in 1937, by Austrian authorities on charges of being head of the illegal Nazi Party organization in Oberösterreich. He was released in September.

Acting on orders from Hermann Göring, Kaltenbrunner assisted in the Anschluss with Germany in March 1938, and was awarded the role as the state secretary for public security in the Seyss-Inquart cabinet. Controlled from behind the scenes by Himmler, Kaltenbrunner still led, albeit clandestinely, the Austrian SS as part of his duty to 'coordinate' and manage the Austrian population.

- Robert Schwarz: "Nazism in Austria", Syracuse Scholar, Volume 3, Issue 1, 1982. (PDF)
- Bruce F. Pauley: "From Splinter Party to Mass Movement: The Austrian Nazi Breakthrough", German Studies Review, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Feb., 1979), pp. 7-29.
- Gerhard Botz: "Die österreichischen NSDAP-Mitglieder: Probleme einer quantitativen Analyse aufgrund der NSDAP-Zentralkartei im Berlin Document Center", in: R. Mann (Ed): "Die Nationalsozialisten: Analysen faschistischer Bewegungen", (p98-136), Klett-Cotta: Stuttgart, 1980.

Watch the video: WW2 - Anschlus - German Austrian Unification (October 2022).

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