Kurt Schuschnigg Holds Direct Vote on Independence or Unification for Austria Hot

Kurt Schuschnigg Holds Direct Vote on Independence or Unification for Austria

Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg, 1936
Source: Wikipedia

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Kurt Schuschnigg decides to hold a national plebiscite to let Austrians vote on whether or not they will remain independent or unite with Nazi Germany. The question is to be: "Are you for an independent and social, a Christian, German and united Austria?"

Nazis in both Germany and Austria are outraged, regarding it as a betrayal and a threat to their plans. They are especially incensed at the fact that the minimum age for voting is set at 24 — Schuschnigg does this in the expectation that most Nazi votes will tend to come from younger people.

Nazis stage demonstrations in Vienna and a few other places in Austria and have to be put down by force. The plebiscite is to be held in just a few days, on March 13, and supporters of Kurt Schuschnigg expect he will receive around 70% of the vote, but the vote will never take place.

Franz von Papen reports in his testimony to the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal:

"The plebiscite announced by Herr Schuschnigg was, of course, a complete surprise. In my view it was contrary to the spirit of the arrangements agreed upon at Berchtesgaden and contrary to the tendency of a peaceful settlement of the tension. The plebiscite was a violation of the Austrian Constitution, too. It was not a decision of the Austrian Government but was a spontaneous measure of the Austrian Chancellor, and in my opinion it was quite evident that those elements in Austria who were in favor of a union of the two States were most displeased with this plebiscite."

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Kurt Alois Josef Johann Schuschnigg

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