THE tremendous events which have taken place since 1939 make what happened before the war seem dim and faraway. The spread of the terrorist Nazi power until it became a world menace; the downfall of that power; the Armistice and the ensuing conferences; and now the difficult explorations of a new world policy -- these pages of history fill our minds. In comparison, the details of earlier events seem obscure and relatively unimportant. Many people have come to accept the idea that Austria is just a small appendage to the so-called "Greater Reich," forgetting their own indignation when the Nazis first asserted that idea. If, somehow, the defeat of Hitler had occurred in 1940, how eager the world would have been to separate Austria from Germany, how widely her claim to sympathy would have been recognized!
It is possible to understand the fate of Austria only if we look back to the days preceding the armed invasion of the Nazis. As soon as Hitler could consider his military power well established, he issued the command to attack Austria. Determined on a war of aggression to extend German power over Europe, he knew that the conquest of Austria must be his first goal. His objectives were strategic -- to lean on the Alpine ridge for support in protecting his flanks, and to encircle Czechoslovakia.
Hitler had made a concealed attack on Austria as early as the winter of 1933-34. Numerous disguised packages were sent across the border containing explosives, hand grenades and illegal Nazi leaflets. All over the country Nazi emissaries dynamited high-tension wires, water mains and telephone cables. That first attack was thwarted by the alertness of the Austrian authorities. But the danger made it necessary for the Austrian Government to assume emergency powers and temporarily to limit certain civil rights. To justify such measures, the two large political parties in Austria (the Christian-Social Party and the Social-Democratic Party) should have united. That would have placed the procedure on a democratic basis. Only
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