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The DollfuΒ Ministry: The Demise of the Nationalrat

  • R. John Rath
Extract

The demise of Parliament in March 1933 was the most significant single act in the march to semifascism in Austria, which began with the formation of the Heimwehr in the early days of the First Republic and was well under way when significant changes were made in the government on September 21,1933, and a concentration camp was established at Wöllersdorf a few days later. Traditional democratic means were employed to abolish Parliament. Dollfuβ, the Heimwehr, and the Christian Social Party only did what parties in power in democracies do when under attack. They used all the means at their disposal to protect their government from being overthrown. The Social Democrats and Greater Germans, likewise, employed only democratic means in their effort to overthrow the Dollfuβ regime and to preserve a democratically elected Parliament. Dollfuβ and the leaders of all but the National Socialist Party in Austria were well aware of the great danger to Austria that stemmed from the intensification of National Socialist efforts to overthrow a democratic form of government in Austria after Hitler came to power in Germany and knew that the German National Socialists were providing financial support to the Austrian Greater German Party to support them in their efforts to take control of Austria.

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1 Weinberg, Gerhard.L., The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany: Diplomatic Relations in Europe, 1933–36 (Chicago, 111.,1970), 87;Gottfried-Karl, Kindermann, Hitler's Defeat in Austria, 1933–1934: Europe's First Containment of Nazi Expansionism (Boulder, Colo., 1988), 13;Koerner, Ralf Richard, Sie haben es damals gemacht. Die Propagandavorbereitungen zum Österreich-Anschluβ durch das Hitlerregime 1933 bis 1938 (Vienna, 1958), 19.

2 Rieth, to Bülow, , Vienna, Feb. 18, 1933, Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, ser. C (1933–37): The Third Reich: First Phase, 3 vols. (Washington, D.C., 19571959), vol. 1, doc. 25, pp.5255.

3 Montbas, to Paul-Boncour, , Vienna, Feb. 6,1933, Ministére de publication des documents relatifs aux origines de la guerre 1939–1945,1st ser. (1932–35), vol. 2 (Paris, 1964), doc. 267, p. 570.

4 Preziosi, to Mussolini, , Vienna, Feb. 6, 1933, I documenti diplomatici italiani (hereafter Documenti), 7th ser. (1922–35), vol.13 (Rome, 1987), doc. 70, p. 75.

5 Preziosi, to Mussolini, , Vienna, Mar. 7,1933, Ibid., doc. 174, p. 186.

6 Jakoncig, to Dollfuβ, , Innsbruck, Sept. 1,1932, Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv (Vienna)(hereafter AVA), Bundeskanzleramt Präsidium, no. 7308-Pr./32; minister for trade and transportation to DollfuΒ, Vienna, Dec. 7,1932, Ibid., no. 9832-Pr./32, enclosed in no. 9742-Pr./32.

7 Wilhelm, Scheibein's speech in the Nationalrat on Feb. 15,1933, Stenographische Protokolle über die Sitzungen des Nationalrates (hereafter Nationalrat), 118th session of the 4th legislative period, p. 3043.

8 Otto Huber to chamber for workers and employees, Feb. 22, 1933, AVA, Bundeskanzleramt Präsidium, no. 2144-Pr./33; chairman of the federal chancellery to Jakoncig, Ibid.; Adolf, Schärf, Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben (Vienna, 1963), 114; minutes of the executive committee of the Social Democratic Party, Feb. 20, 1933 (housed in the Social Democratic Party headquarters office in Vienna), fol. 2402.

9 Gertrude, Enderle-Burcel, ed., Protokolle des Ministerrates der Ersten Republik. Kabinett Engelbert Dollfuβ (hereafter Kabinett Dollfuß), 7 vols. (Vienna, 1980-1986), vol. 2, no. 1847, dated Feb. 25,1933, p. 325;Georg, Wagner, “Leopold Kunschak und die Schicksalsjahre 1933 und 1934,” Christliche Demokratie 2 (February 1984): 1934–1984. Konflikt und Versöhnung, 70.

10 Kabinett, Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 848, dated Feb. 28,1933, pp. 360–64, and esp. appendix A, 364–65.

11 Minutes of the meeting of the executive committee of the Social Democratic Party (housed in the Social Democratic headquarters in Vienna), fol. 2409.

12 Helmut, Schreiner, “Franz Rehrl im Salzburger Landtag,” in Franz Rehrl, Landeshauptmann von Salzburg 1922–1938, ed.Wolfgang, Huber (SN-Verlag, 1975), 86.

13 Kabinelt, Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 849, dated Mar. 3,1933, pp. 366–67.

14 Minutes of the meeting of Social Democratic Nationalrat and Bundesrat members at 11:10 A.M. on March 4,1933 (housed in the archives of the Association for the History of the Working Class, Vienna); no file numbers given.

15 Nationalrat, 125th session, Mar. 4,1933, p. 3352; Kabinett, Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 850, dated Mar. 4,1933, appendix A, 391.

16 Nationalrat, 125th session, Mar. 4,1933, p. 3352; Kabinett, Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 850, dated Mar. 4,1933, appendix B, 391.

17 Nationalrat, 125th session, Mar. 4,1933, pp. 3352–65.

18 Ibid.., 3365–70.

19 Ibid.., 3371; see also Wagner, “Leopold Kunschak,” 71–75.

20 Nationalmt, 125th session, Mar. 4,1933, p. 3372; Kabinett, Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 850, dated Mar. 4,1933, appendix C, 392.

21 Nationalrat, 125th session, Mar. 4,1933, p. 3389.

22 Ibid., 3392.

23 For the proceedings dealing with the third motion and the quarrel over the errors made in the voting, seeIbid., 3389–92, and Karl, Renner, Nachgelassene Werke, vol. 2: Österreich von der ersten zur zweiten Republik (Vienna, 1953), 128–29. The minutes of the Nationalrat session for this part of the discussion are reproduced in full in Heinz, Fischer, ed., Zum Wort gemeldet: Otto Bauer(Vienna, 1968), 379–89. For more recent shorter accounts of the March 4 meeting, among others, see Ernst, Koref, “Zum 4. März 1933—Vergeben, aber nicht vergessen,” in Anton Benya et al., Vierzig Jahre danach. Der 4. März 1933 im Urteil von Zeitgenossen und Historikern, in Veröffentlichungen des Dr.-Karl-Renner-Institutes (Vienna, 1973), 1011; and Heinz, Fischer, “Der Geschäftsordnungs- und Verfassungsbruch von 1933/34 im Lichte der weiteren Entwicklung des österreichischen Parlamentarismus,” in Der 4. März 1933. Vom Verfassungsbruch zur Diktatur. Beiträge zum zvissenschafilichen Symposion des Dr.-Karl-Renner-Institutes abgehalten am 28. February und 1. März in Wien, ed. Erich, Fröschl and Helge, Zoitl(Vienna, 1984), 9394.

24 Scharf, , Erinnerungen aus meinem Lebert, 116–17.

25 Otto, Bauer, Austrian Democracy under Fire (London, 1934), 42. Also in the German edition, Der Aufstand der österreichischen Arbeiter, as reprinted in Otto, Bauer, Werkausgabe, ed. Hugo, Pepper, vol. 3 (Vienna, 1976), 953–97.

26 Schumy, Nachlaß: “Heimwehr” (unpublished manuscript in the library of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Vienna), 85; Nationalrat, 125th session, Mar. 4, 1933, pp. 3392–93; Schärf, , Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben, 117; Friedrich, Funder, Als Österreich den Sturm bestand. Aus der Ersten in die Zweite Republik, 3rd ed. (Vienna, 1957), 65; Siegfried, Nasko's interview with Karl, Albrecht, Vienna, June 25, 1981, in Karl Renner in Dokumenten und Erinnerungen, ed. Siegfried, Nasko (Vienna, 1982), 179–80.

27 Among other accounts, see Schumy, Nachlaß: “Heimwehr,” 85; Koref, , “Zum 4. März im Urteil von Zeitgenossen und Historikern,” 11; and Schärf, , Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben, 117.

28 Peter, Huemer, Sektionschef Robert Hecht und die Zerstörung der Demokratie in Österreich (Vienna, 1975);Wagner, , “Leopold Kunschak,” 85–86.

29 Leopold, Kunschak, Österreich 1918–1934 (Vienna, 1934), 176; Arnold, Winkler, Österreich. Geschichte Österreichs 1918–1945. Staatskatastrophen und Wiederaufbau. Zwei Vorträge (Vienna, 1946), 49; Anton, Staudinger, “Christlichsoziale Partei und Errichtung des ‘autoritaren Standestaates’” in Vom justizpakst zum Heldenplatz, ed. Ludwig, Jedlicka and Rudolf, Neck (Vienna, 1975), 69.

30 As quoted in Kunschak, , Österreich 1918–1934, 176.

31 Eva, Dollfuß, Mein Vater, Hitlers erstes Opfer (Vienna, 1994), 122–26; Schumy, Nachlaß: “Heimwehr,” 85–87; Alexander, Hryntschak, “Erinnerungen” (unpublished manuscript in the library of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Vienna), 7376; “Verfassungsbrüche des Regierungssystems Dollfuß” (anonymous unpublished manuscript in the library of the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, Vienna), 3–4.

32 Oskar, Helmer, Fünfrig Jahre erlebte Geschichte (Vienna, 1957), 128.

33 As quoted in Fuhder, , Als Österreich den Sturm bestand, 65–66; it is quoted in greater length in Dollfuß, Mein Vater, 125.

34 Kerekes, , Abenddämmerung einer Demokratie. Mussolini, Gömbös und die Heimwehr (Vienna, 1966), 133; Gerald, Stourzh and Birgitta, Zaar, eds., Österreich, Deutschland und die Mächte. Internationale und österreichische Askpekte des “Anschlusses” vom März 1938 (Vienna, 1990), 321.

35 Minutes of the 10:10 A.M. meeting on Mar. 7, 1933, in Protokolle des Klubvorstandes der Christlichsozialen Partei 1932–1934, ed. Walter, Goldinger, in Studien und Quellen zur österreichischen Zeitgeschichte, vol. 2 (Vienna, 1980), 132. A good summary of the proceedings can be found in Erika, Weinzierl, “Aus den Notizen von Richard Schmitz zur österreichischen Innenpolitik im Frühjahr 1933,” in Geschichte und Gesellschaft. Festschrift für Karl R. Stadler zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Gerhard, Botz, Hanna, Hautmann, and Helmut, Konrad (Vienna, 1974), 118120.

36 Minutes of the 10:30 A.M. meeting on Mar. 7,1933 in Protokolle, ed. Goldinger, 137.

37 Ibid., 133–34.

38 Ibid., 136.

39 Ibid., 134.

40 Ibid., 133.

41 AVA, Chr. Soz. Partei, Parlamentsklub, carton 63: Hauptausschuß, Staats Konferenz; no folio number given.

42 Kabinett Dollfuß, vol. 2, no. 851, dated Mar. 7,1933, p. 393.

43 Ibid., 393–94.

44 Ibid., 395–98; Anton, Rintelen, Erinnerungen an Österreichs Weg (Munich, 1941), 213; Franz, Winkler, Die Diktatur in Oesterreich (Zurich, 1935), 4445; Huemer, , Sektionschef Robert Hecht, 162.

45 Kabinett Dollfuß, vol. 2, no. 851, dated Mar. 7, 1933, p. 398; Dollfuß, Mein Voter, 129.

46 Order of the federal government dated Mar. 7,1933, concerning measures to repress disturbances of the public peace, order, and security damaging to economic life, Bundesgesetzblatt für die Republik Österreich, Jahrgang 1933, 16. Stück, dated Mar. 8,1933, no. 41, p. 296.

47 Kabinett Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 851, dated Mar. 7,1933, appendix E, 403–4.

48 Winter, Ernst Karl, “Die Staatskrise in Österreich,” Wiener Politische Blätter 1, no. 1 (April 16, 1933): 28.

49 Kurt, Schuschnigg, Dreimal Österreich, 2nd ed. (Vienna, 1937), 216. See also Huemer, , Sektionschef Robert Hecht, 163.

50 As quoted in Franz, Goldner, Dollfuss int Spiegel der US-Akten. Aus den Archiven des Secretary of State—der US. Botschaften Wien - Berlin - Rom - London - Paris - Prag (St. Polten, 1979), 27, and in Helmut, Wohnout, Regierungsdiktatur oder Ständeparlament? Gesetzgebung im autoritären Österreich, in Studien ZM Politik und Verwaltung, vol. 43 (Vienna, 1993), 61.

51 Ernst, Rüdiger Prince Starhemberg, Between Hitler and Mussolini: Memoirs (New York, 1942), 108.

52 Morreale, to Jacononi, , Vienna, Mar. 9, 1933, Documenti, vol. 13, doc. 190, pp. 203–4.

53 Schumy, Nachlaß: “Heimwehr,” 86. For the views of the Italian minister in Vienna, see Preziosi, to Mussolini, , Vienna, Mar. 9, 1933, Documenti, vol. 13, doc. 189, pp. 201–3.

54 The phrase bandied about by the government's supporters, that Parliament could no longer be resurrected, has been challenged by most scholars. See especially Gerhard, Botz, “Die Ausschaltung des Nationalrates und die AnfÄnge der Diktarur Dollfuß' im Urteil der Geschichtsschreibung von 1933 bis 1973,” in Vierzig Jahre danach, ed. Benya, et al. , 37–40; and Peter, Kostelka, “Der Verfassungsbruch aus rechtsdogmatischer Sicht,” in Der 4. März 1933, ed. Fröschl, and Zoitl, , 123–35.

55 Fritz, Braun, “Der politische Lebensweg des Bürgermeisters Richard Schmitz. Beiträge zur Innenpolitik der Ersten Republik Österreich und zur Geschichte der Christlichsozialen Partei” (Ph.D. diss., University of Vienna, 1968), 247; “Verfassurigsbrüche des Regierungssystems Dollfuß” (anonymous unpublished manuscript in the library of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Vienna), 3.

56 Theodor, Veiter, “Das 34er Jahr.” Bürgerkrieg in Österreich (Vienna, 1984), 121, 123.

57 Huemer, , Sektionschef Robert Hecht, 163–64.

58 Since it was taken over by the 1920 constitution the decree was still valid, but it pertained only to economic matters and the provisioning of the people and not to matters regarding press freedom and the right of assembly. See Hilde, Verena Lang, “Wilhelm Miklas,” in Vom Justizpalast zum Heldenplatz, ed. Jedlicka, and Neck, , 195.

59 Ibid., 192–95; Hilde, Verena Lang, “Bundespräsident Miklas und das autoritäre Regime 1933–1938” (Ph.D. diss., University of Vienna, 1972), 1617; Heinrich, Schneidmadl, Über Dollfuβ zu Hitler (Vienna, 1964), 25.

60 Dollfuß, , Mein Vater, 229.

61 Minutes of the meeting of the executive committee of the Social Democratic Party at 6:00 P.M. on March 8, 1933 (housed in the Social Democratic Party headquarters), fols. 24113–14.

62 Minutes of the meeting of the above committee at 11:00 A.M. on Mar. 8,1933, Ibid., fols. 2412–13.

63 Minutes of the executive committee of the Christian Social Party together with the provincial governors at 10:30 A.M. on Mar. 9, 1933, in Protokolle, ed. Goldinger, 139–41.

64 Ibid., 148.

65 Dollfu, , Mein Voter, 131.

66 Minutes of the executive committee of the Christian Social Party together with the provincial governors at 10:30 A.M. on Mar. 9, 1933, in Protokolle, ed. Goldinger, 143–46. See also Weinzierl, , “Aus den Notizen von Richard Schmitz,” 121–22.

67 Minutes of the executive committee of the Christian Social Party together with the provincial governors at 10:30 A.M. on Mar. 19, 1933, in Protokolle, ed. Goldinger, 148.

68 Ibid., 149–50.

69 Ibid., 151.

70 Ibid., 156–57.

71 Schneidemadl, , Über Dollfuβ zu Hitler, 28–29.

72 Dieter, Ross, Hitler und Dollfuβ. Die deutsche Österreich-Politik 1933–1934 (Hamburg, 1966), 1920; Kabinett Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 853, dated Mar. 9,1933, appendix A, 423.

73 Kabinett Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 853, dated Mar. 9,1933, 417–23.

74 Ibid., appendix A, 423.

75 For a discussion of the proposal by the executive committee of the Christian Social Party, see the minutes of the meeting of the executive committee of the Christian Social Party together with the provincial governors at 3:30 P.M. on Mar. 9, 1933, in Protokolle, ed. Goldinger, , 158–59.

76 Kabinett Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 853, dated Mar. 9, 1933, appendix B, 423; for the whole debate, see 417–23.

77 Rauch, to Dollfuβ, , Vienna, Mar. 10, 1933, AVA, Bundeskanzleramt, Präsidium, no. 2925-Pr./33, enclosed in no. 3830-Pr./32. See also Miklas, to Rauch, , Vienna, Mar. 11, 1938, Ibid.., no. 2925-Pr.33; Miklas, to Dollfuβ, , Vienna, Mar. 11, 1933, Ibid.; and Winkler, Die Diktatur in Österreich, 50.

78 Kabinett Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 855, dated Mar. 12, 1933, para. 1, pp. 431–32.

79 Documenti, 7th ser., 12:183, n. 1.

80 Kerekes, , Abenddämmerung einer Demokratie, 183; Wohnout, Regierungsdiktatur oder Ständestaat? 60.

81 For a summary of these denunciations, see Charles, Gulick, Austria from Habsburg to Hitler, 2vols. (Berkeley, Calif., 1948), 2:1028–33.

82 Winkler, , Die Diktatur in Oesterreich, 45.

83 See Rath, R. John, “The Deterioration of Democracy in Austria, 1927–1932,” Austrian History Yearbook 27 (1996): 214–19.

84 Friedrich, Weissensteiner, introduction to Wilhelm, Ellenbogen, Menschen und Prinzipien. Erinnerungen, Urteile und Reflexionen eines kritischen Sozialdemokraten, ed. Friedrich, Weissensteiner (Vienna, 1981), 12; Otto, Leichter, Zwischen zwei Diktaturen. Österreichs Revolutionäre Sozialisten 1934–1938 (Vienna, 1968), 50.

85 Bauer's, speech to the Viennese party functionaries, as reported in the Arbeiter Zeitung, Mar. 11, 1933, and reprinted in Otto Bauer, Werkausgabe, ed. Pepper, 6:575, 577–78; for the entire speech, see 567–79.

86 Minutes of the meeting of the executive committee of the Social Democratic Party on Mar. 13,1933 (housed in the Social Democratic Party headquarters office in Vienna), fol. 2415.

87 Minutes of the meeting of the leaders of the majority parties at 10:00 A.M. on Mar. 14, 1933, in Protokolle, ed. Goldinger, 174.

88 Bundesgesetzblatt für die Republik Österreich, Jahrgang, 1933,20. Stück, dated Mar. 14, 1933, no. 55, p. 317; minutes of the meeting of the leaders of the majority parties at 10:00 A.M. on Mar. 14, 1933, in Protokolle, ed. Goldinger, , 174–84.

89 Minutes of the meeting of the leaders of the majority parties at 10:00 A.M. on Mar. 14, 1933, in Protokolle, ed. Goldinger, 174–84.

90 Kabinetl Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 857, dated Mar. 14, 1933, para. 1, pp. 461–63.

91 Ibid., no. 858, dated Mar. 15,1933, appendix C, 469–70.

92 Kabinett, Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 858, dated Mar. 15, para. 1, p. 464.

93 Ibid., appendix C, 471–72; Otto, Leichter, Glanz und Ende der Ersten Republik. Wie es zum österreichischen Bürgerkrieg kam (Vienna, 1964), 177. Because of his dilatoriness in locking the doors of Parliament, the police president of Vienna, Franz Brandl, was removed from his post a day later. SeeKabinet, Dollfuβ, vol. 2, no. 859, dated Mar. 17,1933, para. 19, pp. 480–83.

94 Constitutional law of December 7,1929, making some changes in the October 1,1920, constitution, section 25, article 55, in Texte zur österreichischen Verfassungsgeschichte. Von der Pragmatischen Sanktion zur Bundesverfassung (1713–1966), ed. Heinz, Fischer and Gerhard, Silvestri(Vienna, 1970), 237. See also Wohnout, , Regierungsdiktatur oder Ständeparlament? 64–66.

95 Dollfuβs, speech at the Christian Social Party congress at Salzburg on May 5,1933, as quoted in Funder, Als Österreich den Sturm bestand, 66–67. The same idea is voiced in Dollfuβs remarks at the 10:30 A.M. meeting on Mar. 9, 1938, of the executive committee of the Christian Social Party together with the provincial governors; Goldinger, ed.,Protokolle, 140.

96 SeeRath, R. John, “ The Dollfuβ Ministry: The Intensification of Animosities and the Drift toward Authoritarianism, ”Austrian History Yearbook 30 (1999): 100101.

97 See also Funder, , Als Österreich den Sturm bestand, 67.

98 Leichter, , Glanz und Ende, 171.

99 Julius, Deutsch, Ein weiter Weg. Lebenserinnerungen (Vienna, 1960), 191.

100 Bauer, , Austrian Democracy under Fire, 43.

101 Morreale, to Jacomoni, , Vienna, Mar. 27,1933, Documenti, vol. 13, doc. 310, p. 337.

102 Morreale, to Jacomini, , Vienna, Mar. 30,1933,Ibid. doc. 318, p. 344.

103 Prezioni to Mussolini, Vienna, Mar. 29,1933, ibid.., doc. 318, p. 344.

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