Trafika Europe 1 - Northern Idyll
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178

would send German troops into Austria. On the evening of

March 11, we listened to our chancellor announce his

resignation over the radio. A hysterically happy mob then

invaded the streets, breaking shop windows and harassing

shopkeepers. Lying low in Grinzing, I prayed all night for

my parents’ shop to be spared. But the crowd’s destructive

anger was far from blind; it targeted only Jewish-owned

stores. By dawn, German boots were crossing the border.

The chaos was an ideal pretext: order had to be restored.

The Austrians were no longer able to regulate themselves.

Neither France nor Britain tried to interpose. The Germans

penetrated Austria to cheers and flowers. We almost

begged them to come and save us from ourselves. Invaders

have never been more warmly greeted. And why shouldn’t

they have been? They brought hope of stability and

prosperity to a country on the brink of civil war and in a

deep and lasting depression. It hardly mattered that the

unrest had been fostered by the Nazis or that the economic

recovery was the first step in a horrifying grand design.

They offered an easy solution: “Death to the Jews.”

No one beyond a few misty-eyed dreamers like my father

could still be misled by the Nazis’ posturing. Hitler would

not stop at Austria or the Sudetenland. War was about to

break out in Europe. On March 12, 1938, the Austrians

welcomed the Ger- mans as if they were distant relatives

coming back into the fold. They might be a bit frightening,

but they carried armloads of gifts. The Germans organized

handouts of food to the neediest and promised to extend