Trafika Europe 1 - Northern Idyll

have had lunch on these benches or somewhere in Grinzing.”

My mother tugged on his arm to shut him up.

The façades of the buildings around the park, including parliament, carried banners with swastikas. Since March 12 when the Nazi troops entered the country, Austria had been called Ostmark, or East March, and Vienna had become German. The streets appeared strangely calm after the violence we had seen during the annexation. My father refused to believe that Germany intended war, just as he’d refused to believe in the Anschluss. Yet our illusions had received a shock in the late winter of 1937. Although Chancellor Schuschnigg protested against the military maneuvers on our borders and the show of strength by the Austrian Nazis, he was forced under Hitler’s threats to accept the appointment of Seyss-Inquart as minister of the interior. Seyss-Inquart had tolerated, and perhaps secretly promoted, the pro-Nazi riots. The border towns, Linz, for example, were now thronged with uniformed men singing fervent Hitler songs. Austria’s youth, beset by economic problems and saturated with propaganda, jumped eagerly at the prospect of annexation with Germany. In early March, Schuschnigg called for a referendum on Austria’s independence—a pathetic effort to preserve our country’s freedom. Hitler responded by ordering Schuschnigg to cancel the referendum or he


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