Trafika Europe 1 - Northern Idyll

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


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