THE BRUTAL TAKEOVER: The Austrian Ex-Chancellor's Account of the Anschluss of Austria by Hitler by Kurt von Schusclmigg

THE BRUTAL TAKEOVER: The Austrian Ex-Chancellor's Account of the Anschluss of Austria by Hitler

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Leader of the right-wing Christian Social Party when Dollfuss was murdered by Nazi putschists, Schuschnigg served as Chancellor from 1934 to the Anschluss in 1938. While at times he suggests here that Hitler's onslaught was a surprise and he did what he could to avoid it, the strong impression gained from this memoir is that he carried out Dollfuss's policy of actively suppressing Schutzbund, the Social Democrats' armed formation and other pro-republican defense groups, while he allowed the fascist Heimwehr militia to operate with the assistance of the police and of Mussolini, his cosignator of the Rome Protocols in 1934 and 1936. Schuschnigg instituted a semifascist corporative state and usually moved right when threatened by the left Social Democrats and Communists; thus against Hitler's pretext for invasion in 1938, he argues that no intervention was necessary since there was no threat from the workers. Only a month before Schuschnigg had met with Hitler and given the Austrian Nazis cabinet posts, including the Ministry of the Interior. Schuschnigg spent the war years in a concentration camp; after his liberation in 1945, the Americans did not let him return to Austria, and he became professor of international law and contemporary diplomatic history at St. Louis University. His writing is severely disorganized and at times simply befuddled to the point that only readers with previous knowledge and interest will sort out the isolated facts and unexplained references. Despite his role, he makes no strenuous attempt to alibi himself, though he disappointingly omits most details of his diplomatic encounters with the French, British and Americans as well as inside details of his dealings with Mussolini. Of interest to specialists as a primary source, the book cannot stand as a self-contained account of Austria's fall.

Pub Date: July 26th, 1971
Publisher: Atheneum