German troops arrive in Vienna

German troops enter Austria in 1938




German troops parade through Vienna

German troops parade through Vienna

As soon as the Nazi’s arrived in Vienna there was an outbreak of vicious anti-semitism. George Clare was seventeen years old in 1938. From an affluent Jewish family, he describes how he felt when he first saw the German troops …

This was my first sight of the most powerful military machine of its time. I was impressed by this demonstration of perfect discipline and splendid equipment.

The men themselves were tall, young, handsome, smart and polished, and I realised, unbelievable though this may sound, that I admired these soldiers and was even proud of them. So conditioned was I, the 17 year old Jew, by my Austro-German upbringing, so deeply ingrained was all I had read, that I could not see these clean-limbed young men as my enemies. The Nazis, the SS, the SA, they were my enemies, but not the young and handsome soldiers of the Wehrmacht. If I had not been born a Jew, could I have been a Nazi at 17? Could I have been one of them, attracted by the power and the glory of Hitlers’ Reich? I was racially “immune” to Nazism, but to this day my judgement about those youths who succumbed to Hitler is clouded by the memory of my own sensations on that day.

Who were these men and women who surged to the streets, breaking into Jewish homes and shops, looting and stealing? What were they like, the creatures who drag Jewish men, women and children out into the streets, forced them to their knees, and ordered them to scrub away the Schuschnigg plebiscite slogans which had been painted on the pavements and the walls of houses, often by the very people who are now falling about with laughter as they watched their Jewish victims. “Work from the Jews; at last the Jews are working!” the mob howled. “We thank the Fuhrer, he’s created work for the Jews!”

In Last Waltz in Vienna Clare comments that in fact the naked anti-semitism in Austria, that was abundantly clear from the start, “saved many Jews lives” because it was so evident that they had to get out of the country. Meanwhile in Germany many Jews were lulled into a false sense of security by the gradually increasing persecutions imposed by the Nazi regime.

The Daily Telegraph has an obituary of George Clare.

See: George Clare: Last Waltz in Vienna also available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Editor November 6, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I have amended the date accordingly, although it it not clear from Clare’s memoir that the incident involving him took place on the 12th.

Pierre Lagacé November 6, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Is it on the 12th or the 15th?

http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/triumph/tr-austria.htm

Excerpt

Around midnight, President Miklas, realizing his own position was hopeless, appointed Seyss as the new Chancellor of Austria. At dawn on Saturday, March 12, 1938, German soldiers in tanks and armored vehicles roared across the German-Austrian border on schedule. They met no resistance and in most places were welcomed like heroes. Many of Austria’s seven million ethnic Germans had longed to attach themselves to the rising star of Germany and its dynamic Führer, a son of Austrian soil.

Alec Ingram March 22, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Great website. But the Germans entered Austria on 12 March 1938, reaching Vienna the same day, not on the 15th.

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