THE WESTERN MAIL
& SOUTH WALES NEWS, August 10thd 1934
AUSTRIA TORN BY DISSENSION
AND FLAMING WITH HATRED
By Gareth Jones
VIENNA August 8th.
Three soldiers in
steel helmets standing near a machine-gun, a lorry full of police with rifles
rushing past; armed men on every corner, and a grim grey building from whose
windows a few prisoners looked out-such was the scene that confronted me this
morning when I penetrated the forbidden zone of Vienna.
“You must not
stand still here,” shouted a soldier to me as I inquisitively stared at the
muzzle of the machine gun and I moved away out of the barricaded area to a
quieter part of the city.
In this forbidden
zone is the prison where the Nazis who entered the Chancellery and took part in
the murder of Dollfuss are now being carefully guarded. It was only my British
passport which enabled me to stroll through those empty watched streets.
Had I been an Austrian the police and the soldiers would have turned me away,
for they fear two things-a raid by the anti-Nazi Heimwehr (Austrian Fascist Army
under Prince Starbemberg) who might attempt to take revenge upon the murderers
of Dollfuss, or an attack by fanatical Nazis who might try to rescue their
Crowded With Armed Men
A few streets
further on I passed the German Embassy and again I saw police with rifles.
Indeed, Vienna is crowded with armed men, for the city is still under martial
law. Troops march past the hotel window; Heimwehr lads, with bunches of
feathers in their grey-green caps, parade before the Opera House; and the purple
shirts of the Catholic troops (Ostmärkische Sturmscharen) add colour to the
These troops gave
a superficial impression of strength and loyalty to the Dollfuss régime, but
beneath the surface there is no land so tragically torn by dissension and so
flaming with hatred and with the longing for revenge as Austria today.
of Dollfuss has moved the Viennese as no other event. Their sympathy has,
however, been for a man who had many admirable and lovable traits, and not for
his policy. They remember his simplicity and his kindness, and several
people have wept before me when talking of his death.
One working man
told me how he had talked to Dollfuss a week before Ins death, when they were
strolling in a park. The worker had forbidden his child to play with the
Dollfuss children. But the Chancellor had said, “Why should they not
play together? I am only a peasant’s son, and I shall die just like any
In spite of the
deep human feeling which has been felt for Dollfuss, there is strong opposition
within the country to the policy which his Government has pursued and which Herr
Schuschnigg, the new Chancellor, is pursuing.
who once ruled over all Vienna and built the magnificent workers’ flats of
that city, have not forgiven the Government for the brutal bombardment of the
Karl Marxhof in February; for the torture of many prisoners; for the breaking of
promises to some of those captured; for the imprisonment of men without trial,
and for the introduction of a dictatorial régime.
Some of the
Socialists have gone over to the National-Socialists, and few will forgive the
brutality of the present régime or the imprisonment of thousands of workers in
concentration camps throughout the country.
The Nazis are
strong throughout the country, although the savagery of the murder of Dollfuss
and the failure of the secret Storm Troopers to rise through the country have
caused a set-back, but, I believe, a temporary set-back. They can rally to
their side all those thousands who hate the influence of Mussolini.
against the Italians during the War. They are our enemies. Why
should they dictate to Austria?” asked a Viennese. “They are
just using us Austrians for their own purpose. I hate Mussolini and his
Flight of South Tyrolese
They can win the
support of those who boil at the ill-treatment of the South Tyrolese by the
Italians. In spite of Mussolini’s promises, the plight of this South
Tyrol minority under Fascist rule is tragic.
The Nazis have
the support of the university men, professors, and students, and have many
intellectuals in their ranks. Thousands of peasants in Carinthia and
Styria are said to be on the side of the Nazis, and to be longing for a closer
union with Germany.
Therefore, I do
not find among the population such a passion for Austrian independence as is
claimed by many Italian and French writers. The racial and economic
magnetism of Germans cannot be destroyed even by such a dastardly crime as the
killing of Dollfuss.
The strength of
the Nazis and of the Socialists has undermined confidence in the police and the
army, which has not been wholly restored by the loyalty of these forces during
the events following the Dollfuss murder. The army is jealous of the
Heimwehr, and the relations between the Heimwehr and the Catholic troops are
died for his country, Austria still presents a picture of bitterness, conflict,
and brotherly strife. Few foresee a period of calm. Some believe
that the Socialists, who are working underground, will again rise against the
dictatorship. Others believe that the present Government will have a
rapprochement with Germany.
has one trump card, however, and that is the dread that Italian troops will
march and occupy Austria if the Nazis come into power.
march. It is no bluff.” Those are phrases one hears from
well-informed people. Fear of Italian invasion may keep the present régime
If World-War Comes
“If a world-war comes it will
begin by Italian troops marching into Austria to prevent the union of Austria
and Germany,” stated one expert. “If the Italians march the Yugoslavs
will send their troops into Austria to prevent themselves being cut off from the
north by Italian troops and prevent the Italians joining hands with the
Hungarians and blocking Yugoslavia from all contact with Austria or with
Germany.” Austria has therefore become the storm-centre of Europe and
its most dangerous part is the region where Italy, Austria, and Yugoslavia
almost meet. That province, Carinthia, is regarded as the first
battlefield of a European war, if another breaks out.
I shall investigate on the spot
conditions in the zone which Austrians regard as the fighting
ground of the future.