Geoff Walden

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Adolf Hitler Visits Vienna, March 1938

   Hitler visited Austria immediately following the Anschluß, or union of Germany with Austria, on 12 March 1938. He made a triumphal entry into Vienna on 14 March, met by cheering crowds.  Click here for a MapQuest map link to Vienna.

 

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When in Vienna, Hitler stayed at the famous Hotel Imperial on the Ring, near the Opera. The building has hardly changed at all.  (National Archives, RG 242-HB; "Illustrierter Beobachter," Special Edition, 20 March 1938 - "Österreichs Befreiung" (Austria's Liberation)

 

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Hitler made a speech to the Viennese from a balcony of the Habsburg palace, the Hofburg, on 15 March 1938. In the background is the heroic statue of Archduke Karl.  (Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seiner Heimat," Munich, 1938)

 

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The crowd was gathered in the Heldenplatz (Heroes Square), a large open area bounded by the several wings of the Hofburg.  (National Archives)

 

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The crowd in the Heldenplatz numbered several hundred thousand. These photos show the crowd around and on the statue of Prinz Eugen of Savoy (Prince Eugene). In the background can be seen the famous Vienna City Hall (Rathaus).  (National Archives)

 

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At a later date, members of the Austrian SS march past Prinz Eugen's statue in the Heldenplatz.  (Gerd Rühle, ed., "Das Dritte Reich," Berlin, 1938 ed.)

 

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Hitler laid a wreath at the Austrian War Memorial, on the Ring outside the Burgtor of the Hofburg. The modern photo has been pulled back some to show one of the eternal flames outside the memorial. Although still present, these flames are no longer lit, or marked as memorials.  (Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seiner Heimat," Munich, 1938)

 

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The Nazis orchestrated a massive parade of military units and vehicles around the Vienna Ring. Here, Hitler on a reviewing stand in front of the art and natural history museums watches as towed 105mm artillery pieces and Pzkw. II tanks parade past.  (Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seiner Heimat," Munich, 1938)

 

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Units of the Austrian Army parade past the Austrian Parliament building, with its famous statue of Pallas Athena in front.  (Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seiner Heimat," Munich, 1938)

 

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Hitler's motorcade drove to the City Hall, with the Burgtheater in the background across the Ring.  ("Unser Führer," special edition of the "Illustrierter Beobachter" for Hitler's 50th birthday, 20 April 1939, Munich, Franz Eher Verlag;  Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler Baut Großdeutschland," Berlin, 1938)

 

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Hitler's motorcade reaches the Rathaus (City Hall). The period photo was taken from the upper balcony of the Burgtheater across the Ring (this and the above two photos were taken on 9 April 1938, the day before the public vote for Anschluß).  (Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler Baut Großdeutschland," Berlin, 1938)

 

Above - On 11 March 1938, the swastika flag was raised for the first time on the Austrian chancellery building in Vienna, which has hardly changed at all today (right). The banner reads "Through Struggle to Victory."  Below, the famous Loos Haus on Michaelerplatz is decorated for the Anschluß with a banner reading "The same blood belongs in a combined Reich!"  (Henrich Hansen, ed., "Volk will zu Volk, Dortmund, 1938; modern photos courtesy Anthony Heijkoop)

 


Vienna During the War

   Vienna had several important arms and munitions factories, and the threat of air attack led to erection of huge flak (anti-aircraft) towers around the city, starting in late 1942. The towers were built in pairs, with one large tower for the main anti-aircraft guns and a smaller tower for command and control, searchlights, and smaller caliber guns. There were eventually six of these towers (in three pairs), and they are all still there today. Following the war, engineers determined that the explosives necessary to bring down these towers would severely damage the surrounding buildings, so they were left in place. Historical markers explain their presence.

 

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This Flakturm is located in a military barracks area called Stiftskaserne, near the art and natural history museums. Its companion searchlight tower is nearby in Esterhazy Park, southwest of the city center. The Stiftskaserne tower was the most heavily-armed Vienna flak tower, mounting four twin 12.8cm guns.

These towers are located near each other in the Augarten, north of the city center. The larger tower mounted four large caliber guns on the top (10.5cm or 12.8cm), with platforms for eight smaller guns (2.0cm or 3.0cm) around the periphery. The smaller tower mounted searchlights and smaller guns.

 

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Further views of the flak towers in the Augarten. The hole seen near the top in the center photo appears to have been from large caliber artillery, probably a result of Soviet fire in 1945. Recent investigations inside the larger gun tower show that the interior is in a very damaged condition today, reportedly from a 1946 explosion of stored flak ammunition, caused by a fire set by children playing in the tower.

 

Left to right - Augarten tower in 1943, Esterhazy Park tower in 1943, Stiftskaserne tower in 1952.

 

On the left, the command and control tower in Esterhazy Park has recently been converted and opened to the public as an aquarium/terrarium. Center and right - the towers in Arenberg Park.  (photos donated)

 

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These are the Augarten towers as seen from the St. Stephan's Cathedral tower. The towers seen in the center and right-center of this photo are located in Arenberg Park, southeast of the city center.

Click here to see photos of flak towers and guns in Berlin.

Vienna Flak Towers webpage  --   http://www.turbo.at/geheimprojekte/flaktuerme.htm  - detailed information on construction, types, history.
Excellent photo page on the Vienna flak towers  --  http://www.airpower.at/news03/0813_luftkrieg_ostmark/flaktuerme.htm


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Officers of the 2nd SS Panzerdivision "Das Reich" discuss the defense and evacuation of Vienna on 13 April 1945. Left-right, SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Weidinger (commander of regiment "Der Führer"), SS-Standartenführer Rudolf Lehmann (acting division commander), unk. The officers are conferring on the Vienna side of the Danube River, at the foot of the Floridsdorfer Bridge. The old bridge was destroyed during the evacuation and a new bridge took its place during post-war construction. However, the old bridge piers are still in the river, and this part of the southern bridgehead still exists, allowing an exact modern comparison.  ("Wenn alle Brüder schweigen," Osnabrück, Munin-Verlag, 1981 ed.)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

One of the last Pzkw. IV tanks of Panzerdivision "Das Reich" guards the Vienna side of the Floridsdorfer Bridge. Otto Weidinger (in overcoat) walks toward the camera in the center of the photo.  (Will Fey, "Armor Battles of the Waffen-SS," J.J. Fedorowicz Pub., 1990)

 

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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