The Austrian Crisis, 1931

  • David Carlton


It has already been shown how the reparations issue haunted Europe in the decade after Versailles with disastrous consequences for stability in Germany and very few meaningful benefits for the victors. A further and still more tragic paradox arose out of the collapse of the Dual Monarchy. When, at the end of the First World War, the succession states emerged with Woodrow Wilson’s blessing, a grossdeutsch solution suggested itself as the most reasonable way of dealing with the problem of the German-speaking rump of the former Hapsburg lands. But Germany had just lost a war, whose outbreak, moreover, was judged by the victors to be her responsibility. It was therefore unthinkable that she should be rewarded for her crime by an accession of new territory, whatever the wishes of the German-Austrians might be and notwithstanding Wilson’s commitment to the principle of self-determination. The French and the British accordingly made efforts in the first years of peace to breathe life into the new and clearly somewhat artificial state of Austria. The inhabitants were not even allowed to call their country German-Austria as they would have preferred, and the most elaborate precautions were taken to ensure the permanent separation of Vienna and Berlin. Article 55 of the Treaty of St Germain of 1919 and the Geneva Protocol of 1922 both bound the new state to abstain ‘from any act which might directly or indirectly compromise her independence’.1


Financial Crisis Fait Accompli Reparation Issue Emergency Decree Permanent Separation 
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  1. 1.
    For details, see Jürgen Gehl, Austria, Germany, and the Anschluss, 1931–1938 (London, 1963) p. 8.Google Scholar
  2. Both these works are extremely useful for a study of the Austrian crisis of 1931 and the present account draws heavily upon them. By contrast, the German Foreign Minister’s retrospective account is most misleading. See Julius Curtius, Bemühung um Österreich: Das Scheitern des Zollunionsplans von 1931 (Heidelberg, 1947).Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    The text of the protocol is given in Jan Krulis-Randa, Das Deutsch-Österreichische Zollunionsprojekt von 1931: Die Bemühung um eine wirtchaftliche Annäherung zwischen Deutschland und Österreich (Zürich, 1955) pp. 88–92.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    For the immediate impact of the Creditanstalt affair, see William Starr Myers and Walter H. Newton, The Hoover Administration: A Documented Narrative (New York, 1936) pp. 81–2.Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    On the internal aspects of the Austrian crisis, see Charles A. Gulick, Austria from Habsburg to Hitler, 2 vols (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1948 ) II 930–2.Google Scholar
  6. Hanns Leo Mikoletzky, Osterreichische Zeitgeschichte vom Ende der Monarchie bis zum Abschluss des Staatvertrages,1955 (Vienna and Munich, 1962) pp. 183–5.Google Scholar
  7. 1.
    For a consideration of the purely legal aspects, see Franz Vâli, Die Deuts chosterrei chische Zollunions projekt vor dem Ständigen International en Gerichtshof (Vienna, 1932).Google Scholar
  8. Mary Margaret Ball, Post-War German-Austrian Relations: The Anschluss Movement, 1918–1936 (Stanford, Cal., 1937 ) pp. 557–85.Google Scholar

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© David Carlton 1970

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  • David Carlton

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