Kurt Alois Josef Johann Schuschnigg[a] (German: [ˈʃʊʃnɪk]; 14 December 1897 – 18 November 1977) was an Austrofascist politician who was the Chancellor of the Federal State of Austria from the 1934 assassination of his predecessor Engelbert Dollfuss until the 1938 Anschluss with Nazi Germany. Although Schuschnigg accepted that Austria was a "German state" and that Austrians were Germans, he was strongly opposed to Adolf Hitler's ambitions to absorb Austria into the Third Reich and wished for it to remain independent.
When Schuschnigg's efforts to keep Austria independent had failed, he resigned his office. After the invasion by Nazi Germany, he was arrested, kept in solitary confinement and eventually interned in various concentration camps. He was liberated in 1945 by the advancing United States Army and spent most of the rest of his life in academia in the United States.
|Chancellor of Austria|
29 July 1934 – 11 March 1938
|Deputy||Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg|
|Preceded by||Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg (acting)|
|Succeeded by||Arthur Seyss-Inquart|
25 July 1934 – 26 July 1934
|Deputy||Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg|
|Preceded by||Engelbert Dollfuss|
|Succeeded by||Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg (acting)|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs|
14 May 1936 – 11 July 1936
|Preceded by||Egon Berger-Waldenegg|
|Succeeded by||Guido Schmidt|
|Minister of Defense|
as Chancellor of Austria
29 July 1934 – 11 March 1938
|Preceded by||Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg|
|Succeeded by||Arthur Seyss-Inquart|
|Ministers of Education|
as Chancellor of Austria
24 May 1933 – 14 May 1936
|Preceded by||Anton Rintelen|
|Succeeded by||Hans Pernter|
Kurt Alois Josef Johann Edler von Schuschnigg
14 December 1897
Riva del Garda, Tyrol, Austria-Hungary
|Died||18 November 1977 (aged 79)|
Mutters, Tyrol, Austria
|Political party||Fatherland Front (1933–1938)|
|Christian Social Party (1927–1933)|
(m. 1926; died 1935)
Vera Fugger von Babenhausen
(m. 1938; died 1959)
|Alma mater||University of Freiburg|
|Occupation||Professor at Saint Louis University|
|Years of service||1915–1919|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
He was born in Riva del Garda in the Tyrolean crown land of Austria-Hungary (now in Trentino, Italy), the son of Anna (Wopfner) and Austrian General Artur von Schuschnigg, member of a long-established Austrian officers' family of Carinthian Slovene descent. The Slovene spelling of the family name is Šušnik.
He received his education at the Stella Matutina Jesuit College in Feldkirch, Vorarlberg. During World War I he was taken prisoner at the Italian Front and held captive until September 1919. Subsequently, he studied law at the universities of Freiburg and Innsbruck, where he became a member of the Catholic fraternity A.V. Austria. After graduating in 1922, he practiced as a lawyer in Innsbruck.
Schuschnigg joined the right-wing Christian Social Party and in 1927 was elected to the Nationalrat, then the youngest parliamentary deputy. Suspicious of the paramilitary Heimwehr organisation, he established the Catholic Ostmärkische Sturmscharen forces in 1930.
On 29 January 1932 the Christian Social chancellor Karl Buresch appointed him Minister of Justice, an office he retained in the cabinet of Buresch's successor Engelbert Dollfuss, and from 24 May 1933 also served as Minister of Education. As justice minister, he openly discussed the abolition of the parliamentary system and restored the death penalty. In March 1933, he and Chancellor Dollfuss took the occasion to finally dissolve the National Council parliament. After the socialist February Uprising of 1934, he pressed for the execution of several insurgents, earning him the reputation of an "assassin of the workers". He would later call his orders a "faux pas".
On 1 May 1934, Dollfuss had erected the authoritarian Federal State of Austria. After he was assassinated by the Nazi Otto Planetta during the July Putsch, Schuschnigg on 29 July was appointed Austrian chancellor. Like Dollfuss, Schuschnigg ruled mostly by decree. Although his rule was slightly milder than that of Dollfuss, his Austrofascist policies were not much different from the policies of his predecessor. He had to manage the economy of a near-bankrupt state and to maintain law and order in a country which was forbidden, by the terms of the 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain, to maintain an army in excess of 30,000 men. At the same time, had also to cope with armed paramilitary forces in Austria, which owed their allegiance not to the state but to various rival political parties. He also had to be mindful of the growing strength of the Austrian Nazis, who supported Adolf Hitler's ambitions to absorb Austria into Nazi Germany. His overriding political concern was to preserve Austria's independence within the borders imposed on it by the terms of the Treaty of Saint-Germain, which ultimately failed.
John Gunther wrote in 1936 of Schuschnigg: "It would not be too much to say that he is as much a prisoner of the Italians now [as he was during World War I]—if the Germans don't get him next week". His policy of counterbalancing the German threat by aligning himself with Austria's southern and eastern neighbours—the Kingdom of Italy under the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini and the Kingdom of Hungary—was doomed to failure after Mussolini had sought Hitler's support in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War and left Austria under the increasing pressure of a massively rearmed Third Reich. Schuschnigg adopted a policy of appeasement towards Hitler and called Austria the "better German state", but struggled to keep Austria independent. In July 1936, he signed an Austro-German Agreement, which, among other concessions, allowed the release of imprisoned July Putsch insurgents and the inclusion of the Nazi contact men Edmund Glaise-Horstenau and Guido Schmidt in the Austrian cabinet. The Nazi Party remained banned; however, the Austrian Nazis gained ground and relations between the two countries deteriorated further. In reaction to Hitler's threats to exercise a controlling influence over Austrian politics, Schuschnigg publicly declared in January 1938:
There is no question of ever accepting Nazi representatives in the Austrian cabinet. An absolute abyss separates Austria from Nazism ... We reject uniformity and centralization. ... Christendom is anchored in our very soil, and we know but one God: and that is not the State, or the Nation, or that elusive thing, Race.
On 12 February 1938, Schuschnigg met Hitler in his Berghof residence in an attempt to smooth the worsening relations between their two countries. To Schuschnigg's surprise, Hitler presented him with a set of demands which, in manner and in terms, amounted to an ultimatum, effectively demanding the handing over of power to the Austrian Nazis. The terms of the agreement, presented to Schuschnigg for immediate endorsement, stipulated the appointment of Nazi sympathiser Arthur Seyss-Inquart as minister of security, which controlled the police. Another pro-Nazi, Dr Hans Fischböck, was to be named as minister of finance to prepare for economic union between Germany and Austria. A hundred officers were to be exchanged between the Austrian and the German armies. All imprisoned Nazis were to be amnestied and reinstated. In return, Hitler would publicly reaffirm the treaty of 11 July 1936 and Austria's national sovereignty. "The Fuhrer was abusive and threatening, and Schuschnigg was presented with far-reaching demands ..." According to Schuschnigg's memoirs, he was coerced into signing the "agreement" before leaving Berchtesgaden.
The president, Wilhelm Miklas, was reluctant to endorse the agreement but eventually did so. Then he, Schuschnigg and a few key Cabinet members considered a number of options:
In the event, they decided to go with the third option.
On the following day, 14 February, Schuschnigg reorganised his cabinet on a broader basis and included representatives of all former and present political parties. Hitler immediately appointed a new Gauleiter for Austria, a Nazi Austrian army officer who had just been released from prison in accordance with the terms of the general amnesty stipulated by the Berchtesgaden agreement.
On 20 February, Hitler made a speech before the Reichstag which was broadcast live and which for the first time was relayed also by the Austrian radio network. A key phrase in the speech was: "The German Reich is no longer willing to tolerate the suppression of ten million Germans across its borders."
In Austria, the speech was met with concern and by demonstrations by both pro and anti-Nazi elements. On the evening of 24 February, the Austrian Federal Diet was called into session. In his speech to the Diet, Schuschnigg referred to the July 1936 agreement with Germany and stated: "Austria will go thus far and no further." He ended his speech with an emotional appeal to Austrian patriotism: "Red-White-Red (the colours of the Austrian flag) until we're dead!" The speech was received by disapproval from the Austrian Nazis and they began mobilising their supporters. The headline in The Times of London was "Schuschnigg's Speech – Nazis Disturbed". The phrase "thus far and no further" was found "disturbing" by the German press.
To resolve the political uncertainty in the country and to convince Hitler and the rest of the world that the people of Austria wished to remain Austrian and independent of the Third Reich, Schuschnigg, with the full agreement of the President and other political leaders, decided to proclaim a plebiscite to be held on 13 March. But the wording of the referendum which had to be responded to with a "Yes" or a "No" turned out to be controversial. It read: "Are you for a free, German, independent and social, Christian and united Austria, for peace and work, for the equality of all those who affirm themselves for the people and Fatherland?"
There was another issue which drew the ire of the National Socialists. Although members of Schuschnigg's party (the Fatherland Front) could vote at any age, all other Austrians below the age of 24 were to be excluded under a clause to that effect in the Austrian Constitution. This would shut out from the polls most of the Nazi sympathisers in Austria, since the movement was strongest among the young.
The German reaction to the announcement was swift. Hitler first insisted the plebiscite be cancelled. When Schuschnigg reluctantly agreed to scrap it, Hitler demanded his resignation, and insisted that Seyss-Inquart be appointed his successor. This demand President Miklas was reluctant to endorse but eventually, under the threat of immediate armed intervention, it was endorsed as well. Schuschnigg resigned on 11 March, and Seyss-Inquart was appointed Chancellor, but it made no difference; German troops flooded into Austria and were received everywhere by enthusiastic and jubilant crowds. On the morning after the invasion, the London Daily Mail's correspondent asked the new Chancellor, Seyss-Inquart, how these stirring events came about, he received the following reply: "The Plebiscite that had been fixed for tomorrow was a breach of the agreement which Dr. Schuschnigg made with Herr Hitler at Berchtesgaden, by which he promised political liberty for National Socialists in Austria." On 12 March 1938, Schuschnigg was placed under house arrest.[b]
After initial house arrest followed by solitary confinement at Gestapo headquarters, he spent the remainder of the war in Sachsenhausen, then Dachau. In late April 1945, Schuschnigg was, with other prominent concentration camp inmates, transferred from Dachau to South Tyrol where the SS guards abandoned the prisoners into the hands of officers of the Wehrmacht, who freed the prisoners. They were then turned over to American troops on 4 May 1945. From there, Schuschnigg and his family were transported, along with many of the ex-prisoners, to the isle of Capri in Italy before being set free.
In 1959, he lost his second wife, Vera Fugger von Babenhausen née Countess Czernin, whom he married by proxy in Vienna on 1 June 1938. His first wife had perished in a car accident on 13 June 1935. Schuschnigg died at Mutters, near Innsbruck, in 1977.
| Federal Chancellor of Austria
Arthur Seyss-Inquart (German: Seyß-Inquart ; 22 July 1892 – 16 October 1946) was an Austrian Nazi politician who served as Chancellor of Austria for two days – from 11 to 13 March 1938 – before the Anschluss annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, signing the constitutional law as acting head of state upon the resignation of President Wilhelm Miklas.
During World War II, he served in the General Government of Poland and as Reichskommissar of the Netherlands. At the Nuremberg trials, he was found guilty of crimes against humanity, sentenced to death, and executed.Austrian nationalism
Austrian nationalism is the nationalism that asserts that Austrians are a nation and promotes the cultural unity of Austrians. Austrian nationalism originally developed as a cultural nationalism that emphasized a Catholic religious identity. This in turn led to its opposition to unification with Protestant-majority Germany, something that was perceived as a potential threat to the Catholic core of Austrian national identity.Austrian nationalism first arose during the Napoleonic Wars, with Joseph von Hormayr as a prominent Austrian nationalist political leader at the time. In the 1930s the Fatherland Front government of Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg rejected current pan-German aspirations to join Austria with a Protestant-dominated Germany, whilst not wholly rejecting a potential union and claiming that any unification of Austria with Germany would require a federal German state where Austria and Austrians were guaranteed privileged status recognizing an Austrian nation within a German Kulturnation. Following the events of World War II and Nazism, Austrians began to reject the German identity, and a broader Austrian identity replaced it. After the war, there were those who went as far as describing Austria as "Hitler's first victim".In the post-World War II period proponents who recognize an Austrian nation have rejected a German identity of Austrians and have emphasized the non-German heritage among the Austrian population including Celtic, Illyrian, Roman, and Slavic. Proponents who recognize Austrians as a nation claim that Austrians have Celtic heritage, as Austria is the location of the first characteristically Celtic culture (Halstatt culture) to exist. Contemporary Austrians express pride in having Celtic heritage and Austria possesses one of the largest collections of Celtic artifacts in Europe.Austrian nationalism has been challenged internally. The main rival nationalism has been German nationalism. Another rival nationalism emerged after the defeat of Austria-Hungary in World War I, Bavarian nationalism which challenged the new Austrian Republic with proposals for Austria to join Bavaria. At this time the Bavarian government held particular interest in incorporating the regions of North Tyrol and Upper Austria into Bavaria. This was a serious issue in the aftermath of World War I with significant numbers of Austria's North Tyrolese declaring their intention to have North Tyrol join Bavaria.Austrofascism
Austrofascism (German: Austrofaschismus) was the authoritarian system installed in Austria with the May Constitution of 1934, which ceased with the annexation of the newly founded Federal State of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938. It was based on a ruling party, the Fatherland Front (Vaterländische Front) and the Heimwehr (Home Guard) paramilitary militia. Leaders were Engelbert Dollfuss and, after Dollfuss's assassination, Kurt Schuschnigg, who were previously politicians of the Christian Social Party, which was quickly integrated into the new movement.
Austrofascism, which was Catholic and corporatist and espoused Austrian nationalism, must be contrasted with Austrian National Socialism, which was pan-German and anti-semitic in outlook.Edmund Glaise-Horstenau
Edmund Glaise-Horstenau (also known as Edmund Glaise von Horstenau; 27 February 1882 – 20 July 1946) was an Austrian officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army, last Vice-Chancellor of Austria before the 1938 Anschluss, a military historian and archivist, and general in the German Wehrmacht during the Second World War.Emil Fey
Emil Fey (23 March 1886 – 16 March 1938) was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army, leader of the right-wing paramilitary Heimwehr forces and politician of the First Austrian Republic. He served as Vice-Chancellor of Austria (German: Vizekanzler) from 1933 to 1934, leading the country into the period of Austrofascism under Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss. Fey played a vital role in the violent suppression of the Republikanischer Schutzbund and the Social Democratic Workers' Party during the 1934 Austrian Civil War.Engelbert Dollfuss
Engelbert Dollfuss (German: Engelbert Dollfuß, IPA: [ˈɛŋəlbɛʁt ˈdɔlfuːs]; 4 October 1892 – 25 July 1934) was an Austrian Christian Social and Patriotic Front statesman. Having served as Minister for Forests and Agriculture, he ascended to Federal Chancellor in 1932 in the midst of a crisis for the conservative government. In early 1933, he shut down parliament, banned the Austrian Nazi party and assumed dictatorial powers. Suppressing the Socialist movement in February 1934, he cemented the rule of "Austrofascism" through the authoritarian First of May Constitution. Dollfuss was assassinated as part of a failed coup attempt by Nazi agents in 1934. His successor Kurt Schuschnigg maintained the regime until Adolf Hitler's annexation of Austria in 1938.Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg
Prince Ernst Rüdiger Camillo von Starhemberg, also known as Ernst Rüdiger Camillo Starhemberg, (Eferding, 10 May 1899 – Schruns, 15 March 1956) was an Austrian nationalist and conservative politician prior to World War II, a leader of the Heimwehr and later of the Fatherland Front. He was the 1,163rd Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Austrian Order.
Starhemberg served in the Bundesrat between 1920 and 1930, as Minister of Interior in 1930, Vice-Chancellor in 1934 and subsequently Acting Chancellor and Leader of the Front after the murder of Engelbert Dollfuss, relinquishing the former position after a few days. Disenchanted by the moderate ways of Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, he was ousted from power in 1936, when the Heimwehr was dissolved, and fled the country after the Anschluss to avoid retaliation from vengeful Nazis.Fatherland Front (Austria)
The Fatherland Front (German: Vaterländische Front, VF) was the ruling political organisation of "Austrofascism". It claimed to be a nonpartisan movement, and aimed to unite all the people of Austria, overcoming political and social divisions. Established on 20 May 1933 by Christian Social Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss as the only legally permitted party in the country, it was organised along the lines of Italian Fascism, except the Fatherland Front was fully aligned with the Catholic Church and did not advocate any racial ideology, as later Italian Fascism did. It advocated Austrian nationalism and independence from Germany on the basis of protecting Austria's Catholic religious identity from what they considered a Protestant-dominated German state.The Fatherland Front, which was strongly linked with Austria's Catholic clergy, absorbed Dollfuss's Christian Social Party, the agrarian Landbund and the right-wing paramilitary Heimwehren, all of which were opposed to socialism, free-market capitalism and liberal democracy. It established an authoritarian and corporatist regime, the Federal State of Austria, which is commonly known in German as the Ständestaat ("corporate state"). According to the Fatherland Front this form of government and society implemented the social teaching of Pope Pius XI's 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo anno. The Front banned and persecuted all its political opponents, including Communists, Social Democrats—who fought against it in a brief Civil War in February 1934—but also the Austrian Nazis who wanted Austria to join Germany. Chancellor Dollfuss was assassinated by the Nazis in July 1934. He was succeeded as leader of the VF and Chancellor of Austria by Kurt Schuschnigg, who ruled until the invigorated Nazis forced him to resign on 11 March 1938. Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany the next day.
The Fatherland Front maintained a cultural and recreational organisation, called "New Life" (Neues Leben), similar to Germany's Strength Through Joy.The role of the Fatherland Front has been a contentious point in post-War Austrian historiography. While left-wing historians consider it to be the exponent of an Austrian and Catholic-clerical variant of fascism and make it responsible for the failure of democracy in Austria, conservative authors stress its credits in defending the country's independence and opposition to Nazism.Federal State of Austria
The Federal State of Austria (Austrian German: Bundesstaat Österreich ; colloquially known as the Ständestaat, "Corporate State") was a continuation of the First Austrian Republic between 1934 and 1938 when it was a one-party state led by the clerico-fascist Fatherland Front. The Ständestaat concept, derived from the notion of Stände ("estates" or "corporations"), was propaganda advocated by leading regime politicians such as Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg. The result was an authoritarian government based on a mix of conservative Catholic and Italian Fascist influences.
It ended in March 1938 with the Anschluss (the Nazi annexation of Austria). Austria would not become an independent country again until 1955, when the Austrian State Treaty ended the Allied occupation of Austria.Guido Schmidt
Guido Schmidt (15 January 1901 – 5 December 1957) was an Austrian diplomat and politician, who served as Foreign Minister from 1936 to 1938.Ignaz Seipel
Ignaz Seipel (19 July 1876 – 2 August 1932) was an Austrian prelate and politician of the Christian Social Party (CS), who served as Federal Chancellor twice during the 1920s.Julius Raab
Julius Raab (29 November 1891 – 8 January 1964) was a conservative Austrian politician, who served as Federal Chancellor of Austria from 1953 to 1961. Raab steered Allied-occupied Austria to independence, when he negotiated and signed the Austrian State Treaty in 1955. In internal politics Raab stood for a pragmatic "social partnership" and the "Grand coalition" of Austrian Conservatives and Social Democrats.July Putsch
The July Putsch was a failed coup d'état attempt against the Austrofascist regime by Austrian Nazis, which took place between 25 – 30 July 1934.
Just a few months after the Austrian Civil War Austrian Nazis and German SS soldiers attacked the Chancellery in Vienna in an attempt to depose the ruling Fatherland Front government under Engelbert Dollfuss in favor of replacing it with a pro-Nazi government under Anton Rintelen of the Christian Social Party. The Nazi putsch ultimately failed as the majority of the Austrian population and Federal forces remained loyal to the government. The Nazis did however succeed in killing Chancellor Dollfuss, though Kurt Schuschnigg succeeded him and the Austrofascist regime remained in power.
A German invasion of Austria in support of the putsch was averted due to the guarantee of independence and diplomatic support Austria received from Fascist Italy.Karl Buresch
Karl Buresch (12 October 1878 – 16 September 1936) was a lawyer, Christian-Social politician and Chancellor of Austria during the First Republic.List of chancellors of Austria
The chancellor of Austria is the head of government of the Austrian Republic, appointed by the president and regarded as the country's de facto chief executive. The chancellor chairs and leads the Government, which also includes the vice-chancellor and the ministers.Following World War I, the office was originally established by the Provisional National Assembly on 30 October 1918 as state chancellor of the Republic of German-Austria, and its first holder, Karl Renner, was appointed by the State Council. After the Allies declined a union between Austria and Germany, German-Austria established the First Austrian Republic and soon afterwards renamed the office from state chancellor to federal chancellor – the first federal chancellor was Michael Mayr. Ten chancellors served under the First Republic until Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss established the authoritarian and dictatorial Federal State of Austria. Following Dollfuss's Assassination by the Nazis, Kurt Schuschnigg succeeded him as chancellor and upheld the dictatorship, until he was superseded by Arthur Seyss-Inquart, who held the office for two days until Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany.Austria under National Socialism lost its initial system of government and was headed by Reichsstatthalter Arthur Seyss-Inquart (1938–1939), Reich Commissioner Josef Bürckel (1939–1940) and Reichsstatthalter Baldur von Schirach (1940–1945). In 1940, the country was renamed to Ostmark, completely lost autonomy and became a domestic component of Nazi Germany. After the liberation of Vienna and the dissolution of Nazi Germany, Austria resumed its republican form of government. However, the country remained under allied occupation until 1955 and thus both the President and Chancellor were subordinate to the Allied Control Council.
Since the establishment of the republic, the People's and the Social Democratic Party have largely dominated every aspect of politics. The People's Party/Christian Social Party chaired 19 governments and was the second largest force in eight other governments; the Social Democratic Party/Social Democratic Workers' Party chaired eleven governments and was the second largest force in five other governments. The following parties never had a chancellorship but were coalition partners in governments: the Greater German People's Party in five, the Freedom Party and the Landbund in four, the Alliance for the Future of Austria and the Communist Party in one.
If the chancellor dies, resigns or is otherwise incapable, the vice-chancellor automatically becomes acting chancellor, if the president has not already replaced the chancellor. If the vice-chancellor is unavailable, the other members of the government take over in order of seniority. The unavailability of an elected chancellor does not automatically call for a new election. If the president in turn dies, resigns or is otherwise incapable, the chancellor becomes acting president, but only for twenty days; after this period presidential powers and responsibilities devolve upon the Presidium of the National Council.Twenty-five men have served as chancellors since the First Republic, four served in an acting capacity and three served non-consecutive terms. Bruno Kreisky was the longest serving chancellor with 4778 days in office and Arthur Seyss-Inquart was the shortest serving chancellor with 2 days in office.Ludwig Hülgerth
Ludwig Hülgerth (26 Janusary 1875 – 13 August 1939) was an Austrian Field Marshal and politician.
The son of a career soldier, Hülgerth joined the military at a young age. He fought in the First World War on three fronts, where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 1927, he retired as a Major General, and received the rank of Field Marshal in 1934.
Hülgerth went into politics in 1934, when he became governor of Carinthia. He became the head of the Fatherland Front militia in 1936, and that same year became Vice-Chancellor under Kurt Schuschnigg.
Hülgerth died in 1939 at his father-in-law's estate in Sankt Georgen am Längsee.Ostmärkische Sturmscharen
The Ostmärkische Sturmscharen (German pronunciation: [ˈʔɔstmɛʁkɪʃə ˈʃtʊʁmʃaːʁən], Eastern March Stormtroopers) was a right-wing paramilitary group in Austria, founded on 7 December 1930. Recruited from the Katholische Jugend (Catholic Youth), later from journeymen and teacher organisations, it formed an opposition to both to the nationalist Heimwehr forces and the Social Democratic Republikanischer Schutzbund. The Christian Social politician Kurt Schuschnigg was its "Reichsführer".
Founded in Innsbruck, Tyrol, the Ostmärkische Sturmscharen spread over the entire Austrian territory when the association's headquarters were relocated to Vienna in 1933. The organisation then comprised about 15,000 members according to their own figures, though it never became very popular. Nevertheless, in Lower Austria they incorporated the local Heimwehr and received massive support from the Austrian Bauernbund (Farmers' League) organisation. The Bauernbund chairman Leopold Figl, post-war Chancellor of Austria, acted as Lower Austrian "Landesführer".
On the eve of the Austrian Civil War, the Märkische Sturmscharen increasingly adopted a Catholic clerical fascist and antisemite stance. Martial sports and military training became fundamental, and the association began to deploy paramilitary task force formations. Engelbert Dollfuss, Austrian chancellor since 1932, attempted to strengthen them as a counterweight to the radical Heimwehr forces. Sturmscharen troopers also participated in the violent suppression of the Schutzbund revolt in February 1934.
After the Austrofascist Federal State of Austria was established in 1934, Schuschnigg became chancellor upon Dollfuss' assassination during the Nazi July Putsch and the Austrian right-wing paramilitary forces were gradually absorbed by the Fatherland Front (Vaterländische Front, VF) unity party. On 11 April 1936, the Ostmärkische Sturmscharen declared themselves a cultural organisation, hence the final merger of all defence forces into the VF by decree of Chancellor Schuschnigg in October was for them merely a formality. After the Austrian Anschluss to Nazi Germany in 1938, some former members of the Sturmscharen engaged in resistance to Nazism.Wilhelm Miklas
Wilhelm Miklas (15 October 1872 – 20 March 1956) was an Austrian politician who served as President of Austria from 1928 until the Anschluss to Nazi Germany in 1938.