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12.3.1938, Rathaus [Town Hall]

After German troops invaded Austria, Adolf Hitler visited “the city of his youth”. While tens of thousands of people cheered him on the main square, opponents of the Nazis were already being imprisoned, beaten and murdered.

Even before the “Anschluss” there were numerous Nazi parades. Immediately after Chancellor Schuschnigg announced a plebiscite on Austrian independence on the 9th of March 1938, a substantial number of bellowing Nazis collected on the main square in Linz. Some of them climbed the town hall balcony and unfurled a swastika flag.

On the 11th of March regional Nazi leaders met to discuss further steps. When the Schuschnigg government announced its resignation that evening, the NSDAP organised a torchlight procession. On the main square the SA and the SS acted as stewards. During the night Nazi formations occupied the main police station on Mozartstraße, the command post of the rural constabulary, the provincial government building, the town hall, the branch office of the national bank and the Linz radio station on Freinberg.

The following evening when Hitler triumphantly entered “the city of his youth”, between 60,000 and 80,000 people from Linz cheered him. The effusive reception is said to have led to Hitler’s definitive decision to annex Austria to the German Reich.

The Nazi terror against their political opponents began simultaneously. For example, on the 13th of March SS men murdered the police president of Linz, Dr. Viktor Benz, police commissioner Dr. Ludwig Bernegger and, a short time thereafter, two further high-ranking police officials.