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Mussolini Held Right to Invade Austria, Charge

Premier Benito Mussolini of Italy and the late Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss of Austria concluded a secret agreement giving Italy the right of military intervention in the event Austrian Nazi Legionnaires crossed the frontier from Bavaria, according to the Essen Nazional Zeitung, newspaper controlled by Premier of Prussia Hermann Wilhelm Goering.

The journal’s Berlin correspondent charged also that Dollfuss, at the time of his assassination at Vienna July 25, was arranging to extend this secret understanding so as to allow the Italians to intervene at any time the Austrian domestic situation became disturbed.

Italian troops, according to the article, were to have marched into Austria in the event of an invasion by the Nazi “Legion” of exiles and would have occupied the North Tyrol and Salzburg, all this under the provision of an alleged Mussolini-Dollfuss pact in August, 1933.

Other allegations contained in the Nazional Zeitung account were:

1. Only the fact that Germany remained neutral during the July uprising in Austria prevented Italian intervention.

2. The celerity with which President Wilhelm Miklas appointed Dr. Kurt Schuschnigg as Dollfuss’ successor was the only thing that foiled Mussolini in his plan to have Prince Ernst Rudiger von Starhemberg named to the office.

3. Il Duce now seeks revenge through forcing Miklas to resign and raising Starhemberg to the Presidency.

4. Il Duce planned last March, when the Italo-Austro-Hungarian pact was concluded, to have a military convention drafted also and there accepted by Dollfuss and General Julius Goemboes, Hungarian Premier, but the scheme was wrecked because of opposition from Hungary.

The Goering paper said Adolf Hitler’s prompt action in closing the frontier and recalling Dr. Kurt Reith, his minister at Vienna, pained the Italian Premier. According to its line of argument, Mussolini was thus deprived of any excuse for military intervention.

Proof that Mussolini’s move in massing troops at the frontier was premeditated and not a sudden reaction to an unexpected development of a crisis is visible from the smoothness and rapidity with which it was all done, the Zeitung contended.

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