VIENNA (Feb. 24)
Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg thrilled the Federal Diet here tonight with an unexpectedly strong address whose dominant and repeatedly stressed theme was a free and independent Austria, its full sovereignty recognized by Chancellor Adolf Hitler and its right to endure as an entity guaranteed by its history, its geographic position and its spiritual faith.
The scholarly statesman, speaking for an hour and 50 minutes, put at rest once for all any remaining fears that his recent concessions to the Nazi Reich represented anything like a surrender of Austrian individualism.
He rejected any idea of a Nazi empire spread across Central Europe and engulfing Austria, and said for Hitler what the Fuehrer himself had failed to say in his Reichstag speech last Sunday — that Germany acknowledged the Vienna Government’s jurisdiction over Austria’s destinies.
While he was warning that any attempt by the Nazis or any other group apart from the Fatherland Front to seize power “will be crushed by me,” 1,000 Hitlerites in Graz, the country’s second largest city, held a defiant demonstration and demanded that the Nazi swastika be run up on all municipal buildings.
A striking feature of Schuschnigg’s address was that he referred no less than eight times to the late Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, assassinated by Nazis in the abortive Vienna putsch of 1934.
After declaring he had no desire “to reopen old wounds” between the two countries or “to pose the question of responsibilities” for the long-standing “fratricidal strife” which he declared had endangered world peace, he said in the next breath:
“I recall only the last words of Chancellor Dollfuss, as he lay dying: ‘I have never wished anything except peace.’”
Schuschnigg attacked the Austrian Nazi party, accusing it of past efforts to sabotage the 1936 Austro-German accord, and warned them that “for us there is no question either of Nationalism or of socialism. Our watchword is patriotism!”
In measured tones he proclaimed: “We solemnly affirm before the entire world our unshakable will to defend the freedom and independence of our fatherland.”