VIENNA — Adolf Hitler himself planned a failed Nazi coup in 1934 that culminated in the assassination of the Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, according to new findings by a Viennese historian.
Based on journal entries by close Hitler associate Joseph Goebbels, historian Kurt Bauer concluded the thwarted "July putsch" of 1934 was devised "with great likelihood by Adolf Hitler personally", in a newly published article.
On July 25, 1934, Austrian Nazi partisans attacked the chancellery in Vienna, hoping to force the government to resign and install a regime favourable to Hitler's Germany.
The coup failed but Dollfuss was shot and killed.
Until now, the action was seen as a local initiative by Austrian Nazis.
After a high-level meeting with Hitler on July 22, 1934 in Bayreuth, southern Germany, Bauer found that Goebbels wrote in his diary: "Sunday: at the Fuehrer's... Austrian question. Whether it will work? I'm very sceptical."
On the day of the coup, Goebbels added: "At the Fuehrer's: alarm from Austria. Chancellery occupied... great suspense. Horrible waiting."
He later concluded: "Dollfuss dead. Then an honourable retreat by the insurgents. Then victory for the government. Lost!"
According to Bauer, one of the main reasons behind Hitler's putsch decision was an impending visit by Dollfuss to Italy and France, which the Nazi leader feared could lead to Germany's isolation.
Dollfuss installed an authoritarian regime in Austria after coming to power in 1932 but also staunchly opposed its annexation to Nazi Germany under Hitler.