Aspern Airfield

May 13, 1933     2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Aspern Airfield

At 2:12 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, 1933, the German Lufthansa plane D 1772 lands at Aspern airfield near Vienna. 

Having taken off three and a half hours previously in Berlin, the plane's passengers are the Bavarian Minister of Justice Hans Frank, who would become governor-general of occupied Poland in 1939, his Prussian counterpart Hanns Kerrl, and Kerrl's head of department Roland Freisler, the later president of the German People's Court of Justice, along with a handful of accompanying staff.  Some 1,500 followers and a crowd of press reporters and photographers await the National Socialist politicians.

The Vienna Reichspost, the semiofficial newspaper of Austria's Christian Social Party, had referred to the visit in a controversial editorial as "undesirable and unwelcome." 

Firstly, the leading article considered it not a state visit but a "party-political battle action," and secondly the delegation leader was a persona non grata in Austria.  Hans Frank held a speech on Bavarian radio on March 18, 1933, which prompted diplomatic conflicts. According to a report from the Wolff Telegraphic Bureau, Germany's official news agency, the Bavarian minister of justice warned the Austrian government against "giving the National Socialists occasion to protect the freedom of their fellow Germans in Austria." 

In Germany, a cabinet under Adolf Hitler had been in office since January 30, 1933, and considered itself responsible for all "German national comrades," whether they lived within or outside the German borders. The Christian Social federal chancellor of Austria, Engelbert Dollfuss, however, wanted to preserve the country as a sovereign German state and had been governing by emergency decree since March 1933. When the Nazi politicians arrive in Aspern, the vice president of the Vienna police department, Michael Skubl, approaches them and informs them in the name of the Austrian government that their visit is "not desired," but that their personal safety will be secured. 

The visitors from Germany then drive into the city in a motorcade of dozens of cars and motorcycles to the Adolf Hitler House, the National Socialist party headquarters in Vienna. 

The Reichspost editorial emphasized that "the measures Austria must take on this occasion" were targeted "neither at the Reich government nor against members of a German state government, but exclusively at the attempt by foreign guests to give new stimulus to subversive and antigovernmental agitation within our own borders." Hitler, the article stated, had shown a "high degree of discretion and moderation" in international politics. "The question thus remains open as to whether he is in agreement with this journey of party-political agitation by high-ranking state officials." 

According to this semiofficial commentary, the reserved reception at Aspern airfield was not due to any fundamental criticism of National Socialism in Germany. The Austrian government did, however, want to prevent the Nazi opposition in Austria from receiving an opportunity for political propaganda.

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May 13, 1933 – 2 p.m.
May 14, 1933 – 2 p.m.

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