Hitler, who was Austrian by birth, had always had a united Germany and Austria as one of the main items on his agenda. Unification of Germany with Austria was explicitly prohibited under terms of the Versailles Agreement. In conjunction with the Nazis in Austria, Hitler did all he could to force the Austrian government into agreeing to the union. That government, led by Kurt Schuschnigg tried to resist German demands. On March 9th, in a dramatic move, Schuschnigg announced that in four days Austria would hold a vote to determine whether or nor it would remain independent.
Hitler could not allow such a vote to take place. He demanded that the Austrians agree to be annexed immediately, or he would invade. The Austrians caved. Schuschnigg resigned, wishing Austrians good luck. German troops poured in to annex the country. What followed was an orgy of anti-Semitic acts. What the Nazis had slowly done (over the course of five years) in Germany, they were able to achieve in Austria in a mere five weeks. These actions resulted in F.D.R.’s first public statement condemning Nazi actions against Jews. It also resulted in the U.S. calling for the convening of an International Conference on Jewish refugees– what turned out to be “The Evian Conference”. The Evian Conference accomplished very little. However, it did show how few countries of the world were willing to provide refuge to Jews.