The Anschlussdenkmal (Anschluss Monument) in Oberschützen was built by the Nazis as a symbol of the Anschluss, or Austria’s annexation by the German Reich on 12 March 1938. The monument, in what then became the Ostmark, was inaugurated on 21 May 1939. It should also be noted that the Anschlussdenkmal replaced an older monument, actually a reminder that the province of Burgenland had been annexed to the Republic of Austria.
The Styrian architect Rudolf Hofer was responsible for the planning of the temple-like structure of pillared arcades. It was decorated with a two-metre-high gilded imperial eagle (Reichsadler) designed by sculptor Wilhelm Gösser and ceramist Hans Adametz. The eagle, which faced towards Hungary, was placed at the centre of the eight-metre-high and twelve-metre-long square structure, on a two-metre-high pedestal on which were engraved the Nazi inscription Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Führer! and a large swastika. The sculpture itself was surrounded by fire cauldrons. It is worth noting that the Anschlussdenkmal was built by the local population of Oberschützen and the Hitlerjugend.
During the Nazi era the monument was used for a number of ceremonies and political rallies. In 1945 the Soviets destroyed the gilded Reichsadler, the inscriptions and the fire cauldrons. The monument itself remained in place after the war; no one thought of destroying it but, equally, no one thought of an appropriate way of dealing with this stone witness of the darkest period of Austrian history. Until 1995 there was no visible sign to remind people of the original function of this largest remaining Nazi memorial. Since then, a stone information panel has been affixed. The deeply engrained absence of remembrance culture even allowed the former right-wing politician Jörg Haider to celebrate his Burschenschaften [student fraternities] there in 1991.
In 1981 artist Peter Wagner tried to realise an art project entitled Black Box. But his plan to envelop the entire monument in black failed in the face of opposition from the inhabitants of Oberschützen. Indeed, many had helped with the installation of the original monument in 1939. More than twenty years later, in 2008, Wagner created the art installation entitled PFLÖCKE/Korridor consisting of 70 wooden piers symbolizing 70 drilling piles, one for each year. Multiple subsequent acts of vandalism are testimony to the ongoing difficulties entailed by right-wing politics in Austria.
After almost 80 years, the first genuine remembrance project was initiated in 2017 when the local Museumsverein Oberschützen organised the first ever symposium on the memorial. One of the first successful steps undertaken by the municipality was to lease out the site. The obscure memorial is to be renovated, starting in September 2018. Meanwhile, historical research is underway and its lasting transformation into a memorial against war and fascism is due to be completed by 2021.
*Rudolf Hofer (architect), Hans Adametz (ceramist), Wilhelm Gösser (sculptor)
Text by Joshua Koeb
2018 Memorial against dictatorship and racism (planned)
1939 German Reich
2018 9 private ground owners
1945 Partly demolished
2018 Oberschützen Local Community
Form of government
2018 Parliamentary Republic
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection
2018 National Monument (BDA 8.2.2002 GdStr 169)
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