1937-38 Austria, Family and Hitler -- Ross Baker -- amateur
Leaflets and newspapers litter a Vienna street and swirl around in the wind. Pro-Schuschnigg graffiti and the Vaterlandisches Front [Fatherland Front] symbol are visible on the pavement near Hotel Atlanta. The scene shifts to show crowds of people on the street. They appear to be shouting slogans and some give the Nazi salute. At 01:04:49 the German travel agency "Deutsches Reich" on Kärtner Strasse is visible, complete with Nazi eagle. This was a notorious meeting point for NS followers; eyewitness testimony at the DÖW Austrian Archive indicates that on March 11 the staff was broadcasting German radio at high volume to a growing audience of Nazi sympathizers. It is located to the right of the Opera house. Austrian policemen move the crowds along and occasionally strike people with their clubs. This is most likely March 10 or 11, when the Schuschnigg government was still in power but the takeover was imminent. The crowds have no flags or other Nazi symbols yet. Before the takeover the Nazi party and the salute were illegal. See Helen Baker's diary entry below.
Scenes from a few days later begin at 01:05:44. These scenes were shot after the German army has entered Austria (they were probably shot on March 15; see diary entries below). Huge crowds of people are gathered in front of the parliament building and some march in the street. People gathered on the Athena statue wave flags and salute. A parade of men in shiny helmets marches by; people are visible sitting in trees. The camera pans across German military vehicles as they move slowly down the street. Some of the vehicles are stopped and uniformed men stand in the street. Austrian Nazis in black uniforms march down the street. 01:07:39 Pan across huge crowds, probably waiting for Hitler to appear at Heldenplatz on March 15. Lots of flags and hands in the air saluting. 01:08:18 Hitler is visible in his car through the crowd. Close-up of ecstatic girls' faces. German soldiers march past Goering (?). German police (?) hold back the crowds. Very long shot of Hitler as he appears briefly on the balcony of the Hotel Imperial. A wide empty street in the foreground and SA men holding back crowds in the background. Hitler appears again, closer this time, riding down the street in his open car, followed by tanks and other military vehicles and men on horseback. Another shot of Hitler riding by. A group of uniformed men holding Nazi flags stand at attention in a courtyard. Some look to be SA and some are Hitler Youth. They salute; they are probably taking an oath of allegiance. 01:12:32 Goebbels stands on a balcony and speaks into microphones. Shots of the crowd. A flock of doves or pigeons is released and flies into the air. Hitler stands on the balcony, first alone then with Goebbels, as the crowd salutes wildly. These scenes are from April 9, 1938 (see diary entry below). The birds were released to carry the news of the peaceful annexation back to Germany.
Letter dated March 10: "When some small group dared to respond to "Heil Hitler" with "Heil Schuschnigg," there was usually a sharp exchange of words containing some insulting remarks about the Jews, with a final exchange of blows...A crowd of Nazis would stop in front of a Jewish store and shout their heads off while the poor frightened owner looked on helplessely from upper windows. It was really dreadful."
March 11 diary entry: "Streets full of marching, shouting crowds. Followed one and heard "Schuschnigg ist zurueckgetreten [Schuchnigg has resigned]." Policemen seemed to be leaving the center of the action...Saw a policeman give a Nazi salute, called a traitor, but before long, all were giving. Armbands, flags, swastikas appeared like magic."
March 15 diary entry: "The "Fuehrer" due to speak at 11 in Heldenplatz. We went and hope we got some good pictures of the saluting crowds, as well as of him at his hotel...Meanwhile troops had arrived and tanks and machine guns etc. etc. till they filled the streets & no cars were running. Army of Occupation!"
April 9 diary entry: "Der tag des Grossdeutschen Reiches!" We go early and see the arrival of Hitler at the Rathaus received by Burgomeister; announcement of Day by Goebbels; 2 min of silence...carrier pigeons released; Fuehrer appears -- salutes, heils, songs."
Letter dated April 10: "Hitler arrived in Vienna at eleven o'clock and proceeded by auto to the City Hall...at one minute before twelve the formal proclamation of the "Tag des Grossdeutschen Reiches" was made from the balcony of the City Halll...Then Hitler appeared on the balcony and everyone "heiled" and saluted and yelled (with two notable exceptions)...Ross and I were at the City Hall, then roamed the town taking pictures until three o'clock...."
Record last modified: 2020-09-22 13:11:46
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Also in Baker Family Collection
Ross Baker was a chemistry professor on sabbatical at the University of Vienna with his wife Helen and three of his five sons. As American non-Jews, the Bakers were outsiders to the events they witnessed and captured rare scenes on film showing the outburst of antisemitic attacks that occurred as soon as the Nazis took power in Austria. Helen wrote in a diary about what was happening in Vienna and admits that she did not expect to be in the middle of a world-changing event. Ross Baker filmed nearly thirty minutes of activities. In one sequence, Helen walks up to a shop only to be turned away by a SA man. The two reels of 16 mm film contradict any attempt to portray Austria as “Hitler’s first victims.”
A group of skiers prepares to ski down a hill. Longer shots of the group from the bottom of the hill.
Cars and pedestrians pass the Feldherrnhalle memorial to the Nazis killed in the 1923 Munich putsch. Two armed men stand guard in front of two huge wreaths. There is a changing of the guard ceremony and shots of bicyclists riding by. Both the pedestrians and those on bicycles salute as they walk by. Another changing of the guard ceremony, this time at the honor temple where the dead putschists were buried. The Baker family traveled through Munich on the way to Vienna in October 1937. Helen Baker writes of the visit in a letter dated October 31, 1937: "We started out on an inspection tour, riding to the spot, sacred to Nazis, where sixteen of their martyrs were shot during the unsuccessful putsch of 1923. A guard of honor stands below the memorial tablet, so motionless that one would think it was part of a bronze group. Everyone who passes -- on foot, in autos or on bikes, salutes gravely. It is most impressive. We took some movies of the passers-by -- with police permission -- and hope they are good."
Street scenes of Vienna. People in Austrian dress, streetcars, bicyclists. Helen Baker talks to a young man who sells bread from a large basket on his back. She inspects a large round loaf of bread and then tosses it into the air. The donor, Stan Baker, who was sixteen at the time, feeds a bird and then a squirrel. More street scenes, including several chimney sweeps and people who carry large bundles of wood on their backs. Helen, Stan, and Raymond (Stan's twin brother) appear again at 01:02:27. The camera follows a woman who crosses the street with a huge bundle on her back. Ground level shots of dogs wearing muzzles.
A group of Italian school girls, escorted by nuns, followed by a group of young boys in uniform. Uniformed men with feathered hats march down the street. Women in native costume. A panning shot shows a huge building surrounded by Nazi flags and a crowd of spectators behind a barricade. Uniformed young girls march down the street. Uniformed boys, some with rifles and some playing drums. Long shot of men on motorcycles as they perform some kind of routine on a large field. More marching men on the streets of Rome, followed by Hitler's motorcade. Hitler is briefly visible, as is Goebbels, who is riding in a car with Benito Mussolini. More shots of the parade and spectators; lots of Nazi flags are visible. May 1, 1938 letter: "Here, as well as all along the route, from Boulogna down, Italian and German flags are flying everywhere -- The fascist emblem and swastika are everywhere and "Heil Duce" and "viva le Fuehrer" are painted large on every side." May 1938 letter: "Rome is full of Hitler. The stores are closed, the streets are extravagantly decorated with German and Italian flags and emblems." May 3 diary entry: "Rome...the whole city ablaze with banners and emblems of Italy and Germany. May 4 diary entry: "...go down to Quirinale, which is on our street, right after breakfast and wait among a mass of people behind a double line of caberiniere [sic] to see Hitler and Mussolini drive out to-gether."
Pedestrians walk by a store with a large "JUDE" and a Star of David painted on the window. The name on the store is Roth. Close-ups of other "JUDE" graffiti, including a marked display window of Dr. Becker´s pharmacy located on Linke Wienzeile 20 in Vienna´s 6th district (Dr. J. Becker died in May 1938 in Vienna.) One of the street signs indicates that the store is near the Naschmarkt. 01:14:16 A woman wipes a store window, perhaps attempting to remove graffiti. A close-up on the store window shows a sign (in soft-focus) which reads "Nicht arisches Geschaeft [Non-Aryan business]." A shot of the Juden Gasse street sign is followed by shots of a clothing shop called "Kleider Fleischer" with metal shutters drawn. 01:14:49 A group of people, presumably Jews, stand in a small crowd. The helmets of Germans are visible in the middle ground and the street sign indicates that this is the Seitenstette Gasse. Another group of people stand and look down the street, which seems to have been blocked off. The offices of the Israelitisches Kultusgemeinde (Jewish Community) were (and are today) in the Seitenstettengasse and their offices were raided and closed by the SS on March 17 (Eichmann was present). See diary entry below -- Ross and Helen Baker were out with their camera on this day. Jewish men in hats stand in the street, talking to each other, followed by another shot of a shuttered shop. 01:15:25 An SA man stands with his hands behind his back in front of a Jewish shop. Helen Baker walks up and looks in the window, then attempts to enter the store. The SA man stops her and the two speak briefly. Two other women watch as she is turned away from the store. See Helen Baker's diary entry below. March 16 -- 17 diary entries: "Papers full of annexation of Austria -- suicides, new laws, Jews trying to escape over border, arrests, rumors of Nazi putsch in Tschechoslovakei...Jewish stores marked "Jude." See the downstairs couple looking so sad....(17th) Ross and I tour inner city -- See Judengasse with every shop tight shut. Jewish shops on the ring compelled to put up sign -- 'This is not an Aryan store.'" March 21 diary entry: "Signs in store windows everywhere -- "Nichtarisches Geschaeft" "Der Bewohner dieses Geschaeft ist Jude!" etc. as if it were the greatest disgrace in the world. Poor things!" April 25 diary entry: "Ross comes home telling of seeing Nazis compelling an old Jew to paint "Jude" on his own store window. Can hardly wait to get away from here." May 1, 1938 letter: "Before the election the drive against the Jews was bad, but as soon as the vote was in, they really began to put the screws on. On the last Saturday that we were there, a Nazi was stationed in front of every Jewish store to prevent Aryans going in. We ran several experiments knowing that, as Americans, we could go wherever we chose. They stopped us, asked if we were Aryan and then informed us that it was a Jewish store. With one exception, it was sufficient to say that we were "Auslaender [foreigners]," but this man was downright mean and threatened to arrest me if I went in. It was too close to our departure to take any chances, but I certainly was tempted to call his bluff....An Aryan caught buying in a Jewish store was often made to walk the streets wearing a large placard "Ich bin ein deutscher Schwein und kauf' bei Juden ein."....Father saw a store owner being made to paint his own window with a huge JUDE -- that was just before we left. They were all so designated."
A long line of people stand outside several buildings. This might show Jews lining up to try and get visas to leave the country. The cross on the bulding (visible at 01:16:08) is part of the flag of the city of Vienna and indicates that this is a government building. Nazis salute each other as they walk by the people in the line. A group of girls, probably members of the Bund Deutscher Maedel (BDM), march down the street. 01:16:30 A huge sign reading "Ja fuer den Fuehrer" below large swastika flags. Shots of cars decorated with posters of Hitler's face. A group of Hitler Youth in the back of a truck reach down to pull another boy up onto the truck, while a bus decorated with pro-German propaganda drives past in the background. A group of boys and girls make pro-German decorations out of tree boughs. A group of Hitler Youth members march down the street. More shots of pro-Hitler signs and signs encouraging people to vote "yes" on April 10 (in favor of the union with Germany). 01:17:48 A long line of posters reading "Ja Ja Ja" on the windows of the Vienna post and telegraph office. The camera pans across poster after poster featuring images of Hitler and advocating a "yes" vote on April 10. One of the posters reads: "Warum bin ich Antisemit geworden? [Why did I become an antisemite?]" advertising results from survey reports. The next posters show Hitler in profile. Pedestrians walk past walls covered in propaganda posters and the street is littered with leaflets and newspapers. People salute as they walk by the Loos Haus, which features decorations and a bust of Adolf Hitler. Two armed and uniformed men stand guard. Helen Baker's March 22 diary entry: "Papers all taken over by Nazis -- no news except that which is sensored [sic] by them -- Front pages plastered with propaganda." April 10 letter: Of course every building tries to outdo the others in decoration ... every private house or apartment must decorate -- with the marked exception of those inhabited by Jews... there are no flags on our house -- I just heard yesterday that the owner is a Jew as well as the porter -- We knew that the family in the apartment below us were Jewish but never suspected the others. They are not allowed to display the Austrian flag." May 1 letter: "The so-called vote was the biggest farce ever staged. Most people were asked to mark the ballot at a table in the presence of the Nazis. If they insisted on going into a booth, the envelope was opened immediately. A friend of ours purposely invalidated his by crossing out the "nein" instead of putting a cross in the "ja"circle. He hadn't gone ten steps before he was called back, the "mistake" explained and a new blank furnished, while a man watched him vote right."
Hitler's motorcade drives through the streets of Linz. Spectators wave Nazi flags. Aerial shot of Hitler's car as it crosses a bridge decorated with large swastikas. Medium shot of a crowd of children waving flags. Another aerial shot reveals the huge crowds that have come to greet Hitler. 02:00:32 Shot of a flag in a forest setting. The camera pans down to reveal Hitler walking at the head of a large crowd, surrounded by spectators. He salutes a group of civilian men holding shovels. The crowd salutes and a group of men follow Hitler to some open railroad cars. Hitler shovels dirt into one of the cars. Another crowd shot is followed by a shot of trees as they are cut down. A small train moves slowly down the tracks. It is decorated with a swastika and the open cars are filled with dirt. This might be the groundbreaking of the Linz location of the Hermann Goering Werke. 02:01:41 Hitler reviews uniformed men on a different occasion, although the location is probably still Linz (as identified by an intertitle). One of the cameramen may be Walter Frentz. Hitler's motorcade on the street, surrounded by crowds. People dressed in local costume march down the street; a few salute. 02:02:47 Good shots of Hitler in his car. He receives flowers from little girls. Hitler reviews uniformed men, including police and members of the Reichsarbeitsdienst. Himmler is with him in one shot. 02:04:52 The location changes to Vienna, where crowds stand in front of the parliament building. Close view of Hitler, with Artur Seyss-Inquart behind him. Hermann Goering disembarks from a train, surrounded by a crowd of saluting men. More shots of Goering as he leaves a building, greets a little girl, rides down the street, and reviews troops. 02:06:23 a camerman atop a moving car can be seen in the background.