DOLLFUSS, ENGELBERT, DR. (1892-1934). Austrian dictator assassinated by the Nazis in 1934. Image Signed. (“Dr. Dollfuss”). 1p. Folio. N.p., N.d. Original pen-and-ink bust drawing by French artist ROBERT KASTOR (1872-1936).
Born into the Austrian peasant class, Dollfuss abandoned his theological studies to serve in World War I, after which he began a political career as a member of the Lower Austrian Peasants’ Union aligned with the Christian Socialist Party. As director of the Chamber of Agriculture of Lower Austria and Federation of Agriculture and the Agricultural Laborers’ Insurance Institute, he became well-known for improving his country’s agricultural sector by implementing cooperative measures. This led to the presidency of the Federal Railways followed by his appointment as Federal Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. Dollfuss spent just a year in this position before Austrian President Wilhelm Miklas offered the 39-year-old the position of Chancellor, in May 1932. Dollfuss found himself leading a coalition government saddled with the economic troubles of the Great Depression and worsened by its postwar loss of territory.
In March 1933, the three speakers of the National Council, one of Austria’s two houses parliament, resigned, precipitating a constitutional crisis. With no established path for the council to operate without a president, Dollfuss seized its authority, formed an emergency government and banned opposing political parties. An uprising in February1934, failed to restore democracy and, after the May 1934 rewriting of the constitution, the former Austrian republic became a single-party dictatorship modeled after Italian fascism and supported by Benito Mussolini. In July 1934, Dollfuss was assassinated by Austrian Nazis attempting a coup d’état that failed after losing the backing of German Chancellor Adolph Hitler who had been deterred, in part, by the mobilization of the Italian military to protect Austria. The Federal State of Austria maintained its sovereignty until it was annexed by Germany’s in 1938.
Slight wrinkling with some small tears along the right edge, otherwise in very fine condition. Scarce.