Confession to the Führer

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The Confession to the Führer was a letter by Erwin Schrödinger that was published in German and Austrian newspapers on 30 March 1938. The Graz Tagespot published it under the headline by which it is known today. The reference in the letter to a ballot box concerned a referendum to be held on 10 April. The vote that day (supervised by the Nazis) was 99.73 percent in favor of the Anschluss; 11,929 voted "no."

The letter was a considerable propaganda coup for the Nazis and harmed Schrödinger's reputation abroad. Max Born, writing a colleague at Oxford, commented, "How are you supposed to believe a man who has published that pretty letter?" The letter did not prevent Schrödinger from losing his Philosophical Faculty post at the University of Vienna on 23 April on the decree of the Austrian Ministry of Education. In a 19 July 1939 letter to Albert Einstein, Schrödinger wrote, concerning the change in government after Hitler's forces entered Austria, "I hope you have not seriously taken amiss my certainly quite cowardly statement afterwards. I wanted to remain free — and could not do so without great duplicity."

Francis Simon noted that Schrödinger's letter had "made an awful impression" and he talked of the need to "restore his reputation — and in a certain sense of all the emigrants". The King of Hanover had said that "professors can be bought like whores".


In the midst of the exultant joy which is pervading our country, there also stand today those who indeed partake fully of this joy, but not without deep shame, because until the end they had not understood the right course. Thankfully we hear the true German word of peace: the hand to everyone willing, you wish to gladly clasp the generously outstretched hand while you pledge that you will be very happy, if in true cooperation and in accord with the will of the Führer you may be allowed to support the decision of his now united people with all your strength.

It really goes without saying, that for an old Austrian who loves his homeland, no other standpoint can come into question; that — to express it quite crudely — every "no" in the ballot box is equivalent to a national suicide.

There ought no longer — we ask all to agree — to be as before in this land victors and vanquished, but a united people, that puts forth its entire undivided strength for the common goal of all Germans.

Well meaning friends, who overestimate the importance of my person, consider it right that the repentant confession that I made to them should be made public: I also belong to those who grasp the outstretched hand of peace, because, at my writing desk, I had misjudged up to the last the true will and the true destiny of my country. I make this confession willingly and joyfully. I believe it is spoken from the hearts of many, and I hope thereby to serve my homeland.