Austria on Monday marks the 80th anniversary of its annexation by Nazi Germany, with the country’s President Alexander Van der Bellen urging young people not to be “taken in” by neo-fascist and far-right ideologies. On March 12, 1938, Adolf Hitler ordered 200,000 soldiers, SS officers and police to invade Austria, his native country, subsequently declaring its “Anschluss” or annexation by the Third Reich. A “Day of Commemoration” will be held on Monday to mark the events of 1938 that changed the course of Austrian history and served as a prelude to World War II. Asked in an interview with the Kurier daily what future generations could learn from the Anschluss, van der Bellen replied: “Not to be taken in.” People should not take “peaceful cohabitation, co-determination and stable political conditions for granted,” he warned. “These things can change.” Van der Bellen — a former leader of the environmentalist Greens who in late 2016 beat an anti-immigration candidate in a polarising and nail-biting presidential election — said minorities enjoy better protection today. “They can’t be outlawed at the stroke of a pen as they could then by a majority. If that weren’t the case, the state could be immediately turned into a tyranny of the majority, as happened back then.” Van der Bellen has repeatedly called for vigilance and for tolerance since a coalition government took power in December, headed by the 31-year-old conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, with the leader of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), Heinz-Christian Strache, as his deputy. Published in Daily Times, March 13th 2018.