Occupied post-war Austria

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The zones of occupation in Austria; Vienna was divided into four sectors and the inter-allied unit in the city center. (Status 1945)

The four occupation zones:
_ Soviet occupation zone
_ US zone of occupation
_ British zone of occupation
_ French zone of occupation

After the Second World War, Austria was occupied from 1945 to 1955 by Allied forces , who liberated the countryfrom the National Socialist dictatorship in accordance with their Moscow Declaration of 1943 . The state wasrestoredwithin the boundaries as it had existed until the " Anschluss " to the German Reich in 1938 and was divided into four zones of occupation . From 1938 onwards to the Gaue of the " Ostmark or the Alpen- und Donau-Reichsgaue " of the Greater German Reich came back in 1945 to Czechoslovakia (South Bohemian and South Moravian areas) and Yugoslavia . In return, the Vorarlberg Kleinwalsertal and the Tyrolean community of Jungholz , whichhad fallenafter the "Anschluss" to the Gau Schwaben , again became part of Austria.

This phase of Austrian history was the most important part of the post-war period in Austria, which some historians saw only come to an end in the early 1970s. Occupied Austria (as opposed to "affiliated" Austria within " Greater Germany ") lasted at least until the State Treaty of 1955 , with which Austria became " free again " after 17 years and gained full sovereignty .

Liberation and Occupation

On March 16, 1945, the Red Army began the attack on Vienna . On April 15th the city was finally conquered. Less than two weeks later, on April 27, 1945, the newly formed provisional state government Renner met in Vienna and proclaimed the re-establishment of the Republic of Austria , while fighting between the Allies and the German Wehrmacht continued in the western parts of Austria. The Second World War officially ended in Austria with the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht on May 8, 1945 (cf.  Chronology of the Second World War ).

The provisional state government Renner and the three parties that support it, the ÖVP , SPÖ and KPÖ , used the terms liberation and occupation. In the Declaration of Independence of April 27, for example, reference was made to the fact that the Moscow Declaration of the Allies in 1943 stated that Austria [...] should be liberated from German rule. One cited the passage that Austria was responsible for participating in the war and that “the final settlement will inevitably take into account its own contribution to its liberation ”.

The terms occupation, occupation zones and occupation sectors were used in military and political practice by the Allies from the summer of 1945. Since the ten-year occupation was very memorable due to the length of the occupation and the many attempts by the Austrian side to shorten it, this term is still used synonymously in Austria for the years from 1945 to 1955. The final settlement mentioned in the Moscow Declaration was made in 1955 with the State Treaty of the Four Allies with Austria.

The combatant amnesty for acts of violence in connection with the fight against National Socialism in Austria came into force until the end of 1945.

The allied occupying power

Occupation zones in Austria

The zones of occupation and the joint administration of the City of Vienna were defined in the Agreement on Allied Control of July 4, 1945 and in the Allied Agreement on the Zones of Occupation of July 9, 1945. The approximate borderline of the zones had already been decided in the Moscow Declaration of October 30, 1943. This division only experienced small changes and shifts with the arrival of France as an occupying power . The German military leadership and the General Staff were probably already aware of the course in January 1945, which is why numerous Nazi victims in the Alpine and Danube Reichsgaue fled to the Salzkammergut , which was later occupied by the Americans, shortly before the end of the war .

At a foreign ministers' conference in Paris in June 1949, at which the foreign ministers of the USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union took part, a fundamental agreement was reached for Austria for a peace settlement, while differences persisted on the German question.

Austrian identity card

Outside of Vienna (within its 1937 borders) the occupation zones had the following scope in their definitive form:

In order to cross the demarcation lines between the occupation zones, one needed an identity card issued by the Allies , which was made out in four languages ​​(German, English, French, Russian) and which bore confirmation notices from each of the four occupying powers (a total of eleven stamps). Travel between the zones of the western powers was soon made easier; however, crossing the demarcation line to or from the Soviet zone turned out to be like a trip abroad. The Soviet border controls did not end until June 1954.

Sectors of occupation in Vienna

The occupation sectors in Vienna
The brightened outlying areas belonged to Lower Austria under occupation law, i. H. to the Soviet zone.

Since April 1945, Vienna had only been occupied by the Red Army , which had also conquered the city . Due to the Potsdam Agreement , on September 1, 1945, the Western Allied victorious powers took over their agreed sectors in Vienna. Vienna was divided as follows within the boundaries of 1937, i.e. before the time of Greater Vienna :

  • Joint administration by all four occupying powers: 1st district ( Inner City ) (the Allies alternated on a monthly basis). The sovereign rights over the 1st district were handed over to the next occupying power on the last day of the month. The ceremony was held in front of the Palace of Justice in Vienna, when the Inter-Allied Command was located in the Palace of Justice , until 1953 on Schmerlingplatz , then until 1955 on Heldenplatz . To this end, the two occupying powers involved marched with a division of soldiers and a military band each.
  • US Sector: 7th, 8th, 9th, 17th, 18th, 19th Districts
  • British Sector: 3rd, 5th, 11th (excluding Albern ), 12th, 13th district
  • French sector: 6th, 14th, 15th, 16th district
  • Soviet sector: 2nd (from 1954 with Albern), 4th, 10th, 20th, 21st, 22nd district

The 1938 eingemeindeten areas wholesale Vienna, including today's 23rd District, which until 1938 at Vienna connected villages Stammersdorf , Süßenbrunn , New Sling, Essling , Silly , Oberlaa , Rothneusiedl and Hadersdorf-Weidlingau well as the Lainzer Tiergarten , are out of the four sectors and belonged to the Soviet occupation zone that surrounded Vienna. In 1954 Albern, today 11th district, was reclassified from the Soviet zone ( under occupation law : Lower Austria) to the Soviet sector of Vienna (2nd district); this took place in the course of the definitive dissolution of Greater Vienna and the partial reorganization of the remaining Vienna districts.

Such jeeps were used by representatives of the four occupying powers for joint patrols ( Army History Museum ).

The headquarters

The sector boundaries within Vienna were marked, but a free sector change was possible. During these years Vienna became a center of espionage for the occupying powers, who mistrusted each other. The films The Third Man and The Four in a Jeep were a reflection of that time. This designation refers to the inter-allied military police , whose motorized patrols included a military policeman from each of the four powers. A literary testimony to the misery of the immediate post-war period is Robert Neumann's novel The Children of Vienna , published in 1946 .

French occupation in Vorarlberg

On April 29, 1945, French troops crossed the Vorarlberg border at Lochau and Hohenweiler . Before they could reach the Arlberg on May 6th, units of the Wehrmacht and the SS fought them (near Bregenz , Götzis , Bings and Dalaas ), which also killed the civilian population and caused property damage. By destroying bridges and erecting anti-tank barriers, the German troops tried to stop the advance of the French troops and to “save” their own troops to the Tyrol in American captivity.

The Gauleiter of Tyrol and Reich Defense Commissioner Franz Hofer - still clinging to the "myth of the Alpine fortress " - ordered the defenses of the Vorarlberger Illwerke to be defended or immediately destroyed. A resistance group succeeded in disarming and arresting the soldiers and rendering the detonators harmless.

The French occupying power as part of the Forces françaises en Allemagne (FFA) set up six camps in Vorarlberg in which 947 politically suspected persons were interned in August 1946. The French zone of occupation, which also included parts of southern Germany, soon acquired the reputation of being the "Eldorado of tolerance".

Initially 15,000 men strong, the French occupation forces in Austria were reduced to 7,000 men in May 1946. In October 1954, shortly before the end of the occupation, the French contingent amounted to 542 men. The main part was stationed in Vienna and 150 French gendarmes were on duty in the Tyrol / Vorarlberg occupation zone .

In contrast to the other three occupying powers, which strictly and above all carried out the cleansing from National Socialism themselves, the French had to rely more and more on German or Vorarlberg offices because they lacked adequate organizational structures. In Vorarlberg, where occupiers and occupiers alike saw themselves as “victims of National Socialism” and since the purges were already encountering difficulties, there was soon a consensus to reintegrate people with a Nazi past as quickly as possible.

Allied administration

House number on the Stalin-Ring in Baden near Vienna

For the entire ten years of occupation, Austria was under the administration of the Allied Commission for Austria . This was set up with the First Control Agreement of July 4, 1945. On September 11, 1945, the Allied Council was constituted from the four commanders-in-chief of the major units marched into Austria. The first members were Marshal Konew for the Soviet Union , General Clark for the United States , Lieutenant General Richard McCreery for Great Britain and Corps General Béthouart for France .

In the Second Control Agreement of June 28, 1946, the commission was restructured. It consisted of the Allied Council , the Executive Committee and each a staff of the occupying powers. The highest administrative body of the individual zones were the high commissioners , who also made up the council. From 1950 the military administration was gradually transferred to a civil administration, so that a functioning bilateral infrastructure was in place with the State Treaty.

The Austrian administration remained in the state of 1933 / 1934 . That means: There was an Austrian government, governors and federal and state parliaments, an Austrian municipal administration and organized free elections .

The federal government had to submit all laws passed by parliament to the Allied Council for approval before they were promulgated. If consent was not given, the law could not come into force. So it happened For example, in the Vienna Area Change Act 1946, with which most of the peripheral communities that came to Greater Vienna in 1938 were to be reassigned to Lower Austria. The Soviet representatives did not agree and did not give up their resistance until 1954. Only then could the law be made known and come into force. As the example shows, the veto of an occupying power was initially enough to overthrow a law. The Allied Council later agreed that a veto would only come into effect if all four powers put it together. As a result, the objections were greatly reduced.

The occupation forces

The combat units initially remaining in the country were converted into a standing occupation force whose main tasks were of a controlling nature. Only the British troops in Carinthia were still involved in military actions in the post-war months, on the one hand to drive marauding Cossack troops out of the British zone, on the other hand to push back units of the communist Yugoslav People's Liberation Army (JVA) that had invaded Carinthia . The British had entered Klagenfurt on the morning of May 8, just a few hours before the arrival of JVA units that had advanced into Carinthia to enforce the Yugoslav territorial claims.

The British immediately made it clear that they would not allow the Yugoslav troops to remain in Carinthia and demonstrated this, among other things, by setting up artillery guns on Neuer Platz and in front of the country house in Klagenfurt. After diplomatic pressure and military threats remained unsuccessful, the Yugoslav troops were placed under Soviet orders on May 16 . The Soviet Union was interested in adherence to the negotiated zones of occupation and ordered the withdrawal from Carinthia, which was carried out within the next few days.

The state of Austria had to pay for the costs of the occupation troops, initially comprising 700,000 men, which were later gradually reduced to 60,000 men. In January 1946 there were around 150,000 Red Army soldiers , 40,000 GIs , around 55,000 British and 15,000 French in the country; the latter were reduced to 7,000 men by May 1946. In October 1954 the Soviet contingent was 36,000 men, the American 15,000, the British 2,800 and the French 540, including 150 gendarmes (the French military were deployed in the Vienna sector). Tyrol and Vorarlberg - and to a lesser extent Carinthia and Styria - were already de facto free of occupation before the conclusion of the State Treaty , while Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland were still noticeably under military control. The strong presence of the US Army was concentrated in the city of Salzburg and southern Upper Austria, where it was welcomed as an economic factor.

The associations that the Allied occupying power provided in Austria were:

  • United States Forces in Austria (USFA), initially under the European Command (EUCOM), then part of the US Army Europe (USAREUR)
  • British Forces of Occupation in Austria (British Troops Austria)
  • Departments of the Forces françaises en Allemagne (FFA, initially Troupes d'occupation en Allemagne , TOA)
  • Soviet troops did not constitute an explicit association but belonged to the Central Army Group ( Russian Центральная группа войск , Centralnya Gruppa Woisk ) for Hungary and Austria, which in Austria Soviet part of the Allied Commission for Austria ( Russian Советская часть союзнической комиссии по Австрии , Sovetskaya tschast Sojusnitscheskoi komissii po Avstrii ) and then increasingly to the civil apparatus of the High Commissioner in Austria ( Russian Аппарат верховного комиссара в Австрии , Apparat Verchovnogo komissara v Avstrii , AVKA)

Return of the prisoners of war

Millions of members of the Wehrmacht were in captivity at the end of the war . As early as the summer of 1945, following appeals by the Figl government, the first Austrian prisoners of war were able to return home from the prison camps of the three western allies. By the end of 1947, all American, British and French prisoners were released. In contrast, the first prisoners of war from the Soviet Union could only return home after an intervention by the KPÖ with Josef Stalin . The first train with around 1,200 returnees arrived in Wiener Neustadt on September 11, 1947 , so that around 162,000 former prisoners of war had arrived there by the end of 1947. Only after the conclusion of the State Treaty did the last official return train from the USSR arrive on July 25, 1955 .

Media during the occupation

General situation

After the end of the Second World War in Austria, the entire media landscape lay fallow. The Allied Powers used specially founded media to create a good mood for their own nation and to carry out gentle propaganda . This happened mainly in the press sector .

Printing products

"New Austria"

Vienna only went without a newspaper for about two weeks . As early as April 15, 1945, when the war in western Austria was not yet over, the Soviets had already published a propaganda sheet (see front newspaper ). It was called “ Österreichische Zeitung ”, initially appeared weekly, after five months it was published daily to an extent of initially four pages. The newspaper was discontinued on July 31, 1955.

In 1945 alone, a total of 32 daily or weekly newspapers were founded, only eight of which were published by one of the Allied powers. On April 21st, the first Austrian foundation, the daily newspaper “ Neues Österreich ”, was published by the three parties ÖVP, SPÖ and KPÖ. The first independent newspapers, " Die Presse " and the " Kleine Zeitung ", were not founded until 1948.

In May 1945, when Austrian newspapers began to develop (initially only party newspapers), the British occupiers published the " Kärntner Nachrichten " and the " Neue Steirische Zeitung " as army group newspapers . Both were reinstated on December 31, 1945. The British weekly newspaper " Die Weltpresse " first appeared on September 18 and was not discontinued until May 1958.

The French tried their hand at the Austrian market with just one sheet. In October 1946 they founded “ Welt am Abend ”, which they discontinued in October 1948.

The Americans were more adept at setting up their newspapers. All of the newspapers installed by them as media of the occupation still appear today. In June 1945 they founded the “ Oberösterreichische Nachrichten ” and the “ Salzburger Nachrichten ” and in July the “ Tiroler Tageszeitung ”. All three sheets became the property of Austrian private individuals in the same year.

The weekly newspaper “ Wiener Kurier ”, founded by the American occupiers in August, turned out to be a highly successful tabloid and appeared every weekend until May 1955. It was bought by Ludwig Polsterer and Alfred Maleta as early as 1954 and appeared on weekdays as the daily newspaper " Kurier ".


The rebirth of independent radio in Austria was very improvised: two weeks after the end of the battle for Vienna and nine days before the definitive end of the Second World War in Europe, the former RAVAG co- founder Oskar Czeija began on April 29, 1945 with about 20 helpers broadcasting in the Wiener Funkhaus. The Soviet occupiers initially tolerated the station, although a censorship officer always had to be informed of the planned broadcasts. The first broadcast should have been a live report on the constituent meeting of the government under Karl Renner . Due to technical problems, State Chancellor Renner and Mayor Theodor Körner had to come to the radio house after the meeting to repeat their speeches for the radio broadcast. The recordings were "sold" to the thousands of listeners as broadcasts from Parliament.

In Vorarlberg , Otto Schubert, who had been the broadcast manager in Klagenfurt before 1938, managed to break into an underground studio in the town hall of Dornbirn and to celebrate the arrival of the French in Vorarlberg on May 2, 1945 with the first broadcast.

The first broadcast after the Nazi era took place in Innsbruck on May 3rd . A resistance group around the later Foreign Minister Karl Gruber reported at the time of the surrender of the southern front, which in reality only took place one day later. A little later, provisional broadcasts began in Graz and Klagenfurt .

After Austria was divided into four zones of occupation, each occupying power established its own radio programs. The Austrian radio ( Radio Wien ) was under Soviet supervision; The US- run station “ Rot-Weiß-Rot ” became very popular with its satirical-critical programs such as the series Der Watschenmann, written by Jörg Mauthe and other young intellectuals .

Shortly before the signing of the State Treaty, Austrian radio producers began using new VHF technology to broadcast their own uncensored programs. After 1955, the broadcasting groups were reunited to form a pan-Austrian company that remained in the hands of the public. Several private investors, above all newspaper companies like the Kurier under Ludwig Polsterer , had offered to take over the station.

After a restructuring of RAVAG and two years of debates between ÖVP and SPÖ about the future organizational form of broadcasting, radio was merged in 1957 together with the first Austrian TV station installed in 1956 in the newly founded Österreichischen Rundfunkgesellschaft mbH .

Soviet zone

As early as November 1945, Oskar Czeija, meanwhile “public administrator” of the resurrected Vienna Radio, was forced to resign because of a document published by the communist newspaper Volksstimme , which documented alleged efforts to join the NSDAP . The document is now considered dubious due to the lack of signatures. He was succeeded by Sigmund Guggenberger .

The Soviet-controlled RAVAG and its radio station Radio Wien were subject to restrictive censorship by the occupiers. Contemporary witnesses later reported many incidents in which Soviet officers entered the radio studio unannounced and demanded that prepared texts be read out. The Russian hour program, officially responsible for the Soviet Union, was extended to 16 hours per week in 1950.

American zone

Zone transition
Board at the sector crossing in Vienna

The station "Rot-Weiß-Rot" controlled by the United States Forces in Austria (USFA) broadcast from Salzburg , Linz and from November 1945 also from Vienna. The program consisted of elements that were extremely popular in the USA: entertainment programs and service programs, with music by disc jockeys in between . The official program parts of the occupying power were also identified as such.

The Americans installed the Blue Danube Network (BDN) transmitter in Vienna for their soldiers . The studio was located in a large villa on Schreiberweg in Grinzing in the 19th district of Vienna. The later English-language radio program Blue Danube Radio (BDR) of the ORF had almost the same name until the 1990s.

After the signing of the State Treaty in 1955, the last transmission systems administered by the Americans, and thus control of the radio, were returned to the Austrian administration.

British zone

The British-controlled broadcasting group Alpenland broadcast from Graz , Klagenfurt and Vienna from July 1945 . The broadcasting stations were returned to Austria in 1954, with the station in Vienna still broadcasting individual British-controlled programs until July 1955.

For their stationed troops, the British installed their own transmitter, the British Forces Network (BFN) , in Klagenfurt, Graz and Vienna , which broadcast until 1955.

French zone

From July 1945 the French-controlled broadcasting group West broadcast from Innsbruck and Dornbirn and was handed over to the respective state government in August 1952 .

The only supraregional broadcast was the so-called Allied Hour , which was used for official announcements and news from the occupying powers.

Relationship between occupying powers and population

The relationship between the occupying powers and the population was shaped by the global political situation and varied greatly.

In Vienna one was under the impression of "severe war damage during the recent fighting and the wave of looting and rape that followed". The Red Army, welcomed as a liberator from the Nazi regime, but feared by many because of the previous Nazi propaganda against the “Asian hordes”, was given its “liberator bonus” because of numerous attacks on the civilian population, which were punished only very poorly, and through arbitrary kidnapping of people in the Soviet Union not fair. Two examples from the media at the time:

  • “At 6 p.m. two men in Soviet uniform tried to stop a passerby on the busy Schwedenbrücke and drag him into a jeep standing by the canal bank. The new kidnapping drew a large crowd, which eventually snatched the two men away from the oppressed [...]. The crowd of several hundred dispersed after the incident, which caused a great stir ”.
  • Federal Minister Peter Krauland wants to enter the Soviet zone at the Enns Bridge in order to get to Vienna. For now, it is claimed that his papers are false. “After a quarter of an hour, the minister was informed that his papers were in order, but that the papers of Dr. Margareta Ottilinger would be wrong. Despite the minister's objection, Dr. Ottilinger held at the commandant's office ”. The officer was only able to return to Austria from the Soviet Union seven years later.

Another prominent victim was Wilhelm Franz von Habsburg-Lothringen ; on August 26, 1947, he was kidnapped by Soviet agents in front of the Vienna Südbahnhof.

In addition, the Russians , as the Soviet soldiers are called colloquially to this day, with their " USIA " administration of confiscated large factories in the Soviet zone established their own economic empire that cannot be controlled by Austrian authorities. a. the oil production in Marchfeld and the Austrian Danube shipping belonged.

In the Soviet zone of occupation in Austria, former members of the NSDAP or one of its sub-organizations or the Waffen SS were deported to the Soviet Union . The same could happen with Austrians who were accused of "agitation against the Soviet Union". Some of their relatives were left in the dark about the reasons for their arrest. Many deportees did not come home until 1955. The suicide rate rose sharply in the Soviet zone.

The troop strength of the occupying powers had been falling significantly since the end of 1945. At the beginning of 1949 there were around 65,000 men in Austria, including around 48,000 members of the Soviet Army and around 8,000 US soldiers. Great Britain and France had fewer than 5,000 men each.

When the KPÖ called in Vienna in autumn 1950 what it later called the October strike , which the other parties referred to as the attempted coup , the other parties suspected that the Soviet occupying power would intervene in its favor. Tram tracks filled with concrete were supposed to paralyze traffic and show that the Austrian authorities were too weak to protect public order. The Soviet Army did not interfere when construction workers' unions under Franz Olah took action against the communists and drove them from the streets.

The soldiers of the US Army , known as "Americans", were mostly popular as occupation soldiers because they helped the population by drawing on abundant resources. On July 2, 1948, the USA and Austria ( Federal Government Figl I ) signed the Marshall Plan Agreement; Austria then received material goods as gifts (→ Marshall Plan in Austria ). The British, known as the "English", and the French, as occupying powers, could not materially compete with the USA, but they tried very hard to present their culture to the Austrians. The cultural institutes they set up in Vienna still exist today.

People who had belonged to the NSDAP or one of its organizations between 1933 and 1945 had to face a denazification process throughout Austria . With the onset of the Cold War between West and East, however, the interest of the Western occupying powers in punishing Nazi activists slackened off; (Ex-) National Socialists were often welcome allies against the "Russians" because they already knew this opponent. The Austrians themselves advocated reconciliation from 1949 at the latest, the major parties ÖVP and SPÖ began to woo the former National Socialists in order not to leave them as voters to their political opponents. In the course of this, former National Socialists also succeeded in returning to leading positions, especially in business.

In the Soviet zone, properties that had already been released were confiscated again in the Cold War atmosphere exacerbated by the Berlin blockade in 1948 and the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. The situation in Vienna was also very tense at that time. The establishment of an airlift similar to that in Berlin would not have been possible if the western sectors of the city had been cut off by the Soviets, since both the American airfield in Langenlebarn and the British airfield in Schwechat were in the Soviet zone.

For this reason, so-called air strips were temporarily installed in Vienna on Heiligenstädter Strasse and Simmeringer Haide , as well as in front of Schönbrunn Palace . However, only smaller planes could land and take off on these improvised runways. That is why the Western powers created food supplies under the code name Aktion Eichhörnchen , with which the population should be supplied at short notice in the event of a blockade. However, this did not take place in Vienna.

The initial partial ban on fraternization with the occupation soldiers was soon lifted, at least in the western zones. The French did not impose any. The Americans repealed it on September 3, 1945. So many connections with soldiers arose out of necessity - both short-term liaisons and permanent connections. At this time, many children of the occupation were born, but their origins were often kept a secret. The women who “got involved” with the occupation soldiers were viewed with disdain by the majority of the population. The various insults for these women and their children emerged, such as chocolate girls or Russian children for occupying children in the Soviet zone.

According to research, the number of soldiers' children affected , as the children born between 1946 and 1953 were generally called, is around 20,000 children across Austria.

Economic and social situation

The mass media and the cinema tried to build a new identity structure for the people of the new Austria . In the homeland films , which were very popular at the time , mostly only positive images from an idyllic quasi-pre-war world were shown and all political and economic problems ignored. (Already in the last years of the war, only nostalgic entertainment was produced in the Viennese film studios on the orders of Joseph Goebbels .) This should lead to a rejection of the painful times among the population: “Happy is someone who forgets what can no longer be changed. “ “ Don't touch it ” was still the opinion of the majority decades later.

In economic terms, the black market often offered the starving urban population the only way to survive, while the - often only supposedly - rich rural population had enough food.

On June 3, 1945, the so-called Vienna Mission arrived in Vienna , about 200 Americans, British and French, who had been sent by the Western Allies with the consent of Stalin, to investigate the situation in Vienna before the occupation sectors were taken over in early September 1945 to consider. It made an unpleasant report on the destruction of the war, food shortages and susceptibility to disease in the city. The mission's report, however, hardly went into the mass rapes in Vienna and the fate of the Jewish Viennese.

The first currency reform in 1945, when the Reichsmark was exchanged for up to 150 schillings, and the devaluation to a third of its value in 1947 led to a severe lack of money . But the necessary goods, such as building materials that were necessary for the reconstruction, were also in short supply.

As a result, a strong bartering set in , whereby - due to the lack of money - expensive valuables that had been saved through the war often changed hands for a small amount of food. Since there was hardly any heating material either, the townspeople went on foot into the surrounding forests and collected all kinds of fuel that could be used. Every patch of open ground was used to support itself. In the heart of the city, potatoes were grown in the parks .

How the situation was immediately after the end of the war can very well be modeled on the Christmas speech given by Chancellor Figl in 1945 :

I can't give you anything for Christmas. I can't give you candles for the Christmas tree, if you have one at all. No piece of bread, no coal to heat, no glass to cut into. We have nothing. I can only ask you: Believe in this Austria!

Malnutrition was particularly high among the children, which is why Austria appealed for help to other countries that were not so badly affected by the war. Switzerland was the first to respond , as it had in 1920 after the First World War . Through the mediation of the Red Cross , over 30,000 so-called Swiss children were sent to host families in Switzerland in autumn 1945 and in the years to come, where they spent at least three months. In other countries, too, over 100,000 so-called butter children came to rest in the first two years after the war . Some things are still reminiscent of these relief efforts, such as the Per-Albin-Hansson settlement in Vienna. The infant mortality rate was very high, immediately after the war about 15% (for comparison: In these days not affected by war country with the highest mortality rate, Angola , it is 9.6%).

But a lot has also changed sociologically. The role of women changed significantly during this time. Many men had died, many more had been absent for a long time due to the war and being a prisoner of war and had only come home late. In a certain way, a matriarchy was formed . The women were not only responsible for raising the children, but now also for the survival of the whole family. The children hardly knew their father and often had no relationship with him. It also happened that those considered missing returned home, but their wives had since remarried.

The economic upturn in Austria varied widely from region to region. While the western part was able to start rebuilding relatively soon, the eastern part of Austria felt very disadvantaged by the Soviet occupation. The completion of the Tauern power station Glockner-Kaprun , for example, was a symbol of the reconstruction, the construction of which had been started by the National Socialists using forced labor even before the war.

Another problem was the situation of the millions of refugees and displaced persons, including former forced laborers and concentration camp inmates, who wanted to stay in Austria. Even the own population could hardly be fed; therefore none of the post-war governments tried to bring former and emigrated Austrians back into the country.

A refugee episode was discussed sixty years later: Krimml is the only municipality in the state of Salzburg that borders Italy or South Tyrol . This circumstance led to the Krimml Jews fleeing in the summer of 1947 . After the previously benützten Alpine passes in the British and French occupation zones in Austria had been blocked for the thousands of Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe, crossed 5000 Jewish refugees on the way to Italy to Palestine the Krimml Tauern Pass (American zone), where they at Krimmler Tauernhaus made a stopover and were cared for by the hut landlady Liesl Geisler-Scharfetter .

The end of the occupation

The liberation monument in Graz is intended to commemorate the end of the occupation.

Shortly after April 1945, the Allies in Austria were no longer seen as liberators, but primarily as occupiers. The term “occupying power” was used officially and privately from 1945 and is still used today. The gratitude towards the "Russians" in particular was emotionally limited. In the Battle of Vienna alone , the Red Army recorded thousands of dead. The hero monument of the Red Army in Vienna commemorates them . After the liberation, it initially saved eastern Austria from famine on its own, although the Soviet Union suffered by far the greatest damage of all the warring states of the Second World War. Caricatures showed Austria as a small boat into which four elephants were squeezed.

The chances of the withdrawal of foreign troops - the federal government regularly asked for them - were assessed optimistically in Austria as early as 1949, but for years the country became a pawn in the global political disputes during the Cold War. Numerous rounds of negotiations between the four powers and Austria were unsuccessful, mostly because of objections from the Soviet Union.

Relief was not felt until 1953. The controls at the two zone crossings from the Soviet zone via the Enns and Semmering were relaxed to such an extent that train trains no longer had to stop. There was a uniform passport again and an identity card was no longer required . The last ration cards were also abolished.

After the Austrian State Treaty was concluded on May 15, 1955 and the treaty had been ratified by all five states by July 27 and thus entered into force on that day, the last Soviet one left on September 19, and on October 25, 1955 - the last day of the 90-day period running under the contract from its entry into force - the last British occupation soldier on Austrian territory . (The " four in a jeep" had already stopped their patrol trips through Vienna in July 1955.)

As a result, as promised to the Soviet Union, Austria declared its permanent neutrality by means of the Federal Constitutional Act of October 26, 1955 . The 26 October was initially as the "Day of the Flag" national holiday , today it is the Austrian national holiday . The political and military freedom of association no longer exists: Austria acceded to the EU in 1995 and participates (laid down by other, more recent constitutional laws) in the "rapid reaction force" set up by the EU. Austria is also a member of the NATO Partnership for Peace .

Museum reception

The period of occupation (1945–1955) is documented in the Vienna Army History Museum in the permanent exhibition Republic and Dictatorship . Among other things, a “Willys Jeep” (built in 1943) is on display, with which the “ Four in a Jeep” were on the move during the occupation.

See also


Soviet zone
  • Stefan Karner , Barbara Stelzl-Marx, Alexander Tschubarjan (Hrsg.): The Red Army in Austria. Soviet occupation 1945–1955. Documents (Krasnaja Armija v Avstrii. Sovetskaja okkupacija 1945–1955. Documenty). Translation from Russian: Arno Wonisch. Translation from German: Elena Anderle-Schmatz. 2., worked through edition, Oldenbourg, Vienna [u. a.] 2005, ISBN 3-486-57817-0 ( publications by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research on the Consequences of War, Graz – Vienna – Klagenfurt ; special volume 5) (German / Russian).
  • Stefan Karner, Barbara Stelzl-Marx (ed.): The Red Army in Austria. Soviet occupation 1945–1955. Contributions. Special volume 4, 2nd edition 2005. (The work has three ISBNs.)
  • Stefan Karner, Othmar Pickl (ed.): The Red Army in Styria. Soviet occupation 1945 (=  publications by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research on the Consequences of War, Graz – Vienna – Klagenfurt ; special volume 8 =  sources on the historical regional studies of Styria; vol. 21). Among employees by Walter M. Iber. 1st edition, Leykam, Graz 2008, ISBN 978-3-7011-0110-8 , ISBN 978-3-901251-14-6 .
  • Wolfgang Mueller: The Soviet occupation in Austria 1945–1955 and their political mission. Böhlau, Vienna 2005, ISBN 978-3-205-77399-3 .
  • Marcello La Speranza: Vienna 1945–1955. Contemporary witnesses report. Ares-Verlag, Graz 2007, ISBN 3-902475-44-7 .
  • Barbara Stelzl-Marx: Stalin's soldiers in Austria . Böhlau, Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-205-78700-6 ( digitized on the pages of the OAPEN Library).
  • Robert Haininger, Silke Ebster: From the swastika to the Soviet star , 1995, online
French zone
  • Klaus Eisterer: La présence française en Autriche, 1945–1946 . Volume I Occupation, dénazification, action culturelle (=  Publications de l'Université de Rouen , Vol. 5), Publication Univ. Rouen Havre, 1998, ISBN 978-2-87775-239-8 ; Volume II Relations humaines, questions économiques, prisonniers de guerre, leproblemème du Tyrol du sud (=  Publications de l'Université de Rouen. Études autrichiennes , Vol. 13), Publication Univ. Rouen Havre, 2005, ISBN 978-2-87775-382-1 (French); For more work by the author on the subject, see the research performance documentation Klaus Eisterer (University of Innsbruck, Institute for Contemporary History).

Web links

Commons : Vehicle registration plates of the US troops in Austria  - collection of images, videos and audio files
  • Occupation , mediathek.at (audio documents, images)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Text on the post-war period on a website of the Kreisky Archives
  2. a b “Do not despair! Take courage again! " , ORF.at , accessed on January 19, 2019.
  3. ^ The Soviets and the Austrian Idea , orf.at, April 26, 2020
  4. ^ Roman Sandgruber: The Soviet occupation in the Mühlviertel. 2008. Website in the forum OoeGeschichte.at
  5. Entry on returnees in the Austria Forum  (in the AEIOU Austria Lexicon )
  6. Niederösterreichische Nachrichten week 37/2007.
  7. ^ Bundespolizeidirektion Wien (Ed.): 80 Years of the Vienna Security Guard. Verlag für Jugend und Volk, Vienna 1949, p. 131.
  8. ^ Robert Neumann: The children of Vienna . Novel. With an afterword by Ulrich Weinzierl and pictures by Ernst Haas . The other library. Eichborn-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-8218-6200-2 (original edition: Children of Vienna , London 1946).
  9. Montafoner Heimatmuseum Schruns, special exhibition: “Montafon 1945–1955. A valley on the move ”(December 12, 2004 to April 2, 2005). Idea: Dr. Andreas Rudigier. Concept: Dr. Peter Strasser
  10. ^ 1946 in Klaus Eisterer: Austria under Allied Occupation . (= Studies in Austria and Central European History and Culture 1). In: Günter Bischof, Michael Gehler, Rolf Steininger (Eds.): Austria in the Twentieth Century . Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick / London 2009, ISBN 0-7658-0175-2 , pp. 201 (Articles 190–211) ( data set , limited preview in Google Book Search, edition 2003). ; 1954 in Gerald Stourzh: About Unity and Freedom: State Treaty, Neutrality and the End of the East-West Occupation of Austria 1945–1955 . Volume 62 of Studies in Politics and Administration . 5th edition. Böhlau, Vienna 2005, ISBN 978-3-205-77333-7 , pp. 581 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  11. ^ Chauvel written report to Foreign Minister Mendès-France, October 27, 1954, DDF 1954. No. 300 (p. 625).
  12. ^ Klaus Eisterer: Austria under Allied Occupation . (=  Studies in Austria and Central European History and Culture 1). In: Günter Bischof, Michael Gehler, Rolf Steininger (Eds.): Austria in the Twentieth Century . Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick / London 2009, ISBN 0-7658-0175-2 , pp. 190–211, here p. 201 ( data set , limited preview in Google Book Search, edition 2003). .
  13. Gerald Stourzh : About unity and freedom. State treaty, neutrality and the end of the East-West occupation of Austria 1945–1955 (=  studies on politics and administration, vol. 62). 5th edition, Böhlau, Vienna 2005, ISBN 978-3-205-77333-7 , p. 581 .
  14. The inhabitants of the American zone were then jokingly referred to as “damaged by liberation”. Quote from Stourzh: About unity and freedom . (Fn. 7), pp. 581 .
  15. The British Forces in Austria were composed of the disbanded 8th Army , which had completed the Africa campaign and then accompanied the Italian Campaign . See en: Eighth Army (United Kingdom) and The Allied occupation of Austria ( Memento from January 23, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) (britains-smallwars.com); Photo collection British Forces of Occupation in Austria 1945–1947 and Allied Occupation of Austria 1945–1955, Cold War and similar search terms in Imperial War Museums (iwm.org.uk).
  16. ru: Центральная группа войск
  17. ↑ In detail in Wolfgang Mueller: The Soviet occupation in Austria 1945–1955 and their political mission . Böhlau, Vienna 2005 (especially "The Soviet Occupation Apparatus in Austria 1945–1955" and overviews in the appendix ).
  18. Verbavolant (PDF; 45 kB)
  19. Eric C. Kollmann: Theodor Körner - Military and Politics. Verlag für Geschichte und Politik, Vienna 1973, ISBN 3-7028-0054-9 , p. 267 f.
  20. Manfried Rauchsteiner: The special case. The occupation time in Austria 1945 to 1955. Army History Museum / Military Science Institute, Vienna 1985 (original edition 1979), p. 241.
  21. ^ Daily newspaper Arbeiter-Zeitung , Vienna, November 25, 1948, quoted from: Josef Kocensky (Hrsg.): Documentation on Austrian Contemporary History 1945–1955. Verlag Jugend & Volk , Vienna 1970, ISBN 3-7141-6513-4 , p. 21.
  22. ^ Official daily newspaper Wiener Zeitung , Vienna, November 5, 1948, quoted from: Josef Kocensky (Ed.): Documentation on Austrian Contemporary History 1945–1955. Verlag Jugend und Volk, Vienna 1970, ISBN 3-7141-6513-4 , p. 21.
  23. ^ Minister Krauland stopped at the Ennsbrücke , report in the daily newspaper Arbeiter-Zeitung , Vienna, No. 260, November 6, 1948
  24. Manfried Rauchsteiner: The special case. The occupation time in Austria 1945 to 1955. Army History Museum / Military Science Institute, Vienna 1985 (original edition 1979), p. 179 ff.
  25. Gabriela Stieber: The British as an occupying power in Carinthia 1945–1955 ( Memento of the original from January 21, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , ISBN 3-900531-57-9 . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.landesarchiv.ktn.gv.at
  26. ^ "Soldiers' children ": taboo topic for 65 years , ORF.at, September 26, 2012, accessed on September 26, 2012.
  27. Barbara Stelzl-Marx - Deputy Head of the Institute ( Memento from August 31, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on September 26, 2012.
  28. ^ Herwig Czech: Western secret services in Soviet Vienna , ORF.at, June 3, 2015.
  29. Online presence Die Presse , Judith Brandtner: Schaut's net aus'm Fenster. 5000 Jewish refugees cross the Krimmler Tauern Pass. Destination: Palestine.
  30. ^ Peter Diem: The Austrian National Day , in: Austria Forum - The Austrian Knowledge Network .
  31. ^ Army History Museum / Military History Institute (ed.): The Army History Museum in the Vienna Arsenal . Verlag Militaria , Vienna 2016, ISBN 978-3-902551-69-6 , p. 149.
  32. ^ Manfried Rauchsteiner , Manfred Litscher (Ed.): The Army History Museum in Vienna. Graz, Vienna 2000, p. 83.
  33. http://www.lehmanns.de/shop/geisteswissenschaften/34546762-9783706554800-nationalsozialisten-vor-dem-volksgericht-wien