Christian Social Party (Austria)
The Christian Social Party of Austria ( CS or CSP ) was a Catholic - Conservative party in the kingdoms and countries of Austria-Hungary and the First Republic of Austria represented in the Imperial Council . It was founded in the early 1890s and experienced a rapid rise to become one of the most important parties in the monarchy. In the First Republic she was involved in every federal government until 1934 , from 1920 mostly the Federal Chancellor and from 1928 also the Federal President . High-ranking representatives of the party prepared the ground for the transition to the authoritarian regime of the Austrian corporate state , after which the party dissolved.
The forerunners of the Christian social movement in Austria came into being with Sebastian Brunner's “ Wiener Kirchenzeitung ” published in 1848 as a pioneer of the Catholic press and the Catholic journeyman's associations founded in 1852 by Cardinal Anton Gruscha .
In 1868 the Bishop of Linz and member of the state parliament, Franz Joseph Rudigier, called in a pastoral letter to oppose the May Laws . His arrest on June 5, 1869 led to a demonstration never seen before in Linz, which is described as the birth of the Christian social movement and the beginning of the democratic movement of Austrian Catholicism. On October 16, 1869, the Catholic People's Association for Upper Austria was founded , Heinrich Graf Brandis was the first association president . The Upper Austrian regional organization of the Christian Social Party, which existed until 1934, was to develop from this group.
The Catholic journalist Karl von Vogelsang was an important pioneer of political Catholicism in Austria. Against the background of the stock market crash in 1873 , as editor of the fatherland and from 1879 in his monthly magazine for Christian social reform , he formulated the foundations of Christian social reform . Via the conservative social reformers Aloys von Liechtenstein and Egbert Belcredi , these ideas have already found their way into the social legislation of Count Eduard Taaffe's government . Vogelsang tried to shape the anti- liberal Austrian Reform Association, founded in 1882, into a corresponding people's party, but since anti-Semitism dominated social policy there, he later placed his hopes on the Christian Social Association founded by Ludwig Psenner in 1887 .
In order to increase the chances in the Viennese municipal council elections in 1887, one ran together with several German national and anti-liberal groups as an electoral community United Christians (popularly known as the "Wurstkesselpartei" due to their inhomogeneity). The name “Christians” was also used to express the contrast to Judaism, in which one saw the representation of exploitative economic liberalism . At that time, your top candidate, Karl Lueger, was still a member of the left-wing liberal democrats .
In 1888 Lueger switched to the Christian Social Association , which found enthusiastic supporters, especially among the lower clergy . Here Lueger became familiar with the principles of Christian social reform and took part in the discussion rounds of the duck evenings organized by Vogelsang . After Vogelsang's death in 1890, they were continued by the moral theologian Franz Martin Schindler . He also took on intellectual leadership, while the politically talented Lueger acted as chairman of the association. In the social encyclical " Rerum Novarum " published in 1891, the Christian Social Association saw its programmatic concerns confirmed.
Other groups that were later to merge into the CSP were the “Catholic Conservatives”, the “Democrats”, the “Commercial Reformers”, the “Free Association of Catholic Social Politicians” of Liechtenstein and the “Christian Social Workers' Association” founded in 1892 by Leopold Kunschak .
The Christian Social Party in the monarchy
There is disagreement in the literature on the founding date of the Christian Social Party: On the one hand, the appearance of the Christian Social Association as a party for the Reichsrat election in 1891 is seen as the hour of birth, on the other hand, a union of several groups in the Christian Social Party in 1893. In any case, there is agreement that the foundation was under the leadership Karl Luegers took place.
The party oriented itself in a petty-bourgeois and clerical manner and was thus able to attract large masses of the conservative agricultural population and the urban petty bourgeoisie: craftsmen, tradespeople and civil servants. The party had an important ally in the church : on the one hand, with its criticism of liberal modernization tendencies and capitalism, it addressed those who lost out on modernization, for whom Catholic social teaching was an attractive programmatic offer; on the other hand, it was able to organize the party with trained employees in the form of the lower clergy support. This saved the young party from building up its own party organization.
Part of the Christian canon of values of that time was also moderate anti-Semitism. Until the 1890s, the electoral associations around Lueger carried designations such as “anti-Semites and Christian socials” or just “anti-Semites”.
On the 3rd Austrian Catholic Day , it was decided to found a popular newspaper as a mouthpiece for Catholicism in Austria. The Reichspost appeared for the first time in 1894 and served as the party's press organ and as a counterweight to the still dominant liberal press.
In the Viennese municipal council elections in 1895, the long-standing dominance of the liberal camp was broken and the CSP achieved the two-thirds majority that it held until 1919. The imperial capital became the center of the party's strength. With Josef Strobach she was able to provide the mayor of Vienna , and in 1897 Lueger himself became mayor. In Lower Austria , the connection with the regional association of farmers , from which the Lower Austrian Farmers' Union emerged in 1906 , ensured that there was a large number of voters among the rural population. From the state election in 1902, the CSP dominated here too. Through successes in other crown lands , the CSP became the Reich Party .
At the party congress in Eggenburg in 1905, the party rejected the dualism brought about by the settlement and demanded a federal restructuring in the interests of the existence of the multi-ethnic state . Archduke Franz Ferdinand registered this commitment to Austria-Hungary, which distinguished them from the German Nationals, with great interest, and the heir to the throne from then on maintained a close relationship with the CSP.
The death of Karl Lueger plunged the party into a crisis. In his political will he warned the party against becoming a specific “professional party”, that it had to represent the interests of peasants, artisans, the trade as well as the metropolitan population and the intelligentsia . Although Lueger had proposed Richard Weiskirchner as his successor in the office of mayor, there was massive tension between him and Albert Geßmann , who also had ambitions for the office, which ultimately led to significant losses in the 1911 Reichsrat election . The party fell behind the Social Democratic Labor Party (SDAP). The new party chairman Aloys von Liechtenstein was able to prevent the party from breaking up, but there was no major figure of integration.
During the First World War the party sided with the monarchy , towards the end of the war the party was increasingly split into a monarchist and a republican faction. At the end of 1918, the imperial government had hardly any loyal troops and the army was in a chaotic state of disintegration. In realpolitical terms, insisting on the monarchy would have meant self-elimination for the CSP. Therefore, on November 12, 1918, the party decided to establish the republic . The monarchist Aloys von Liechtenstein resigned from his position as party chairman in protest against this decision.
The Christian Social Party in the First Republic
The resigned Liechtenstein was followed on an interim basis until a new party chairman was elected by the Upper Austrian governor, Prelate Nepomuk Hauser . It was Hauser who persuaded Ignaz Seipel to stand for on the Christian Social List, the clergyman who was to become the defining personality of the CSP in the First Republic.
The Catholic Church, which in Austria was always under the protection of the House of Habsburg, found a new protecting power in the CSP. Top representatives of the party now regularly gave lectures at bishops' conferences on the political situation, and for the church the CSP was the only point of contact for political requests (for example on marriage and school issues). A committee was set up to coordinate the wishes of the church with the political action of the party during the constitutional negotiations.
The Christian social election program for the elections for the constituent national assembly on February 16, 1919 represented traditional positions such as the commitment to the “Christian family”, the moral education of the youth, the rejection of “religious schools”. In addition, there were also social and economic demands: The replacement of property that was not managed in the interests of the community and that should be used as “homes for warriors returning from the field”, the establishment of chambers of commerce, agriculture and labor as well as the Creation of modern labor law and comprehensive insurance protection. In view of the partially prevailing revolutionary mood and the events in Russia and some neighboring countries, the CSP, as the “party of social order”, demanded that democratic development should take place without violent overthrow. A pastoral letter from the bishops of German Austria supported this election program.
In the election, the CSP came second with 69 seats behind the SDAP (72 seats) and formed a grand coalition with it ( Renner II state government and Renner III state government ). In this way it was hoped to be able to prevent undesirable developments in the young republic and to be able to deal better with the unresolved foreign policy situation through the cooperation of the two large camps.
To defuse the revolutionary mood in the country, the CSP contributed to the social legislation promoted by the SDAP, which pleased the Christian labor movement, while the representatives of trade, commerce, industry and agriculture, organized in the CSP, grudgingly accepted. They consoled themselves that they had averted worse things ( council dictatorship ). Another success of the coalition was the consensual conclusion of the Peace Treaty of Saint-Germain .
However, there was disagreement over the discussion about the Defense Act and the Constitution. The CSP increasingly suspected the Social Democrats of taking power and trying to implement an Austrian variant of Bolshevism . In order to have forces at its disposal in the event of a Bolshevik seizure of power, which could oppose the socialist-dominated people's armed forces , the CSP sought contacts with the home guards and the Bavarian military associations Orka and Orgesch . The mutual loss of trust finally led to the breakup of the coalition in June 1920.
In the National Council election in October 1920 , the CSP won most of the seats and, due to a lack of coalition partners, formed a minority government under Federal Chancellor Michael Mayr ( Federal Government Mayr II ), who, however, resigned in the summer of the following year due to tensions between the state and federal organizations of the CSP. The new party chairman Ignaz Seipel tried to restore the threatened unity of the party and was able to strengthen the party leadership ( Nazi party leadership ). The new Schober civil servants' cabinet was supported by the CSP and the Greater German People's Party (GDVP). After the GDVP withdrew its support due to the contract of Lana Schober, Seipel negotiated with the GDVP about a coalition that was elected by the National Council on May 31, 1922 as the Seipel I federal government . During her reign, the tough austerity measures of the Geneva redevelopment were implemented .
In a government statement on November 21, 1923, against the backdrop of the Hitler coup in Germany , Seipel made a clear commitment to parliamentarism: “For us, parliament is the organ and the guarantee of a policy of peaceful development.” At the same time, he called on the opposition to “state policy “, That is, the postponement of party political desires in favor of responsibility for the well-being of the state. The SDAP, on the other hand, accused the CSP of having become, under the leadership of Seipel, the “patroness of the nobility , industry , anti-Marxist political Catholicism, capitalism and reaction ”, which had said goodbye to Vogelsang's social ideas. For Seipel, the failure of consensus strategies was due to the exaggeration of the class point of view by the Social Democrats, which must lead to “tearing up the people”. For him, the SDAP was a “class party” in contrast to the CSP, which he understood as a “state party”. The fronts hardened. On June 1, 1924, an impoverished worker carried out an assassination attempt on Seipel.
On November 8, 1924, Seipel resigned as Federal Chancellor because the Styrian governor and party colleague Anton Rintelen was unwilling to support an austerity program that Seipel wanted to extend from the federal government to the states. In the subsequent federal government of Ramek I , the state organizations gained influence in federal politics. A new, twofold party crisis began to emerge. On the one hand, differences between the goals of the state and federal organization became apparent, on the other hand, a conflict developed between the states and the Vienna state organization, which was accused of preferring the federal capital in financial equalization. This referred to the great pressure exerted by the Red Vienna on this question and that a change in the distribution key could only be achieved with heavy fighting (in fact, the financial equalization was only restructured in the authoritarian corporate state).
Another crisis scenario was a series of bank failures in 1925–1927. These included a large number of smaller institutes that had emerged with the participation of Christian social and Greater German politicians and were intended as a counterweight to the big banks, which were assumed to be dominated by "Jewish finance capital". More than 100 of these institutions had speculated during the inflationary period and collapsed at the expense of small savers.
The image of the party was badly damaged, the Ramek government showed an increasingly confused appearance and finally resigned on October 15, 1926. Four days later Ignaz Seipel took over the chancellorship again.
In November 1926, the SDAP self-confidently adopted a new program in Linz and the National Council election was due for April 1927 . Seipel had to go on the offensive from a difficult situation. In order to avert a feared massive loss of votes and mandates, he strove to form an "anti-Marxist united front". At the beginning of 1927 the CSP formed the electoral alliance Einheitsliste with Greater German and National Socialist parties , which the Social Democrat Otto Bauer commented: “Seipel knows what class struggle is; all contradictions within the possessing classes are meaningless to him. For him there is only one front: against social democracy. "
The elections did not fundamentally change the balance of power, the SDAP consolidated its supremacy in Vienna, the CSP remained the strongest force in the National Council with the unified list. Seipel viewed the events surrounding the Vienna Justice Palace fire in July 1927 as a “Bolshevik attack” and as a sign of Austro-Marxist revolutionary efforts . This led to the fact that the contacts with the Heimwehr, which had largely been discontinued since 1922, were reactivated, which should be instrumentalized for a possible fight against a left revolution. Christian Socialists were encouraged to join the Home Guard groups. However, Seipel's ambitions were recognized by the leaders of the Heimwehr, who, in order not to be co-opted by the CSP, devised their own authoritarian-fascist course as a counter-concept. They demonstrated strength with a large parade in Wiener Neustadt in 1928, and the formation of the home bloc as a party-political arm of the movement in 1930 finally made the failure of Seipel's strategic plan, which was also aimed at preventing additional right-wing political competition, evident.
At the beginning of 1928 Seipel declared the struggle of the CSP for “true democracy” to be the real subject of the Austrian republic. With their "party political eradication" of the banking scandals and collapses, the Social Democrats would take no account of the interests of the state. Their “ party oligarchs ” have no sense of responsibility towards the state ( res publica ), but only towards party interests ( res privata ). During this time he also toyed with the idea of a temporary dictatorship in times of crisis, which, however , had to act in the sense of the res publica . He saw Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution as exemplary .
Based on these considerations, he argued in favor of a constitutional reform, which should ensure a strengthening of a head of state, which is exclusively committed to the state as a whole, and greater independence of the government from parliament, as well as converting the Federal Council into a state and state chamber . Some of these considerations flowed into the constitutional reform of 1929 , the unfulfilled remainder gained increasing supporters in the party in view of the worsening economic crisis , the encyclical Quadragesimo anno reinforced the desire for a "class" restructuring of politics.
From December 1928, the CSP also provided the Federal President with Wilhelm Miklas . He was to hold this office, which was strengthened by the constitutional amendment in 1929, until March 13, 1938 .
Seipel resigned as Chancellor in April 1929, but remained an influential figure in the party until his death in the summer of 1932. In the early 1930s, the CSP found it increasingly difficult to find majorities in parliament for measures to improve the catastrophic economic situation. One wanted to avoid new elections at all costs due to the feared massive election wins of the NSDAP Hitler movement . This is why Seipel's ideas about an authoritarian solution found more and more supporters in the party base.
In the spring of 1932 a coalition government was formed with the Landbund and the Heimatblock, which, as the political arm of the Heimwehr, was a sharp critic of parliamentarism. The former Minister of Agriculture Engelbert Dollfuss became Federal Chancellor . After the decision to accept the conditions of the Lausanne Protocol could only be reached with great difficulty in the summer of 1932 , Dollfuss applied the War Economic Enabling Act (KWEG) from the monarchy for the first time in the autumn of that year , with the help of which he by regulation and bypassing the National Council was able to take measures to reorganize the distressed Credit-Anstalt für Handel und Gewerbe .
When all three presidents of the National Council resigned on March 4, 1933 when a railroad strike was being discussed in parliament, making the National Council incapable of acting, Dollfuss saw this as an opportunity to take the long-awaited authoritarian path: he spoke of a " parliamentary elimination " and had it announced that this is a parliamentary crisis, not a state crisis, because the government is not affected. It would protect peace and order and in this sense all marches and gatherings are prohibited and the press is censored .
If the National Council did not meet for the time being, the Social Democrats were supposed to be forced to agree to a new constitutional reform that was to transform the unpopular parliamentary system into a professional one based on the model of the social encyclical Quadragesimo anno . In the meantime, the government wanted to implement urgently needed measures as emergency ordinances via KWEG.
Politically, Dollfuss was backed by the Christian Social Governors as well as from the party base. This course was journalistically supported by the Reichspost. She celebrated the ban of the Republican Protection Association on March 31st as the removal of the "revolutionary rubble".
After the Viennese provincial government lodged a number of complaints against the government's actions at the Constitutional Court , promises and pressures prompted so many members of the court to resign that no Senate was able to meet with the necessary strength to deal with these complaints.
At the same time, there was a discussion within the party about the concrete structure of the constitutional reform. In any case, the results of the ongoing concordat negotiations should be incorporated into the new constitution, from which it should be evident that the government is “in Catholic hands”. In addition, it should also serve to defend against National Socialism. The NSDAP had taken power in Germany and the Austrian NSDAP repeatedly tried to persuade the CSP to cooperate. The NSDAP state inspector Theo Habicht suggested that Dollfuss form a coalition government after new elections. Since a National Socialist Chancellor is difficult to bear in terms of foreign policy, the NSDAP would be willing to leave the Chancellery to the CSP regardless of the outcome of the election. The relationship between the two parties is also characterized by a clear alternative. There is "only war or peace, there is no third."
For Dollfuss, Miklas and many other high-level functionaries of the party, cooperation with the National Socialists was ruled out; they were increasingly seen as the real opponent. Former Chancellor Rudolf Ramek said: “War or peace, this word is wrong. There is only war. "
Before the party congress in Salzburg in May 1933, the party spoke out against any rapprochement with the NSDAP. At this point in time, Dollfuss intends to organize all groups supporting government policy in a new mass movement, with the help of which the agitation of the National Socialists and the Social Democrats should be countered. An appeal in the Wiener Zeitung on May 21, 1933 was the first to promote membership of this collective movement known as the “ Fatherland Front ” (VF). The party members assumed that the CSP would be the dominant force within the Fatherland Front. A possible absorption of the party in the VF was still impossible. Numerous requests to speak at the party congress called for the constitutional reform and the subsequent return to party state and parliamentarism. Dollfuss, who feared a return to the party egoism already criticized by Seipel, strove for a more fundamental reformulation of politics. In June 1933 these differences became apparent as tensions between Dollfuss and the party. Kunschak mentioned in the Christian Social Club Board that the club was feeling increasingly disregarded by the government, apparently no longer finding it necessary to inform the club about important decisions and to discuss them with them.
When, on September 11, 1933, as the leader of the VF, Dollfuss held the programmatic trotting course speech, in which he openly advocated turning away from the party state and the establishment of a "social, Christian-German" state on a "class basis and under authoritarian leadership" the CSP finally on the defensive. A few days later, Dollfuss reshuffled the government ( Dollfuss II government ), in which he himself took over the ministries for foreign affairs, defense, security (interior) and agriculture and forestry in addition to the chancellorship.
While many in the party were still under the illusion that the party would continue to exist as the most important group within the VF, others saw this more clearly: Carl Vaugoin drew the consequences of the threatened end of the party and took leave of absence as party chairman on November 1, 1933 went into the private sector. Emmerich Czermak , appointed by Dollfuss as the new managing party chairman, was primarily chosen to carry out the liquidation and transfer of the CSP to the VF.
The Heimwehr involved in the government pushed ever more clearly for a fascist state restructuring based on the Italian model . To the club, Dollfuss argued that the integration of the Heimwehr into the government coalition was absolutely necessary in order to strengthen the wing of the Heimwehr loyal to the government and to prevent it from entering into a right-wing coalition with the National Socialists. Responding to the increasingly clear signals that the Social Democrats are willing to negotiate would be "the best breeding ground for NS [= National Socialists]".
The events of February 12, 1934 put an end to all internal party discussions critical of the government. The Social Democrats were unanimously blamed for the civil war, and the government was congratulated on successfully defending the state and the people. At the same time there was irritation about Dollfuss' approach to the Heimwehr. He left the statement by Vice Chancellor and Home Guard leader Emil Fey that Dollfuss was "ours" unchallenged and did not respond to massive threats by the Home Guard against leading representatives of the party. However, Dollfuss knew about the threat posed by the Home Guard. His policy was aimed at its instrumentalization against Austromarxism and National Socialism, afterwards it should be neutralized by being absorbed into the VF. In fact, Fey and the Home Guard movement were successively disempowered in the following years.
On May 1, 1934, the corporate state constitution was promulgated, in which parties no longer played a role. On May 14th, the last meeting of the Christian Social Club took place, at which Kunschak recapitulated the history of the party in a speech and added that she had “completely fulfilled her duty”. Dollfuss stated that the “war on two fronts” was the “only possible way” “if we want to save Austria from a red and a brown wave.” The newly created Patriotic Front is a renewal movement which, due to its ideological foundations, is “loyal Guardian “of the Christian social thought. At the end of this session, the party life ceased and on September 28, the federal party leadership announced that it would cease its function as a party "with the feeling of satisfaction that it had fully and completely fulfilled a historic task".
Although the party was dissolved de jure in 1934, ideologically, personally and traditionally in 1945 as the ÖVP, it was de facto re-established.
Catholic associations as pillars of the party
In the early days of the party, its structure consisted of the informal, friendly and business-like networks of its individual politicians. The strong commitment of the lower clergy meant that the party structures developed parallel to the Catholic association structures, the party membership was based on the membership of an association.
In 1900 a central political secretariat was founded, which compared to the powerful "district emperors" remained rather ineffective. In the First Republic, Ignaz Seipel tried to make the organizational structure at the federal level clear and hierarchical. Several constitutional reforms strengthened the federal party leadership against the still powerful state organizations, which had the character of umbrella organizations due to the diversity of their Catholic and corporate groupings.
In 1919 the “Volksbund der Katholiken Österreichs - United Piusverein and Catholic Volksbund” was established, which had emerged from the 1905 “ Katholischer Volksbund ”. In 1922 Pope Pius XI called in Austria the “ Catholic Action ” came into being. As a lay apostolate under priestly leadership, she spearheaded the confrontations with secular and anti-clerical socialism. At the beginning of the 1930s there were 219 Catholic associations in Austria, which were tightly organized in the two umbrella organizations "Katholische Aktion" and "Volksbund der Katholiken". The Kleine Volksblatt , founded by the Volksbund in 1929 , had a daily circulation of 92,000 and, along with the Wiener Kirchenzeitung (weekly circulation 250,000), was the largest of the many Catholic journalistic media in Austria (for comparison: the Reichspost had a daily circulation of "only" 40,000).
The umbrella organization “Katholische Reichs-Frauenbewegung”, founded in 1907 as a working group of Catholic women's organizations with a total of around 250,000 members, also gained special importance through the women's suffrage , which was introduced in 1918 . Your body KFO-Frauenbote declared: "We vote Christian because we are Catholic!"
Other central political organizations of Catholicism were the “ Reichsbauernbund ” founded in 1919 with around 240,000 members, as well as the Christian labor movement led by Kunschak with around 112,000 members. From it went as an alternative to "godless" social democratic trade union movement , the Christian unions out.
Particular attention was paid to the promotion of youth organizations, as the “fight for youth” was seen as determining the direction for the future. The largest organizations were the "Reich Association of Catholic Girls' Associations", founded in 1921, to which over 70,000 members belonged in 2,180 associations, and the "Reich Association of the Catholic German Youth of Austria", founded in the same year, with around 100,000 members.
The Austrian Cartell Association (CV, from July 1933 ÖCV ), which made up a large part of the political elite of the Christian Social Party: eight of the twelve Federal Chancellors and Federal President Miklas were members of the CV.
After the Vatican Dollfuss had assured its support in April 1933 and the Catholic Church had achieved its most important political goal by signing the Concordat on June 5, 1933, the bishops decreed on December 6, 1933 the withdrawal of all priests from political positions until the December 1933. Political Catholic associations such as the Upper Austrian “Catholic People's Association” Josef Aigners , which functions as the party's regional organization , were converted into non-political associations. As a result, the CSP lost its most important organizational and propaganda pillars. In the Christmas shepherd's letter on December 22, 1933, the Austrian episcopate declared its support for the “Christian aspirations” of the already authoritarian government, and all Catholics were called upon to support them as best they could. In February 1934, the Bishops' Conference called on the members of the Catholic Action to join the Fatherland Front. A corporate entry of the Catholic associations was refused to preserve their independence.
- 1893–1910 Karl Lueger (founder, Mayor of Vienna 1897–1910)
- 1910–1918 Aloys von Liechtenstein
- 1918–1920 Johann Nepomuk Hauser (1908–1927 Governor of Upper Austria, 1918–1920 2nd President of the National Council)
- 1920–1921 Leopold Kunschak
- 1921–1930 Ignaz Seipel (Federal Chancellor 1922–1924 and 1926–1929, Foreign Minister 1930–1931)
- 1930–1934 Carl Vaugoin (1921–1933 Minister of the Army, 1930 Federal Chancellor; took leave of absence as party chairman on November 1, 1933 and finally resigned from this position on January 26, 1934)
- 1934 Emmerich Czermak (1929–1932 Minister of Education; was appointed as the party chairman on November 16, 1933)
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