German Austria

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The law on the state and form of government of German Austria , the constitutional constitution of German Austria, copy of the protocol in the Army History Museum

German Austria , also German Austria , referred to in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy the predominantly German-populated areas of the Austrian states ( Cisleithanien ). After the dissolution of the multi-ethnic state , a largely German state emerged in 1918 , which was therefore called German Austria, but soon had to rename itself to the Republic of Austria .

The German-speaking members of the last Reichsrat of the monarchy met on October 21, 1918 as the Provisional National Assembly of German Austria in Vienna. In the days that followed, the Habsburg dual monarchy de facto dissolved. On October 30, 1918, the German deputies elected the Council of State as an executive committee, which appointed the Renner I state government for the German-speaking area represented by the assembly and swore it on October 31 .

The representatives of German Austria did not want to be drawn into the armistice of Villa Giusti , concluded by exponents of the old order on November 3, 1918 and abstained from any cooperation or knowledge. On November 12, 1918, the day after the emperor's declaration of renunciation and the removal of his last government , they proclaimed the German-Austrian Republic on the basis of a resolution of the Provisional National Assembly on November 11, and passed the law on the form of state and government in German-Austria . They described the new state as a “democratic republic” (Art. 1), which according to Art. 2 should be “part of the German Republic”.

Article 2 proved politically unreal as early as the spring of 1919. Notwithstanding the decision taken on 12 November 1918 decision had German Austria on September 10, 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain that of the victorious powers required state name Republic of Austria and full sovereignty to agree to the German Republic, otherwise no contract had been concluded. These changes were passed by the Constituent National Assembly with the law on the form of government of October 21, 1919. The law also stipulated that German Austria under the name “Republic of Austria” is not a legal successor to the former imperial Austria .


With the emerging military collapse in autumn 1918 and the resulting defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Army in World War I , Austria-Hungary began to break up . Croatians, Serbs and Slovenes (October 6th), Poles (October 7th) and Czechs (October 28th) declared their independence from the Habsburg Monarchy and proclaimed their own states. On October 24, the Hungarian government declared the real union with Austria - with the consent of the king - to have expired at the end of the month. On October 30th, the State of German Austria was constituted by the Provisional National Assembly . With the armistice of November 3, Austria officially withdrew from the First World War .

As Emperor of Austria , Charles I renounced “any share in state affairs” on November 11, 1918, two days later he declared the same renunciation as King Charles IV of Hungary.

After an interlude as a soviet republic, Hungary remained a reduced kingdom without a king. Large areas changed to the war victor Italy , the new state of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs , Romania and Poland , which was re-created as a state from parts of old Austria , the German Empire and Russia .

Foundation phase

On October 16, 1918, in his Manifesto , Emperor Karl I suggested the formation of a confederation with him as emperor in place of the cisleithan half of the empire. ( A similar initiative was not carried out in the Kingdom of Hungary because the Magyar government wanted to maintain the unity of the kingdom's historical areas.)

On October 21, 1918, the last elected members of the Reichsrat of German Austria in 1911 (their term of office had been extended to December 31, 1918 during the war) met in the Lower Austrian Landhaus in Vienna as the National Assembly of German Members (it was all men). They did not take over the idea of ​​the confederation. At this constituent meeting, the total of 516 members of the Reichsrat were the 208 representatives of those areas of the monarchy that were predominantly German, i.e. German-speaking, populated. There were 65 Christian Social and 37 Social Democratic MPs as well as 106 representatives of German national and liberal groups.

Franz Dinghofer ( German National Movement ), Jodok Fink ( Christian Social Party ) and Karl Seitz ( Social Democratic Workers' Party ) were elected as equal presidents of the assembly (they took turns in their functions every week). For itself the assembly decided on the name Provisional National Assembly for German Austria , which established the official state name. This had been used in political journalism decades before; z. For example, the later first Federal President of Austria, Michael Hainisch , published a statistical and economic study in 1892 under the title The Future of German Austrians .

Seitz, one of the three heads of state until March 4, 1919 to the republican head of state , declared after his election: “Today we are laying the foundation stone for a new German Austria. This new German Austria will be built according to the will of the German people. ” At that time, the Social Democrats and Greater Germans in particular associated the previous Habsburg monarchy with the term“ Austria ”. Karl Renner had therefore called the new state "Southeast Germany" in his draft of the provisional constitution, which was created in October 1918 and was amended several times before the resolution was passed. Names like "Hochdeutschland", "Deutsches Bergreich", "Donau-Germanien", "Ostsass", "Ostdeutscher Bund", "Deutschmark", "Teutheim", "Treuland", "Friedeland" or "Deutsches Friedland" were suggested in circulation. Finally, the Christian social politicians prevailed who did not want to give up the term Austria completely.

Was by the Provisional National Assembly

  • (in vain) claimed territorial power over all cisleithan areas with a majority German-speaking population,
  • announced the election of the constituent national assembly (it took place on February 16, 1919),
  • From the midst of the deputies on October 30, 1918 an executive committee, the State Council , with the three presidents of the National Assembly and 20 other members (including the State Chancellor and the State Notary), were elected and there were
  • another five committees of the Provisional National Assembly constituted.

At the same time, the other successor states of the former dual monarchy organized themselves . On October 24th, Galician politicians declared that a joint parliament in Vienna would be pointless from now on. Czech politicians founded the Czechoslovak Republic on October 28, 1918 ; the peoples of today's Serbia , Croatia and Slovenia formed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes on October 29 (from 1929 Kingdom of Yugoslavia ). On October 31, the Kingdom of Hungary declared the Real Union with Austria to be over.

The new state

First government

On October 30, 1918, the Council of State, chaired by Karl Seitz, appointed the first government ( Renner I State Government ); with their inauguration the following day, the establishment of the state was completed. The Social Democrat Karl Renner became State Chancellor of the concentration government made up of Social Democrats, Christian Socials and Greater Germans. At the same time, in the first days of November 1918, the imperial-royal government of Lammasch was still in office , whose area of ​​responsibility had been reduced from all of Cisleithanien to the smaller remaining German Austria or the new Austria (the Austrian name was to be retained in the new state name) within a week. It administered the dissolution of the former state territory, insofar as it could be influenced from Vienna, handed over its agendas concerning German-Austria to the state government Renner I at the beginning of November, but was only removed by him on November 11, 1918 at the request of the emperor, when he made his declaration of renunciation would have.

Clarification of the form of government

The declaration of renunciation by Emperor Charles I of Austria, November 11, 1918; two days later the monarch as King Charles IV of Hungary made a similar declaration.
(Copy, exhibited in the Army History Museum Vienna. The original was destroyed in the fire of the Vienna Palace of Justice in 1927.)
Seal of the German-Austrian State Chancellery

The new state had left its form of government open for the time being. Right from the start, Social Democrats advocated a republic without any legal connection with the previous constitution, so they wanted to initiate the formation of a new republican state in a revolutionary way . The Christian Socials were initially able to imagine the emperor as a “lifelong ombudsman”, as Ignaz Seipel described the function in a newspaper article. Ultimately, the Christian Socialists also refrained from monarchical forms of government. Its top politicians worked together with Renner and representatives of the Imperial and Royal Government , which was dismissed a few hours later , on the declaration that the emperor, who was not ready to abdicate completely, was supposed to make in order to avoid a conflict between the monarch and the representatives of the republican state.

On November 11, 1918, Emperor Karl I signed the so-called waiver declaration in Schönbrunn Palace . The key phrases of this declaration were:

“I acknowledge in advance the decision that German Austria will make about its future form of government. The people have taken over the government through their representatives. I renounce any share in state affairs. "

- Wiener Zeitung, No. 261, extra edition, November 11, 1918

In the declaration, the Emperor of Austria further removed his government from office; On the same evening he moved to Eckartsau Castle in the Donauauen, at that time a castle privately owned by the Habsburg Family Foundation.

Proclamation of the Republic

At this point in time, the new politicians had long since agreed to proclaim a republic for November 12th: The Provisional National Assembly met in the parliament building , which had been subordinate to the Reichsrat - which was de facto self-dissolving on the same day - and resolved this with only two votes against Law on the state and form of government of German Austria . The law is one of the essential building blocks of the federal constitution of the new state.

The first two articles read:

“Article 1.
German Austria is a democratic republic. All public powers are employed by the people.

Article 2.
German Austria is part of the German Republic. Special laws regulate the participation of German Austria in the legislation and administration of the German Republic as well as the extension of the scope of the laws and institutions of the German Republic to German Austria. "

The public proclamation of the republic was accompanied by tumult in which the white stripe was torn out of the red-white-red flags hoisted in front of parliament.

Territorial claims

Territory of the Republic of German Austria claimed by the National Assembly (1918–1919)

After the war one spoke of the rest of Austria for the significantly reduced areas, which were already referred to as "Austria" in the narrower sense before 1918, ie the Habsburg hereditary lands without the lands of the Bohemian Crown . The rest of Austria comprised Lower and Upper Austria (with Vienna: the actual core duchy of Austria), Inner Austria (Styria and Carinthia, the Krain was undisputedly mainly Slovenian / Italian), Tyrol with Vorarlberg , and Salzburg (only to Austria in 1803). In particular, the border areas between Bohemia and the German Empire were disputed.

The Provisional National Assembly raised the claim to "territorial sovereignty over the closed settlement area of ​​the Germans within the kingdoms and states represented in the Imperial Council " (ie in the entire "Austrian" part of the Cisleithanien region of the dual monarchy from 1867). This proclaimed republic covered 118,311 km² and 10.37 million inhabitants, consisting of:

In German West Hungary (later Burgenland ), political, but not legal, claims were made in the sense of the right of self-determination of the peoples. Austria's legal claim did not arise until October 1919 with the State Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and was largely redeemed in 1921.

The end of the state concept of German Austria

Newspaper stamps 1920
Banknote of the Austro-Hungarian crown currency with the stamp "German Austria"

As early as the spring of 1919 it turned out that the state concept for German Austria was not feasible. The new state did not succeed in amalgamating in a state association all those areas of the former imperial Austria with a German majority to which it made a claim. South Tyrol, under Italian occupation since November 3, 1918, was finally formally annexed by Italy; the predominantly German-populated areas of Bohemia and Moravia had been occupied by Czechoslovakia and ultimately fell to it. The merger with the Weimar Republic , which was sought among other things by referring to the self-determination of the peoples formulated by US President Woodrow Wilson , could not be realized.

85 of the 208 (Reichsrat) MPs participating in the Provisional National Assembly were elected in 1911 in areas in which the Constituent National Assembly on February 16, 1919 could not be elected. The new Parliament (159 elected and eleven convened deputies) consisted of 72 Social Democrats, 69 Christian Socialists, 26 representatives of German national groupings, a Czech, a bourgeois democrats and a Zionist . For South Tyrolean and Lower Styrian regions, members of the party lists used in the election had been called up. The original intention of the provisional constitution to appoint appointed representatives for the areas of the Czech Republic populated by Germans, whose residents could not vote, could not be realized because the Social Democrats spoke out against it. This would have led to enormous foreign policy problems.

The first meeting of the Constituent National Assembly without representatives from these areas resulted in the demonstration of the Sudeten Germans on March 4, 1919 . On March 5, 1919, Renner calculated in the second session that around four million “undoubtedly German residents”, that is “more than all of Switzerland has inhabitants”, had been prevented from voting in the new parliament of German Austria; thus one had achieved "a division of Germany". The State Chancellor stated in detail:

  • German Bohemia with 14,496 km² and 2.23 million inhabitants;
  • the Böhmerwaldgau (to be connected to Upper Austria ) with 3,280 km² and 183,000 inhabitants;
  • the Sudetenland with 6,533 km² and 678,800 inhabitants;
  • the district of German South Moravia (to be connected to Lower Austria) with 1,840 km² and 173,000 inhabitants;
  • the language islands of Brno with 140,000 inhabitants,
  • Olomouc with 48,000 inhabitants as well
  • Iglau with 37,000 inhabitants;
  • also to be connected to Lower Austria South Moravian municipalities with 385 km² and 22,900 inhabitants;
  • in the north thus 27,022 km² and 3,515,509 inhabitants,
  • German South Tyrol with 6,496 km² and 250,861 inhabitants.

On September 6, 1919, heated debates broke out in the parliament in Vienna regarding the prospect of a peace treaty; In particular, the Christian Socialist MP Leopold Kunschak sharply denounced Prime Minister Clemenceau's note accompanying the treaty, which contained serious allegations against Austria. Nevertheless, at the end of the debate, the Christian Socials and the Social Democrats, but not the Greater Germans, agreed to the signing of the treaty, but at the same time protested against the demolition of the Sudeten Germans and against the separation of South Tyrol .

On September 10, 1919, State Chancellor Renner signed the Treaty of Saint-Germain , which was referred to as the "dictate of the victorious powers" (see Paris suburb agreements ) and legally regulated the largely already completed dissolution of the Austrian half of the empire . With the ratification of the treaty by the National Assembly on October 21, the name of the country was changed from the State of German Austria to the Republic of Austria in accordance with the provisions of the treaty .

The efforts to unite with the republican German Reich were opposed by the “ prohibition of affiliation ”, which was stipulated in the Treaty of Saint-Germain for Austria (Art. 88: “Austria's independence is unalterable unless the Council of the League of Nations approves an amendment . […] ") As well as in the Versailles Treaty for the German Reich (Art. 80:" Germany recognizes the independence of Austria within the boundaries to be determined by the treaty between this state and the main Allied and Associated Powers and undertakes to respect them unconditionally [...] ") was recorded. The victorious powers of the " Great War " wanted to prevent a new, overpowering Germany.

The law of October 21, 1919 on the form of government therefore stated:

“Article 1.
German Austria as defined by the State Treaty of St. Germain is a democratic republic under the name 'Republic of Austria'. [...]

Article 2.
Wherever the applicable laws refer to the Republic of German Austria or its sovereign rights, the name “Republic of Austria” has to be used in place of this designation.

Article 3.
In the implementation of the State Treaty of St. Germain, the previous statutory provision: 'German Austria is part of the German Empire' [...] is suspended. "

Apart from the goals that were not achieved, the Carinthian areas of Mießal and Unterdrauburg Slovenia and the Canal Valley, occupied by Italy since November 1918, with Tarvis Italy, Feldsberg and Gmünd- Böhmzeil in Lower Austria were awarded to Czechoslovakia. The Lower Styria , the southern part of the historic Styria , joined - by the Styrian parliament with regret taken note of - the end of October 1918 the newly formed State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs on. On the other hand, Austria was awarded in the treaty of German-West Hungary and joined in the autumn of 1921; the area of Ödenburg , natural capital of the area, remained with Hungary due to the referendum in 1921 in Burgenland , the seriousness of which was very much doubted by the German-Austrian politicians. Without a vote German-speaking areas remained the county Wieselburg and the county Vas in Hungary.

Karl Renner, who also headed the Renner II and  III state governments , wrote a hymn in 1920, German Austria, you glorious land , which contained the no longer official state name. However, the composition was never officially declared the national anthem. The Social Democratic Workers' Party of German Austria , however, did not change its name.

See also


  • Federal Ministry for Education (Ed.): Austria, free land - free people . Documents, Volume 3. Österreichischer Bundesverlag, Vienna 1957, OBV .
  • Zbyněk A. Zeman: The collapse of the Habsburg Empire, 1914–1918 . Publishing house for history and politics / Oldenbourg, Vienna / Munich 1963, OBV . (Original: The break-up of the Habsburg Empire, 1914–1918 . Oxford University Press, London / New York 1961, LOC ).
  • Rudolf Neck (Hrsg.): Austria in the year 1918. Reports and documents. Verlag Oldenbourg, Munich 1968, OBV .
  • Friedrich Funder : From yesterday to today. From the Empire to the Republic. Herold publishing house, Vienna 1971³, OBV .
  • Walter Goldinger , Dieter A. Binder: History of the Republic of Austria, 1918–1938 . Verlag für Geschichte und Politik, Vienna 1992, ISBN 3-7028-0315-7 .
  • Karl Glaubauf : The People's Army 1918-20 and the founding of the republic. Stöhr-Verlag, Vienna 1993, ISBN 3-901208-08-9 .
  • Wilhelm Brauneder : German Austria 1918. The republic comes into being. Amalthea Verlag, Vienna / Munich 2000, ISBN 3-85002-433-4 .
  • Norbert Leser : A revolution that wasn't. Wiener Zeitung, November 8, 2008.

Individual evidence

  1. Wiener Zeitung No. 273 (digitized version) , p. 14 left column.
  2. a b Law of November 12, 1918 on the form of state and government in German Austria. StGBl. No. 5/1918. In:  State Law Gazette for the State of German Austria , year 1918, p. 4 f. (Online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / sgb
  3. a b Law on the Form of Government. StGBl. No. 484/1919. In:  State Law Gazette for the State of German Austria , year 1919, p. 1153 (online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / sgb.
  4. ^ Law of October 21 on the form of government. St.G.Bl. No. 484 . In: Hans Kelsen, Matthias Jestaedt (Hrsg.): Published writings 1919–1920 . tape 5 . Mohr Siebeck, 2011, ISBN 978-3-16-149984-5 , pp. 447 ( online ).
  5. ^ Karl I .:  (...) rally (...) (waiver). In:  Extra edition of the Wiener Zeitung , November 11, 1918, p. 1. (Online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / ext
  6. Stenographic minutes of the constituent session of the National Assembly of German Members. Vienna, October 21, 1918. In:  Stenographic Protocols of the First Republic , year 0001, pp. 1–12. (Online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / spe.
  7. Federal Ministry for Education (Ed.): Austria, free land - free people , p. 139.
  8. ^ Goldinger, Binder: History of the Republic of Austria, 1918–1938 , p. 14.
  9. Stenographic minutes of the constituent session of the National Assembly of German Members. Vienna, October 21, 1918. In:  Stenographic Protocols of the First Republic , year 0001, p. 6. (Online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / spe.
  10. ^ Neck: Austria in 1918 , p. 75.
  11. ^ Goldinger, Binder: History of the Republic of Austria, 1918–1938 , p. 19.
  12. ^ Ernst Bruckmüller , in: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere: Das neue Österreich. Vienna 2005, p. 242.
  13. ^ Neck: Austria in 1918 , p. 77.
  14. ^ Ludwig Karl Adamovich , Bernd-Christian Funk , Gerhart Holzinger , Stefan L. Frank: Österreichisches Staatsrecht . Volume 1: Basics . Springer's short textbooks on law. Springer, Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-211-82977-6 , p. 72 ff.
  15. ^ Goldinger, Binder: History of the Republic of Austria, 1918–1938 , p. 28 f.
  16. Stenographic Protocol. 2nd session of the Constituent National Assembly for German Austria. Wednesday, March 5, 1919. In:  Stenographic Protocols of the First Republic , Volume 0002, p. 26. (Online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / spe.
  17. ^ Carlo Moos: South Tyrol in the St. Germain context . In: Georg Grote , Hannes Obermair (Ed.): A Land on the Threshold. South Tyrolean Transformations, 1915-2015 . Peter Lang, Oxford-Bern-New York 2017, ISBN 978-3-0343-2240-9 , pp. 27–39, here pp. 29–30 .
  18. Minutes of the constituent regional assembly in Styria on November 6, 1918. In:  Landesgesetz- und Verordnungsblatt für das Land Steiermark , year 1918, Stmk LGBl 1918/78, p. 232. (Online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / lgm.

Web links

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