Fred Sinowatz

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Fred Sinowatz
Fred Sinowatz signature 1976.jpg

Alfred "Fred" Sinowatz (born February 5, 1929 in Neufeld an der Leitha , Burgenland ; † August 11, 2008 in Vienna ) was an Austrian politician ( SPÖ ) and historian . From 1983 to 1986 he was Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria .

As Federal Minister for Education and the Arts under the government of Bruno Kreisky from 1971 to 1983, he was responsible for socially oriented reforms in the education system. He had numerous new secondary schools built in district capitals , made it easier for AHS access, and introduced, among other things, free travel for students, free school books, and school and home aid.

During the election campaign for the federal presidential election in June 1986, Chancellor Sinowatz vehemently opposed the ÖVP candidate , Kurt Waldheim , in the course of the so-called " Waldheim Affair " . When this was elected, Sinowatz resigned as Federal Chancellor. According to his proposal, Franz Vranitzky became his successor.


Sinowatz came from a Burgenland-Croatian family. His father was a machinist, his mother a factory worker. Since there were no public secondary schools in Burgenland at that time, he attended high school in Wiener Neustadt after primary school . After changing schools, he graduated from high school in Baden . He then studied history, German and newspaper studies at the University of Vienna . In 1953 he received his doctorate with the dissertation Protestantism and Catholic Counter-Reformation in the Grafschaft Forchtenstein and Herrschaft Eisenstadt . A contribution to the Burgenland regional, local and church history to the Dr. phil. (History). Then Sinowatz joined the civil service of the state government of the federal state of Burgenland . In 1956 he became an employee in the library of the Burgenland State Archives in Eisenstadt. As a so-called “ white vintage ” he did not have to do military service.

Sinowatz was widowed and had two children. Sinowatz was closely connected with his birthplace and home town of Neufeld. He grew up there and built a house on land his parents gave him.

Before his death, Sinowatz was treated for two weeks in the General Hospital of the City of Vienna . Another - ultimately unsuccessful - heart operation was carried out here. Sinowatz died in the Donauspital .

Political career

Sinowatz was a member of the Neufeld an der Leitha municipal council from 1957 to 1969 . 1961 Sinowatz country was party secretary of the SPÖ Burgenland and held this position until 1978. Also in 1961 he became a deputy to the Burgenland Landtag and was 1964-1966 President of the Parliament . From 1966 to 1971 he was a member of the state government as regional councilor for culture . He then moved to the National Council , where he was a member of the parliament until he was appointed Chancellor in 1983.

In 1978 Sinowatz became deputy chairman of the SPÖ Burgenland. From 1981 to 1988 he was a member of the Federal Party Presidium of the SPÖ, from 1983 to 1988 its Federal Party Chairman.

Fred Sinowatz was Federal Minister for Education and the Arts from 1971 to 1983 . His tenure under the Kreisky government was marked by numerous school policy reforms. With the introduction of free school books and school trips, the establishment of secondary schools in the district capitals and the granting of school and home grants, education became less dependent on the financial possibilities of parents. In addition, the entrance examination for the AHS has been abolished, new types of school such as the upper level secondary school (which also enables secondary school students to take the Matura) and comprehensive coeducation . These reforms also helped to reduce the educational gap between town and country. As the minister responsible for culture, on December 13, 1982, he decreed the recognition of Buddhism in Austria .

In 1981 Sinowatz became Vice Chancellor after the resignation of Bruno Kreisky's "Crown Prince" Hannes Androsch .

After the National Council election in 1986 , Sinowatz was entrusted with the provisional management of the business of the chairman of the SPÖ parliamentary club until January 27, 1987 .

Sinowatz as Federal Chancellor

After losing the absolute SPÖ majority in the National Council election on April 24, 1983 and Kreisky's resignation, Fred Sinowatz reluctantly became Chancellor (May 1983). With the FPÖ he formed the Sinowatz cabinet , a small coalition still negotiated by Kreisky, the Red-Blue coalition . In the following period, the head of the cabinet of Sinowatz, Hans Pusch, who was active as the coordinator of the coalition and powerful advisor to the chancellor, gained great importance .

In the serious domestic political crisis surrounding the occupation of the Hainburger Au , Sinowatz ensured - also under public pressure - on December 22, 1984, by imposing a "Christmas peace" for a relaxation.

Despite this success, his reign was not a good star. He had to struggle with the glycol wine scandal , the scandal about the new building of the Vienna General Hospital and mainly with the crisis of the highly indebted nationalized industry (especially the VÖEST ).

In the course of the media processing of the scandals and difficulties, a quote from Sinowatz 'from his government declaration in 1983 was published again and again: a description of the challenges of the next few years was followed by the statement: "I know that everything sounds very complicated ..." - this saying is mostly in the form "It's all very complicated ..." reproduced.

At the beginning of 1985 he also came under pressure when Defense Minister Friedhelm Frischenschlager  (FPÖ) officially received the war criminal Walter Reder , who had been released from Italian custody, on his arrival.

The Waldheim affair

Before the election campaign for the federal presidency in 1986 , he indicated in a meeting of the Burgenland SPÖ board , as Ottilie Matysek later described , that the Austrians would be made aware of the “brown past” of ÖVP candidate Kurt Waldheim in good time. This remark reached the Austrian news magazine profil through an indiscretion , which therefore began to research and thus opened the Waldheim debate .

Sinowatz was clearly against Waldheim throughout the election campaign. On his assurances that he was not a member of the cavalry corps of the Sturmabteilung (SA) and only "rode along" there from time to time, Sinowatz countered with the remark:

"We note that he was not with the SA, but only his horse with the SA."

- Fred Sinowatz : ORF midday journal from March 11, 1986

Fred Sinowatz resigned as Federal Chancellor one day after Kurt Waldheim's victory in the federal presidential election (June 1986) and recommended the previous Finance Minister, Franz Vranitzky, as his successor.

On March 17, 1988, he also announced his imminent resignation as party chairman; Vranitzky was succeeded in this function at an extraordinary party congress on May 11, 1988.

At that time Sinowatz resigned as a member of the National Council .

Because of the testimony about Waldheim's past, he filed a lawsuit against defamation against Ottilie Matysek, who had meanwhile become a dissident of the SPÖ . Although the entire SPÖ leadership of Burgenland (including Governor John Sipötz ) closed testified in his favor and Matyseks representation denied the court (but also by chemical and other technical studies on the part of the German relied on the Federal Criminal Police Office based) authenticity of the handwritten notes, pointing the lawsuit. As a result, this also led to Sipötz's resignation and, in mid-April 1991, to a final conviction of Sinowatz for false testimony to a fine of 360,000 Schilling: With the judgment of a single judge of the Vienna Regional Criminal Court on September 25, 1990, number 4 c E Vr 8.514 / 88-87, Sinowatz was found guilty of the offense of false evidence in court according to § 288 Abs. 1 StGB. The appeal raised by Sinowatz was not followed by the Higher Regional Court of Vienna in its judgment of April 15, 1991, number 22 Bs 449/90.

Retreat into private life

Grave of Fred Sinowatz and his wife

After his time as Federal Chancellor, Sinowatz withdrew from public life, although court proceedings brought him into the media's interest twice. He was finally convicted of false testimony in the Waldheim affair in 1991 and an indictment in the Noricum politician trial ended on June 24, 1993 with an acquittal.

As part of the funeral services for Sinowatz, his coffin was first laid out in parliament, on the day of the funeral in the parish church of Neufeld an der Leitha. Sinowatz was buried in the Neufelder Friedhof.

Awards and honors


Web links

Commons : Fred Sinowatz  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Catalog list Austrian National Library
  2. Kleine Zeitung: Politicians in the Armed Forces - Unfit, unwilling, indispensable . Article from January 17, 2013, accessed October 25, 2015.
  3. ^ Wiener Zeitung : Fred Sinowatz: Unconditional commitment to social democracy ( memento of January 3, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) , September 25, 2004
  4. Der Standard: Former Chancellor died , August 11, 2008 ( Webartiekl , accessed August 20, 2008)
  6. ^ Press conference SPÖ head Sinowatz - Blecha - Fischer zu Waldheim. (Audio) In: Mittagsjournal . Austrian Media Library , March 11, 1986, accessed on October 15, 2017 (original quote from 30:40).
  7. Helene Maimann: The First 100 Years: Austrian Social Democracy 1888-1988 , Vienna 1988, p. 356
  8. see also September 22, 1986: [1]
  9. Peter Pelinka : Waldheim and no end. Die Zeit , April 26, 1991, archived from the original on March 11, 2016 ; accessed on December 8, 2017 .
  10. see the corresponding information in a subsequent OGH decision of June 11, 1992 on an annulment complaint by the General Procuratorate: OGH 13Os25 / 92-9. Retrieved February 3, 2019 .
  11. ^ ORF Burgenland: Fred Sinowatz and the Waldheim Affair , accessed on August 25, 2015
  12. ^ Entry on the website of the President of Portugal
  13. ORF Burgenland: Dr. Fred Sinowatz-Strasse in Mattersburg  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /