Jakob Ahrer

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Jakob Ahrer (born November 18, 1888 in Sankt Stefan ob Leoben , † March 11, 1962 in Vienna ) was an Austrian lawyer and politician ( CS ).


Deputy Governor

Jakob Ahrer, the son of a forester, had in Graz Jus studied and in the First World War as an officer of the Imperial Army served. During his studies he became a member of the K.Ö.St.V. Traungau Graz and later also the K.Ö.St.V. Babenberg Graz , both in ÖCV . He was the first Republican State Government of Styria , by Wilhelm Kaan led and served from November 6, 1918 to May 27, 1919, when representatives of the Christian Social Party Councilor (Government member).

In the following three governments Governor Anton Rintelen he was on 27 May 1919 to 1 December 1924, at a time of economic crisis and high inflation with all resulting social problems, strikes, demonstrations and threats against the government, state Deputy Governor of Styria . Ahrer was seen as a liaison between industry and home defense , which he helped establish, and with the Greater Germans , but also had good connections to the Styrian Social Democrats , with whose state councils he often had to go out as a “crisis fire brigade” to calm demonstrators who tended to be violent . He was known as a friend of Viktor Wutte , who had a great influence on Styrian economic policy.

Finance minister

During his tenure as finance minister in the first federal government of Ramek (November 20, 1924 to January 15, 1926), a coalition cabinet of the Christian Socials with the Greater Germans , the second part of the currency reform fell , the first part of which was decided by then Chancellor Ignaz Seipel before his term in office was: the switch to the shilling.

In 1922, in the Geneva Protocols, Seipel agreed on an international loan from the League of Nations for Austria. It was largely guaranteed by Great Britain , France , Italy and Czechoslovakia ; other member states of the League of Nations were able to join the agreement. The guarantors wanted to prevent the total collapse of the Austrian economy, which would have severely impaired European stability. Austria had to pledge its income from customs duties and from the salt and tobacco monopoly as security. The constitution-amending treaty was not overturned by the Social Democrats in parliament, but it was used intensively in their polemics against the government.

The credit and Seipel's promise not to print any additional paper money stabilized the course of the krona ; the amounts to be expected were unwieldy as a result of the previous inflation . Ahrer now had to introduce the Schilling Billing Act in parliament, according to which the crown was replaced by the new schilling in 1925 at a rate of 10,000: 1 .

In the Geneva Protocols of 1922, the strong influence that the League of Nations reserved on the state budget in this context was specified: Alfred Rudolph Zimmermann , General Commissioner who was active in Vienna until July 1926 and who was appointed by the guarantors of the loan, was able to give the finance minister practical instructions To give. Ahrer later described it as follows: Of course I was repeatedly forced to go to the Commissioner General, who ultimately watched over our own money. With the introduction of the shilling currency, the government pursued a consistent hard currency policy, which soon earned the shilling the nickname of the Alpine dollar.

Leave the government

Ahrer prepared an economic policy program in autumn 1925, but failed to win allies for it in his own party outside Styria. He wanted to strengthen the state economic control in agreement with the Social Democrats in order to reduce the high unemployment (300,000 unemployed were expected for February 1926). To this end, it should be possible to intervene in economic decisions down to the last detail; He proposed a steering committee that should be kept out of the current political dispute as far as possible. (This would have required a constitutional amendment.)

Ahrer largely isolated himself with his almost secret program; the drafts were provided by Styrian economists. The few decision-makers in Vienna who knew his project thought it was rash and impracticable. The Viennese daily Neue Freie Presse feared that one could fall back into the semi-socialist period immediately after the war, but above all one shouldn't rush an economic program and should discuss it extensively. The fact that Ahrer wanted to involve the opposition from the outset met with no approval.

Ahrer, who lacked economic policy experience as well as party political tactics, now gave up. When the National Council elected a new government on January 15, 1926, after the Ramek cabinet had resigned the day before, again with Ramek at the head, Ahrer (as well as Foreign Minister Heinrich Mataja ) were no longer on the election proposal of the Christian Socials.

Seipel said in a speech the next day that Ahrer was going back to Styria to work in the party and in the state parliament, as he did before his ministry. We will call him again when it comes to reorganizing our economy according to a grand system.

Banking problems

During his work as finance minister, Ahrer was constantly confronted with banks that were facing major problems and, if they had to admit that these problems were unsolvable in their own area, they turned to the state for help. In Austria, which had become small, there was a relatively large banking sector with a few very large institutions that had extensive business relationships in the successor states and, in addition, many very small and financially weak banks. Some had placed themselves in a critical position through risky speculative transactions and the resulting losses. According to his own statement, Ahrer tried to reduce the large number of banks by merging them. At the insistence of the finance minister, financial institutions close to the Christian Socials and in difficulty, such as the Lower Austrian farmers' bank or Steirerbank, were saddled with the central bank of the German savings banks controlled by Wutte . Ahrer always proceeded with such actions, as he emphasized, in agreement with Federal Chancellor Ramek. Even after his resignation, he took part in various meetings with top politicians and managers on this topic.

Five months after Ahrer's resignation, the Central Bank was ready for bankruptcy and had to be absorbed by the Ramek government in early July 1926. In September 1926, the postal savings bank scandal became public: the state institution had suffered severe, existential losses as a result of speculative transactions with which it wanted to avoid inflationary losses and through "relief efforts" for illiquid private banks. Ahrer stayed in New York and Havana from autumn 1926 : the absent man also served as a scapegoat for party friends. He is said to have enabled the speculator Siegmund Bosel , who owed the PSK enormous sums, as finance minister, to officially transfer a large part of his remaining assets to Switzerland and only have more debts in Austria. Ahrer later vehemently denied these allegations.

Attempt to emigrate

At that time, as he wrote in his memoirs, Ahrer was in a crisis both professionally and privately. Having relegated from being a very busy finance minister to being a less popular member of the state parliament and lawyer in Graz apparently bothered him. Besides, he had fallen in love with a woman for whom he was willing to leave his wife and children. In order to escape this crisis, he came up with the idea of ​​founding a new existence in the New World and set out on a journey by train and ship at the end of September 1926. (Ahrer later attached importance to refuting the criticism that he had left in secret; the Foreign Ministry had issued his passport.) Although the Austrian consuls general in New York and Havana were very helpful, Ahrer had to realize that as an Austrian lawyer, the learns English first, is not in demand in America. In addition, the Vienna Police President and temporarily Chancellor Johann Schober , with whom he got along very well, wrote to him to return to his wife and children. His wife, who, according to Schober, had always fought against infamous criticism of Ahrer, felt in this regard with leading Christian socialists.

On March 24, 1927, a month before the National Council election , in the middle of the election campaign and at a politically inconvenient time, Ahrer came to Vienna for a short time, gave some newspaper interviews here and then traveled back to Switzerland, where he lived and worked with friends. His permanent return to Austria came later.


On September 28, 1927 it was reported that Ahrer had given up his plans to emigrate. He lived with relatives in Switzerland for some time and after his definitive return to Austria, the date of which is not recorded, was no longer asked about his official duties: After the Vienna Palace of Justice fire on July 15, 1927, the state had the violent dissolution a police demonstration cost around 90 lives, other concerns.

In 1930 Ahrer published a justification of his political activities, mostly written in 1928 ( these papers do not want to hurt anyone, only honor the truth ). The closing words, dated November 20, 1930, conclude with the sentence: Finally find the humanity and tact to enable me to withdraw from the sensational sphere that I did not create.

As a result, Ahrer no longer played a political role and only worked as a lawyer.

Own work

  • Dr. Jacob Ahrer: Erlebte Zeitgeschichte , Michael Winkler Verlag, Vienna / Leipzig 1930, 308 pp.


Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Complete list of CV 1925, p. 271.
  2. Federal Law Gazette No. 461/1924 (= p. 1767)
  3. ^ Jacob Ahrer: Erlebte Zeitgeschichte , Michael Winkler Verlag, Vienna / Leipzig 1930, p. 127.
  4. ^ Possibility of a crisis in the Ministry of Finance , in: Neue Freie Presse daily newspaper , Vienna, January 13, 1926, p. 1.
  5. ^ A cabinet of mediocrity , in: daily newspaper Neue Freie Presse , Vienna, 14 January 1926, p. 1.
  6. Dr. Seipel on the differences of opinion in the Christian Social Party , in: Neue Freie Presse daily newspaper , Vienna, January 16, 1926, p. 7.
  7. All sorts of things. Austria. Former Austrian Finance Minister Dr. Ahrer, ... , in: Badener Zeitung , Baden near Vienna , September 28, 1927, p. 4.

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