Landbund (Austria)

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The Landbund für Österreich (LBd), usually called Landbund for short , was a farmers' party of the First Republic of Austria . The party, which was founded in 1922, had a German - national orientation, so it stood up for annexation to the German Reich , was anti-Semitic , and committed itself to anti-Marxism and the class conception . The Landbund saw itself as a representative of the interests of farmers, agricultural workers, forest workers and traders and traders. His strongholds were in Styria , Carinthia and Upper Austria , and there were also many supporters in Burgenland and in the Lower Austrian Waldviertel .

From 1927 to 1933 the Landbund was represented in almost all federal governments, in Carinthia and Burgenland it provided provincial governors .


At the first Landbundtag in Linz on January 23, 1923, the "Political Guidelines of the Landbund for Austria" were adopted. The core points dealt with in it were the national idea and the demand for union, the peasant class as the nucleus of the national community , the class concept as an alternative to parliamentarism , anti-urbanism and moralizing biologism , anti-capitalism and anti-clericalism . The opponents were located among the clerical Christian Socials and among the “Judaized Social Democrats”. The "Landbundes für Österreich" program adopted in 1925 and all other programmatic declarations by the party were based on these issues.

The peasant class was seen as the real guarantor of people and race . The Judaism was as "alien to the people" and considered "volkszersetzend". In Christianity they saw the bulwark against Marxism , which was considered to be guided by the "Jewish race". In the affirmation of the Christian religion, the Agrarian League of the Greater German, which were distinguished Liberals accused. Coined on the Christian Socials, however, the abuse of religion for political purposes and to gain secular power was rejected.

The class struggle was rejected as destroying the internal cohesion of the people; it was opposed to the concept of the national community. In the active political participation of the creative classes and professions of the rural people one saw the way to a better state. The concept of a state parliament should replace party democracy: party rule tears the people apart, as each party wants to steal the voters from the other. Instead, a professional order should be created, since the classes understand each other well and thus unity and unity of the people can be achieved.

In order to suppress the social democratic influence in the mixed industrial-agrarian areas, the peasantry was asked not only to pay the farm workers fairly and to provide them with adequate food, but also to inform them politically in the interests of the party.



In the Habsburg Monarchy , the peasantry first formed politically in the conservative-clerical resistance to liberal church and school legislation. The agrarian crisis of 1879 reinforced the anti-capitalist and anti- liberal positions that already existed . In several crown lands were German liberal and German national farmers' associations established as the Upper Austrian peasant association in 1882, the Salzburgische Bauernverein 1883, the Carinthian Farmers Union in 1884 or Christian Bauer club in 1897 in Styria. The centers of their supporters were found in linguistic-cultural border areas, Protestant enclaves and regions in which greater ownership prevailed. In 1901 the German Farmers 'Party was constituted and leading representatives of the farmers' associations joined. In 1905 , the German Agrarian Party emerged from it, reinforced by members from other clubs in the Bohemian Landtag , which had eight members in the Reichsrat in 1906 as a result of conversions . In the 1911 Reichsrat election she won 32 seats.

As a result of the territorial reorganization of Central Europe through the Paris suburb agreements after the First World War , the movement in Austria lost its strongholds in Bohemia and Moravia . Since this applied to all German national parties, the desire arose for an - at least temporarily - union of these forces. The regional peasant parties stood independently for the Constituent National Assembly in 1919 , but formed a community of factions with the bourgeois nationalists. The upcoming farmers 'parties, the German Freedom and Order Party from Upper Austria, the Styrian Farmers' Party , the Carinthian Farmers 'Union and the Freedom Salzburg Farmers' Union jointly achieved 12 of the 26 German national mandates. In the farmers' parties, which saw themselves as professional organizations, there was disagreement over a possible long-term unification with the bourgeois German nationalists. While unification would be advantageous for reasons of electoral arithmetic, one did not want to become the stooge of bourgeois capitalism and centralism . Especially the Styrian Peasant Party under Leopold Stocker worked towards the establishment of a national peasant party. In September 1919 he founded the Association of Independent Farmers' Unions . After the Carinthian Farmers 'Union and part of the German Farmers' Union for Lower Austria had joined , the German-Austrian Farmers 'Party was founded in June 1920 , and the Vorarlberg Independent Farmers' Union joined shortly afterwards . Other farmers' associations from Lower Austria, Upper Austria and Salzburg, however, entered into a working group with the Greater German People's Party (GDVP), which was founded in the same year, in the run-up to the National Council election in Austria in 1920 . In the election, the German-Austrian Farmers 'Party proved with six seats that a nationwide uniform national farmers' party was politically viable. In September 1921, the German-Austrian Peasant Party decided to join the Reichslandbund of the Weimar Republic as the Landbund für Österreich, the Association of Austria of the German Reichslandbund . This should be a step in "practical follow-up work". As a reaction to the consolidation of the organization of the farmers 'party, the farmers' organizations that were pacting with the GDVP merged in January 1922 to form the GDVP as a union of German-Austrian farmers .

Founding and opposition role

The Landbund was officially founded in Leoben on January 20, 1922 . Politically and financially supported by the large German association, attempts were made to persuade the farmers' organizations organized in the GDVP to join the Landbund. The unification efforts were successful, as early as December 1922 these organizations joined the Landbund. On January 21, 1923, the first party congress of the now all-Austrian Land Federation was held in Linz . Joint political action with simultaneous independence of the two parties was agreed with the GDVP.

This was cleverly exploited by the Christian Social Austrian Reichsbauernbund , who spoke of the submission of the Landbund to the dictates of the GDVP. At the same time there was disagreement with the Greater Germans about the distribution of the list places. For these reasons, the decision was made to stand independently in the 1923 National Council election, despite the fact that the electoral alliance had already been signed . Since different national organizations ran under different list names, the remaining votes of these electoral parties could not be added according to the current electoral law . Thus the Landbund only achieved five mandates, although the total number of votes achieved would have corresponded to eight mandates.

In the years that followed, the Landbund made a name for itself through populist agitation against the policies of the Christian-Social Greater German coalition governments. The lowering of the import tariff on agricultural products was held up against the Reichsbauernbund, which could now be accused of having betrayed the interests of agriculture by being part of the Christian Social Party. In 1926, major banking scandals became known, which the Landbund was able to exploit in terms of professional politics. Many banks collapsed due to bad speculation or had to be bailed out by the state, including those that were founded after the war with Christian social or Greater German support. The Landbund accused the government of giving the "hyenas of the economy" billions in gifts while the hard-working rural population suffered hardship. The party also used anti-Semitic phrases and stereotypes .

For the upcoming National Council election in 1927 , the party decided this time that all state organizations should appear uniformly. The recruitment of Chancellor Ignaz Seipels , who wanted to win the Landbund for its anti-Marxist unity list , was rejected at the Nazi Party Congress in early February 1927. In contrast, the Reichsbauernbund was presented with an offer to discuss a common approach to the elections. After the expected rejection, the Christian social peasant representatives were accused of allowing themselves to be instrumentalized as majority buyers of industry and capital. The tactic paid off, the Landbund won nine seats. In the Carinthian state election , which took place at the same time , the state organization entered into an electoral alliance with the trade and trade federation as the Landbund and Hagebund (LuH).

The relatively poor performance of the governing parties with their unified list compared to the Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) prompted Seipel to make the Landbund an offer to participate in the government. Since the Ministry of Agriculture desired by the Landbund was firmly in the hands of the Reichsbauernbund, he offered the position of Vice Chancellor and an important specialist ministry to join the government. After he also promised in tough negotiations to include economic demands of the Landbund in the government program, the party agreed to the offer. As Minister of the Interior and Vice Chancellor, she sent the Styrian MP Karl Hartleb to the Seipel V cabinet .

Ruling party

As the ruling party, the party organization was streamlined. In December 1927 a Reich Party Secretariat was set up and attempts were made to convey an impression of unity to the outside world, which was only temporarily successful due to the strong federal structure of the party and the dominance of individual regional organizations. In government the party stubbornly pursued agrarian interests. At the end of 1928 she called for a massive curbing of cattle imports and sharply criticized Seipel's economic policy, which she described as being dictated by the “ Wiener Schwarzenbergplatz ” (i.e. the Central Association of Industry ). Under the threat of resigning from the government, the Landbund was able to largely enforce its demands in a discussion with Seipel on January 3, 1929.

After the events in July 1927 , the Landbund was initially positive about the paramilitary home guards . In view of the “Marxist threat”, they were seen as necessary self-protection organizations, and members were called upon to join the Heimwehr. In its strongholds, the Landbund managed to take over the leadership of the home guards. As head of the interior department, the Landbund called for domestic disarmament, and the Home Guard march in Wiener Neustadt in October 1928 was condemned as “useless saber rattling”. The increasing attempts of Seipel to instrumentalize the Heimwehr for the politics of the Christian Socials finally moved the Landbund to withdraw from the Heimwehr movement. Instead, an anti-Marxist military association of its own was created with the peasant armed forces , the Reichsbund der Austrian peasant armed forces was founded on January 17, 1930. With this, however, one lost all influence on the increasingly radicalizing home defense movement. After a deadly confrontation between left and right military organizations in St. Lorenzen, Styria, in August 1929, the Landbund supported the efforts of Federal Chancellor Johann Schober to initiate internal disarmament by amending the Arms Act. The Home Guard then demanded the dismissal of the Landbund Interior Minister Vinzenz Schumy . In May 1930, he criticized the "violent and boastful behavior of individual Heimwehr leaders" and emphasized that the protection of the homeland, which the Heimwehr emphasized, also meant "upholding the idea of ​​the state and state authority [...]". In response to the Pfrimer Putsch in September 1931, the Landbund demanded the dissolution of all military associations.

After the popular Chancellor Schober had been forced to resign due to political intrigues of the Christian Socials, the Landbund briefly went into opposition again in 1930 and joined the early National Council election on November 9, 1930, together with the Greater Germans as an electoral community of the National Economic Bloc and Landbund under the leadership of Schober ( hence also called Schoberblock ). Within the party, however, the alliance was controversial and the Salzburg and Upper Austrian regional organizations ultimately competed independently. The Schoberblock did relatively well in the election, despite the loss of around 43,000 votes in Upper Austria and Salzburg, which were not enough for a basic mandate, 19 mandates were obtained. In contrast, the Christian Socials clearly lost in favor of the new Heimwehr party, the Heimatblock . Thus it came back to a bourgeois coalition government with the Landbund, with the Styrian Landbund Landesrat Franz Winkler taking over the Ministry of the Interior. At the same time, a shift in weight within the party began to emerge from the previously dominant Carinthian Landbund under Schumy to the Styrian one. The tug-of-war for federal political influence was finally won by Winkler in May 1932, when he was able to convince the chairman of the Upper Austrian federal state, Franz Bachinger , who had previously supported Schumy, to join the administrative commission of the federal railways and the Buresch II cabinet .

As head of the interior department, Winkler became the decisive federal politician at the federal level. The Creditanstalt -Pleite he wanted to use tactics such as Bank scandals 1924-1926 by allocating the blame because the capital, each share of responsibility and joint liability refused by the Land League and wanted to score the clientele of the country people. On June 16, 1931 he resigned in protest against the government's assumed federal liability for foreign liabilities of the bank, thus triggering the resignation of the federal government Ender . In his letter of resignation he justified his step by stating that the assumption of liability would make the country “completely innocent in full dependence on foreign countries”. In front of the National Council Club of the Landbund, he explained that the foreign loans for the bank rescue would create “unacceptable foreign policy shackles”. Winkler presented the loans of 150 million schillings granted on the evening of the same day without political demands as a success of the politics of the Landbund. On the occasion of his entry into the subsequent Buresch I government a few days later, he claimed that foreign countries had intended to provide financial help on condition of renouncing the planned customs union and joining Germany. His resistance would have signaled to the creditors that “our willingness to make sacrifices has limits” and would have prevented Austria from being made into a “ top-flight state ”. A little later, the former Chancellor Otto Ender was able to refute these claims as incorrect.

In the course of the global economic crisis , from 1930 onwards there was an increasingly worsening agricultural crisis, the price of grain and meat fell and broad sections of the rural population in the Alpine regions became impoverished. During this crisis, the Landbund's clientele became increasingly receptive to NSDAP propaganda . The Landbund tried with large events to prevent their sympathizers from migrating to the National Socialists. Nonetheless, with its demands for a revolutionary restructuring of the state, the NSDAP became a dangerous rival in the years to come.

In the government, Winkler was able to enforce his demands for comprehensive tariff protection for local livestock production - again under threat of resignation. His ideas largely coincided with those of the new Christian Social Agriculture Minister Engelbert Dollfuss . The reduction in agricultural imports, which Dollfuss was also striving for, was criticized by the SDAP as an attack on the living costs of the starving workers.

The importance of the Landbund as a coalition partner rose again at the end of January 1932 when the GDVP left the government. Winkler became Vice Chancellor and Minister of the Interior in the Buresch II minority cabinet, and Bachinger also took over the Ministry of Public Security. In the first Dollfuss government that followed, three Landbund politicians were represented and Vice Chancellor Winkler was entrusted with the foreign ministry's important commercial agendas for agricultural policy. In addition to this sense of achievement, however, came the entry into government of the home bloc, and thus the introduction of the differences between Heimwehr and Landbund into the government. While both called for a state reorganization of the state, the Landbund pursued the democratic path, while the home bloc sought a change in the spirit of Italian fascism . When the independent Security Minister Hermann Ach resigned in September 1932, the Heimwehr Federal Leader Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg demanded that Emil Fey be appointed as his successor. Dollfuss and Winkler tried in vain to delay Fey's appointment and to persuade the GDVP to re-enter the government. Since the Greater Germans refused, Fey had to be appointed, but he was "only" State Secretary for Security, while Dollfuss took over the security department himself. This radicalization of domestic politics, the power claims of the Heimwehr and electoral successes of the NSDAP induced the Landbund to recruit more members for the Bauernwehr. She should be the defender of democracy, because the Landbund would prefer "a defective democracy [...] than none", so the Salzburg Landbündler on July 16, 1932 on the front page. The Landbund proved to be a reliable coalition partner of the Dollfuss government and voted in favor of the Lausanne loan .

Dictatorship and ruin

The federal government saw the elimination of parliament by Dollfuss in March 1933 as an opportunity to implement the long-demanded fundamental constitutional reform. The parliament in its previous form was viewed as too cumbersome and inadequate, and the Bundesrat should be replaced by a council of states and states . The government saw itself as a “national guardian” for “liberal and democratic interests”, who was supposed to prevent Christian socials or homeland blocs from abusing the dictatorship government. With the establishment of the Fatherland Front on May 21, 1933, the Landbund became increasingly on the defensive and its electorate gradually migrated to the National Socialists. In order not to disappear into insignificance, in May 1933 he formed a working group with the League of Estates for Trade and Industry and the National Association of Officials and Employees , which in July was called the National Stand Front and was intended to serve as a counterweight to the Fatherland Front. Like them, they rejected the party state and called for a class structure of society, but with emphasis on the "German character" of the country. Dollfuss pushed for a corporate entry of the new movement into the Fatherland Front, but this was rejected as the de facto liquidation of the National Stand Front.

In the government, the Landbund representatives resisted the appointment of the Tyrolean home guard leader Richard Steidle as State Secretary for Justice, which was called for by Fey . They also rejected the NSDAP ban called for by Fey and Army Minister Carl Vaugoin . On June 9, 1933, Schumy declared in the Council of Ministers that it would be intolerable for any anti-Marxist if a national party were to be dissolved, but at the same time the social democratic party would remain untouched. Winkler added that a ban on the NSDAP would mean a break with Germany , which had meanwhile been ruled by the National Socialists , and that Austria had a special relationship with Germany: “There is no Austrian tribe, there is only one German tribe that forms a state in Austria ... “Even after the Nazis' fatal hand grenade attack on Christian-German gymnasts in Krems ten days later, a party ban was rejected on the grounds that a party the size of the NSDAP could not be held responsible for the excesses of individual members. Should the other governing parties insist on the ban, they may allow the Landbund representatives to abstain. The NSDAP was banned in Austria on June 19, 1933 without the votes of the national groups Winkler, Schumy, Bachinger and Kerber .

In June 1933, the Land League from the National Rural League came out because of this now with the German Nazi Party into line had been. An official founding ceremony of the National Socialist Front on September 17, 1933 in Graz, which had been planned for a longer period of time, became a response to the Dollfuss' harness racing speech held in Vienna on September 11 . Around 11,000 members of the Peasant Army and 14,000 members and sympathizers marched up and heard a speech by the leader of the National Front, Vice Chancellor Winkler. In the speech, which was interrupted by Nazi attempts to interfere, he clearly demarcated national politics from the Heimwehr and the NSDAP and declared them to be the “Middle Way”. This speech provoked angry reactions from the Heimwehr leaders and exposed the cracks in the government camp. Dollfuss reacted to this with a government reshuffle on September 21, 1933, which he justified with the need to be liberated from party ties. All Landbund members left the government. The home guard Fey, however, became vice chancellor, so that political commentators spoke of a shift to the right and a victory for the home guard. However, Dollfuss also wanted to overthrow the Heimwehr ministers who remained in the government and had therefore concluded a secret agreement with the Landbund: Dollfuss submitted to the agendas of the police, gendarmerie and army and thus withdrew them from the ambitions of the Heimwehr. Fey was to be isolated in terms of power politics through the cooperation of the National Socialist Front members Robert Kerber (as Minister of the Interior) and Franz Glas (as State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice). Through these liaison officers, the Landbund continued to have influence over government affairs. However, this gradually disappeared and the resulting feeling of powerlessness intensified already existing controversies in the party about the ideological orientation. Because of the fundamental German character of the party, Winkler and Bachinger demanded consideration for Germany in foreign policy. In this way they stood in opposition to Dollfuss, who leaned on the Italy of Benito Mussolini since Hitler came to power . Schumy was closer to Dollfuss' ideas, he primarily relied on the class concept and was positive about a union of the national and fatherland front. This implied an acceptance of the Austrian ideology propagated by Dollfuss, which Winkler and Bachinger attacked as “betrayal of Germanness”.

When Dollfuss announced a new constitution at the beginning of March 1934, in which parties would no longer have a place and that no party-political fractionation would be possible in the professions that were to be created, the differences in the Landwehr leaders' ideas about the future became acute again. Winkler and Bachinger vehemently criticized an essay by Schumy in which he spoke out in favor of joining the Fatherland Front, saying that it did not take into account the needs of the national, German-minded population. There was unanimous agreement in the government's support for the Führer principle . Since Dollfuss wanted his constitution to be approved by the National Council, he sent Finance Minister Karl Buresch to solicit support from the Landbund. However, Winkler and Bachinger prevailed and the parliamentary association of the Landbund decided not to vote on the state constitution . The chairman of the MPs Club Hubert Dewaty stated in a reason for this rejection that the party would hold out on its “ ethnic outpost” “until the life demands of the Austrian people were met”: “No solution to the Austrian question without Germany, no solution to the Central European Problems without Germany. ”He appealed to the Chancellor to submit the constitution to a referendum .

With the negative opinion, the break with the Dollfuss government was finalized. Since all parliamentary activities of political parties ceased with the entry into force of the corporate constitution on May 1, 1934, the party leadership declared its activities ended on May 18, 1934 and authorized the party executive to initiate liquidation. The Landbündlerische ideological community remains upright, the Association of Austrian Landbund would "take into account the changed circumstances" by amending its statutes. This meant de facto the dissolution of the Landbund as a party. After the dissolution, supporters of the former party increasingly migrated to the National Socialists. Numerous, mainly young, former supporters took part in the National Socialist July coup, which led to arrests (Bachinger, Dewaty, ...) and the dissolution of the Landbündler community and the peasant army . The pro-government wing around Schumy was taken over into the profession of "agriculture and forestry". After the war, many Landbündler from this wing joined the farmers' union of the newly founded Austrian People's Party .


The regional federation was represented very differently: While its strongholds were in Styria, Carinthia, Upper Austria and Burgenland, it was hardly represented in the western federal states. In March 1927, the Vorarlberger Landbund dissolved and merged with the Christian-social Vorarlberger Bauernbund, in Tyrol there was no more regional organization. In state elections, electoral alliances often had to be entered into, often with the Greater Germans, and in Upper Austria in 1925 with the Christian Socialists on a unified list.

The Landbund was strongly represented in places with fewer than 1000 inhabitants and a strong Protestant minority or majority. There, the patriarchal structures of the communicative and economic elites ensured a relatively stable establishment of the movement and a longer immunization against National Socialist agitation than was the case with the Greater Germans, for example. Although the Landbund always saw itself as a representative of the entire rural population, the larger to medium-sized farmers and their assistants predominated among the supporters and voters. For Upper Austria it was calculated that in 1930 every fifth Landbund voter was also a party member.

Many representatives of the party elite stood on a further economic pillar than landlords, cattle dealers, hauliers, etc. Thus, a certain communicative and economic connection to (semi-) urban centers was given. Two other important groups among the Party officials were teachers and civil servants, especially agricultural teachers and agricultural officials. In the organizational structure, they often took on the functions that the clergy assumed among the Christian Socials.

The party's youth organization was the Austrian Jungland Federation .


  • Alexander Haas: The forgotten farmers' party. The Steirischer Landbund and its influence on Austrian politics 1918–1934 . Leopold Stocker Verlag , Graz 2000, ISBN 3-7020-0885-3 .
  • Robert Kriechbaumer : The great stories of politics. Political culture and parties in Austria from the turn of the century to 1945 (=  series of publications by the Research Institute for Political-Historical Studies of the Dr. Wilfried Haslauer Library, Salzburg . Volume 12 ). Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2001, ISBN 3-205-99400-0 , p. 494-544 .

Individual evidence

  1. Christian Klösch: Grated between Nazism and Austrofascism. Landbund and Greater German People's Party and the end of the German-national middle parties. University of Vienna, January 14, 2011, pp. 2–5 (PDF; 168 kB).
  2. From the independent farmers' associations. In:  Neues Grazer Tagblatt , September 10, 1921, p. 12 (online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / gtb.
  3. Radical phrase, electoral alliances and continuities: Landtag election campaigns in Austria's federal states 1919 to 1932 (= Robert Kriechbaumer, Hubert Weinberger, Franz Schausberger [Hrsg.]: Series of publications by the Research Institute for Political-Historical Studies of the Dr.-Wilfried-Haslauer-Bibliothek, Salzburg . tape 57 ). Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2017, ISBN 978-3-205-20498-5 , pp. 111 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  4. Official part. In:  Wiener Zeitung , September 22, 1933, p. 1 (online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / wrz.