Südmark Association

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The Südmark Association has existed in Graz since 1889 . It was founded as a so-called protection association of Germans in the crown lands of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy .


The association actively supported the strengthening of border and German abroad through financial grants to communities with a German minority population in which no German schools could be built at public expense. Südmark subsidized teacher salaries and teaching material costs for German schools. The association was financed through membership fees, donations from communities in the threatened areas and through contributions from the provincial parliaments of Styria, Carinthia and Lower Austria, further through donations, bequests, festival income, charity lotteries (first in 1908) and items for sale: badges, postcards, matches, stationery. Specially employed hiking instructors served to spread the idea of ​​the protection association .


The model for the foundation was the German School Association founded in 1880 as a result of the Austro-Hungarian language regulations . The German School Association (DSchV) was the model for numerous protective associations, which were also dedicated to the endangered border and foreign Germanism, including the Südmark, which was founded in Graz in 1889. These protective associations were officially regarded as sister associations of the DSchV and were actively supported by it, but there were ideological differences. The German School Association was seen as largely bourgeois-liberal, while the Südmark Association was clearly nationalist and anti - Semitic . On the back of the Südmark donation slip no. 3 for 2 kroner, which shows a dragon slayer on the picture side, it says about the goals of the association under point 6: "Renewal of our people, threatened by deep moral decline, through education and training on an Aryan basis." The Südmark Association was founded on November 24, 1889 in the council meeting room of the Graz town hall. With his name he indicated the area intended for the planned activity, namely the "mixed-language districts of Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the coastal region". Later Tyrol, Lower and Upper Austria also fell into the sphere of activity of the association. By 1914 the number rose to 90,000 members in 948 local groups; 50 of these were local women and girls groups. In addition there were 20 Südmarkvereine in the German Empire.

The association supported u. a. the farmers of St. Egydi after a hail damage; the Germans of the city of Laibach (Ljubljana) after an earthquake in 1895 ; the establishment of student residences for middle school students in Gottschee (today's Kocevje ), for German middle school students in Cilli (today's Celje ) and Pettau (today's Ptuj ), the establishment of a student kitchen for middle school students in Marburg (today's Maribor ) and the establishment of a servants ' hostel in Marburg; The Association of German University Students in Ljubljana (today Ljubljana ) received a substantial amount for its establishment. The establishment of the "Südmärkische Volksbank" (1899/1900) gave the association strong support for its promotional measures.

The association organized midsummer celebrations (mostly together with the local gymnastics clubs) and published a Südmark songbook (repeated editions). In Gorizia (today's Gorizia ) there was a Südmärkischer Sängerbund and in 1902 a folk choir was founded in Graz within the Südmark. Up to the First World War, 326 public libraries with a total of 21,000 volumes were combined in the “Südmarkbüchereien”. As a clubhouse, Südmark initially had a room at Frauengasse 4 in Graz. The club rooms were later housed in the “Painted House” (Herrengasse 3), then in the “Wilde Mann” (Jakominigasse 3). In 1910 the association was able to acquire the house at Joanneumring 11 - the Südmarkhaus - where the work rooms were set up on two floors, while the ground floor provided space for the sales and shipping department.

After the First World War in 1921, the "Bund der Deutschen Niederösterreichs" (founded in 1903) and the "Association for the Preservation of Germanness in Hungary" (founded in 1907) joined the Südmark. After Burgenland was annexed to Austria , the Südmark called for a “donation of Heinz donation”: German books should consolidate or revive the mother tongue knowledge of West Hungarians Germans (“ Heanzen ”). Play and dance groups were sent to Burgenland, Christmas presents and sponsorship relationships were intended to promote the involvement of the population in the new state of Austria.

Commemorative plaque in Gmunden for the general meeting of the Association for Germanness Abroad and the Südmark Association in 1928

In 1922, the Alpenland bookstore Südmark was set up on the ground floor of the Südmarkhaus, which also appeared as a publisher and was particularly distinguished by its extensive teaching material department. 300 Südmark public libraries were able to fulfill their educational tasks in the post-war period. In 1924 its own "Südmark Youth Movement" was launched.

On March 29, 1925, Südmark merged with the German School Association to form the "German School Association Südmark". The now district of Styria of the German School Association Südmark had its seat in the Südmarkhaus in Graz. In the Styrian border region, five “Südmark schools” were built; four borderland elementary schools were expanded with funds from the association and facilities were made available for operation.

In 1930 the house of the household school association in Graz's Goethestrasse was taken over and continued as a girls 'home ("Südmark teachers' home"). In almost all middle schools there were school association school groups in the middle schools. Every year, the youth exchange between Baltic Sea beaches and the Alps brought young people from northern Germany to the Alps and Styrian boys and girls to the sea.

In the " Ständestaat " (from 1933) individual local groups were dissolved, in 1935 all youth groups. The German School Association Südmark as an umbrella organization was able to stay out of party politics and therefore remained largely untouched, although the authorities met its pan-German orientation with distrust. After the annexation of Austria in 1938, the association was incorporated into the VDA (meanwhile " Volksbund für das Deutschtum abroad ").

The Südmarkhaus was badly damaged by a bomb hit on February 18, 1945, and the entire archive of the old Südmark was destroyed. After the Second World War, the Südmark was re-established in Graz in 1952. The Südmarkhaus came back into the ownership of the association on July 24, 1958, but the rooms had meanwhile been made available to the federal public education officer, so that the Südmark association initially had to be content with a single room. It was not until 1962 that almost the entire first floor of the building was again available to the association. From 1969/70 the association got its schools back.

After the Second World War, the work of the Südmark Association focused primarily on the economic and cultural promotion of the southern Styrian border region in cooperation with offices of the state government, the border district administrations and the border communities of Styria (funding projects). On the ground floor of the Südmarkhaus, the association had a book, publishing and teaching material store founded in 1921, which became public administration in 1945 and was bought by the Alpine Cultural Association in 1952 . On November 1, 1957, the bookstore was sold to the Alpenland department store Kastner & Öhler , which continued the business as a tenant of the Südmark Association. The publishing house of the bookstore, which continued to particularly endeavor to publish youth literature and teaching aids, published his collected works in three volumes as well as the selection of works "Joahrlauf" in 1967 on the occasion of the 100th birthday of the West Styrian poet Hans Kloepfer . On January 1st, 2005 the bookstore was closed.


An important means of propaganda and financing of the Südmark was, as with other protection associations - in addition to the seals for letters - the issuing of picture postcards with "patriotic" motifs. Today they are a popular item among collectors. The Südmark Association has issued around 600 such cards over the years. The other protective associations such. B. the German School Association or the Federation of Germans in Bohemia have issued similar picture postcards. A total of over 6,000 such cards are known today.


  • Peter Haslinger (ed.): Protection associations in East Central Europe: Associations, language conflicts and dynamics of national mobilization 1860-1939. Herder Institute, Marburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-87969-345-0 .

Web links


  • Radical German Yearbook with Zeitweiser for 1912 . There is the following text on page 399: Verein Südmark . Founded in 1890, area of ​​application Upper and Lower Austria , the Alpine countries, the coastal regions; ... Chairman Abg. Heinrich Wastian, Office Vienna 9, Dreihackengasse 4, 800 local groups with 100,000 members. Annual income (1909) 550,000 crowns, assets 85,501.61 crowns ... the largest and most important economic protection association in the Alpine countries.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Austrian Landsmannschaft: German School Association ; Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  2. ^ Peter Krause : Contributions to Austrian student history. Volume 27: PICTURE POSTCARD CATALOG Protection associations and related organizations until 1938. OCLC 255588404 .