Austria: history

Austria: history
   Prehistory and Antiquity
   The terrain covered by modern Austria has had some form of human habitation since the Early Stone Age. The first evidence for humans into the alpine valleys comes from around 150,000 years BCE. During the
   Early Iron Age, that is between about 1000 and 400 BCE, an amalgamation of Indo–European Illyrians and Celts established the so-called Hallstatt civilization. Toward the end of that period, the Celts cobbled together a kingdom called Noricum. When the Romans began to appear in the region, shortly before the beginning of the Christian era, they turned Noricum into an administrative province, which encompassed much of what today is Austria. Modern Vorarlberg and parts of the Tyrol belonged to the province of Raetia, while the easternmost reaches of today’s Austria, including the Vienna Basin, were in Roman Pannonia. Carnuntum, near modern-day Hainburg in Lower Austria, and Vindobona, on the site of present-day Vienna, were both significant military and administrative centers.
   During the Roman occupation, both the economy and the culture of the alpine and Danubian regions changed swiftly. The Romans laid down major thoroughfares to move their armies through the region. They also introduced viticulture where the climate and soil would support it. Roman law found its way into some aspects of local custom. Aside from Vienna, both Salzburg and Linz, today leading cities in Austria, trace their origins to Roman settlement. Christianity began to drift into the Alps and the Danube valley around 300 CE. Approximately 100 years later, Germanic tribes, who had been infiltrating for some time, overran the region. The Romans withdrew from Vindobona in 405. Between 500 and 700, the German Bavarians settled throughout much of what is modern Austria, bringing with them the dialect that has shaped the structure, pronunciation, and vocabulary of modern Austrian speech. However, their presence was contested by Huns, Avars, and the Franks. Under Emperor Charlemagne (r. 771 814), the Austrian lands above and below the Enns River, today Upper and Lower Austria, were converted to a margravate in 788. This served as the launching point for the reconquest of the area from the Avars, which took place between 791 and 796. In 880, the Austrian lands were once again conquered by the Magyars, whose origins were in central Asia. They, in turn, were driven back to what is today Hungary by German Emperor Otto I (r. 936–973) at the Battle of the Lechfeld (955). The Austrian lands were once more a part of the medieval Holy Roman Empire.
   Austria in the Middle Ages
   In 976, Emperor Otto II ( r. 973–983) enfeoffed the Babenberg dynasty with the Austrian lands, which they would rule and expand until they died out in 1246. They gradually moved their center of power eastward, until one member of the house, Heinrich II Jasomirgott (r. 1141–1177), settled upon Vienna as a seat and erected the beginning of what would become the Imperial Palace or Hofburg. Heinrich also received from Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (r. 1151–1190) the Privilegium minus, in 1156. This charter granted the Babenbergs the title of duke in the area now covered by Lower Austria; it also largely freed its rulers from imperial jurisdiction and other feudal obligations. Heinrich’s successor, Leopold V (r. 1177–1194), acquired the duchy of Styria in 1192.
   The Austrian lands generally prospered under Babenberg rule. Gold, silver, and salt mines were opened and exploited, and major religious orders, chief among them the Benedictines and Cistercians, settled throughout the Austrian lands and played important roles in clearing land and developing regional agriculture. Their monasteries sponsored important intellectual, scholarly, and educational programs as well. The Babenberg courts themselves were significant cultural centers. The famous German verse epic of the Nibelungs in all likelihood received its final form at the hands of an Austrian who was at the court of Leopold VI (r. 1198–1230) and also active in a circle around the bishop of Passau.
   The death of the last Babenberg duke, Frederick the Quarrelsome (r. 1230–1246), in battle against the Magyars in 1246 brought unsettled times to the Austrian lands. For a time, Styria fell to King Béla IV of Hungary (r. 1235–1270). King Otakar Premysl II (r. 1253–1278) controlled the duchy of Austria itself, as well as Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola, the latter in modern-day Slovenia.
   Habsburg Austria from 1273 to 1490
   Otakar of Bohemia’s expansionist drive ended violently in 1278. Instrumental in organizing his defeat was the German emperor, Rudolph I, count of Habsburg (1218–1291), who was elected to his new dignity in 1273. Of Alsatian origins, Rudolph had substantial holdings in southwestern Germany and in Switzerland, but was not a leading figure in the empire by contemporary standards. Nevertheless, he was shrewd and aggressive, qualities that stood him and his family in good stead both in his lifetime and in the centuries to come. As emperor, he asked the king of Bohemia to declare an oath of allegiance in return for the latter’s rights in Austria, Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola. Otakar’s refusal led to a temporary standoff between the two men. By 1278 they were in open conflict, which ended with Rudolph’s victory in the Battle of the Marchfeld; Otakar was not only vanquished but killed. Four years later, Rudolph enfeoffed two of his sons, Albrecht and Rudolph, with the duchy of Austria and Styria. Carinthia and Carniola remained beyond his reach, but by the 14th century these had been incorporated into the Habsburg domains as well, along with land as far south as Istria, at the head of the Adriatic Sea, along with Trieste, now in Italy. Although from a purely geopolitical standpoint the Habsburgs had assembled a sizeable and strategically crucial territorial complex, they were not always able to fully exploit the advantages that these acquisitions conferred. Following contemporary practice among German princes, after 1379 the rulers of Austria divided their lands among their sons. Although the number of partitions varied with the number of available heirs, they often followed three basic configurations: Lower Austria, which comprised today’s Upper and Lower Austria; Inner Austria, made up of Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, the Istrian coast, and Trieste; and Outer and Upper Austria, which took in the Tyrol, acquired in the 14th century, the Vorarlberg, and the Habsburg possessions that remained in the German southwest and in Switzerland. The fortunes of the Habsburgs waned noticeably throughout the 14th and much of the 15th centuries. The German crown was held by other houses from 1308 until 1438. Switzerland spun out of the Habsburg orbit during this period. Although the dynasty gave lip service to the fiction that its lands were a single entity, the reality was quite otherwise. Patrimonial divisions and redivisions almost always provoked conflicts that sapped the resources of the Austrian provinces. They also opened the way for local noble families to play an important part in the governance and defense of their regions. Nevertheless, the Habsburgs continued to think of themselves in big terms, territorially and otherwise.
   In his spurious Privilegium maius, Duke Rudolph IV (1339–1365) conferred the title of archduke on male members of his line, giving their house equivalent status to the electors of the Holy Roman Empire. The dynasty tried to arrange for itself a succession in the kingdom of Bohemia through a compact with the ruling house of Luxemburg there. Indeed, the Habsburg German Emperor Albrecht II (1397–1439) was king of both Bohemia and Hungary for the years 1437–1438. It was not, however, until the latter half of the 15th century that the house of Austria’s pan-European ambitions were realized. Archduke Frederick V (1415–1493), who became Emperor Frederick III in 1440, was something of a joke among his contemporaries for his phlegmatic ways and military ineptitude. He emerged the winner in a protracted struggle over division of the Habsburg Austrian patrimony with his brother Archduke Albrecht VI (1418–1463) only by outliving the challenger. Nevertheless, he began the almost unbroken line of Habsburgs that would hold the imperial title until the empire came to an end in 1806. The dignity also gave Frederick marital bargaining power. In 1477 his only son, the future Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519), wed Duchess Mary of Burgundy (1457–1482), the lone direct claimant to the rich complex of lands in the Netherlands held by a cadet line of the French ruling house of Valois.
   The Burgundian marriage produced offspring who married into the Spanish royal house. With these two unions, the Habsburgs became European, rather than Austrian, princes. Though both the Iberian and central European lines of the house continued to call themselves the house of Austria, their responsibilities and interests extended far beyond their central European homeland. Maximilian I continued to be very mindful of Austria. The Tyrolean capital of Innsbruck was his favorite residence, and he endowed it with some of its most notable landmarks and monuments. But he was intensely preoccupied with the Netherlands, where the kings of France challenged his rule, and with German imperial affairs. The latter ran the gamut from territorial wars to restructuring the constitution in ways that would strengthen the hand of the emperor. Persist though he did, Maximilian was only partially successful. Similar efforts in Austria met the same fate. To free himself from having to appear personally in his individual lands to do business with the local estates, Maximilian made a start on creating administrative bodies to act in his name. Such offices were deeply resented by the estates, who insisted on personal contact with their ruler. This was especially the case when Maximilian was requesting taxes for special purposes such as military campaigns. The estates of the Tyrol wrested an agreement from him that very carefully specified the conditions under which they would contribute to his armies.
   Maximilian created other social and economic difficulties for himself and for his successors in the Tyrol. The province was well known for its productive silver mines, especially in Hall and Schwaz. These were considered the property of the territorial ruler, and the incomes were therefore sequestered for his treasuries. However, to raise quick cash, Maximilian was forced to mortgage these revenues to the German merchant house of Fugger, an arrangement that eventually sparked armed uprisings by a resentful local population.
   Thus, from the outset, Habsburg greatness and Austrian interests, defined by the Austrians themselves, were not altogether coextensive. The Austrian lands were not among Europe’s most prosperous; the decades of intermittent warfare between Albrecht VI and Frederick III had taken a severe toll on the economy. And although Maximilian was the first of his line since 1379 to control the entirety of the Habsburg patrimony, the fiscal demands that he placed upon it strained available resources badly. What he asked of his Austrian patrimony, however, was modest compared to what was to come. More distressing yet, there would be every reason for the Austrian lands to pay.
   The Ottoman Empire in Central Europe
   Maximilian left the Habsburg holdings in Austria to his two grandsons, Archdukes Charles (1500–1558) and Charles’s younger brother, Ferdinand (1503–1564). Neither had grown up in central Europe— Charles had spent his youth in the Netherlands, and Ferdinand had been raised in Spain. Following the wishes of their grandfather, they negotiated a division that, in a short time, left the Austrian lands under Ferdinand’s control. Both men would be German emperors, Charles as Charles V from 1519 to 1556 and Ferdinand from then until his death. Charles, however, as king of Spain, grew increasingly preoccupied with Spanish affairs. Ferdinand became the manager of his family’s interests in central Europe.
   Ferdinand faced three serious problems when he arrived to govern Austria in 1521. One was the outright sedition in several provincial estates that Maximilian I’s administrative arrangements had prompted. These the young archduke put down; in Vienna, he executed several leading dissidents, including the mayor of the city, Martin Siebenbürger (1475?), in 1522. The government of the city was put under the tight supervision of the territorial ruler, a power that the Habsburgs would retain over their capital until well into the 19th century. The remaining two issues proved far more intractable, in part because they were interrelated. Perhaps the most urgent was a military challenge that had hung over eastern Europe for some time—the gradual conquest of the entire Danube Valley from southeast to northwest by the Ottoman Empire. The first European military victories of the Turks, as contemporaries called them, had come in the latter decades of the 14th century. Although they had suffered setbacks since then, often through the efforts of the armies of Hungary, the sultans had always resumed their expansionary policies. In 1526, the king of Hungary, Louis II (r. 1516–1526), was killed in the southwest of his realm at Mohács as he fled from a powerful Turkish offensive. Louis was also king of Bohemia, so two thrones were now vacant. Married to Louis’s sister, Princess Anna, Ferdinand of Habsburg claimed both crowns for himself. These he soon got, though by election, the traditional practice in the two kingdoms, and not by inheritance as he wished. Nor did he ever control all of Hungary, part of which was held by the Ottoman Empire. A third region, the principality of Transylvania, preserved some semblance of autonomy although becoming a vassal principality of the sultan in Constantinople.
   Ferdinand scrambled mightily to defend his new Austrian lands from the Turks, along with Bohemia and what he controlled of Hungary. The danger was genuine. Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent besieged Vienna in 1529 and threatened to repeat the performance several times during his career. Much of Ferdinand’s time was taken up with raising money for armies, which he always hoped would drive the Turks from Hungary, but they never retreated in his lifetime. He begged virtually all of Europe for support, but mostly his Austrian lands—which, though they begrudged him every coin, had little choice other than to meet his requests.
   Although the Ottomans did not conquer the Austrian provinces, they nibbled away at them with intermittent skirmishing. Carinthia and Styria were especially vulnerable. The Turkish Wars, as contemporaries called them, had other effects on Austria as well. Vienna, a prosperous trading center in the Middle Ages, became far less vital economically as businesses sought more secure environments. The city’s most prominent architectural feature became its fortifications, which were enlarged considerably during the 16th and 17th centuries. Ferdinand’s fiscal policies made themselves felt in rural Austria, too. By the end of the 16th century, a major peasant uprising broke out in what today is Upper Austria. The ire of rural labor was directed against oppressive landlords, who recovered from their tenants and agricultural workers the costs of increased taxation imposed by their territorial princes.
   The Ottoman Empire remained a central worry for the Habsburgs and for Austria until the end of the 17th century. In 1683, the sultan and his advisers decided to mount another assault on central Europe, which once again reached the walls of Vienna. Emperor Leopold I (1640–1705) fled the city, leaving its defenses in the hands of a local militia aided by a pan-European army, which successfully resisted the Ottoman forces and began the process of driving them from the Habsburg lands altogether. This task, largely centered in Hungary, was virtually completed by 1699. The Habsburg armies then moved into southeastern Europe, where they added some pieces of the Ottoman realm to their own, but eventually had to evacuate Belgrade. There would be future confrontations with the sultans’ forces, but not in the Austrian lands themselves.
   Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and Catholic Reformation
   The Ottoman threat vexed Ferdinand I’s career in another way. His arrival in Austria coincided with the gathering together of a major religious upheaval. In 1517, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther had challenged papal control of Christian doctrine. A new confession, identified with Luther and eventually given his name, spread rapidly in Austria. By the end of the 16th century, most of its provinces, with the exception of the Tyrol, were heavily Lutheran. Ferdinand himself was a devout Catholic, but he also acknowledged his church’s serious flaws. He worked tirelessly to rectify these and was one of the chief supporters of reform of Catholic education and moral standards among the clergy.
   Nevertheless, Ferdinand’s financial dependence on the estates of the Austrian lands helped to alter the confessional makeup of his domains. He was willing to compromise with the Protestant nobility in these bodies to get the funding for his military enterprises against the Ottomans. In this way, the Muslim Turks made it easier for Protestantism to establish a foothold in Austria and to strengthen the influence of regional governments and administrations at the expense of Habsburg rule. The Protestant ascendancy in the Austrian lands proved, however, to be short-lived. At his death, Ferdinand divided his lands among his three sons. Even the most broad-minded among them, Emperor Maximilian II (1527–1576), although not wholly unsympathetic to Luther and his followers, was deeply disturbed about ruling subjects of differing religions. His brothers, Archduke Ferdinand (1529–1595), who received Upper Austria, which included the Tyrol, and Archduke Charles (1540–1590), who was given Inner Austria with Graz as its seat, were vigorous Catholic partisans. Protestantism never did take very deep root in the Tyrol, so Archduke Ferdinand was not faced with the challenge of recatholicizing large numbers of his subjects. The Styria and Carinthia of Archduke Charles were quite another matter. With the enthusiastic support of his Bavarian wife, Archduchess Maria (1551–1608), Charles began reversing the concessions that his Lutheran subjects had received. His work was continued by his son, Emperor Ferdinand II (1578–1637), who was strongly under the influence of his mother.
   It was Ferdinand II who served as the political spearhead of the Counter-Reformation in central Europe, which ended with Catholicism being preeminent throughout all of the Habsburg lands. Becoming German emperor in 1619, he encountered rebellion in the kingdom of Bohemia, which refused to accept him as its ruler and chose instead the German Elector Palatine Frederick V. Ferdinand’s decision to militarize the dispute set off the Thirty Years’ War, which, when it closed in 1648, had engulfed much of Europe. Ferdinand himself did not live to see the conflict through to its conclusion. He had, however, realized two of its main objectives—the restoration of himself to the throne in Bohemia and the return of most people in his lands to the church of Rome. However, neither he nor his successors were able to recapture Protestant Germany for their faith.
   Thus, by the end of the 17th century the Habsburgs had realized decade-long objectives in all of their holdings. They had pushed back the Ottoman forces to their Balkan confines and unified their realms confessionally. From the last third of the 17th century to 1740, the Habsburg Empire experienced an outpouring of cultural and religious activity that would stamp it until the very end of its existence in 1918. Monies long given over to costly defense measures went into the monumental secular and ecclesiastical construction projects of the Baroque era. From the expansion of the Vienna Hofburg during the residency of Emperor Leopold I to the triumphant spread of the monastery of Melk along the Danube in Lower Austria, the victory of Christendom over the Muslim challenge was visually proclaimed.
   Within the Austrian lands themselves, the suppression of Protestantism also reduced the influence of regional estates, whose nobles had once spearheaded the advance of the new faith. The Bohemian estates had lost many of their powers and privileges as well, though they had retained residual rights to negotiate financial arrangements with their Habsburg rulers. The house of Austria had been least successful politically in Hungary, where the nobility had held tenaciously to many features of their medieval constitution, including the right of armed resistance to any ruler who violated their privileges. Nevertheless, by the beginning of the 18th century, even the Hungarians had recognized hereditary Habsburg rule in their kingdom.
   In no case had the house of Austria ever intended to wipe out the traditional political and social customs of their lands. What the Habsburgs wanted were estates that were more cooperative. Indeed, nobility throughout the Habsburg lands retained significant administrative rights. These included judicial authority over a helpless peasantry, which was still largely bound to the land. Modern scholars call this combination of princely and local authority “functional dualism.” Like the architecture of the Baroque, it continued to shape the Austrian experience well into the modern era.
   From Reform to Revolution
   Even as the Habsburg dynasty triumphed over enemies both domestic and foreign, new and demanding problems confronted it. During the 18th century there was barely a year or so during which all of Europe was at peace. Several of those conflicts were of crucial importance to the house of Austria, including the War of the Spanish Succession, which ended in 1713. The death of the last male Habsburg of the Spanish line, the sickly Charles II (1661–1700), opened the way for his central European cousins to claim the Iberian kingdom for themselves. Though this bid fell short—the Spanish throne fell to a Bourbon, Philip V—it did bring Austria new holdings in northern Italy. The one-time Spanish Netherlands became the Austrian Netherlands as well. Worried that he would not be able to father a male heir, Emperor Charles VI (1685–1740) set about ensuring that the estates of his various lands as well as foreign powers would allow the Habsburg patrimony to pass intact to his eldest daughter, Archduchess Maria Theresa (1717–1780). The matter, at least in his mind, dwarfed all other affairs of state. Concerned that his empire was not enjoying the financial rewards of overseas expansion that had increased prosperity in other European kingdoms, Charles chartered trading companies to undertake similar enterprises. But his concerns over the fate of his successor dampened his interest in the venture quickly, especially when potential allies in his territorial plans discouraged it. Charles’s Ostend Company in the Austrian Netherlands prospered, but as a private firm, not as a state undertaking.
   When Maria Theresa did indeed succeed her father in 1740, she needed all the extra financial help she could get. The ambitious king of Prussia, Frederick II (1712–1786), launched an attack on Silesia, one of the Bohemian crown lands, that same year. With a lively manufacturing and commercial culture based on the production of linen, the area was highly desirable for economic reasons. At first hoping to regain Silesia, Maria Theresa and her advisors undertook a series of administrative and political reforms in the Habsburg lands that they hoped would move them toward this goal.
   Although Maria Theresa never regained more than a very small piece of what she had lost—an issue finally settled at the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763—the changes that the Theresan reforms brought to the entirety of the Habsburg Empire significantly rearranged its political and economic structure. The Habsburg army was given a far more stable financial basis when estates, for whom the idea of Prussian expansion was an altogether repellent prospect, agreed to fund military budgets for as much as 10 years at a time. Furthermore, these monies went directly to a treasury in Vienna, not to regional depositories, then to be forwarded to the capital.
   But administrative reforms were only part of a larger program to modernize the Habsburg domains while at the same time retaining the dynasty’s control over them. The empress and her councilors were eager to make all of their lands more economically productive and were willing to protect their industries to make them competitive. For the first time in its history, the Habsburg Empire became a customs union. The lone exception was Hungary, which Maria Theresa wanted to punish for not paying what she thought was a fair share of its military taxes. Though Hungarians took exception to this way of acknowledging their distinctiveness, this arrangement had its benefits in the other Habsburg holdings. Lower Austrian vintners, for example, were sheltered from their competitors to the east. Factories, especially in Bohemia, but also in the eastern Austrian lands, were also encouraged. Partly out of conscience, partly hoping to improve productivity, the empress also took some cautious steps toward lightening the legal burdens of serfs. Devout Catholic though she was, Maria Theresa was also persuaded that education had to meet the needs of the state. Although primary instruction was still left largely in the hands of the Catholic clergy, she abolished their direct control over university curricula. The University of Vienna developed into a center of medical study by the end of the century.
   Maria Theresa’s reforms sprang from her genetically pragmatic intellect and character; they focused single-mindedly on ways to keep her dynasty’s empire intact. Her son and successor, Emperor Joseph II (1741–1790), was a reformer too and certainly concerned with the fortunes of his house. His measures, however, were often the inspiration of reason coupled with raw willfulness, rather than political common sense. They touched on every aspect of life in the Habsburg domains, some of which were changed forever. Persuaded that only firm state direction would make his lands more productive, Joseph sought to put them under the close supervision of his government at the expense of traditional authorities. A particular target was the church. In 1781, he lifted most restrictions on worship for the major Protestant denominations as well as for the Greek Orthodox Church. Jews were also free to live throughout the city and to engage in more occupations. Although Joseph believed that active parish programs were essential to the moral well-being of his people, he harbored no such thoughts about cloistered orders. He regarded their members as economic parasites and shut down large numbers of monasteries and nunneries in 1782.Their often otherworldly residents were to find employment in education or hospitals. The assets of erstwhile clerical properties were to be devoted to founding new dioceses and supporting new pastors. Even theological education was to be turned over to a state seminary. In 1781, Joseph abolished serfdom throughout the empire. Eight years later, he imposed a new land tax throughout the empire, which both landlord and peasant resisted strenuously.
   When Joseph died, an exhausted and bitter man, his lands were in serious disarray. Hungary was in outright rebellion. It fell to his younger brother, Emperor Leopold II (1747–1792), to preserve the most useful and viable of his brother’s measures, through a series of wily compromises. Serfdom was never formally reinstituted, though the status of servility itself was allowed to continue through landlord–peasant contracts. Leopold’s most serious concessions were probably in Hungary, where Joseph had eradicated traditional administrative counties and even tried to introduce German as an administrative language. Leopold was faced with possible war abroad, and he had to bring domestic peace to his lands. He had no alternative other than to scale back his elder brother’s program. Nevertheless, it would be difficult to overestimate the significance of Joseph’s reign both for Austria and for the Habsburg lands as a whole. At the very least, his generous support of industry through tariffs had set the stage for the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Bohemia and Lower Austria. In general, Joseph’s policies set the tone for future agendas of reform, though none of these would ever be as comprehensive as he envisioned. He brought a spirit of thoroughgoing secularism to Austrian affairs, still known as Josephinism. Perhaps most important of all, Joseph was the true founder of the modern Habsburg bureaucracy, an institution whose procedures and values have influenced the culture of republican Austria profoundly.
   The Revolutionary Era, 17891848
   Like every other state in Europe, the Habsburg Empire was affected heavily by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars that followed. The French replaced the monarchy with the revolutionary nation as the sovereign element of their new political system. Although this notion led to seismic upheavals in all aspects of French life, it did not necessarily threaten the territorial integrity of France itself. Should this idea spread to the individual Habsburg lands, the very structure of the empire would collapse. Napoleon I (1769–1821) and his armies brought the ideals of the French Revolution to much of central Europe. Their flag read “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” with the last term justifying their conquests. Concern for their brothers in humanity allegedly moved the French to spread the new politics of the revolution elsewhere. The Habsburg Empire fought in coalition and alone against Napoleon. Although it was occasionally successful, these episodes were few and far between. The French emperor occupied Vienna briefly in 1809 and married one of the daughters of Francis I (1768–1835). With the collapse of the venerable Holy Roman Empire and the title that went with it, the emperor now officially ruled only the house of Austria’s holdings, to be known until 1867 as the Austrian Empire. Napoleon’s decline began with his ill-conceived invasion of Russia in 1812; by 1814, he had been decisively checked by an alliance of European powers, the Habsburg Empire among them. That same year, a great diplomatic conclave gathered in Vienna to reset the political boundaries of Europe, which Napoleon had often reworked to suit his administrative and strategic convenience.
   The guiding hand at the Congress of Vienna was Francis I’s foreign minister and eventual chancellor, Prince Klemens von Metternich (1773–1859). Though not opposed to the study of national cultures and languages, he was deeply hostile to political nationalism and did what he could to discourage it, both during the Congress of Vienna and afterward. His particular worries were movements supporting the unification of Germany and Italy. The first he feared because it might command the loyalty of the German-speaking Austrian lands. Italy was dangerous because its nationalists would take the Habsburg Italian lands out of the empire altogether to join a new state. Should such dismemberment of the Habsburg Empire begin, it would be very difficult to stop. To counter these possibilities as well as the general challenge to monarchy of political liberalism, Francis I and Metternich put in place a system of censorship and close policing of their population that smothered some sides of intellectual life throughout the empire. Higher education was especially affected. Within the Austrian lands themselves, a number of important writers—the playwrights Franz Grillparzer (1791–1872), Ferdinand Raimund (1790–1836), and Johann Nestroy (1801–1862) have achieved classic status in the Austrian literary canon—made their accommodations with the system. Indeed, they produced brilliant work in doing so. But the overall legacy of the Metternich era in Austria was to validate quiet private pleasure as an end in itself. The domestic coziness of the Biedermeier style, which flourished during this time, underscored decoratively a larger attitudinal norm. From an economic standpoint, the Metternich era was far more dynamic. The Napoleonic Wars played havoc with the Habsburg Empire’s finances. By the end of the conflict, its currency had inflated ludicrously. Metternich realized that if the monarchy were to survive at all, this situation would have to be remedied. Excess money was blotted up through bonds. A national bank supervised by representatives both of the government and the public had the sole right to issue new tender and to extend credit to the state.
   Metternich also supported entrepreneurial activity as a way of growing the Habsburg Empire’s economy. In 1836, Austria’s first steam railway opened for traffic between Vienna and Polish Galicia, which had become part of the empire at the end of the 18th century. Lower Austria and Bohemia grew as centers for textile manufacturing. However, the industrial development of these two areas far outstripped others throughout the empire, an imbalance that would never be rectified. However modest these developments were compared to England, for example, they did enrich a growing bourgeoisie, especially in the eastern Austrian lands, in Bohemia, and in Moravia, one of the kingdom’s associated crown lands. Vienna itself prospered, and its population, as well as that in neighboring areas, grew. New wealth also encouraged a measure of public self-confidence in the middle class as well as among more humble folk. This was particularly important because the relationship between economic self-interest and political change became increasingly clear in the minds of many. In rural areas as well, particularly in the Austrian lands, the vestiges of serfdom seemed more onerous. Private ownership of land became more attractive to peasants; some wanted to be free of their situation altogether and simply leave for new opportunities elsewhere.
   For their part, entrepreneurs believed that greater economic productivity from the land would enable them to feed their new labor force more cheaply. Government protection of such archaic institutions as artisan guilds through limitations on trade and commerce was another general complaint. Taxation, though it had done much to relieve the post-Napoleonic financial crisis, remained oppressively high. The factory laborers in the city and on its outskirts were decidedly marginal to the potential alliance of industrial capital and agriculture. Nevertheless, they were developing some sense of economic injustice, epitomized by the squalid housing conditions that would be their lot for the entirety of the century.
   Restlessness in Vienna had its parallel throughout other regions of the Habsburg Empire. Taxation was resented by everyone, including people who had every reason to support the monarchy on social grounds alone. The nobility in the Bohemian estates were a notable case. Czech intellectuals, personified by the historian Francis Palacký (1798–1876), began to argue for the primacy of their national culture in educational and artistic life. However, it was in Hungary, where Count Stephen Széchenyi (1791–1860) had promoted a reform movement centered on improving education, transportation, and industry in the kingdom, that dissatisfaction with Habsburg absolutism was most complex. A revolution in Vienna, which exploded on 3 March 1848, was quickly followed by similar outbursts throughout the Habsburg monarchy, particularly in Prague, Budapest, and northern Italy. By the end of the year, the dynasty’s army had put an end to all of these upheavals, except in Hungary, which in 1849 declared itself to be independent. The Habsburgs quenched this movement, but only with the aid of Russia in 1849.
   From Neoabsolutism to the Ausgleich of 1867
   Viewed politically, the Revolutions of 1848 temporarily gave absolutism a new lease on life. A new, young, and altogether inexperienced emperor, Franz Joseph (1830–1916) wanted above all to preserve his empire and the place of his house in it. He was therefore willing to take the quickest and most authoritarian steps required to meet these goals. Advised by the sympathetic Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg (1800–1852), he turned his back on any form of serious popular and national input into Habsburg government. The administration of the empire was tightly centralized in Vienna. This policy included Hungary, which lost its historic counties once again. Transylvania and Croatia, both part of the Hungarian crown, were cut from the kingdom and governed directly from the Habsburg Austrian capital.
   Nevertheless, the Revolutions of 1848 had some positive outcomes as well, particularly for the commercial middle classes. Equality before the law was recognized in the New Year’s Patent of 1851. Densely bureaucratized though the post-1848 Habsburg government was, it was largely honest, efficient, and predictable—all preconditions of a positive economic climate. The police force grew, a constraint on political activity, to be sure, but an aid to personal security. Serfdom was finally abolished, thus creating a far freer labor market. Guilds and their restrictions came to an end as well, a positive step for industrial entrepreneurs, though a distressing one for small artisans, particularly in large urban centers such as Vienna. Their competitive disadvantages in the face of industrial-scale production would become a thorny social problem in the Habsburg lands and for the modern countries they became. Municipal franchises were considerably broadened, opening the way for wider middle-class participation in the management of local affairs. Perhaps the most important of the middle-class-oriented changes to take place during the era of neoabsolutism, as it is called, were in the educational system at all levels of society. Although Franz Joseph and his advisors were unsympathetic to democracy in any form, he had begun his reign by proclaiming that the languages and cultures of his peoples were all equal. The Roman Catholic Church continued to exercise heavy control over primary education, but instruction itself was now conducted in the language spoken by the majority of people in each district. Both in secondary schools and at the universities, new standards for curriculum and scholarship brought these institutions up to international norms, most notably those found in Germany, which set the pace for Europe until World War I.
   Franz Joseph and his government hoped that these measures and many others would created a stronger Habsburg Empire, immune to the onslaughts of nationalism and liberalism, which temporarily derailed the dynasty’s government in 1848. They were sadly disappointed. Scholars studying the Habsburg Empire today question the centrality of national issues to the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy in 1918. They have not, however, discounted them altogether, and neither did the emperor and his councilors. The unification of Italy and Germany proceeded apace, with Franz Joseph’s armies suffering bad defeats. The new kingdom of Italy received the bulk of the Habsburg holdings in Lombardy in the Treaty of Villafranca (1862). Only the South Tyrol and parts of Venetia remained in Austrian hands. The unification of Germany, masterminded by the Prussian minister-president Otto von Bismarck, brought with it a humiliating loss to the kingdom’s armies in the Seven Weeks’ War of 1866. Worse yet, there was now an avowedly German national state, which from an ethnic standpoint was far closer to Franz Joseph’s German-speaking subjects than were the Slavs, Magyars, Romanians, and other non-German peoples who were also his subjects.
   Both military setbacks and the political consequences that accompanied them forced Franz Joseph and his government to rethink their style of governing. A variety of constitutional experiments took place. One, the October Diploma of 1860, never went into effect. Its concessions to pressures for decentralization angered liberals, Austrian Germans prominent among them, who called the arrangement a sellout to conservative arrangements of the pre-1848 era. The second, the February Patent of 1861, actually did create an operative government. A central Imperial Assembly, or Reichsrat, in Vienna could initiate legislation and pass on the crown’s budget proposals. Its 300 members were chosen by subsidiary deliberative bodies throughout the empire, so that monied and propertied classes continued to have a great deal of political influence. The emperor, who retained control over the army and foreign affairs, could dismiss and call this body at will.
   This constitution had many problematic features, chief among them Hungarian resistance to a central legislature that political leaders in the kingdom boycotted. As war with Prussia loomed in the 1860s, there was even some hint that Hungary would support Bismarck and the Hohenzollerns against Franz Joseph. This possibility led the Habsburgs to open negotiations with Hungarian political leaders, most notably Francis Deák (1803–1876), to find some way of accommodating the aspirations of the Magyars to the interests of the house of Habsburg. The result was the Compromise of 1867 (Ausgleich), which would remain technically in effect until the last days of the World War I. The provisions of the Ausgleich were few and simple. What would come to be known as Austria (on paper it was called Cis-Leithenia, or the lands to the west of the Leitha river that separated Austria and Hungary) and the kingdom of Hungary were to have a common army, a common foreign policy, and a common ruler, though he would carry different titles in each of his realms. In Hungary, he would be called only by the royal title of king. In the Austrian half, he would be emperor, or in German kaiser. This led to the “k.k.” or “k.u.k.” found on official buildings throughout the empire even today. Every 10 years a joint financial commission came together from both halves of Austria–Hungary, as it was rather quickly called. They hammered out such thorny questions as tariff rates and the financing of the common offices. Beyond these areas, the kingdom of Hungary, which also encompassed Transylvania and Croatia, operated quite autonomously in its domestic affairs. The same privilege was accorded to the Austrian side. Each half had its own constitution, which varied strikingly in important respects. Though both provided for parliamentary government of a sort, the methods by which these bodies were elected came to be very different. Initially, the franchise in both Austria and Hungary was very restrictive, but Austria moved far more quickly toward electoral democracy. By 1907, males over the age of 24 had the right to vote, with minor residential exclusions. The Hungarian constitution had many liberal features. It assured the more important ethnic groups in the kingdom, the Romanians and Croatians, some place in the parliament, which met in Budapest. Nevertheless, the number of these representatives was fixed. Moreover, the Hungarians were very careful to confine voting rights to the landowning classes and urban bourgeoisie, who often shared aristocratic values.
   From 1867 to 1918
   The Compromise of 1867 left Franz Joseph with the two powers he jealously guarded: control over the army and foreign affairs. He could also name ministers—who were, however, constitutionally responsible to their individual parliaments in Vienna and Budapest. Nevertheless, he could confer with them at his own choosing and develop policy absent parliamentary input. If the Reichsrat in the Austrian half of the monarchy could not function, he had the right to rule by decree. Thus the emperor had some reason to keep the Compromise of 1867 in operation. So did the Hungarians, who achieved the preeminent status in their half of the Dual Monarchy that the Germans, by virtue of their economic power, had in Austria. Deprived of anything resembling equivalent political status in either part of the Habsburg Empire, the Slavs resented these arrangements enormously. The Czechs were especially vocal in their protests and were bitterly disappointed when the emperor gave up any attempts to give them some kind of exceptional status as well. The Reichsrat was the scene of many angry clashes between Czech and German representatives over such matters as official administrative languages, often bringing business to a halt. Despite these difficulties, however, the period between 1867 and the outbreak of World War I was an enormously productive one for most of the Habsburg lands, particularly those in the west. A spectacular economic boom took place between 1867 and 1873 within the Austrian half of the monarchy. This ended in a dramatic stock market crash in 1873, but not before the financial and cultural landscape of the area, particularly around Vienna, had been transformed. Middle-class prosperity produced ambitious residential construction, often modeled on the aristocratic palaces that were still a prominent feature of the city. The financial collapse that followed dampened some of these activities, but by the end of the 1870s they had resumed, albeit at a more modest pace. Similar changes took place in Prague, as it turned into a major banking and industrial center, and in Budapest, where important grainprocessing facilities sprang up. By the beginning of the 20th century, all three cities had well-to-do middle classes with sufficient discretionary income not only to afford grand living quarters but to patronize the remarkable flowering of musical, literary, and artistic life that historians have since associated with the period.
   These economic currents, both positive and negative, changed not only the lives of the monied class but also those of people of more modest means. As Vienna, Prague, and lesser cities grew, they attracted large numbers of industrial workers. Often housed in the most crowded and unsanitary circumstances imaginable, they became the targets of political movements that addressed their needs directly—or at least professed to do so. One was the Marxist Sozialdemokratische Arbeiter Partei (Social Democratic Workers’Party), free to operate as a political party according to the new Austrian constitution. Under the leadership of Viktor Adler (1852–1918) and Karl Renner (1870–1950), it put together a platform that stressed the improvement of workers’ lives by education as well as through redistribution of wealth through the nationalization of private property. Social Democratic campaigning was instrumental in bringing about the electoral reform of 1907 in the Austrian half of the Habsburg state.
   Another party that also spoke to those in unpretentious circumstances was the Christlichsoziale Partei (Christian Social Party). The product of Catholic concern over the growth of atheistic Marxism in the working classes, the Christian Social movement promised to better the lives of the urban masses through vast public works programs, which would bring electricity and water into households that could not afford such conveniences individually. Cheap and efficient public transportation was another major priority. This party, closely associated in the late 19th century with the name of Vienna’s wildly popular mayor, Karl Lueger (1844–1910), did capture some support from the industrial laborers of the capital. Its core electorate, however, was the lower middle class, in whose ranks were the petty shopkeepers and artisans who had lost their economic protection after 1848. They resented big capital and industry enormously, which they often associated with Jews. Anti- Semitism became an axiom of their rhetoric. The German Austrian peasantry too, many of whom were hard put to farm small plots of land profitably, came to nurture similar grievances and to attribute them to the same sources. By the beginning of the 20th century, rural Austria was shifting its political loyalties to the Christian Social Party. All of these problems were present to one degree or another throughout 19th-century Europe. Indeed, from economic, cultural, and even political standpoints, the Habsburg Empire seemed to be accommodating itself reasonably well to the rampant liberal values of the age. However, Austria–Hungary had serious difficulties that were all its own. The issue of nationalism continued to fester, and although no one was arguing for the empire’s dissolution, many believed that it could happen. The men who governed Austria–Hungary were particularly concerned. The wars over the unification of Germany and Italy had underscored the possibility that foreign countries that claimed to be the true national homes of Franz Joseph’s subjects could pick the Habsburg Empire clean of its peoples.
   As it turned out, neither Germany nor Italy played that role, at least immediately. The government in Rome decided that more conciliatory behavior toward Franz Joseph and his ministers was to its advantage, so although there was noisy popular discussion of folding the remains of Habsburg Italy into the new national kingdom, nothing came of it. For his part, Otto von Bismarck, now the chancellor of the new German Empire ruled from Berlin, had never intended to wipe the Habsburg state from the map. Worried about his exposed eastern borders with Russia, Bismarck did not exploit pan-German sentiment in the Austrian lands, which was urging closer political, cultural, and economic ties to the new Germany. Rather, he worked to bring Austria–Hungary into an alliance system that would lighten his defensive burdens in the east. The result was the Dual Alliance (1879) between Germany and Austria–Hungary, in which each state pledged mutual military support should one or the other be attacked on its eastern frontiers by Russia. But it was a Russian client state, and not Russia itself, that both Vienna and Budapest thought far more threatening to the integrity of the Habsburg monarchy at the beginning of the 20th century. This was Serbia, which had gradually freed itself from Ottoman overlordship throughout the 19th century and was eager to expand in the Balkans. Orthodox Christians like the Russians, the Serbs had sympathetic, though inconsistent, support in St. Petersburg. But were Serbia to serve as the national homeland for all Serbs, as many of their politicians were urging, the kingdom would have to include ethnic Serbs, erstwhile refugees from Turkish rule, who had lived in southern Hungary for several centuries. And if Serbia were to spearhead the unification of all south Slavic peoples, as some were also proposing, this would remove Croatia from Hungary and the Slovenes from the Austrian half of the Habsburg state. The prospect became something of an obsession with the government in Vienna. In 1908 Austria–Hungary, following the provisions of an international treaty it had signed in Berlin in 1878 and subsequent agreements, annexed Bosnia–Herzegovina to protect access to its naval installations on the Adriatic. The Serbs were furious and relations with the Habsburg regimes both in Budapest and Vienna became more tense than ever.
   This explosive mixture of frustration and fear set off the chain of events that led to World War I. Between 1908 and 1914, the Serbian government encouraged hypernationalist feelings among its own peoples and in the Serb diaspora throughout the Balkans. The Habsburg regime took all of this very seriously and began to talk of war not only as a theoretical possibility, but even as a desirable way of keeping Serbia a minor Balkan kingdom forever. One of the strongest voices in Vienna against such a strike was the heir apparent to the empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1863–1914). The nephew of Franz Joseph, the archduke was no pacifist. He feared, however, that the Habsburg Empire would never survive any generalized conflict should the war spill beyond the Balkans, as official military planning projected. He was also associated with a scheme called Trialism, which would give the Habsburg South Slavs some political identity of their own under the government of his dynasty. It was an idea that was on a direct collision course with Serbian national visions. Indeed, it made Franz Ferdinand a specific target for radical nationalist groups, one of which plotted to assassinate him on a visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The archduke and his wife were shot to death on 28 June 1914. A direct link between the Serbian government and the conspiracy, however, has never been established.
   Franz Ferdinand was no favorite in the circle around the emperor; Franz Joseph had no great love for his nephew, either. Nevertheless, the Habsburg government believed that a military strike against Serbia was in order and worked a month to concoct a pretext for initiating it. The attack on Serbia came at the end of July; the complicated alliance structures that tied all of the major European powers together were activated when Russia mobilized in Serbia’s aid. By August 1, Europe was at war.
   Austria–Hungary was put under emergency rule from the very beginning, a policy that turned the empire into a military dictatorship. However, some aspects of this condition were already familiar. The Reichsrat, for example, had been prorogued since March 1914 because it could not do business. Some political leaders opposed this illiberalism mightily and would be jailed for their pains. Many were surprised, however, at the loyalty with which most of the empire’s national groups responded to Franz Joseph’s call for their services. The Czechs were the only exception, but even among them, only a small minority deserted. But the conflict went badly for the Habsburg armies; the Germans rescued them, in Serbia and on the eastern front generally. The suggestion that Austria–Hungary was becoming a direct client of Berlin alarmed the monarchy’s Slavs, and mounting casualty lists and economic deprivation distressed everyone. On 21 October 1916, Friedrich Adler (1870–1960), a young socialist who wished to see parliamentary government restored in Austria, assassinated Count Karl Stürgkh (1859–1916), the emperor’s minister-president. The latter had steadfastly refused to reconvene the Reichsrat, the lower house of the Austrian parliament, for fear that it would only be a showcase for ethnic conflict. Franz Joseph died the following month. The new emperor, Charles I (King Charles IV of Hungary) (1887–1922), was eager both to extricate Austria–Hungary from the conflict and to win the confidence of his populations. He succeeded at neither. Hoping to make a peace something along the lines suggested in the Fourteen Points offered in January 1918 by Woodrow Wilson, the president of the United States, Charles issued a manifesto the following October 1918 that would have reconfigured Austria–Hungary as a federation of nations. No one was particularly interested. Even before the war ended, Hungary had detached itself from the Austrian half of the monarchy, and the various Slavic peoples of the monarchy were declaring themselves independent. On 11 November1918, Charles agreed to withdraw from the business of state altogether, though he did not obligate his family to follow his lead. It was left to the First Austrian Republic in 1919 to formally exclude the house of Habsburg–Lorraine from any position in an Austrian state. Charles made two failed attempts in 1921 to regain a crown, but in Hungary, which constitutionally was still a kingdom.
   The First Austrian Republic, 19181938
   The Austrian First Republic was declared to be in existence on 12 November 1918. A provisional National Assembly (Nationalrat), in which the Social Democratic Party played a prominent role, had been working on a constitution since the end of October. On 1 November, a Socialist Party congress had demanded that the future state should be a republic, and it soon became clear that the movement would use its position in the new state to introduce serious social and economic reforms. On 19 December the eight-hour day was introduced, first into factories; it would later be extended to other kinds of enterprises. Though a large segment of the Austrian population welcomed such changes, there was little reason to be happy with the republican reality that was suddenly theirs. Food shortages, unemployment, and a nearly worthless currency were immediate problems. In some areas, fighting continued, particularly in Carinthia and Styria, where a new South Slavic state—to become the kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes—hoped to expand even more. The Austrian forces were often no more than local militias. Nevertheless, they were the beginning of the Heimwehr, right-wing and generally nationalist paramilitary organizations that would heavily influence the politics of the Austrian republic until they were disbanded in 1936. A socialist equivalent, the Republican Guard, was established in 1923.
   Among the most unpleasant tasks that confronted the new government was signing a peace treaty. The losses of former Habsburg lands in Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, and what was to become a south Slavic kingdom were more or less accomplished fact. Indeed, the first official name of the new Austria was German Austria (Deutschösterreich), a term implying that many of the Habsburg Empire’s former peoples had no cultural home there. After hard bargaining, the Allies accepted Austria’s claims to the Burgenland, once a part of the kingdom of Hungary. But the Treaty of St. Germain, signed by the Austrian delegation on 10 September 1919, subtracted from Austria other lands that, from an ethnic perspective, it could still plausibly claim. Among them were areas of mixed German–Slavic settlement in Carinthia and Styria and the South Tyrol, which went to Italy. Becoming part of Germany (Anschluss) was also forbidden, a provision that definitively canceled a declaration of the Austrian National Assembly the previous March that the country was “a part of the German Republic.” The National Assembly changed Austria’s name from “German Austria” to simply “Austria” on 21 October.
   The Socialist ascendancy in the Austrian federal government was brief but effective. Disregarding serious unrest throughout the country and precarious finances, party representatives pushed through basic social reforms that changed conditions of work and life for most citizens. By 17 December 1919, the eight-hour day was the law for anyone who could find a job. Full-pay vacations were available for all workers. All Austrians, however, were not Socialists. The center of the latter’s strength was in Vienna itself, which, with its population of a little over two million, was rich in votes—but not rich enough to offset decisively the rest of the country, where Christian Social, agrarian, regional, and national movements were also beginning to take hold. Elections to the National Assembly on 17 October 1921 returned no party with a clear majority, but gave the Christian Socials a plurality. It was a pattern that would haunt Austrian political life throughout the existence of the
   First Republic. The Socialists would continue their extensive agenda of social and educational reform, but mostly in Vienna, where their municipal housing projects, their programs for maternal and child care, and their elaborate recreational and other public facilities made them models for urban reformers throughout the world. Until 1933, Austrian governments were typically fragile coalitions led by the Christian Social Party in frequent conjunction with the nationalist Pan-German (Grossdeutsch) and Agrarian (Landbund) parties. Although they shared some goals, particularly a hostility to Marxism, they often disagreed on others. The most prominent of the chancellors during this period was a clergyman, Ignaz Seipel (1876–1932), whose strong commitment to Catholic belief and values was a bedrock principle among those who followed him. German nationals on the whole were far more secular in outlook, and not as partial to Austrian independence as was Seipel. Although they did not press for complete amalgamation with Germany, they certainly wished to coordinate Austrian political and economic life as closely as possible with their linguistic brethren to the north.
   The conservative coalitions that ruled Austria were not eager to dismantle the social programs that their Marxist colleagues had put in place at the end of the war. The common man had always had a prominent place in Christian Social philosophy. Nevertheless, the instability of the currency forced Seipel to seek foreign loans and to introduce fiscal austerity at home. A new monetary unit, the schilling, which had been issued in 1924, held steady, and inflation receded. But all of this came at a price resented by a broad segment of the population. Government employment had to be reduced. A sales tax imposed in 1923 was particularly onerous.
   Public disagreement on these matters was not confined to debates in the Austrian parliament. Political parties and factions fought them out on the streets of Vienna, in regional capitals, and in remote villages throughout the country. A large workers’ demonstration in July 1927 was brutally suppressed by the Vienna police after the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice was burned down. Clashes continued between branches of the Heimwehr and workers of either socialist or communist leanings. A new element on the scene, the Austrian National Socialists, was also becoming a frequent participant.
   The worldwide economic crisis of the 1930s affected Austria as badly as any place in Europe. Indeed, it virtually began there, with the collapse of the Creditanstalt Bank in 1931. Unemployment, an intractable problem since the end of the war, grew ever worse. In 1931, the government tried to arrange a customs union with Germany, only to have it rejected by the allies of World War I. In 1932, Engelbert Dollfuss (1892–1934) took over the chancellor’s office. A Christian Social politician whose experience was largely in agricultural affairs, he tried to rescue Austria with more financial assistance from abroad, but with little luck. His greatest foreign supporter was the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, who was eager to remain Europe’s premier fascist and worried that Adolf Hitler, who became German chancellor in 1933, would displace him. Mussolini’s asking price would be that Dollfuss would suppress all activity in Austria by the Socialist, Communist, or Nazi parties. The Austrian chancellor was certainly not unsympathetic to these ideas, and events fell his way. Procedural confusions in the Austrian parliament led to its permanent suspension in 1933, driving political activity even more into the streets and other informal public arenas. The Dollfuss government increased its restraints on left-wing political rallies. In 1934, after a brief burst of fighting among various branches of the Heimwehr—the Social Democrats, the Austrian police—and the army, the Social Democratic Party was disbanded and declared illegal. In July of that same year, Dollfuss was murdered in a failed National Socialist putsch, which led to the outlawing of the Austrian Nazi Party as well. Dollfuss’s successor, Kurt Schuschnigg (1897–1977), a young lawyer from the Tyrol with strong Catholic and monarchist sympathies, was committed to maintaining the independence of Austria. Though authoritarian in principle, he was no friend of National Socialism. By 1936, it was becoming known that Hitler intended to bring Austria into the Greater Germany of his dreams and that 1938 was the probable date for this to take place. In conferences with Schuschnigg at the beginning of 1938, Hitler stepped up his pressure. The Austrian chancellor yielded, allowing Nazis to join his cabinet and relegalizing the party in February. But as German invasion became more probable, Schuschnigg called for a referendum to reaffirm Austrian independence on 9 March 1938. Hitler demanded that this be canceled, and Schuschnigg complied. On 13 March, the German armies appeared in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria. Two days later, the German chancellor addressed a wildly enthusiastic crowd at the center of Vienna. Anschluss had taken place. The Nazis moved swiftly to institutionalize their presence. The German National Bank took over its Austrian counterpart. The Austrian railway system, postal and telegraph service, and financial administration were absorbed into their German equivalents by the end of March. Hermann Göring, Hitler’s lieutenant, had declared that Vienna would be “cleansed” of Jews within four years. In 1939, the provinces of Austria, now officially the Eastern March (Ostmark), were reconfigured as Nazi Gauen, an archaic German word for administrative district. Those who resisted found themselves in Nazi detention camps—even, for a time, Kurt Schuschnigg himself.
   Austria from World War II to 1955
   Though initially spared some of the worst effects of World War II, Austria had become an Allied target by 1943. Destructive air raids had begun to take a heavy toll on both residential and industrial buildings in major manufacturing centers such as Linzin Upper Austria, and Graz in Styria. Nevertheless, the United States, Great Britain, China, and even the Soviet Union were persuaded that there were enough significant anti-Nazi elements within Austria to treat it as a German-occupied country. In 1943, they declared the liberation of Austria to be one of their chief military objectives.
   This process got underway in earnest in March 1945, as Soviet troops crossed over the eastern boundaries of the country; British and American forces entered from the west. Vienna was the scene of particularly bitter fighting; indeed, the heavy damage done to the center of the city took place largely in the last days of the war. A temporary regime made up of Social Democrats, Communists, and members of the new Austrian People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei), the successor to the Christian Social movement, was created on 27 April 1945, even as hostilities were still going on. Led by Karl Renner, the Social Democratic elder statesman, it proclaimed the constitution of the First Republic, as amended in 1929, to be once again in effect. Laws dating from the National Socialist period were declared null and void. Delegates from the Austrian provinces confirmed the arrangement in September as its authority was gradually extended to the entirety of the country.
   In that same year, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States divided Austria into zones of occupation. Vienna was split among the four powers, with the center of the city, the First District, an international zone. They also created an Allied Council for Austria, to which the provisional government theoretically answered. However, its procedures were so cumbersome that the Austrian regime found that it had a considerable amount of latitude, at least in domestic affairs. In the first election to the restored National Assembly (Nationalrat), the Austrian People’s Party came away with a narrow plurality, a position it continued to hold until 1970. The new federal president was Karl Renner; the first chancellor, Leopold Figl (1902–1965) of the Austrian People’s party. Until 1966, Austrian politics were notable for a high degree of cooperation among the major parties, a sharp contrast to the ideological antagonisms that had poisoned all political life in the country during the interwar period. The government of the country respected a system that was known as Proporz, or proportionality. Each of the parties agreed to distribute everything from high federal ministries to local offices among themselves, more or less according to the size of the vote each had won in general elections. In practice, this arrangement worked out to a grand coalition between the People’s Party and the Social Democrats, because the Communists refused to participate after 1947.
   The dreadful economic circumstances that prevailed in Austria after 1945 certainly discouraged ideological factionalism. The first year or so after the war found many people on the brink of starvation. Once the Marshall Plan and the European Recovery Plan were in place in 1948, this situation eased considerably, but Austria was hardly a country where big profits were to be made. The Socialists pressed for nationalization of heavy industry and utilities, and given the general impoverishment of the population, it was wise to adopt many of these measures, as the government did. By the late 1950s, however, as some prosperity returned, sentiment for a greater degree of free market activity began to appear, particularly within the younger ranks of the People’s Party. If economic recovery was the highest priority on the agenda of postwar Austrian governments, freeing the country from the Allied presence was a very close second. Indeed, the two goals were functionally related. One of the drags on the Austrian economy was Soviet occupation policy in the eastern part of the country, where resources and productive capacity were ruthlessly exploited for the benefit of Moscow. Of equal concern was the fear that Austria might be permanently divided, as had apparently taken place in conquered Germany. The Austrian government took advantage of every possible opening to rid itself of foreign forces. The expense of their Austrian duties began to bother the Allies; the death of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, in 1953, gave the Austrians yet another window of opportunity to argue for their true independence. When they accepted the condition of permanent neutrality, without which the Soviets might have prolonged their occupation, the stage was set for the Austrian State Treaty of 1955, which effectively made the Federal Republic a sovereign nation once again.
   Austria from 1955 to the Present
   In sharp contrast to the First Republic, the Austrian People’s Party and the Socialist Party of Austria continued to find ways to work toward common goals, so much so that as much government took place in private discussion as in public arenas. Nevertheless, the return of national independence made serious partisanship a realistic possibility once more. By 1966 the People’s Party, many of whose members were eager to reduce the public sector of the economy, attempted to govern the country alone. In 1970, however, the Socialists won the relative majority in an election. In 1971, they won an absolute majority and undertook single-party government, led by Chancellor Bruno Kreisky (1911–1990). The party was reconfirmed in that position in elections in 1975 and 1979. However, financial scandals increasingly plagued the Kreisky regime. When his party won only a plurality in elections held in 1983, Kreisky left office altogether. His successor, Fred Sinowatz (1929–2008), was forced into coalition governments with the rightwing Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (Freedom Party of Austria). Sinowatz resigned in 1986, plagued by scandals not always of his own making, and nation-wide protest over the election of former United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, who was accused of concealing the full, and allegedly Nazi-besmirched, story of his World War II career. The new chancellor was Franz Vranitzky, a man with a strong background in finance and economics. He was faced with leading a country whose president, still Waldheim, had become a pariah on the international scene. Vranitzky found it impossible to cooperate in a so-called Small Coalition with the Freedom Party. The latter had acquired a leader, Jörg Haider (1950–2008), whose strident criticism of the increased number of foreigners, asylum seekers, and those looking for economic opportunities in Austria offended many moderates and many more liberals. Vrantizky returned to a Large Coalition with the People’s Party, which endured under his successor, Viktor Klima (1947–), until 2000. The chancellor was a Socialist, the vice-chancellor a member of the People’s Party.
   The condition of permanent neutrality put strong constraints on Austria’s role in foreign affairs after 1955. Unlike neutral Switzerland, however, the Second Austrian Republic took every legally viable opportunity to play some role beyond its borders. Austria became a member of the United Nations in 1955 and joined the Council of Europe a year later. As chancellor, Bruno Kreisky often used Austria’s neutral status to inject himself as a broker for peace in the Middle East during his terms of office. With the collapse in 1990 of the Soviet Union, the state that was particularly eager to neutralize Austria, the government in Vienna became somewhat more openly supportive of Western military operations. During the Persian Gulf crisis of 1991, for example, American and British aircraft were allowed fly-space over Austria. Like Russia and China, however, Austria did not support the American military intervention in Iraq in 2003.
   Reconciling Austrian neutrality with Austrian economic interests was far more complex. The formation and success of the European Common Market after World War II showed many economic and political leaders in Austria that their country would remain an economic backwater unless it could meaningfully integrate its markets and productive capacities with a larger west European trading zone. In 1960, Austria joined the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Made up of Great Britain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Portugal, along with Austria, it provided a preferential trading area for members without forcing them to give up some measure of their sovereignty as was foreseen in the Common Market. However, the latter, called the European Economic Community (EEC) after 1957, was clearly the more powerful economic engine; Great Britain itself applied for associate membership in 1961. Over the objections of the Soviet Union that Austrian involvement with the EEC would violate a requirement of the State Treaty—that Austria could not associate itself with Germany—Austria also applied for associate membership. This Italy vetoed, but discussion of joining the EEC continued in Austria. The Socialists were especially opposed to the move, unless both the Eastern and Western blocs agreed to it.
   The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 eased the way for Austrian entry into the European Union. In 1991, Austria applied for full membership; in 1995 it was admitted. Austria has held the rotating presidency of the European Union Council, once in 1998, again in 2006, and Austrians have held major positions in the union’s administration. Neutrality, however, had become an agreeable arrangement that gave Austrians and their country a distinctive quality in the international community, yet freed them collectively from unwelcome and expensive military responsibilities. The numerous compromises with neutrality that have taken place since the chancellorship of Bruno Kreisky and Austria’s entry into the European Union (EU) have somewhat diminished Austria’s sense of national identity, a feeling that was never welldefined at any time.
   Polls have long revealed that Austrians have far less faith in their police, courts, administration, army, and parliament than do the Germans and the Swiss. Nor do important alternative institutions that have long given shape, meaning, and even financial security to large numbers of Austrians command unquestioned public confidence. Throughout the 1990s, the Austrian Roman Catholic Church, which had been central to the cultural and spiritual lives of almost all Austrians, regardless of social class, was mired in a series of financial and moral scandals. Angry protests with cries of “We are the church” erupted in 1991 when Kurt Krenn, a Catholic clergyman who reputedly abused seminarians and was given to public diatribes about Muslim immigrants, was named bishop of St. Pölten, the capital of Lower Austria. Krenn himself fully resigned his episcopal post only in 2004, still calling his conduct “stupid boyish behavior.” The revelation in March 1995 that Vienna’s archbishop, Hermann Groer, had also carried on improper relations with a student led to a 32 percent rise in Austrians cutting ties to Catholicism a month later. Traditional youth organizations, often associated with political parties, have also faded away. On the other hand, ad hoc activism among students has increased considerably.
   The great rise in their personal wealth has encouraged Austrians to develop individualized private and even public life styles quite apart from norms once drawn from job status or membership in established social classes. Indeed, the state itself is no longer the sole source of personal security. Although the Austrian redistributionist tax structure still significantly curbs gross differentials in wealth—by 2005 Austrians generally had larger discretionary incomes than people in the Federal Republic of Germany—the state has also tried to cut its budgets sharply. From 2000 to 2006, Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and the coalitions he headed explicitly set out to deconstruct many features of the Austrian welfare system and public services. Once untouchable state monopolies such as the post office moved toward complete privatization during these years, with branch closings and job losses as the result. Although some of the unemployed found work in the worldwide boom that took place in the first years of the 21st century, Austrians, especially younger ones, came to realize that the social protections that had been routine since 1945 were things of the past. Even as they prospered between 2000 and 2008, they bought private medical and retirement plans, well aware that they could not rely upon the state to support the standard of living to which they had now become accustomed.
   Financial pressures have even led some Austrians to question their highly federalized constitution. By 2000, serious arguments had been made for saving money by moving to a more centralized political structure. Provincial legislatures were particularly vulnerable, especially because Austria’s membership in the EU had already limited some of their prerogatives. Although economists who had studied the issue had concluded by 2004 that neither model was inherently more advantageous financially, they agreed that reform of the system was desirable. Austria’s political machinery has adapted itself to many of the value adjustments that came with the social protests of the 1960s and 1970s. Women now play a far greater role in political institutions, even on the provincial level, and the voting age is very youth-friendly. It was lowered to 16 in 2008. None of this, however, has stemmed the general loss of confidence in traditional sources of support, both material and spiritual, that has noticeably afflicted political parties. Austrians, who characteristically seemed to transmit membership in the SPÖ or the ÖVP to their children through their germplasm, have decided that political parties that celebrate market economics in one election cycle only to denounce such policies in the next have no comprehensive solutions for modern problems. The politically driven preference for full employment rather than competitiveness that paralyzed nationalized industry by 1985, plus a string of major scandals in the upper echelons of the SPÖ that continued into the first decade of the 21st century, destroyed the faith held by many in the effectiveness of state-guided management and the moral superiority of social market economies generally. Indeed, the governments of Franz Vranitzky and Victor Klima, both from the SPÖ, began the divestiture of state shares in industry in the late 1980s and the painful job dislocation that followed. It was Schüssel, however, along with several of his neoliberal ministers from his coalition partner, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), who supported the policy most programmatically between 2000 and 2006. Indeed, his ÖVP received over 40 percent of the vote in an election in 2002, an unusually solid endorsement of a single party.
   However, tired of broken promises from both parties to soften these harsh measures with tax reform, irked by paying service fees once covered fully or in part by the government, and generally worried about the impact of immigration on employment and social entitlements, voters began to show their mistrust visibly in the national elections of 2006. Scandal in Schüssel’s family over employment of illegal immigrant labor and a growing popular reluctance to make greater financial contributions to such national services as health care and education, particularly higher education, had markedly antagonized the electorate. The election, however, was exceedingly close. Alfred Gusenbauer (1960–) led the SPÖ to its narrow plurality and became chancellor of a coalition with the ÖVP that proved to be unworkable. Plagued by ÖVP obstructionism and by controversial policies developed by ministers who came from his own party—a plan to raise the minimum wage without raising pensions was typical—Gusenbauer’s government lasted little more than a year. It was the shortest first-term chancellorship in the history of the Second Austrian Republic.
   New elections in September 2008 brought even more bad news for the major political parties. Drawing upon a relatively stable number of voters, who remained deeply fearful of the cultural and economic impact of immigration, and a more volatile number of people who wished to register a general protest against ÖVP–SPÖ political infighting, the FPÖ, led by Heinz-Christian Strache (1969–), and a splinter party established by Jörg Haider in 2005, the Alliance for the Future of Austria, took almost 30 percent of the vote. Just what the results mandated for Austria’s political future became even more uncertain when Haider died in a car crash not quite a month after the polls closed.
   Modern Austria is among several European countries now resetting their political gyroscopes. It remains to be seen whether material wealth and the social reorientation that has accompanied it will spin off humanistic values that persuade an unprecedentedly well-to-do number of people that personal comfort is only one among several aspects of a full life. No longer an unwanted by-product of two of the 20th century’s several horrific conflicts, Austria is among those polities that is positioned to offer serious answers to this question.
   The topography of Austria has very much determined the way Austrians made their livings, even in the 20th century. The eastern and northeastern region is agricultural, with wheat, barley, maize, potatoes, and sugar beets as its chief crops. Large-scale livestock farming, centered around swine, poultry, and, to a lesser degree, cattle, also goes on here; an extensive dairy industry is found in Upper Austria as well as in the Vorarlberg, to the west. The most productive vineyards are in Lower Austria, especially in the Wachau region, and in the Burgenland. The mountainous regions have for centuries been sources of precious metals, chiefly silver found in the Tyrol and iron in Styria. The latter region has long been a center for mining, processing, and manufacturing heavy metals. The country’s domestic petroleum reserves are largely concentrated in Lower Austria, especially around refineries in Schwechat, the site of the Vienna airport. Crude oil that has been extracted in the western part of the country is processed there as well, as is petroleum from the Middle East, which is then conveyed to central Europe along a pipeline that originates in Trieste, in Italy. Austria also possesses significant reserves of natural gas.
   After a comparatively slow start in the second half of the 18th century, the industrialization of the Habsburg Austrian lands moved ahead rapidly in certain regions. These were Vienna and neighboring districts of Lower Austria, and somewhat later, Styria. The other provinces remained agricultural, indeed, pastoral. After World War II, however, the western regions of the country proved to be the economically more dynamic ones. Austria manufactured a wide variety of goods, with specialized steel products, textiles, petrochemicals, wood and paper products, foodstuffs, and glass and porcelain products especially well represented.
   Today, almost all of the nine provinces of the federal republic are dominated by service industries such as banking, which are coming to play an ever more prominent role in the economy. Employment in major heavy industry has dropped dramatically, though a global market for specialized steel products remains. For many years, the Federal Republic of Germany and the other countries in the Common Market were Austria’s chief trading partners. The United States and the former Soviet Union also were at times important customers for Austrian goods.
   Membership in the European Community starting in 1995 swiftly intensified Austria’s economic relations with member states. By the first half of 1998, overall exports from Austria had risen by 12.5 percent, two-thirds of which were going to EU countries. By 1998, agricultural exports to the EU had grown by 136.7 percent, with Germany and Italy as chief customers. Exports generally had risen to 28.5 percent of the Austrian domestic product. An unfavorable balance of trade had begun to drop markedly. In 1997, it had gone from 100 million schillings to 75 million schillings. After 2002, the Austrian balance of trade became consistently positive, driven largely by exports to quickly developing lands such as China.
   But none of these changes has come without causing pain to some segment of Austrian society. Familiar grocery chains have largely been taken over by French, British, and especially German and Italian firms. A new competitive atmosphere has arisen to challenge an economy notorious for its intricate protectionism and manipulation by domestic political interests. Austria’s energy infrastructure, for example, was among the least competitively organized on the continent. A law of 1955 required that some government authority hold at least 51 percent of the equities of all energy-producing firms. The European Union, however, requires member states to deregulate their power suppliers. Foreign companies have bought far more than retail grocery stories in Austria. And the takeovers and mergers that have encouraged management to rationalize business and manufacturing practices have made unemployment, once rare in Austria, more common. The opening up of Austrian universities, especially its medical faculties, to students from other EU countries, especially Germany, has been a subject of rancorous debate.
   Austria’s banking facilities were historically both fragmented and inefficient, in part because of their ties, either open or clandestine, to the major political parties. By 1990, large institutions had one branch for every 1,400 Austrians. Generation of investment capital was slow and weak. Bank consolidation became the rule of the day. In the early 1990s, Bank Austria was created by the merger of the Z-Bank, once owned by the socialist-controlled city of Vienna, and the Austrian Provincial Bank (Länderbank). In 1997, Bank Austria acquired the tradition-ridden Creditanstalt Bank, but under heavy criticism from the Conservative Austrian People’s Party, which was close to the Creditanstalt and was reluctant to have it absorbed by the “red” Bank Austria. Though these movements improved Austrian competitiveness in world financial markets, they also exposed the country’s fiscal institutions to opaque investment and accounting strategies that could play havoc with domestic savings and investments. The collapse of the Bank for Labor and Economic Development (BAWAG) after 2005 epitomized this problem.
   There is still much about Austria’s institutional structure generally that will continue to make adaptation to EU membership and the global economy difficult. Although the entrepreneurial ethic has always been present in Austria, it has been compromised by the comforts of government- generated high employment, a general reluctance to forego the pleasures of private life, and deference to long-standing institutional arrangements. The traditional universities resist coordinating advanced academic study with business and industry. There is now, however, an Elite-Universität, dedicated largely to primary research in the natural sciences and experimental adaptation of its findings, even though much of the investment capital for this work must come from abroad. Nevertheless, with the notable exception of those who have had only basic educational training, Austrians generally agree that EU membership and participation in international markets generally has brought them many advantages. To leave the EU would prompt other countries in the organization to withdraw their industrial research facilities in Austria and close Austrian students off from exchange privileges at universities throughout the EU lands (the Erasmus program). Farmers would no longer receive agricultural subsidies that have allowed Austria to develop environmentally sensitive agricultural and animal husbandry techniques.
   In other words, prosperity in Austria has been closely tied to participation in the EU and to world economic developments generally. The massive financial crisis that spread from the United States to the entire world in the summer and fall of 2008 hit Austria hard. Projections for economic growth dropped sharply, from around 2.1 percent in 2008 to 1.4 percent in 2009. A rise in unemployment, always a troubling political issue in Austria, seemed very likely. With right-wing populism roiling the national political arena, the outcome of a major economic recession could take several forms. But it is difficult to imagine a return of good times to Austria without EU membership and a continued cultivation of foreign markets and capital sources, however loud the nationalist grumbling becomes.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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