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About & History

About

Known officially as the Republic of Austria, the country shares borders with Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to the west, Italy and Slovenia to the south and Slovakia and Hungary to the east. Austria’s territory spans almost 84 thousand square kilometres and is home to over 8.5 million people, working out at a density of around 101.4 persons per square kilometre.

Austria’s government works as a parliamentary representative democracy which is comprised of nine federal states under President Heinz Fischer. It’s also a member of the European Union, the Schengen Area and is a founder of the OECD. 



Stone Age History

It’s known that Austria has been inhabited by Humans as far back as the Stone Age, but little is known of this groups’ culture.

Bronze Age History

Already existing groups likely disappeared for unknown reasons during the next few thousand years, it would be another few thousand before Austria was re-inhabited.

Iron Age History

Around the 9th Century BC, Austria was inhabited by a Celtic culture which promptly set up its first governing body, the Kingdom of Noricum, around 800 BC.

1st Century – 15th Century History

The Celts eventually met with the Roman Empire which promptly integrated the Kingdom into their territory as the Province of Noricum around 40 AD. The Romans set up numerous settlements in the country including Carnuntum on Austria’s eastern reaches. By the end of the 1st Century, Carnuntum had become the region’s capital city.

In the 4th Century, Carnuntum was attacked and decimated by a collaboration of Germanic forces. Although it was partially restored by Valentinian I, it never regained its former status and was eventually abandoned in its entirety.

In the 6th Century, the Bavarii, a Germanic tribe, occupied the country formerly and continued to do so for the next three hundred years.
In the 8th Century, around 796 AD, Austria was taken by Charlemagne of the Carolingian Empire and four years later in 800 AD, he established the outpost of Avar March (Awarenmark) in Lower Austria in order to cease the advances by the Avars and Slavs.

By the 10th Century, Austria had a numerous amount of outposts, one of which was set up in 976 as March of the East (Marchia Orientalis) under the Margraves of Babenberg. This particular outpost may very well be what inspired the name ‘Austria’ as in Germany, which ruled the outpost, it was known as ‘Ostarrichi’ or ‘Eastern Realm’.

In the 12th Century, around 1156 AD, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa formed the Privilegium Minus, an independent duchy under the House of Babenburg, the territory of which eventually became Lower Austria.

The 13th Century saw large changes when the ducal royalty died out and left no heirs, causing the collapse of the duchy in 1246 AD. It came into the hands of German King Rudolf I of Habsburg in 1276 AD, whom was succeeded by his son, Albert I of Germany, in 1298 AD after Rudolf passed away in 1291 AD, Albert gave the duchies of Austria and Styria (part of modern-day Slovenia) to his sons, Frederick III (Frederick the Fair) and Rudolph III (Rudolph I of Bohemia), in the same year.

Rudolph died in 1307 AD of dysentery and Albert was assassinated in 1308 AD by his nephew Duke John Parricida, leaving only Frederick to succeed him in 1314 AD. However, after power struggles with other close relations, he renounced his regency over Germany and began to rule over Austria and Styria alone. Austria was captured by Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV in 1322 AD and took Frederick prisoner, it was only by the Pope’s edict that Louis was forced to release Frederick under the condition that Frederick would convince his brothers to submit to Louis. However, upon Frederick’s failure to do so, he voluntarily returned to Louis to be taken prisoner once more and upon seeing the display of nobility, Louis asked Frederick to rule the empire jointly with him.

However, upon the death of his brother Leopold, Frederick returned to Austria to rule until his death in 1330 AD, after which, Louis resumed control of the country with Albert II, son of Albert I, as Duke of Austria. Albert II is credited with beginning the construction of the Gothic Choir (the Albertinian Choir) in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. He was succeeded by his son Rudolf IV of Austria (Rudolf the Founder) when he passed away in 1358 AD. Rudolf is credited with extending St. Stephen’s Cathedral further, founding the University of Vienna and making large-scale economic reforms. Through his wide scale success, Rudolf created the title ‘Archduke’ which began to be used for all males of the House of Habsburg from there on out. In 1363 AD, Rudolf entered into an agreement with Countess Margaret of Gorizia-Tyrol that upon the death of her only son, Meinhard III, Austria would take control of the country of Tyrol. However, due to a quick invasion by Margaret’s brother-in-law, Duke Stephen II of Bavaria, the control of Tyrol passed to Austria in 1369 AD. Rudolf, however, passed away in 1365 AD and was succeeded by his brother Albert III (Albert the Pigtail) of Austria the same year.

Albert began a crusade against pagan Lithuanians and Samogitians in 1377 AD and two years later he entered into the Treaty of Neuberg with his younger brother Leopold III to divide the Habsburg’s territories. While Leopold received Styria, Tyrol, Carinthia and Further Austria, Albert took Austria proper and began to launch programmes and policies to support the arts and sciences, expanding the University of Vienna while refurbishing the city. In 1395 AD, Albert passed away and was succeeded by his son, Albert IV of Austria (Albert the Patient). However, Albert quarrelled frequently with his family and members of the Luxemburg dynasty, which was typically uncharacteristic of the Habsburgs. He passed away in 1404 AD and was succeeded by his son, Albert V (Albert II of Germany, Albert the Magnanimous).

Although Albert technically inherited Austria following the death of his father, he wouldn’t rule for several years while his uncle, Duke William of Inner Austria, ruled as his regent. Additionally, he frequently quarrelled over territories with his brothers, Leopold IV and Ernest the Iron, which led to civil war-like conditions for a time but ceased when Leopold perished in 1411 AD and Albert took over rule fully. Albert married Elisabeth of Luxemburg in 1422 AD and in turn became son-in-law to King Sigismund of Hungary. Following this, he assisted Sigismund in campaigns against the Hussites and in return, Sigismund gave him the title ‘Margrave of Moravia’ and designated him his successor, which allowed him to become King of Hungary upon Sigismund’s passing in 1437 AD. Six months later, he was also crowned King of Bohemia and a year later he was elected as King of Germany, becoming one of the first Triple-Kings ever. He passed away in 1439 AD and was succeeded by his son, Ladislaus Postumus (Ladislaus the Posthumous), a year later.

However, despite Ladislaus being the technical ruler of Austria, Frederick V ruled over him, practically holding him prisoner in Schloss Ort. However, when King Vladislaus III passed away in 1444 AD at the Battle of Varna, the young Ladislaus was elected king and demanded Frederick surrender him to them, which he refused. Pressured mounted and in 1452 AD, the Mailberg Confederation, formed by the Austrian estates under Ulrich, Baron of Eyczing, and Ulrich II, Princely Count of Celje, freed him forcefully. Ulrich II took over guardianship of the child and became his regent until the child turned 13 and was crowned King of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia and Archduke of Austria, in 1453 AD. Although the two remained uninterested in the threat of invasion in Hungary by the Turks, they became hostile towards John Hunyadi, regent of Hungary, eventually replacing him with Ulrich II when John died in 1456 AD. However, John’s son, Ladislaus Hunyadi, murdered Ulrich, and in turn, Ladislaus had Hunyadi beheaded in 1457 AD, these actions caused widespread outcries of anger towards Ladislaus, forcing him to flee to Prague, Czech Republic, until he died of Leukemia later on the same year. He was succeeded by his cousin, Frederick V (Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III, Frederick IV of Germany), whom had ruled mainly in his stead since 1424 AD and had been elected German King in 1440 AD before being crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1452 AD by Pope Nicholas V.

Frederick implemented policies that have been viewed as slower but no less effective than those of his opponents; however, by outliving his opponents he widely inherited many of their lands. He passed away during a leg amputation that caused him to bleed to death in 1493 AD and was succeeded by his son, Maximilian I, the same year. Maximilian had already been crowned King of the Romans in 1486 AD under his father’s plans and became Holy Roman Empire when his father passed away. He is known to have supported the arts and sciences while launching campaigns into Italy, taking much of its lands and holding it successfully until near his death in 1519.


16th Century – 19th Century History

Although Maximilian had a son, Philip the Fair, Philip passed away before his father in 1506 and so instead Maximilian was succeeded by his grandson, Philip’s son Charles V (Charles I of Spain and Italy). With his succession from Maximilian and Philip, Charles’ sphere of influence was already enormous with three of the world’s largest dynasties under his belt; the House of Trastamara of the Crowns of Castile and Aragon, the House of Valois-Burgundy of the Burgundian Netherlands, and of course, the House of Habsburg of the Habsburg Monarchy. By these rites he effectively was able to rule over much of Southern, Western and Central Europe, as well as the Spanish Colonies in the Americas and Asia, totalling around four million square kilometres of territory. Additionally, as the first simultaneous ruler of Castile, Leon and Aragon, he became the first King of Spain. However, Charles abdicated in 1556 due to poor health and passed away two years later, passing the succession on to his younger brother, Ferdinand I, but left the Spanish Empire to his son, Philip II of Spain.

In 1558, Ferdinand inherited the title of Holy Roman Emperor from Charles, reuniting the Austrian lands but having to deal with Ottoman Turk invasions, religious civil warring and political revolts. He was able to restore order and push back the invasions, simultaneously enlarging his territory and creating a central administration, but passed away in 1564 which saw the lands re-divided between his three sons due to an agreement he had taken part in some ten years prior. These three divisions became Inner Austria belonging to Charles II, Upper Austria belonging to Ferdinand II and Lower Austria belonging to Maximilian II. However, upon Maximilian’s death in 1576, he was succeeded by his son, Rudolf V, whom also took Upper Austria after Ferdinand died in 1595 without an heir. Meanwhile, Charles II in Inner Austria was succeeded by his son, Ferdinand III upon his death in 1590. Due to a growing reputation as a poor governor and new raids by the Ottoman Turks, Rudolf handed over rule to Matthias II in 1608 whom was able to conduct peace talks which quelled both internal uprisings and external warring with the Ottoman Empire.

Matthias became emperor in 1612 but saw warring inside of the Habsburg dynasty repeatedly, especially with his younger brother Maximilian III, he died later in 1619. He was succeeded by Albert VII but after just a few months he was persuaded to step down in favour of Ferdinand III. Ferdinand immediately set about re-Catholicizing the provinces that had been rapidly converted to Protestantism through Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses beginning in 1517 and pushed radical intolerance of the new Protestant faith, triggering the Thirty Years’ War through the Bohemian Revolt (which he subsequently quelled in 1620). Ferdinand’s Counter-Reformation of the church peaked in 1627 with the Veneuerte Landesordnung (Provincial Ordinance), but following this relaxed his policies against the Protestants. In 1620, he reunited Austria under a singular Archduchy but redivided them three years later in 1623, granting Upper Austria to his younger brother Leopold V. Leopold V was succeeded by his son, Ferdinand Charles, in 1632, but due to his young age he didn’t obtain power until 1646, in the meanwhile his mother, Claudia de’ Medici was his regent.

Ferdinand III passed away in 1634 and his son, Ferdinand IV, succeeded him. Ferdinand IV was able to bring about peace through the Peace of Prague in 1635 and then fully concluded the war in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia. However, the war damaged the Habsburg’s territories and saw its’ control of the Holy Roman Empire slip and diminish significantly. At the same time, the Empire had seen control of outer European countries slip. During the peacetime, Ferdinand showed himself to be a strong supporter of music and art and was succeeded by his son, Leopold VI, in 1657. Meanwhile, Ferdinand Charles of Upper Austria also proved himself to be a support of the arts but ruled with an extravagant absolutist style. He was succeeded by his brother, Sigismund Francis in 1662 but he too died without an heir in 1665. The unruled lands defaulted to Leopold I and saw a reunited Austria finally under a singular Archduchy. Leopold began to rapidly see warring rise once again with the Second Northern War of 1655 and the invasion of Nagyvarad in Transylvania in 1660, despite the desperate pleas by the Transylvanians to the Austrians for help, their cries fell on deaf ears as the Habsburgs had already formed agreements with the Ottomans. Meanwhile, revolts in Hungary pushed Leopold to execute the ringleaders and impose a counter-reformation attempt that sparked another religious civil war.

The Ottoman Turks suddenly began attacking the eastern borders of Austria from Turkey in 1663, this, combined with French invasions on the western borders and internal strife from the Hungarian revolts caused increased stress on the country. However, Leopold was able to quell the Turk invasions again with the Peace of Vasvar and Austria rapidly became involved in the Franco-Dutch War of 1672 which only ceased six years later upon the signing of the Treaties of Nijmegen. Ten years later, Habsburg raids prompted the Ottomans to invade Austria, reaching Vienna a year later and subsequently besieging it. The siege was lifted by allied forces shortly afterwards, winning successive victories in 1687 and 1697 and forcing the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699. Upon the death of Charles II of Spain in 1700, Austria began to fight for succession to the Spanish Empire alongside the British, Dutch and Catalonians against the French. Leopold was succeeded upon his death in 1705 by his son, Joseph I, but only ruled for six years before he died in 1711 and was succeeded by his younger brother, Charles III (Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, Charles II of Bohemia, Charles I of Serbia). Charles too fought for rites to succession for the Spanish Empire and was successful in claiming the Austrian Netherlands and most of Belgium as well as the Duchy of Milan in Northern Italy, and Sardinia and Naples in Southern Italy upon the closure of the war in 1714.

Charles however only had two daughters and so rapidly set about setting up the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, allowing for a female heir. He became so dedicated to the movement that he began to offer territory and authority to surrounding countries for their acknowledgement of the Pragmatic Sanction and by the time he passed away in 1740, his daughter Maria Theresa was able to succeed him. However, before she became Empress, she passed the title to Charles VII in 1742, whom held it for three years until he died in 1745. Meanwhile under King Frederick the Great, Prussia invaded Silesia and triggered a trio of wars between the Prussians and the Austrians in 1740, 1744 and 1756. Additionally, the War of the Austrian Succession kicked off in 1740 which saw various countries preparing to take Austria by any means necessary. Nevertheless, Austria was able to hold itself together, despite the loss of Silesia to the Prussians, and concluded in 1748. Meanwhile, Maria Theresa’s husband Francis of Lorraine was elected Emperor, despite Maria Theresa holding the true executive power.

Following the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 that concluded the War of the Austrian Succession, Maria Theresa sought revenge against the Prussians and discarded the British and Dutch allies whom had been hesitant to help during the Austrian Succession in favour of France in 1756, consequently this resulted in the Treaty of Versailles in the same year and pushed a now-threatened Frederick to launch an invasion of Saxony, however, Austria was unable to wrest control of Silesia from Prussia in the coming nine years. Relations with the French improved with the marriage of Maria Theresa’s daughter Archduchess Maria Antonia to Louis XVI of France but it rapidly arose that their arch enemy Prussia had formed an alliance with Catherine the Great of Russia.

As relations with Russia slowly improved following the closure of the Russo-Turkish War in 1774, they suddenly spiralled out of control again when Russia refused to support Austria during the War of Bavarian Succession in 1778. However, Russia did mediate alongside the French and brought the war to a close after almost no bloodshed in 1779. Meanwhile, Francis died in 1765 and was succeeded as emperor by his son Joseph II but ruled jointly with his mother. However, the two frequently quarrelled due to opposing views, with Maria Theresa supporting the old local traditions and social elites, and Joseph viewing the world with a modern tradition-free outlook and seeking the best outcome irrelevant of old policies. The title of Empress also fell to Maria Theresa’s daughter-in-law Maria Josepha of Bavaria until she died in 1767, then when Maria Theresa died in 1780, Joseph succeeded her in all titles.

At this point, Joseph went about pushing his modernist views, reforming education, medicine, religion, both civil and criminal law, and foreign policy. These included extending full legal freedom to serfs, abolishing capital punishment, making elementary education compulsory for all children, offering higher education and scholarships, centralizing medical treatment which set up the city of Vienna to lead in the medical field in the next century and even introducing a policy of religious toleration ahead of every other country in Europe. Although this should have boosted his popularity with the populace, it actually had the opposite effect as the people felt that the emperor was intervening in every aspect of their lives. To make matters worse, the drive away from traditional customs and beliefs had lost Joseph the support of the social elites. By 1789, violent protesting and rebellion had broken out and his health had rapidly deteriorated, these factors isolated him and in 1790 he died alone, succeeded by his younger brother, Leopold II.

Leopold rapidly realized the damage mounting by the revolts of the Hungarian and Netherlandish populaces, and subsequently cut deals with them to cease the fighting. He additionally managed to negotiate an alliance with Prussia and secure peace with Turkey in 1791. Although he tried his best to avoid war with France through support for Louis XVI, the French declared war upon Leopold’s eldest son, Francis II, whom succeeded him when Leopold passed away in 1792. Within just a year, the French had overrun Austria, taking almost the whole country including the Austrian Netherland. Even worse, Prussia turned their alliance as they excluded Austria from the Second Partition of Poland in 1793. Eventually the Austrian forces retook the Austrian Netherlands the same year, but a year later the French returned with a vengeance and permanently drove the Austrians out of the area. Poland fragmented again which allowed Austria to secure land in the region but shortly afterwards most countries made peace, leaving Austria with only British and Piedmont-Sardinian allies. The French launched attacks through German and Italian borders but were only successful in penetrating on the Italian Border under Napoleon Bonaparte whom subsequently drove the Austrians out of Lombardy and besieged Mantua before capturing the latter in 1797. Austria was forced to request peace with France and handed over the Netherlands and Lombardy in return for the Republic of Venice’s territories.

However, the peace only lasted a few months and by 1798, skirmishes over the reorganization of Germany broke out. Although Austria’s Russian allies were initially successful in pushing back the French out of Italy, they were, in-turn, pushed back out of Italy by the French and Austria was forced once more to make peace with France in 1801. In order to match Bonaparte’s ascension to Emperor of the First French Empire in 1804, Francis took the arbitrary title of Emperor of Austria as Francis I, earning him the additional title of Doppelkaiser (Double Emperor). The Austrian and French Empires would soon go head to head as Napoleon continued to annex Genoa and Parma, leading to war in 1805. Austria, Britain, Russia and Sweden formed an alliance to take on France, but Napoleon defeated each force one at a time, before taking on and dominating the Austro-Russian powerhouse forces in late 1805. Austria was forced to give up much of its territory to France, Italy, Bavaria, Baden and Wurttemberg and the defeat subsequently meant the end of the old Holy Roman Empire, the Empire was formally dissolved by Francis’ proclamation in 1806.

Austria was now under the thumb of France and through careful plays was able to avoid the War of the Fourth Coalition in 1806. However, the overthrow of the Spanish Bourbons rattled the Habsburgs to the very core and so they rapidly joined in the War of the Fifth Coalition in 1809. However, they were defeated miserably by the now-allied Russian and French forces and Austria was once again forced back under France’s control. Francis’ daughter Marie Louise was married to Napoleon in 1810 in another play, but despite this and the numerous policies instated by Austria’s new foreign minister, the country went bankrupt in 1811. However, despite a struggling economy, Austria contributed an army to Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 but shockingly, Prussia defeated to the Russian side and Napoleon suffered a humiliating defeat. Initially, Austria attempted to mediate between France and its enemies, but Napoleon made it known that he would not compromise and so, without any other options, Austria joined the War of the Sixth Coalition on the side of the allies in 1813 and invaded France the year later. Finally, in 1815, Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo and Louis XVI fled France with Napoleon himself being exiled to the deserted island of St Helena.

In the peacetime, Austria entered a period of widespread censorship, effectively becoming a police state in 1815. In 1835, Francis died of a fever and was succeeded by his son Ferdinand I of Austria (Ferdinand V of Hungary and Bohemia). However, he would be replaced by his nephew, Franz Joseph I of Austria, in 1848 following the revolutions of the same year, which additionally removed Austria’s status as a police state and the affiliated censorship efforts. Through military force, separatist groups were suppressed widely, but especially so in Hungary and Lombardy and although a constitution was enacted in 1848, it had little effect except triggering elections in the same year.  However, the revolution attempts did free peasants in Austria and subsequently allowed the country to become rapidly industrialized. Although Austria stayed neutral in the coming Crimean War of 1853, the Emperor’s preoccupation with his wedding antagonized big players on both sides of the war and left the country isolated and devoid of allies.

Meanwhile, the Italian ruling forces had set a trap for Austria and through provocations in Vienna was able to lead the country into declaring war, expecting support from allies-secretly-turned-enemies France. This forced the Habsburgs in Tuscany and Modena to flee to Vienna for support and weakened the country’s Italian border significantly. Following this, the country suffered a defeat at the Battle of Varese in 1859 and then again a month later in Solferino, forcing the Emperor to accept the terms of Napoleon III of France, Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, and ceding Lombardy to France provided that the Habsburg rulers of central Italy were restored. However, France never allowed the latter part of the agreement to happen. In 1864, Austria entered into the Second Schleswig War on the side of the Prussians against Denmark, the war was concluded upon the defeat of the Danes with the Treaty of Vienna. Tensions among the Hungarian liberals rose again as new policies from the Austrian government took effect, but Franz Joseph did make some concessions upon travelling to Budapest in 1865 such as granting amnesty to the press and abolishing the military jurisdiction.

In the meanwhile, relations between Austria and Prussia broke down as Prussian signed a secret treaty with Italy and Austria concluded one with France in the same year and through the further breakdown of agreements between Austria and Prussia, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 broke out. Although Austria won numerous victories against Italy, Austria suffered major losses at the Battle of Koniggratz and the Prussian forces prepared to take Vienna. Napoleon III of France suddenly intervened and negotiated peace between the opposing forces. However, as a result of these wars, Austria now had lost all of its Italian territory. The Hungarians also increased the pressure for their demands and Franz Joseph was beginning to feel the pressure, the Hungarians went so far as to recruit the Emperor’s wife, Empress Elisabeth, as an advocate for their case for independence. Although Franz Joseph considered the independence, the split would cause the Slavic nations to demand independence as well and it was only after another few months in 1867 that the country of Austria-Hungary was formed, allowing Hungarians to rule one half of the country while the Austrians ruled the other half.

Once again, Austria would prosper finally, with the 1870s seeing Vienna having doubled from 500,000 to over a million people. New renovations took place as the water of the Danube began to be regulated with aqueducts and numerous organizations being set up such as schools, churches, hospitals, bridges and even a new university. However, despite these good conditions, its military conditions had not improved and so it stayed neutral in the Franco Prussian War of 1870. However, the economy dropped significantly following the 1873 Stock Market Crash. In the backdrop of the repeated wars, political parties had surfaced and a parliament had been set in place and the Liberal Party had risen up as the most prominent party. Towards the end of the century, suffrage became universal to the peasants and working classes and a new era of grandeur was set into place as the arts and music flourished through support by Franz Joseph.

20th Century History

In 1908, Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. In retaliation for this, six years later in 1914, Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip and the Black Hand assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, during a trip to Sarajevo, Serbia. This caused Austria to declare direct war on Serbia and subsequently caused the surrounding European countries to declare war on one another, causing a war larger than had ever been seen before; World War I. The war cost the lives of over a million Austro-Hungarian soldiers and upon the closing of the war; the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved. In the fallout of the war, the Emperor declined from state business affairs entirely and the country became a democratic republic under the name the Republic of Austria. This was mainly forced upon the country by the 1919 treaty of Saintt Germain which prohibited the union of Austria and Germany as the allies feared their union and subsequent ascension into a powerhouse world contender, the treaty also meant that Austria lost the Country of Tyrol to Italy as well as many parts of Bohemia and Moravia to the newly formed Czechoslovakia.

Meanwhile on the political front, Austria’s two main political parties were the left-wing Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Austria (SDAPO) and the right-wing Christian Socialist Party (CS), SDAPO typically controlled the capital, Vienna, whilst the CS controlled the other surrounding counties. Although during the war inflation had devalued the Krone largely, an international loan granted by the League of Nations in 1922 helped Austria avert economic crisis and avoid bankruptcy. In 1925, the Krone was replaced entirely by the Schilling at a rate of ten thousand to one. Due to its stability, it was eventually renamed the Alpine Dollar and the country’s economy began to improve again, that is, until Black Friday caused it to nearly crash entirely in 1929.

In 1932, Engelbert Dollfuss was elected the First Chancellor of Austria, the only position more powerful than the President, and with the power of the Christian Social Party moved the country rapidly towards the Fascist model of politics. In 1933, he shut down parliament and banned the other opposing parties, effectively becoming a dictator in a one-party state, modelled after Italian Fascism shortly after he had met with Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini. These actions are often compared to those of Adolf Hitler in Germany, whom in the same month installed himself as a dictator. Additionally, Dollfuss took measures to remove the right to public assembly as well as strongly restricting the freedom of the press. In 1934, Dollfuss’ cabinet approved a new constitution abolishing freedom of the press, formally established a one party system and created a total state monopoly on employer-employee relations. Despite avoiding an assassination attempt in 1933 by Rudolf Dertill, Dollfuss was successfully assassinated in 1934 by ten Austrian Nazis of Regiment 89 in an attempted coup d’état. He was succeeded by Kurt Schuschnigg and for the next few years, Hitler proceeded to pressure Austria into joining with Germany, even though the treaties of St Germain and Versailles forbade it. Schuschnigg’s forces resisted strongly, but in the end the German forces were able to occupy Austria and in 1938, Schuschnigg had to resign on the demand of Hitler himself. Shortly afterwards, Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany and Nazi puppet Arthur Seyss-Inquart was installed as Chancellor.

Near the end of World War II, American troops marched on Vienna and took it in 1945 with the help of the British military, after which the two forces were able to take the western and southern regions to prevent the Soviet Union from taking the whole country, as they’d entered it across the eastern border just a few days beforehand. Later on in the same month, following the end of the war, an Austrian statesman by the name of Karl Renner declared Austria separate from Germany and set up a government which included communists, conservatives and socialists, the new balanced government was recognized by the Allies and under agreement was occupied by French, British, American and Soviet forces, divided into four sectors. Vienna was also divided likewise with an international zone in the middle. Despite being occupied, the Austrian government was allowed to conduct foreign relations following approval in 1946 and in 1948 it became one of the founding members of the Danube Commission. The new government rapidly evolved into a stable democratic republic with several large parties, typically in coalition, helping to rebuild and restructure. The United States also funnelled in many resources to assist the country, most of all setting up advertising and wire services, shutting down the old party-line newpapers and bringing in a variety of reporters, editors, production workers and more. The education system also saw comparable renovations and changes by the US.

In 1955, the two major parties, the Social Democratic Party (SPO) and the Austrian People’s Party (OVP) were able to end allied occupation and restore a fully independent Austria. This culminated with the signing of the Austrian State Treaty in the same year and the proclamation that Austria would be forever a neutral country, as is incorporated into the Constitution written up in the same year.

In 1966, the OVP-SPO coalition was ended when the OVP gained a majority in parliament for the first time ever, but only four years later, SPO leader Bruno Kreisky formed a minority government and was able to take power. He continued to retain power in the elections of 1971, 1975 and 1979, however, his policies are often seen as similar to the Thatcher government of the UK as it was his policies that saw the start of large-scale public debt accumulation. He was succeeded by Kurt Waldheim in 1983 when the SPO entered into a coalition with the FPO under Fred Sinowatz, however due to his possible involvement with the Nazis and their associated war crimes he was met with strong criticism. In the same year, Sinowatz resigned and Franz Vranitzky became chancellor.

A confrontation between the German-National and Liberal wings occurred in 1986, during which Jorg Haider became leader of the FPO and the coalition pact between the FPO and SPO was annulled by Vranitzky, prompting the FPO to enter into a new coalition with the OVP under Alois Mock. The Green Party also established itself in parliament in the same year.

In 1993 the Liberal Forum was founded by fragments of the FPO and in 1995, Austria joined the European Union.  Just two years later, Vranitzky was succeeded by Viktor Klima and two more years later the SPO-OVP coalition ended and caused the OVP to fall back to third place behind the FPO in the elections. In the same year, Austria became a member of the Schengen Area and it also became a Eurozone member in 1999, exchanging its Austrian Schilling for the Euro.

21st Century History

On the turn of the century in 2000, Vice Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel became Chancellor and his party, the OVP, entered into a coalition with the FPO. 2002 saw a collapse of government as various disputes within the FPO saw multiple losses and a subsequent victory for the OVP. Over half of the FPO’s voters were lost but it was able to once again enter a coalition with the OVP. However, repeated disputes caused the FPO to fracture, with the new group called the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZO) led by previously-resigned FPO chairman Haider. In 2006, the SPO won the elections and negotiated a grand coalition with the OVP.

The coalition began in 2007 with the chancellor as Alfred Gusenbauer and for the first time ever, the Green Party of Austria became the third largest party in a nation-wide election. However, only a year later in 2008 the coalition fell apart due to arguments over the EU policy of the country. The following elections in the same year saw huge gains by the FPO and the BZO under Heinz-Christian Strache and Jorg Haider respectively. Both the SPO and the OVP reformed a coalition under SPO chairman Werner Faymann. In the same year, Haider died in a car accident and was succeeded by Herbert Scheibner and as governor of Carinthia by Gerhard Dorfler.