Republic of German-Austria
Republik Deutsch-Österreich (German)
Territory claimed by German-Austria. Current borders are outlined in red.
|Head of State|
|Historical era||Aftermath of World War I|
|11 November 1918|
• Republic proclaimed
|12 November 1918|
• National Assembly claims Cisleithania
|22 November 1918|
|10 September 1919|
|Today part of|
Part of a series on the
|History of Austria|
The Republic of German-Austria (German : Republik Deutschösterreich or Deutsch-Österreich) was a country created following World War I as the initial rump state for areas with a predominantly German-speaking and ethnic German population within what had been the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The territories covered an area of 118,311 km2 (45,680 sq mi), with 10.4 million inhabitants. In practice, however, its authority was limited to the Danubian and Alpine provinces which had been the core of the Austrian Empire.
Attempts to create German-Austria under these auspices were ultimately unsuccessful, and the new state of the First Austrian Republic was created in 1919.
In Habsburg Austria-Hungary, "German-Austria" was an unofficial term for the areas of the empire inhabited by Austrian Germans.
On 12 October 1918 Emperor Charles I met with the leaders of the largest German parties. German Nationalists wanted a constitutional monarchy of free nations; Christian Socialists wanted to maintain monarchy and a federation of nations; Social Democrats wanted a republic that would either be a part of a federation of nations or join Germany.
On 16 October 1918 Emperor Charles I published a manifesto which offered to change Austria-Hungary into a federation of nationalities. This came too late as Czechs and Southern Slavs were well on their way to creating independent states. However, this gave an impulse to the Reichsrat (Austrian parliament) of German-inhabited areas to meet.
With the impending collapse of the empire, the 208 ethnic German deputies, elected in 1911 to the Cisleithanian Reichsrat , met on 21 October 1918 and proclaimed itself to be a "Provisional National Assembly for German-Austria" representing the ethnic Germans in all Cisleithanian lands. It elected Franz Dinghofer of the German National Movement, Jodok Fink of the Christian Social Party, and Karl Seitz of the Social Democratic Workers' Party as assembly presidents. The assembly included representatives from Bohemia, Moravia, and Austrian Silesia who refused to submit to the new state of Czechoslovakia which had been declared on 28 October 1918. It also proclaimed that "the German people in Austria are resolved to determine their own future political organization to form an independent German-Austrian state, and to regulate their relations with other nations through free agreements with them".On 25 October Provisional Assembly called on all German inhabited Lands to form their own provisional assemblies.
During its second meeting on 30 October the Provisional National Assembly created the basic institutions of the new state. The legislative power was assumed by the Provisional National Assembly while the executive power was entrusted to the newly created German-Austrian State Council.
On 11 November 1918, Charles I gave up his right to take part in Austrian affairs of state. He deliberately avoided using the term "abdication," as he wanted to retain his freedom of action in the event his Austrian subjects recalled him. Nevertheless, this decision effectively ended 700 years of Habsburg rule.
The next day, 12 November, the National Assembly officially declared German-Austria a republic and named Social Democrat Karl Renner as provisional chancellor. On the same day it drafted a provisional constitution that stated that "German-Austria is a democratic republic" (Article 1) and "German-Austria is an integral part of the German republic" (Article 2).The latter provision reflected the deputies' view that felt that Austria would lose so much territory in any peace settlement that it would no longer be economically and politically viable as a separate state, and the only course was union with Germany. This was enforced by the refusal of Hungary to sell grain and of Czechoslovakia to sell coal to Austria-Germany.
As the Empire collapsed and a ceasefire was announced, the Provisional Assembly sought to forestall socialist revolution by organizing a coalition government led by the minority Social Democrats. Karl Renner became Chancellor and Victor Adler became Foreign Minister. The Social Democrats co-opted newly created soldier and worker councils and used their control over labour unions to implement social policies that blunted the socialist appeal.
Charles went into exile in Switzerland on 24 March 1919. Angered that he had left without a formal abdication, Parliament passed the Habsburg Law, which dethroned the Habsburgs and confiscated their property. Charles was permanently banished from Austria, while other male Habsburgs could return only if they gave up all claims to the throne.
Elections to the Constituent Assembly were held on 16 February 1919 and for the first time women were allowed to vote.Out of the 38 German inhabited constituencies only 25 participated and 159 deputies were elected to the 170 seats with Social Democrats as the largest party. Social Democrats won 72 seats, Christians Socials 69 and German Nationalists 26. The Constituent National Assembly first met on 4 March 1919 and on 15 March a new government was formed, once again led by Karl Renner. Austrian Social Democrats, despite being one of the leading Marxist parties with its Austromarxism current, did not attempt to seize power or to institute socialism. However, the majority of conservative, Catholic politicians still distrusted them and this led to the fatal left-right split that plagued the First Republic and led to its downfall by 1934.
Social Democrat leader Otto Bauer wrote: "German-Austria is not an organism which has followed the laws of historical growth. It is nothing but the remnant of what remained of the old Empire after other nations had broken away from it. It remained as a loose bundle of divergent Lands."
On 13 November 1918, German-Austria asked Germany to start negotiations of union and on 15 November sent a telegram to President Wilson to support union of Germany and Austria. This was grounded in the view that Austria had never been a nation in the true sense. While the Austrian state had existed in one form or another for over 700 years (dating to the Holy Roman Empire), its only unifying force had been the Habsburgs. Apart from being German-inhabited, these Lands had no common "Austrian" identity. They were Habsburg-ruled lands that had not joined the Prussian-dominated German Empire after the Austrian Empire lost the Austro-Prussian War.
On 12 March 1919, the Constituent Assembly re-confirmed an earlier declaration that German-Austria was a constituent part of the German republic. Pan-Germans and Social Democrats supported the union with Germany, while Christian Socialists were less supportive.
During spring and summer of 1919, unity talk meetings between German and Austrian representatives continued. All this changed after 2 June 1919 when the draft peace treaty with Austria was presented, which demonstrated that the Western Allies were opposed to any union between Germany and Austria.
After submitting a formal note of protest to the Allies against blocking German-Austrian union, on 10 September 1919 Renner signed the Treaty of Saint Germain and it was ratified by the Constituent National Assembly on 17 October. According to its provisions, on 21 October the country changed its official name from "Republic of German-Austria" to "Republic of Austria". It also lost the Sudetenland and German Bohemia to Czechoslovakia, South Tyrol and Istria (including the Adriatic port of Trieste) to the Kingdom of Italy, and Carniola, Lower Styria and Dalmatia to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.[ citation needed ]
Article 88 of the treaty, sometimes called a "pre- Anschluss attempt"[ by whom? ], stated:
The independence of Austria is inalienable otherwise than with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations. Consequently Austria undertakes in the absence of the consent of the said Council to abstain from any act which might directly or indirectly or by any means whatsoever compromise her independence, particularly, and until her admission to membership of the League of Nations, by participation in the affairs of another Power.
This clause effectively foreclosed any attempt by Austria to unite with Germany.
Likewise, the Treaty of Versailles, dictating the terms of peace for Germany, forbade any union between Austria and Germany. With these changes and the settling of Austria's frontiers, the era of the First Republic of Austria began.
On 22 November, the national assembly officially claimed sovereignty over all the majority-German territory of the former Habsburg realm: a total area of 118,311 km2 (45,680 sq mi) with 10.4 million inhabitants. This included nearly all the territory of present-day Austria, plus South Tyrol and the town of Tarvisio, both now in Italy; southern Carinthia and southern Styria, now in Slovenia; Sudetenland and German Bohemia (which later became part of Sudetenland), now in the Czech Republic and East Silesia (now divided between Poland and Czech Republic). In practice, however, its authority was limited to the Danubian and Alpine provinces of the old Habsburg realm—with few exceptions, most of present-day Austria.
However, the Allies of World War I opposed such a move. They had committed themselves to the cause of the Habsburg realm's minorities, and assumed almost without question that they wished to leave Austria and Hungary. German-Austria was largely powerless to prevent the forces of Italy, Czechoslovakia, and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes from seizing some of its territory.
Countries on the winning side of the war took many territories with German majorities. The Czechs insisted on the historic borders of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown; thus three million Germans became Czechoslovak citizens, an indirect precipitant of the Sudetenland crisis 20 years later. A victor nation, Italy occupied and was awarded Trentino and South Tyrol, of which South Tyrol is still majority German-speaking. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia) was given parts of Carinthia and Styria. The Klagenfurt region was retained after a plebiscite on 20 October 1920, when three-fifths of voters voted to remain with Austria.
Later plebiscites in the provinces of Tyrol and Salzburg yielded majorities of 98 and 99% in favor of a unification with Germany whereas Vorarlberg in May 1919 held a plebiscite where 81% supported accession to Switzerland.
Several German minority populations in Moravia, including German populations in Brno (Brünn), Jihlava (Iglau) and Olomouc (Olmütz), as well as the German enclave of Gottschee in Carniola also attempted to proclaim their union with German-Austria, but failed. The areas now outside of the current Republic of Austria often had significant non-German minorities and occasionally non-German majorities and were quickly taken by troops of the respective countries they were to eventually join.
Regarding East Silesia, plans for a plebiscite fell through, and the area was divided between Czechoslovakia and Poland.
On the other hand, ethnic Germans in the western part of the Kingdom of Hungary that formed a majority in the area known as German West Hungary and agitated to join to Austria were successful and the area became the state of Burgenland, with the notable exception of the region around the city of Ödenburg (Sopron) which was also intended to be the state capital, but due to a very contentious plebiscite, remained part of Hungary. The only other part of the former German counties of Burgenland in the Kingdom of Hungary also not to become part of the Austrian Republic due to the treaty was Preßburg (Bratislava) which went to Czechoslovakia (now the capital of Slovakia).
German-Austria originally consisted of nine provinces (Provinzen):
Despite the prohibition of the use of the term "German-Austria", the republic's unofficial national anthem between 1920 and 1929 was "German Austria, you wonderful country" ( Deutschösterreich, du herrliches Land ). Its words were penned by then-Chancellor Karl Renner, a signatory of the Treaty of Saint Germain.
Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. Bohemia can also refer to a wider area consisting of the historical Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by the Bohemian kings, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, in which case the region is referred to as Bohemia proper as a means of distinction.
Czechoslovakia, or Czecho-Slovakia, was a sovereign state in Central Europe, created in October 1918, when it declared its independence from Austria-Hungary.
The Sudetenland is the historical German name for the northern, southern, and western areas of former Czechoslovakia which were inhabited primarily by Sudeten Germans. These German speakers had predominated in the border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia since the Middle Ages.
The Duchy of Carinthia was a duchy located in southern Austria and parts of northern Slovenia. It was separated from the Duchy of Bavaria in 976, and was the first newly created Imperial State after the original German stem duchies.
Karl Renner was an Austrian politician of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria. He is often referred to as the "Father of the Republic" because he led the first government of German-Austria and the First Austrian Republic in 1919 and 1920, and was once again decisive in establishing the present Second Republic after the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945, becoming its first President after World War II.
Austrians are the people of Austria. The English term Austrians was applied to the population of Habsburg Austria from the 17th or 18th century. Subsequently, during the 19th century, it referred to the citizens of the Empire of Austria (1804–1867), and from 1867 until 1918 to the citizens of Cisleithania. In the closest sense, the term Austria originally referred to the historical March of Austria, corresponding roughly to the Vienna Basin in what is today Lower Austria.
The First Czechoslovak Republic emerged from the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in October 1918. The new state consisted mostly of territories inhabited by Czechs and Slovaks, but also included areas containing majority populations of other nationalities, particularly Germans (22.95 %), who accounted for more citizens than the state's second state nation of the Slovaks, Hungarians (5.47 %) and Ruthenians (3.39 %). The new state comprised the total of Bohemia whose borders did not coincide with the language border between German and Czech. Despite initially developing effective representative institutions alongside a successful economy, the deteriorating international economic situation in the 1930s gave rise to growing ethnic tensions. The dispute between the Czech and German populations, fanned by the rise of National Socialism in neighbouring Germany, resulted in the loss of territory under the terms of the Munich Agreement and subsequent events in the autumn of 1938, bringing about the end of the First Republic.
The Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye was signed on 10 September 1919 by the victorious Allies of World War I on the one hand and by the Republic of German-Austria on the other. Like the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary and the Treaty of Versailles with Germany, it contained the Covenant of the League of Nations and as a result was not ratified by the United States but was followed by the US–Austrian Peace Treaty of 1921.
Habsburg Monarchy, or Danubian Monarchy, or Habsburg Empire is a modern umbrella term coined by historians to denote the numerous lands and kingdoms of the Habsburg dynasty, especially for those of the Austrian line. Although from 1438 to 1806, a member of the House of Habsburg was also Holy Roman Emperor, the Holy Roman Empire itself is not considered to have been part of what is now called the Habsburg Monarchy.
German Bohemians, later known as Sudeten Germans, were ethnic Germans living in the Czech lands of the Bohemian Crown, which later became an integral part of Czechoslovakia in which before 1945 over three million German Bohemians inhabited, about 23% of the population of the whole country and about 29.5% of the population of Bohemia and Moravia. Ethnic Germans migrated into the Kingdom of Bohemia, an electoral territory of the Holy Roman Empire, from the 11th century, mostly in the border regions of what was later called the "Sudetenland", which was named after the Sudeten Mountains. The process of German expansion was known as Ostsiedlung. The name "Sudeten Germans" was adopted during rising nationalism after the fall of Austria-Hungary after the First World War. After the Munich Agreement, the so-called Sudetenland became part of Germany.
The United States of Greater Austria was an unrealized proposal in 1906 to federalize Austria-Hungary to help resolve widespread ethnic and nationalist tensions. It was conceived by a group of scholars surrounding Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, notably by the ethnic Romanian lawyer and politician Aurel Popovici.
The First Austrian Republic was created after the signing of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 10 September 1919—the settlement after the end of World War I which ended the Habsburg rump state of Republic of German-Austria—and ended with the establishment of the Austrofascist Federal State of Austria based upon a dictatorship of Engelbert Dollfuss and the Fatherland's Front in 1934. The Republic's constitution was enacted on 1 October 1920 and amended on 7 December 1929. The republican period was increasingly marked by violent strife between those with left-wing and right-wing views, leading to the July Revolt of 1927 and the Austrian Civil War of 1934.
The Bohemian Forest Region is a historical region in the Czech Republic. It includes parts of southwestern Bohemia in the Bohemian Forest once mainly populated by ethnic Germans.
German South Moravia was a historical region of Czechoslovakia. It includes parts of southern and western Moravia once largely populated by ethnic Germans.
The Province of German Bohemia was a province in Bohemia, now the Czech Republic, established for a short period of time after the First World War, as part of the Republic of German-Austria.
The First Czechoslovak Republic, often colloquially referred to as the First Republic, was the first Czechoslovak state that existed from 1918 to 1938. Dominated by ethnic Czechs and Slovaks, the country was commonly called Czechoslovakia, a compound of Czech and Slovak; which gradually became the most widely used name for its successor states. It was composed of former territories of Austria-Hungary, inheriting different systems of administration from the formerly Austrian and Hungarian territories.
Austria–Czech Republic relations are the neighborly relations between Austria and the Czech Republic, two member states of the European Union.
German nationalism is a political ideology and historical current in Austrian politics. It arose in the 19th century as a nationalist movement amongst the German-speaking population of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It favours close ties with Germany, which it views as the nation-state for all ethnic Germans, and the possibility of the incorporation of Austria into a Greater Germany.
The Margraviate of Moravia was one of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown within the Holy Roman Empire existing from 1182 to 1918. It was officially administrated by a margrave in cooperation with a provincial diet. It was variously a de facto independent state, and also subject to the Duchy, later the Kingdom of Bohemia. It comprised the region called Moravia within the modern Czech Republic.
The Province of the Sudetenland was established on 29 October 1918 by former members of the Cisleithanian Imperial Council, the governing legislature of the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire. It consisted of German-speaking parts of Moravia, Bohemia and Austrian Silesia, and was meant to become an integral part of the newly proclaimed Republic of German Austria.