Archduchy of Austria
Erzherzogtum Österreich
Component of Greater Austria (1918–1941)
State of Nazi Germany (1947–1990)
Flag Coat of arms
Capital St. Pölten
Languages German
Religion Catholicism
Government Constitutional monarchy (1918-1934)
Austrofascist single-party state (1934-1941)
Constitutional monarchy under Nazi dictatorship (1941-1990)
 •  1918–1922 Charles I
 •  1922–1941 Otto I
 •  1941–1990 Vacant a
 •  1941-1963 Arthur Seyss-Inquart
 •  1986-1990 Kurt Waldheim
 •  1918–1920 Karl Renner (first)
 •  1986–1990 Alois Mock (last)
Legislature Nationalrat
 •  Established 30 October 1918
 •  Treaty of St. Germain 10 February 1947
 •  Disestablished 6 April 1990
Currency Austrian schilling (1918-1945)
Reichsmark (1945-1990)
Preceded by
a. Claimed by former Emperor Otto I, who never abdicated as the Austrian Head of State.
b. The Reichsstatthalter acted as "Regents".

The Archduchy of Austria (German: Erzherzogtum Österreich or German-Austria German: Deutsch-Österreich) was created following the Great War as the component for areas with a predominantly German-speaking population within what had been the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Within Greater Austria it had retained the status that was enjoyed by Germans of the empire since 1867. Under German occupation from 1941 to 1947 it became the rump state of the Habsburg empire following their defeat by the Soviet Union. After a referendum in 1947 the Archduchy and all its remaining territory united with Germany.

History[edit | edit source]

File:Austria Hungary ethnic.svg

Map indicating the German-speaking areas (red) within the Austro-Hungarian Empire as of 1911.

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 Socials wanted to maintain monarchy and a federation of nations; Social Democrats wanted a republic that would either be a part or 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 barely saved the empire as Czechs and Southern Slavs were well on their way to creating states equal to Austria and Hungary some even wanting to go further and leave the empre entirely. However, this gave an impulse to the Reichsrat of German inhabited areas to meet.

With the radical restructuring of the empire the 208 ethnic German deputies to the Cisleithania Austrian parliament (Reichsrat) elected in 1911 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 Bohemia-Moravia 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 the 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. The next day, 12 November, the National Assembly named Social Democrat Karl Renner as provisional chancellor of the state. On the same day it drafted a provisional constitution that stated that "German-Austria is an Archduchy" (Article 1).

As Empire narrowly avoided collapse and ceasefire was announced, to forestall the spread of Bolshevism, the Provisional Assembly allowed Social Democrats, who held a minority of seats, to form and lead a coalition government. Social Democrat Karl Renner became Minister-President. Social Democrats co-opted newly created soldier and worker councils and used their control over labour unions to implement social policies that reduced risks of Bolshevik revolution.

Anschluss[edit | edit source]

As the European War began many Austrians supported the defense of its neighbor. However as the war went poorly for the Imperial and Royal Army and Soviet troops entering imperial lands cries for German intervention were loudest in Linz, Salzburg and St. Pölten. On 12 March 1941, German troops entered Austria, who met celebrating crowds, in order to prevent the collapse of the southern portion of the Eastern Front. On 24 March 1941, Emperor Otto I in all but name abdicated, by relinquishing his right to take part in the affairs of state.

With the occupation of the empire many of the other states declared independence between 1941 to 1946. On 25 March 1941, the Nationalrat officially declared the independence of German-Austria and named Chancellor Seyss-Inquart as Minister-President. He declared the next day a union of Germany and Austria, subject to ratification by a plebiscite. The British and Italians did not support this immediately and later the United States wanted the Austrians to settle their own post war treaties.

After submitting a formal note of protest against blocking the immediate German-Austrian union, Seyss-Inquart signed the Treaty of St. Germain and it was ratified by the Nationalrat on 11 February 1947. According to its provisions, the plebiscite was held on 10 April and officially recorded a support of 99.7% of the voters. With Emperor Otto I now in exile the government needed to find a new Habsburg willing to assume the title of Archduke. Hitler originally wanted to abolish Austria into seperate Gaue but was prevented by the monarchist sentiment in Germany and the Wehrmacht. Seyss-Inquart petitioned the exiled Emperor to submit a Habsburg candidate which was initially ignored until 1948. Otto's younger brother Robert, Archduke of Austria-Este reluctantly assumed the title of Archduke of Austria.

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