„L’Autriche c’est qu’il reste“, „L’Autriche se que reste“, „L’Autriche, c’est qui reste“, „L’Autriche c’est que reste“, „L’Autriche est ce qui reste“
It is significant that until the year 1928 there was no monument commemorating 12 November 1918. The monument to Dr. Karl Lueger erected by the bourgeois side in 1926 moved the Social Democrats to create their ‘own’ site of memory.
The law on the national holiday was followed shortly afterwards by one on a new coat of arms for the state, and in 1920 a melody by Wilhelm Kienzl, with words by Karl Renner, ‘Deutschösterreich du herrliches Land’ (‘German-Austria, thou splendid land’), was chosen as the national anthem. In particular the story of the origin of the anthem shows how difficult it was to find even symbols for the new state that its citizens could identify with.
The proclamation of the republic meant that new symbols of state had to be found in order to distinguish it from the old order. The law passed on 19 April 1919 made 12 November the national holiday. However, the degree of identification with the new holiday varied, reflecting the differences between the political camps.
‘An important day in the history of the world is over. From close up it does not look that wonderful.’ (Entry in the diary of Arthur Schnitzler)
In the First Republic the strong polarization between the working class and the bourgeoisie as well as the deep political mistrust between the Social Democrat and Christian Socialist parties also found expression in a divided culture of memory and in divided attitudes towards the most important sites of memory in the political world of the First Republic.
The economic situation of the population in the post-war years was desperate. Many people starved and froze: social unrest was the result. The country was dependent on deliveries of aid from abroad, but it was difficult to get these, as German-Austria was viewed with suspicion from all sides, on the one hand as bearing responsibility for the war and on the other because of its left-wing political leadership.
The way that foreign policy was conducted in Austria underwent a radical change in November 1918. Up to then it had been in the hands of the Emperor and the upper ranks of the aristocracy; now Otto Bauer, a Social Democrat, took over as Secretary of State in the State Office for Foreign Affairs.
How are the events before and at the time of the founding of the republic to be assessed? Did an ‘Austrian Revolution’ in fact take place, as Otto Bauer maintained in 1923? Historians have still not been able to agree on the answers.
The collapse of the Monarchy was preceded by mass strikes by the workforce. The one which was most successful and had the most consequences was the ‘January strike’ in 1918, which began in Wiener Neustadt on the morning of 14 January as a result of the very slow progress of the peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk and the catastrophic food and fuel supply situation. It spread to other factories and hence paralyzed the production of material needed for the war.
German-Austria is a democratic republic. All public powers are put into force by the people.
German-Austria is a constituent part of the German Republic. Special laws regulate the participation of German-Austria in the legislation and administration of the German Republic as well as the extension of the area of validity of the laws and institutions of the German Republic to German-Austria.
(Articles 1 and 2 of the new constitution of German-Austria)
‘… and then Fritz Adler will proclaim the Soviet Republic of Austria. What was shameful about the affair was not so much the childishness of this arrangement as the names which were to be found in connection with it: Rothziegel, Frey, Weihrauch, Ganser, Kisch, Waller etc., all of them Jews.’ (From the diary of Franz Brandl, a senior police official)