Vienna’s economy in the First World War
Vienna is normally thought of as a city of small businesses and consumer goods and semi-luxury industries. This image is inaccurate, however. In the last decades of the Danube monarchy Vienna had developed into a modern industrial city. After a transitional crisis in the first months of the war, the mechanical engineering, metalworking, electrical engineering and consumer goods industries proved vital to the war economy. The crisis was caused by the large number of men enlisted in the first months of the war, as well as transport problems and the conversion to armaments production. By autumn 1914 the war economy was fully functional and remained so until autumn 1917. The main armaments companies were concentrated in the industrial clusters in the south (Favoriten) and north-east (Floridsdorf) of the city, supplemented by a good number of large manufacturing companies in the 6th and 7th districts. Apart from the production of ammunition and clothing, the automobile and electrical engineering industries in particular experienced an enormous boom. Gradually, however, the lack of manpower, poor supply situation and increasing shortage of raw materials slowed down industrial output. Despite this, however, the war industry continued somehow to function until the end of the war and was still producing large quantities of war materials in 1918. Because of the working conditions in the large companies and the difficulties on the home front, however, the situation deteriorated, and there were massive strike movements.
Translation: Nick Somers