Friday, October 25, 2013

Declaration of Neutrality: The Languages of Austria, Part 1

As we pre-empt Austria's national holiday, which occurs 26 October, we will be seeing which languages are spoken in the country. However, before we get onto the languages, today we'll be looking at the background and history as to why tomorrow is Austria's national holiday.

The national holiday was initially called Day of the Flag, at least from 1955 to 1965. It commemorated the Declaration of Neutrality, an act of the Austrian parliament which unsurprisingly declared Austria's neutrality.

Following the Second World War, Austria had been occupied in a similar fashion to Germany,j by Allied forces. Regions of Austria were split into zones of occupation between France, the UK, the US, and the Soviet Union.

The capital, Vienna, which sat within the Soviet Zone of Occupation, was also divided up into zones of occupation between the four powers.

The beautiful city of Vienna, as it was in 1640.
On 15 May 1955, the Austrian State Treaty was signed making Austria an independent nation. The treaty, which was signed by both Austria and the Allied nations that occupied it, came into effect on 27 July 1955.

The treaty expressed the minority rights of Slovenes and Croats, as well as banning a political union with Germany and prohibiting Nazi and fascist organisations. Austria stated that it would declare itself neutral, as the USSR did not wish for Austria to join NATO once Soviet troops had withdrawn.

Allied troops left Austria on 25 October 1955, and though it is sometimes thought that the Austrian national holiday the following day commemorates this, it in fact commemorates the Declaration of Neutrality, which was enacted on the 26 October 1955.

The declaration, which makes up part of Austria's Constitution, stipulates that Austria forever be neutral according to their constitution and international law.

We'll be back after the weekend with a look at the languages spoken in Austria.

Part 1 | Part 2