Republic of German-Austria
|Republic of German-Austria|
|Unrecognised rump state; unofficial state of the Weimar Republic|
Provinces claimed by German Austria. The border of the subsequent First Austrian Republic is outlined in red.
|Historical era||Aftermath of World War I|
|•||Proclamation by Charles I||11 November 1918|
|•||Republic declared||12 November 1918|
|•||Reichsrat claims Cisleithania||
22 November 1918
|•||Treaty of St Germain||10 September 1919|
|•||Ratified by Reichsrat||21 October 1919|
The Republic of German-Austria (German: Republik Deutschösterreich or Deutsch-Österreich) was created following World War I as the initial rump state for areas with a predominantly German-speaking population within what had been the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
German-Austria 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; and Sudetenland and German Bohemia (which later became part of Sudetenland), now in the 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.
In Habsburg Austria-Hungary, "German-Austria" was an unofficial term for the areas of the empire inhabited by Austrian Germans. With the impending collapse of the empire in late 1918, ethnic German deputies to the Cisleithanian Austrian parliament (Reichsrat) last elected in 1911 sought to form a new rump state of German-Austria. It declared a "provisional national assembly of the independent German Austrian state" and 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 adhere to the new state of Czechoslovakia which had been declared on October 28, 1918.
On November 11, 1918, Emperor Charles I relinquished his right to take part in Austrian affairs of state. The next day, November 12, the National Assembly officially declared German-Austria a republic, and named Karl Renner as provisional chancellor. It drafted a provisional constitution that stated that "German-Austria is a democratic republic" (Article 1) and "German-Austria is a component 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 viable as a separate state, and the only course was union with Germany. This was grounded in the view that Austria had never been a nation in the true sense. While the Austrian territory had existed in one form or another for over 700 years within the Holy Roman Empire and later the German Confederation, its only unifying force had been the Habsburgs.
Later plebiscites in the provinces of Tyrol and Salzburg yielded majorities of 98 and 99% in favor of a unification with Germany whereas Vorarlberg held a plebiscite where 81% supported accession to the Switzerland. On November 22, the national assembly officially laid claim to all ethnic German areas of Cisleithania. However, the Allies of World War I opposed such a move and German-Austria was largely powerless to resist the forces of Italy, Czechoslovakia, and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) from seizing territory.
On September 10, 1919, Renner signed the Treaty of Saint Germain and it was ratified by the national assembly on October 21. According to its provisions, the country had to change its name from "German Austria" to "Austria". It also lost the Sudetenland and German Bohemia to Czechoslovakia, South Tyrol to Italy, and southern Carinthia and Styria to Yugoslavia. Article 88 of the treaty, sometimes called a "pre-Anschluss attempt", stated that "the independence of Austria is inalienable otherwise than with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations"—in effect, barring 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.
German-Austria originally consisted of nine provinces (Provinzen):
- Upper Austria (Oberösterreich), all of the current Austrian state of Upper Austria plus the Bohemian Forest region (Böhmerwaldgau) now in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic;
- Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), all of the current Austrian state of Lower Austria and the city-state of Vienna, plus German South Moravia (Deutschsüdmähren), now divided between the Czech regions of South Bohemia, Vysočina, and South Moravia;
- German Bohemia (Deutschböhmen), areas of western Bohemia that were later part of Sudetenland from 1938–45, now part of the Czech Republic;
- Sudetenland, parts of the historical regions of Moravia and Austrian Silesia. Boundaries do not correspond to later use of the term Sudetenland.
- Styria (Steiermark), most of historical Styria including the current Austrian state of Styria and the north-eastern part of the Slovenian informal region of Lower Styria;
- Salzburg, all of the current Austrian state of Salzburg;
- Carinthia (Kärnten), all of historical Carinthia including the current Austrian state of Carinthia, the Slovenian unofficial region of Carinthia, the Slovenian municipality of Jezersko and the now Italian municipalities of Tarvisio, Malborghetto Valbruna and Pontebba;
- German Tyrol (Deutschtirol), most of historical Tyrol including the current Austrian state of Tyrol and the present-day Italian province of South Tyrol, but not the current Italian province of Trentino;
- Vorarlberg, all of the current Austrian state of Vorarlberg.
Several German minority populations in Moravia, including German populations in Brünn (Brno), Iglau (Jihlava) and Olmütz (Olomouc), as well as the German enclave of Gottschee (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. 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 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.
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.
- The Kingdom of Hungary had become the Hungarian Democratic Republic in 1918.
- "Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Austria; Protocol, Declaration and Special Declaration  ATS 3". Austlii.edu.au. Retrieved 2011-06-15.