Austria Honours 70th Anniversary of The Foundation Of The 2nd Republic

DSC_0592A state ceremony was held in Vienna’s Hofburg Palace on Monday April 27 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the second Republic of Austria. The German President Joachim Gauck accompanied by Mrs Daniela Schadt attended the ceremony.

In April 1945 Austrian statesman Karl Renner declared Austria separate from Germany and set up a government which included socialists, conservatives and communists.

A significant number of these were returning from exile or had been imprisoned by the Nazis, and thus had played no role in the Nazi government.

This contributed to the Allies treating Austria more as a liberated, rather than defeated, country, and the government was recognized by the Allies later that year.

Austria was occupied by the Allies from May 9th 1945 and was divided into four Zones controlled by American, British, French and Soviet Army personnel, with Vienna being also divided into four sectors – with an International Zone at its heart.

President Dr. Heinz Fischer said: Today we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of our Second Republic and thus restoring an independent and democratic Austria in April 1945. From March 1938 to April 1945 Austria was wiped off the map. These were years of an inhuman dictatorship, a terrible war and the incredible Holocaust.

He added: “On April 27, 1945 with the declaration of independence, the Republic of Austria re-established as an independent democratic state.

President Fischer said that some said that Austria – and therefore the Austrians – were the first victims of Hitler. The summary of this widespread view was: The evils of Nazism came from outside, the orders came from above, and we were the victims.

The other recalled that Hitler had been received in Austria with great jubilation that the swastika flags were already attached to many homes before the first German soldier had set foot on Austrian soil and the Austrians, therefore, and in the further development, including crimes war crimes, have to bear their proportionate share of blame and responsibility.

The truth is probably that many Austrians were undoubtedly opponents and victims of the Nazi system, but depressingly large part were sympathizers, supporters and even ruthless criminals. In addition, conscious looking away, light-headedness or opportunism have facilitated the ruling regime to pursue its goals and achieve.

Fischer urged Austrians to “resist the beginnings” of any of the sentiments that led to their country’s embrace of Hitler.

Austria long portrayed itself as a victim of Nazi Germany, which annexed the country in 1938. But politicians have since owned up to its role as a major perpetrator of Nazi atrocities.

Fischer said that while many Austrians were opposed to the Nazis or were Nazi victims, “a depressingly large number were sympathizers (and) supporters.”

DSC_0668aGerman President Joachim Gauck delivered in Vienna 70 years to the day since the founding of the second Austrian republic in which he called on the EU to show unity in its foreign policy.
President Gauck spoke of how while battles still raged Berlin, a new Austrian government proclaimed the restoration of a democratic republic.

“Filled with relief, the people of Vienna danced the waltz through the ruins of their city,” Gauck said according to a manuscript of his speech published on his official website, adding that “the citizens of the republic of Austria and the citizens of Germany know full well why we recognize the end of the national socialist reign of terror as liberation.”

In reference to current events, Gauck said that in some European and EU countries, he saw threats to the rule of law and pluralism, in others the growth of populist and nationalist movements and parties. Gauck also referred to Britain’s precarious position in the EU and the danger posed by Islamist terror organizations as reasons why a “coordinated and collective” EU-wide approach to foreign policy was needed.

“If there’s no longer any guarantee that human rights will be respected everywhere in Europe, then the members of the European Union have to reflect anew on their common security,” he said, urging unity in Europe in the face of the current conflict in Ukraine.

Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt were greeted by Austrian President Heinz Fischer (pictured above.) Germany’s President was due to travel to Tunisia later on Monday. DPA.

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