Austria is Free – The State Treaty

Oesterreich ist frei der staatsvertrag

What exactly was that about the famous words “Austria is free”? When and where were these spoken, and especially by whom?

After the 2nd World War (1939-1945) and the following ten years of occupation, Austria regained its independence in 1955 and became a sovereign state. In its most important provisions, the Austrian State Treaty stipulates that Austria is restored as an independent, democratic state within the borders of 1 January 1938.

Lengthy negotiations had preceded. Drafts to be jointly discussed by the four Allies (USA, Soviet Union, Great Britain, France) from 1946 onwards failed, among other things, because of the Soviet position on the question of “German ownership” in Austria.

According to a decision of the Potsdam Conference of August 1, 1945, the occupying powers could claim the property of the German Reich located in their zones. While the Western powers left this to the Republic of Austria, the Soviet Union took it in full.

These assets were long an obstacle to the conclusion of the State Treaty, which had actually been planned for 1950. It was thus delayed for another five years. It was not until April 1955 that a turnaround in foreign policy became apparent.

Federal Chancellor Julius Raab and Foreign Minister Leopold Figl were both instrumental in bringing about the State Treaty . Raab is said to have traveled to Moscow with the Austrian delegation immediately after Stalin’s death and persuaded the Russians to agree to it

On the eve of the signing in Vienna, he had beguiled the Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov with zither music , while the hard-drinking Leopold Figl had secured the deletion of the reference to war complicity from the treaty. Figl is said to have whispered in Raab ‘s ear: “Raab – now the Reblaus and then you’re awake.

The passage was indeed deleted from the State Treaty, although we do not know whether this really had anything to do with the famous Heurigenlied of the “Reblaus”.

The signing of the State Treaty took place on May 15, 1955 in the Marble Hall of Belvedere Palace . Present were the foreign ministers of the four occupying powers – Molotov for the Soviet Union, Macmillan for Britain, Dulles for the United States, and Pinay for France.

Leopold Figl concluded his acceptance speech with the spontaneous words “Austria is free,” which were not provided for in the minutes. The newsreel showed in its report how Figl presented the treaty to the cheering people on the balcony. Everyone thought the famous phrase was shouted to the people from the balcony. This could not have worked at all. Due to the noise level of the cheering crowd, the famous words could not have been heard there.

Time Travel Tip: In the Upper Belvedere is the famous Marble Hall, from which you have a beautiful view of the city.

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