3 November 1918: The Austro-Hungarian Army lays down its arms

A refuge for wounded soldiers and officers of the Austro-Hungarian Army in the Karawanken mountain range: It's the first days in November of the year 1918, shortly before the armistice between Austria-Hungary and the Allied Powers. A colonel is being buried. Officers from all parts of the Dual Monarchy are standing next to his grave. They take turns throwing earth into his open grave, saying: "Earth from Hungary. Earth from Poland, Earth from Carinthia. Slovenian Earth. Czech Earth". The shovel is passed on to Dr Grün, the Jewish regiment physician. After a moment of hesitation he says: "Earth from Austria". Following the ceremony the soldiers and officers leave the refuge to return to their home countries which will no longer be the same. In these words Franz Theodor Csokor describes the events surrounding the armistice on 3 November 1918, in a play of the same name.

12 November 1918: Proclamation of the Republic of German Austria

On 11 November 1918, Emperor Karl I issues a proclamation to the Austrian people in which he relinquishes every participation in the administration of the state. He then retreats with his family to Schloss Eckartsau in Lower Austria. He didn't renounce his claim for rule which from his point of view remained legitimate. The proclamation ends with the words: "Only an internal peace will be able to heal the wounds of this war."

On 11 November 1918, a proposal is made to the provisional national assembly to establish a democratic Republic. The proposal which was drafted by Karl Renner is adopted. On 12 November, at around 3 pm, the provisional national assembly starts its session at the former Reichsratsgebäude. An hour later the result of the meeting is announced from the ramp of the Parliament as a statutory provision: the Proclamation of the Republic of German Austria.

The young Republic - a "tough birth"

Trouble starts as soon as the Republic is proclaimed. Tens of thousands of people have gathered along the Ringstraße. According to several renowned historians, many of them have no idea what is actually happening. Riots follow. When the red-white and red flags are hissed, they are torn down by members of the Red Guard who remove the white part and re-hiss them as red flags. In the ensuing tumult shots are being fired leaving two people dead and injuring 40 more. The first hours of the Republic are overshadowed by outrage and violence. From its very outset, the young Republic of German Austria is marked by significant political and economic difficulties, a situation which in 1919 is rather aggravated than eased.

Contact for this page:
Public Relations (Municipal Department 53)
Contact form