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Austria, 1953

zita kisgergely

Austria 1953

Perhaps it is not known to everyone that similar to Germany, Austria was divided into four occupation zones after World War II, with Vienna being divided into sectors, much as Berlin was. If the Soviets had stayed a little longer, the Hungarian refugees of 1956 would have had no chance to flee to the West.

Headquarters of the Soviet military government in Vienna.


In the final hours of World War II the Soviet troops were still in Austria. The incursion of the Americans took place from Germany resulting in their occupation of the western area of the country. Although Stalin acknowledged Austria as part of the western sphere of influence, the Soviet troops grabbed the opportunity and established themselves in Vienna, Burgenland, and Lower Austria, even snatching a small part of Upper Austria. After World War II came to an end, armies of the winning powers invaded Austria and the country, divided into four occupation zones, remained under occupation for a decade until 1955.

 Vienna, just like Berlin, was subdivided into sectors:

Illustration credit: wikipedia

Austria was fortunate enough not to be regarded as a collaborator of Germany but as a state conquered by the Nazi state after the war. This explains how the country could keep its 1938 borders and was not obliged to pay compensation. Over five percent of of the Marshall Plan funds landed in the country, which amounted to 726 million USD at the time.

The Soviets marched out of Austria in 1955, like the troops of the other occupying allies, so it is from this date that the country was once again considered an independent republic.

 Communist influence increased in the Soviet sector (as well as in Salzburgland, Tirol, and Carinthia) after the war. The communists participated in Austrian legislation with gradually decreasing support until 1959.

Johann Koplenig, leader of the Austrian Communist Party, the KPÖ, organised a nationwide general strike in 1950 (only implicitly supported by the Soviets) and attempted a bloodless coup in order to seize power. After they failed for the second time in 1955, the Soviets finally abandoned their efforts to politically influence Austria and, little more than one year before the Hungarian revolution was suppressed, they left the country.

These photos were taken by Irma Louise Carter, about whom we were unable to collect any information. Most probably she was an American woman who had travelled to Vienna from the American sector. Unique color photos follow.

Monument of the 17 thousand Soviet soldiers who died in the battles fought for Vienna. When the Soviets left the country in 1955, they had the permanent integrity of the statue included in the Austrian State Treaty.

 New apartments are being built in the Soviet sector. It is unbelievable that its name is still Karl-Marx Hof.

 A building damaged in a bomb attack serving as advertisement surface

 Ruins are cleaned and reconstruction is under way along Donaukanal

 Construction everywhere

 Soviet military patrol boats on the Danube

 Entry to the Soviet zone

 The rebuilt Parliament on the Ring

 City Hall park


 Mozart monument

 Old meets new

 Der Liebe Augustin, the oldest inn in Vienna, still open today

 Marching of the police orchestra

 The new Westbahnhof



 Cobenzl Restaurant

This article was translated from an article originally posted in Hungarian by Jtom on the blog

The photos are sourced from the collection of P D Thorne at Found Slides.