“RED VIENNA” 1923-1933: HOUSING REFORMS

Vienna council house complex “Sandleiten” in the 16th district

For the Christian Socialists Catholicism remained the central value, whereas the focus of the Social Democrats was on a welfare system that cared for the individual from the “cradle to the grave”. By establishing numerous clubs, societies and associations they tried to build a “counter-culture” to the traditional conservative Catholic Austrian culture. The centre of this huge reform project was “Red Vienna”, which was an independent federal state since 1921 and ruled by Social Democrats. There they could realise all their ideas for a new society. The new council houses were not only symbols of a new and better life style for the working classes but also architectural landmarks. They represented the centres of this counter-culture and harboured also offices of the various clubs and party organisations. By the conservatives they were viewed as the fortresses of the left.…

VIENNA, THE “CAPITAL OF CENTRAL EUROPE”: POLITICAL CLIMATE IN THE LAST DECADES OF THE EMPIRE

Vienna Woods, “Schwarzenbergpark”

The Catholic church fostered several varieties of social thought in Austria. Chief among those was the Christian Socialism disseminated by Karl Baron von Vogelsang (1818-1890). During the 1880s his writings paved the way for Karl Lueger’s founding of the Christian Socialist Party. A converted Prussian protestant, he came to Vienna to edit the Catholic daily “Vaterland”. He wanted Christian ethics to replace capitalist competition and state socialism and Marxism only added to the evils of capitalism and liberalism in his opinion. In contrast with all these systems, Vogelsang sought not to increase productivity or to expand political rights, but to restore the hierarchical structure of medieval society. Vogelsang desired every business to become an industrial “family”, in which workers and owners would share management, each firm would belong to a branch corporation and each of these to the Industrial Chamber, where workers and owners would legislate economic and social policy for each industry. Artisans would be required to join a guild, which would fix the numbers of masters and apprentices. This medieval institution would shield its members from the dangers of individualism. But this sort of Catholic socialism could not stem the rise of anti-clericalism. In the forefront of anti-clericals, Social Democrats and free-thinkers denounced the control that the church retained over marriage and primary education. Catholics who married outside their faith were faced with so many impediments that in 1914 approximately 1 mill common-law marriages existed in the empire. The church further prohibited divorce and forbade former priests to marry, all of which contributed to the popularity of the “Los-von-Rom” movement. Concerning anti-Semitism the clergy was openly divided. Parish clergy, who were recruited from the lower middle class, often scandalised the episcopacy by openly preaching anti-Semitism. In 1898 the Viennese anti-Semite Georg Ritter von Schönerer (1842-1921) initiated the “Los-von-Rom” movement protesting against the power of the state church and offering a rehearsal for an eventual union of Cisleithania(western part of the empire) and the German Empire. In Austria Christian Socialism somehow blunted the “Los-von-Rom” movement. Although it did not perceptibly weaken the church, Schönerer’s success in branding the Roman Catholic Church an enemy of Germans predisposed some Catholics to accept Hitler’s anti-clericalism.…