It’s Austria’s official birthday today. The Austrian National Day marks the birth of the Second Republic in 1955. Although the Austrian State Treaty was signed in May and came into force on the 27th July, it was the 26th October that was chosen to mark the start of the new independent, democratic state. On the day before the last foreign troops had left Austria, ending ten years of occupation, and so the 26th October 1955 saw the Austrian 2nd Republic enjoy its first day as an independent and sovereign state.
At the end of the Second World War, Austria was occupied by the Allied powers and divided into four zones overseen by the Soviet Union, Great Britain, United States and France respectively. The ten year occupation lasted much longer than most people had expected due to the deterioration of relationships between the allies and the struggle for whether the new Austria would become part of the Eastern or Western block.
Bring us back to the present day, I note that der Standard has an article (on its website) in which a national survey suggests that only 34% are ‘very proud’ to be Austrians compared to 42% respondents a year ago. This may in part be connected to the number of high profile scandals that have been enveloping the political parties over the last twelve months or so.
On a lighter note, I have to agree with the 86% who are proud of the scenic beauty of the country and the 66% who highlighted the high quality of life. As a vegetarian I’m less inclined to concur with the 68% who mentioned the quality of the local cuisine – this is a very meat orientated country and vegetarianism outside Vienna can be challenging at times – but they are probably right none the less 🙂