How Austria Cleverly Avoided Germany’s Fate After WWII

Austria’s Neutrality in the Shadow of Superpowers

Grant Piper

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Austria occupation zones (Wikipedia)

On March 16th, 1945, over a million soldiers of the Red Army assembled for a massive push into Austria. The goal of the offensive was the capture of the key city of Vienna, a cultural heart of the German Reich. Four weeks later, on April 10th, Vienna was seized by Red Army forces. The bloody offensive cost the Soviets another 167,000 casualties, added to the millions already suffered.

On April 15th, Vienna was declared secure, and just two weeks later, Austria declared itself independent from Germany. After Austria declared independence from Nazi Germany, the question became what to do with the state.

Much like Germany proper, Austria was carved up into four separate occupation zones administered by the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. Vienna, the grand old city of Europe, was divided into separate occupation zones to mirror what would happen to Berlin. After it was finished, Austria looked very much like Germany. The country was divided; Vienna, the capital, was divided and surrounded on all sides by Soviet-occupied territory.

The same problems that would plague the divided Germany to the north would dog Austria as well. What would happen to the country? Would the…

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Grant Piper

Professional writer. Amateur historian. Husband, father, Christian.