The Occupation of Austria 1949

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Map Code: Ax00282

The Allied occupation of Austria began on 27 April 1945, and the US, UK, USSR and France agreed the borders of their occupation zones in July 1945. Vienna was also divided between the four Allied powers, although the historical centre of the city was declared an international zone, and the occupation forces rotated on a monthly basis. The Allied occupation force peaked in early 1946, at around 150,000 Soviet, 55,000 British, 40,000 Americans and 15,000 French troops – the Austrian state paid 35 per cent of the occupation bill. In November 1945 a coalition government was elected under Leopold Figl, and by June 1946 the Austrian parliament was effectively released from Allied control – only vetoes from all four Allied Powers were valid. Increasingly the Soviets were plundering their zone economically, expropriating domestic businesses, industrial plant and oil. Food supplies were critical and by 1947 shortages had reached crisis point. In 1949 Austria received its first instalment of Marshall Plan aid, much of which was channelled to the industrial heartlands around Linz and in Styria, controlled by the Americans and British respectively. In all, Austria received nearly $1 billion of aid. In the increasingly tense atmosphere of the Cold War the British and Americans were secretly training soldiers of the Austrian army and building up food stocks, fearing Vienna might be the scene of another Berlin-style blockade. But by 1950 the total number of occupying forces had reduced to 68,500, paving the way for the eventual withdrawal of Allied troops, agreed in July 1955, and the Declaration of Neutrality, issued on 26 October 1955, whereby it was agreed that Austria would never join a military alliance such as NATO or the Warsaw Pact.

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