Note: This entry is for the modern state, the Republic of Austria. Please click here for information on the Austrian Empire.
As World War I drew to a close, Austria-Hungary concluded an armistice with the Allied powers on November 3, 1918; several of its minorities (the Czechoslovaks, Yugoslavs, and Hungarians) had already declared their independence. Emperor Charles I abdicated on November 12, 1918, and an Austrian Republic was proclaimed on November 13, 1918. Since the post-World War II period, the United States and Austria have enjoyed strong relations.
U.S. Recognition of Austrian Independence, 1921.
The United States recognized the Republic of Austria on August 24, 1921, with the signing of a Treaty Establishing Friendly Relations in Vienna.
Austria-Hungary had severed diplomatic relations with the United States on April 8, 1917, after the United States declared war on Germany. The United States did not declare war on Austria-Hungary until December 7, 1917. The tenth of President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points called for free opportunities for the “autonomous development” of the peoples of Austria-Hungary. The United States did not ratify the Treaty of St-Germain (September 10, 1919) which recognized the independence of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland and formally dissolved the Dual Monarchy. Congress passed a Joint Resolution ending the state of war with Austria-Hungary on July 2, 1921, opening the way for the establishment of relations with the Austrian Republic.
After the Anschluss of 1938 incorporated Austria into Nazi Germany, the U.S. Legation in Vienna was closed and became a Consulate General. The Vienna Consulate General was closed July 9, 1941, along with all other U.S. consulates in Germany.
A U.S. consular post has been intermittently maintained in Salzburg since World War II. It opened as a Consulate in 1948 and was upgraded to a Consulate General in 1961, only to close in 1963. It reopened in 1973 and closed again in 1980. It reopened as a Consulate General in 1983, became a Consular Agency in 1996, and closed on March 31, 2006.
Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, 1921.
A Treaty Establishing Friendly Relations was signed between the Republic of Austria and the United States Government in Vienna on August 24, 1921. It was proclaimed to be in effect on November 8, 1921.
Establishment of American Legation in Austria 1921.
Arthur Hugh Frazier was appointed Chargé d’Affaires to Austria and presented his credentials on November 26, 1921. The first U.S. Minister, Albert Henry Washburn, was appointed on February 10, 1922, and presented his credentials on June 19, 1922. He served until his death on April 29, 1930.
The Austrian Republic’s first diplomatic representative in the United States was Edgar L. G. Prochnik, who presented his credentials on December 27, 1921. Prochnik was promoted to Minister and presented his new credentials on May 7, 1925.
The Anschluss, Closure of the American Legation in Vienna, and post-World War II Revival of Austrian Independence, 1936-48.
Nazi Germany annexed Austria in March 1938. The senior U.S. representative in Vienna was Chargé d’Affaires John C. Wiley (Minister Grenville T. Emmett had died September 26, 1937). He closed the Legation on April 30, 1938, and it became a Consulate General, a step that Secretary of State Cordell Hull noted had to be taken “as a practical measure.” On November 1, 1943, at the end of the Moscow Conference, the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union agreed that Austria’s annexation by Germany was “null and void,” and that they favored the re-establishment of “a free and independent Austria.”
A provisional government was established in Austria on April 25, 1945, and a Democratic Republic of Austria was proclaimed on May 14. On August 8, 1945, Austria and Vienna were divided into four occupation zones, with an Allied Council for Austria assuming authority over matters affecting the whole country. On January 7, 1946, the Four Powers recognized the Austrian Republic within its 1937 boundaries.
Re-establishment of Diplomatic Relations, 1946.
John G. Erhardt was appointed as the U.S. Political Representative to the Austrian Government on January 21, 1946. He was appointed Minister to Austria on August 3. He presented his credentials on September 7, and served until June 27, 1950.
Ludwig Kleinwaechter was recognized as Austria’s first postwar representative to the United States on January 21, 1946. He was promoted to Minister and presented his new credentials on December 4, 1946. He was promoted to Ambassador and presented his new credentials on December 19, 1951.
Elevation of American Legation to Embassy Status, 1951.
American Minister Walter J. Donnelly was promoted to Ambassador on November 16, 1951. He presented his credentials on November 28, and served until July 19, 1952.
Other U.S. Diplomatic Missions in Vienna
Vienna is the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The United States has had a representative there since 1957.
The United States also appointed a Representative to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in 1968. In 1983, both missions were combined into the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna.
Treaties and Agreements
The U.S. treaty “establishing friendly relations” with the Austrian Republic was signed in Vienna on August 24, 1921, and entered into force on November 8, 1921. It opened the way for the resumption of diplomatic relations.
Key Diplomatic Events
On May 15, 1955, the Four Powers (the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union) signed the Austrian State Treaty in Vienna, which ended the four-power occupation and declared Austria to be a free, independent, and neutral state.
- Bevans, Charles I. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949. Volume 5: Afghanistan-Burma. Department of State Publication 8543, October 1970.
- CIA World Factbook: Austria
- Department of State Country Fact Sheet: Austria
- Department of State Country Information: Austria
- Department of State. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1921. Volume I. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1936.
- Library of Congress Country Study: Austria
- Miller, Hunter. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America: Volume 3, Documents 41-79: 1819-35). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1933.