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50 Years of the Austrian Federal Army

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On the 15th of May 1955 the State Treaty was signed in Belvedere Palace in Vienna, thereby restoring sovereignty to Austria after 10 years of occupation by the Allied Powers and entitling it to once again have its own armed forces. In September 1955 the Military Law was enacted, providing the basis for the army of the Second Republic, followed in October by the declaration of permanent neutrality. On July 5th 1956 Ferdinand Graf was appointed First Minister for National Defence, and on February 3rd 1956 the first Sergeants and Lieutenants were sworn in at Vienna's Fasanenkaserne barracks. The new army passed its first test when it was deployed on the Hungarian border in October 1956. In 1957 the first Military Attaches were dispatched abroad, in 1958 the first large-scale unit manoeuvres were held, and in 1960 a medical corps was sent to the Congo on the first deployment abroad under the auspices of the UN.

The general public will be able to learn more about this and the varied history of the Federal Army in a project combining word, visuals and sound, entitled "50 Years of the Austrian Federal Army" , to be launched in 2005.

A large-scale competition to design a special stamp to commemorate "50 Years of the Austrian Federal Army" drew hundreds of entrants. A jury awarded first prize to the Tyrolean Markus Kapferer, whose design uses graphic media to create a collage comprising a photograph of Sub-lieutenant Horst Konrad (Military Command, Tyrol), the national coat of arms and the national flag. His intention is to portray tradition and the patriotism of young, motivated soldiers. The stamp artist deliberately gave the soldier an androgynous face to document the fact that since 1998 there has been full equal recognition for men and women in the discharge of duties in the Austrian Army.

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