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60 years of the Second Republic – 50 years since the State Treaty

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The struggle for Austria's freedom was long and difficult, but the determination for liberty and independence was strong. Many leading personalities such as Renner, Figl and Raab to name but three worked tirelessly and resolutely to achieve it.

It took over 10 years after the foundation of the Second Republic before the State Treaty could finally be signed. Even before the war ended, political parties formed and began to plan Austria's future. 27.04.1945 marks the birth of the Second Republic, when the newly formed provisional government under Dr. Karl Renner proclaimed the reestablishment of the Republic of Austria.

On the next day, the new federal government was presented to parliament, and adopted a law reinstalling the 1929 constitution on 1.5.1945. As a symbol of the general reconstruction of Austria, Secretary of State Julius Raab announced that the State Opera House would be reconstructed. The Allies occupied Austria, dividing the country into four occupation zones. On 1.9.1945, the Soviet Union ended its occupation of Vienna, which, like Berlin, was divided up and placed under the authority of a joint administration. The new government was officially recognised by the four occupying powers on 20.10.1945, and the first free national, regional and local elections were held on 25.11.1945. The Second Republic finally acquired its own new currency, the Austrian Schilling. The government under Chancellor Leopold Figl formed after the general election was recognised by the Allied Council, and the Constitutional Transition Act was adopted one day later. The next day saw the unanimous election by the new National Assembly of Dr. Karl Renner as the first Federal President of the Second Republic.

The struggle for Austria's freedom continued, finally bearing fruit in 1955. Julius Raab, Federal Chancellor since 1953, together with his government delegation, flew to Moscow for discussions in April 1955. These negotiations and their conclusion in the form of the Moscow Memorandum proved to be the decisive breakthrough on the path to freedom. The ambassadors of the four occupying powers began a final round of preparations on May 2, reaching their conclusion on May 13.

On May 15, 1955, the State Treaty establishing an independent and democratic Austria was finally sealed in the famous Marble Hall of Belvedere Palace, returning full sovereignty to the country. The document bears nine signatures, those of the Foreign Ministers and High Commissioners of each of the occupying powers, Vjacheslav M. Molotov and Iovan I. Iljichov for the USSR, Harold Macmillan and Geoffrey A. Wallinger for Great Britain, John Foster Dulles and Llewellyn E. Thompson for the United States of America and Antoine Pinay and Roger Lalouette for France, while Leopold Figl signed for Austria. "Austria is free!" was the proclamation that went down in history. The population rejoiced when their Foreign Minister signed the State Treaty on the balcony of Belvedere Palace. The Treaty finally entered into effect on 27.7.1955.

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