Schönbrunn Palace Gardens

May 14, 1933     9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Schönbrunn Palace Gardens

The Austrian Homeland Protection (Heimatschutz) holds a "Turks Deliverance Celebration" (Türkenbefreiungsfeier) in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace on May 14, 1933. 

Members of the paramilitary Home Guards (Heimwehren) arrive on chartered trains from all over the country, setting out in the early morning from the stations to the former imperial residence and grouping in the Baroque gardens by 9 a.m.  Depending on the political standpoint of the source, the participant numbers vary between 20,000 and 40,000.  Once the members of the federal government arrive, a Catholic Mass is read in the open air. The speeches commemorating the liberation from the second Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683 begin at 10:20 a.m. and are broadcast live on Radio Wien until 11:05 a.m.   Following an aerial parade of Home Guard planes, the troops march via the Schlossallee, Mariahilfer Strasse, Babenbergerstrasse, and Ringstrasse to Schwarzenbergplatz, where the first men arrive at around 1 p.m.

The idea for the rally originated from the federal leader of the Austrian Homeland Protection, Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg, who suggested holding a military review for propaganda purposes to Federal Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss and secured financial support from Benito Mussolini, Italy's Fascist prime minister. 

After Adolf Hitler had taken over as German chancellor at the end of January 1933, the Austrian government used the resignation of the presidents of the National Council in early March to adopt an authoritarian course of its own. The cabinet prevented parliament from working and governed by emergency decree. Although the 250th anniversary of Vienna's relief from the second Ottoman siege was not until September 12, the aim was to give a public signal of Austria as a sovereign German nation earlier in the year:

The Turks Deliverance Celebration of the Austrian Homeland Protection has the purpose of reminding the comrades, but also other broad sections of the population, of the world-historical fact that Christianity, German customs and culture, and thus also the then German Reich were rescued from Eastern barbarism 250 years ago on Austrian soil. 

For this purpose, the federal government not only gave permission to use the former Habsburg summer residence as the event venue, the Schönbrunn Palace gardens built mainly in the eighteenth century,

but granted exceptions to the current ban on parades on May 12, 1933. For "particular patriotic events promoting the state," the official communication stated, Security Minister Emil Fey, who was also the leader of the Vienna Home Guard, could permit political rallies in consultation with the chancellor. 

All three politicians—Fey, Starhemberg, and Dollfuss—appear as speakers at the "Turks Deliverance Celebration." In his address, Fey recalls the genealogical line leading from the events of 1683 to Austria's current situation. 

He refers to Count Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg, the city commandant who had defended Vienna against the Ottoman troops and whose descendant of the same name now hoped to play a significant role in the construction of the authoritarian "corporative state" (Ständestaat).  Starhemberg then addresses an appeal to Engelbert Dollfuss to put an end to the country's "dishonorable existence" and to protect the people from "party politics" and "class warfare": "Be that savior and be confident that everything supports you and everything is with you when you set about saving Austria."  

The federal chancellor, wearing the uniform of the Tyrolean Imperial Infantry (Tiroler Kaiserschützen), maintains that the government had achieved more in two months than the "parliamentary machinery" in the previous two years. He was not fighting people, he claims, but "false ideas," for after the end of the World War "the enemy has infiltrated the nation. Foreign spirit and foreign ideas," Dollfuss says, "have infected our people, and wreaked evil havoc." The aim, he states, is to "eradicate the red flood […] in its innermost ideas" and also to stand proudly against the National Socialist agitation: "We intend to renew the spirit in our homeland under the symbol under which the Christian Occident was liberated from the Asians 250 years ago, under the symbol of the simple Christian cross." 


The bourgeois newspapers also emphasized the idea that it was European culture that was defended in the summer of 1683. 

For the Neue Freie Presse, the Ottoman siege was a "world decision between Western and Eastern mankind," which had chosen Vienna as its arena.  In the magazine Das interessante Blatt, the then director of the Austrian State Archives, Heinrich Kretschmayr, described how the city had proven itself as a "barbican of Christendom." With the battle of liberation of September 12, 1683, the Habsburg Monarchy had become a "performer of an achievement restricted by neither state nor nation, a pan-European achievement."  At the "Turks Deliverance Celebration" of May 14, 1933, in contrast, the historical idea that the Occident was saved in Vienna served as motivation to maintain Austria as a sovereign nation. According to the Neues Wiener Tagblatt, in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace "men true to the homeland" made an "avowal to the German-Austrian stock's continuing will to live and to the resolution to continue the German mission in the southeast of the national settlement territory as an independent state, governing itself according to its own inherent laws." 

Whether Austria ought to continue to exist as an independent state had been a controversial subject since the end of World War I. The position that the small remainder of the former Habsburg Monarchy ought to join the German Reich was taken not only by the right wing, but also by the Social Democrats, who changed their opinion after the National Socialist "seizure of power." "Joining a free and peaceful Germany of the future remains our goal," their central party newspaper prints on Saturday, May 13, 1933, "we fight all efforts for Austria joining the Fascist and nationalist Germany of today, as a threat to the freedom of the Austrian people and to peace in Europe." 

While the National Socialists in the Engelmann Arena are calling for the two countries to merge, the Social Democratic Workers' Party encourages its supporters to attend the republican "freedom celebrations" taking place on Sunday morning in Vienna's municipal housing projects (Gemeindebauten)—the Karl Marx Hof, for instance. The Home Guard leaders, in contrast, turn their attention less to the future than to history, to a time "which we call the heroic age of Austria. A nation that does not honor its past has no future," wrote Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg in the closing remarks to the Instructions for the Turks Deliverance Memorial Ceremony in Vienna on May 14, 1933

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24 h
May 13, 1933 – 2 p.m.
May 14, 1933 – 2 p.m.

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