The "" (Türkenbefreiungsfeier) in Vienna on May 14, 1933, was held by a paramilitary organization, which was composed of regional "Home Guards" (Heimwehren) and from 1931 called itself the "Austrian Homeland Protection" (Österreichischer Heimatschutz). The Habsburg Monarchy had collapsed at the end of World War I and the new Republic of (German-)Austria was still a fragile state. "We had heard of the soviet dictatorship in Hungary and Bavaria," one of the first Home Guard members explained retrospectively, "and didn't know how things would pan out, so we prepared for all eventualities." In 1923 the associations in the western provinces joined forces as the so-called "Alpine Club" (Alpenklub) and elected the member of the Tyrolean provincial parliament Richard Steidle their chairman. Four years later, Steidle was also appointed the first federal leader of the Austrian Home Guards.
This federal structure was reflected in the "Turks Deliverance Celebration," to which Home Guard members traveled from all parts of Austria by chartered trains. Some formations wore their regional dress, but many abided by the instructions for the rally that had been published by the federal leadership and wore the green windbreaker that had served as the Home Guard uniform since 1927—together with a Tyrolean hat complete with grouse feather. What the Homeland Protectors viewed as an expression of their down-to-earth attitude was considered by their political opponents, namely the Social Democrats, proof of just how provincial and backward the "rooster tails" (Hahnenschwänzler) were. Like the Homeland Protection in general, the "Turks Deliverance Celebration" was intended to have a military quality. This being said, the ordinary participants in the parade were unarmed, and it could not be claimed that they had had professional combat training. While the first Home Guards had been founded by former soldiers who had equipped themselves with ex-army weapons, the military training of later, younger members was largely perfunctory. This was an organization of volunteers, meaning the men could take part in the gatherings and exercises, but they were not obliged to do so.
attempted to further the militarization of the Homeland Protection by fielding exemplary Home Guard troops in his homeland, the Mühlviertel in Upper Austria. With the fortune that he had inherited after his father's death in 1927, Starhemberg armed some "ranger battalions" (Jägerbataillone) and marched through towns and cities with his men to appeal to the public. From a political perspective, his investments paid off; after all, he was appointed federal leader of the Austrian Home Guards in 1930. However, Starhemberg had incurred such debts in the process that he had to temporarily stand down from office. From 1932, funding came from , who had supported the Home Guards with money and weapons as early as 1927/28. It was also the Italian prime minister who paid for the "Turks Deliverance Celebration" on May 14, 1933, which was supposed to be orchestrated as a march on "."
Whereas the Homeland Protection's own press spoke of over 40,000 men having taken part in the rally, the number of participants was estimated at under 20,000 in the newspapers of the opposition. In view of the fact that it was a military event, but only around 35,000 people were members of the armed units of the Austrian Homeland Protection in 1933, the number 40,000 does indeed seem too optimistic. However, the photographs and films of the parade do confirm participation on a massive scale, which probably surpassed the expectations of the federal leadership and their political opponents alike. As a thematic framework, Starhemberg—inspired by his aristocratic family history—had chosen Vienna's liberation from the Ottoman siege in 1683, the 250th anniversary of which would actually only fall in mid-September 1933. Besides, the speeches at the rally emphasized the current front lines, against National Socialism on the one hand, which was threatening Austrian sovereignty, but primarily against Social Democracy and the liberal worldview as a whole.
This positioning was in keeping with Mussolini's demands of the policies implemented by the Austrian Federal Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, whose cabinet had been ruling by emergency decree since early March 1933. Already on March 24, pre-censorship was imposed on the Arbeiter-Zeitung, the main organ of Social Democracy, and the Republican Protection League (Republikanischer Schutzbund), the Social Democratic counterpart to the Home Guards, was disbanded one week later. The ban on parades, which had prohibited the Viennese Social Democrats' traditional Labor Day Parade on May 1, was repealed for the "Turks Deliverance Celebration" with the justification that it was a particularly patriotic event. In contrast to Mussolini's "March on Rome" from 1922, it was therefore not about state power, which had long been in the hands of the conservative and increasingly authoritarian parties, but rather about a "relief of Vienna," a liberation of the capital from usurpers who were attempting to establish a model socialist region there. A farmer from Lower Austria who had taken part in the "Turks Deliverance Celebration" noted in his chronicle:
The battle against the "reds," who had ostensibly been working toward a proletarian revolution since the end of the monarchy and been occupying Vienna City Hall, was a driving force for the Austrian Home Guards from the outset. Alleged evidence of these dangers was provided by a passage from the program of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria, which had been adopted in Linz in 1926 and clearly committed the party to the democratic system of government but in the event of a bourgeois "counterrevolution" did not exclude "breaking the bourgeoisie's resistance with the means of a dictatorship." Opposition to the supposedly imminent "dictatorship of the proletariat" was offered in the form of a pledge by the Home Guards, which was declared during a leaders' conference in Korneuburg, Lower Austria, in May 1930. The so-called "Korneuburg Oath" (Korneuburger Eid) repudiated "Western democratic parliamentarianism" and called for the establishment of an authoritarian corporative state, which was generally understood as an avowal of Fascism.
The Homeland Protection was represented by its political party, the Homeland Block (Heimatblock), in the federal government formed by Engelbert Dollfuss in May 1932. Alongside Guido Jakoncig, who served as trade minister from the outset, Vienna's Home Guard leader Emil Fey was appointed state secretary of public safety in fall 1932 and security minister on May 10, 1933, i.e., four days before the "Turks Deliverance Celebration." The federal chancellor's Christian Social Party was increasingly authoritarian and just as right-wing as the peasant Rural Federation (Bäuerlicher Landbund), the third coalition partner, with the difference that the Homeland Block—and the Homeland Protection in general—openly advocated (Austro-)Fascism. "Away with parliament—a dictatorship is needed!," demanded Federal Leader Starhemberg on February 20, 1933, during a speech in Vienna's Konzerthaus, claiming "that the ideas of Fascism alone are capable of saving the world." The possibility for this radical political change opened up as early as the beginning of the following month, when the federal government used the resignation of the presidents of the National Council to abolish fundamental rights like freedom of the press and assembly using emergency decrees.
With the support of Mussolini, Starhemberg suggested to the federal chancellor in April 1933 that a "Turks Deliverance Celebration" be held in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace with a subsequent parade into the inner city of Vienna, namely as a public avowal of what he called "Austrofascism" and Dollfuss the "corporative state" (Ständestaat). The content of the speeches given by Fey, Starhemberg, and Dollfuss on May 14 was entirely in line with the political demands set out by the Home Guard leaders in Korneuburg in 1930. The chancellor denounced the "parliamentary machinery," announced a "corporative state" and a "Fatherland Front," which was founded just one week later as a unity party, and pledged "allegiance upon allegiance" to Starhemberg on the garden-side terrace of the palace building, in front of the eyes and ears of the thousands of Home Guard members who had traveled to Vienna for the rally, as well as the and of the journalists in attendance. It was no accident that the Homeland Protection subsequently emphasized that the Korneuburg Oath had become Austria's state program at the "Turks Deliverance Celebration" on May 14, 1933.
The official part of the rally began at 9:45 a.m., when Dollfuss, Starhemberg, and Fey inspected and saluted the troops standing in formation in the to the sound of the . The federal chancellor and the Home Guard leaders turned their attention pro forma to the front row, the assault company equipped with steel helmets. From a historical perspective, however, this inspection was based on the thorough "mustering" of mercenaries, as had been customary in Europe since the fifteenth century. Only those soldiers who were in good condition were enlisted. Louis XIV expanded this military examination in the seventeenth century by reviewing his moving guards from 1666. That means that the soldiers had to not only stand still in front of the French king but also maneuver with their weapons.
In an Austrian "drill with weapons" (Exercitium mit dem Feuergewehr) from the period around 1700, fifty-six movements and maneuvers were listed, from "(1) Present arms" to "(10) Fire" and "(38) Fix bayonets" to "(56) Shoulder arms," and a further hundred commands were recorded for the "evolutions," i.e., maneuvers. Over the course of the eighteenth century, especially in Prussia, a veritable "theater of war" developed, during which the troops were arranged in various geometric formations. Besides the Baroque aesthetics, the rationale behind drills was to rehearse basic military virtues, namely hierarchical classification and physical discipline. That the drill was intended to be more than a practical preparation for war, however, is demonstrated by the Prussian drill regulations from 1743, for example, which state: "Foremost during a drill must be to tame a fellow and teach him a soldier's air in order to banish the peasant in him […]." The aim was a soldierly bearing, which shaped not only the body but also the morale. On the one hand, the soldier had to discharge his duty precisely in the platoon, even in life-threatening situations, and on the other be a model of decency in civilian settings.
played an ambivalent role in the development of military parades. For one thing, he is symbolic of the militarization of the courtly festive culture customary throughout Europe in the late eighteenth century. He had his portrait painted in uniform as the emperor of the French and regularly held reviews, during which he inspected the soldiers' condition and equipment in detail. Napoleon also abided by this custom when he occupied Vienna with the French army in 1809, during which time he resided in Schönbrunn Palace for several months. The main reason why his parades in the palace's cour d'honneur are remembered is because Friedrich Staps used one of them as an opportunity for a—woefully unsuccessful—assassination attempt on October 12, 1809. The German commercial apprentice tried to approach the French emperor during his inspection of the troops in order to stab him with a kitchen knife that he had hidden in his greatcoat, but he was stopped by Napoleon's adjutants, arrested, and executed by a firing squad four days later.
Although Napoleon set great store by the traditional mustering of troops and performance of maneuvers, the French revolutionary soldiers actually led to a change in military training and tactics. Put simply, they were no longer mercenaries who had to be disciplined, but rather a people's army whose enthusiasm needed to be roused and exploited on the battlefield. The Home Guard parade after the "Turks Deliverance Celebration" in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace, during which they marched to in the inner city, expressed both military traditions. The troops advanced in lockstep "with ringing notes and flying colors," as had been commanded by the Prussian infantry regulations of 1743, for example. In the original sense of the saying, the "ringing notes" set the pace of the march and the "flying colors" proclaimed its route. However, the participants in the Home Guard parade were not career soldiers as in the Austrian Armed Forces, which was a professional army until 1936, but volunteers from all over the country who were marching into the capital out of inner conviction.
The parade route from the cour d'honneur of Schönbrunn Palace up the Schlossallee, Mariahilfer Strasse, and Babenbergerstrasse to the Ringstrasse represented more than just the practical opportunity to march along wide boulevards from the southwest periphery into the city center. It was also along this route, some of whose streets had different names at the time, that the Habsburg monarchs had ridden from their summer residence to the Hofburg Palace. Although the Home Guards marched along an imperial path, they did not radiate sovereign power but embodied military discipline and regional popularity (Volkstümlichkeit). This difference becomes clear when the parade in the context of the "Turks Deliverance Celebration" is compared with the emperor's advent in the imperial seat, which is said to have proceeded from Schönbrunn after the coronation of Leopold I in Frankfurt.
The then king of Bohemia and Hungary had departed Prague for Frankfurt am Main in late January 1658 with 430 men and 2,000 horses and arrived ceremoniously on March 19. Only four months later, the just eighteen-year-old Leopold was elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and finally crowned in Frankfurt cathedral on August 1. His return journey led him via Nuremberg, Munich, and Linz to Schönbrunn Palace, where Leopold is said to have spent the night on September 30. From there, the emperor entered Vienna with his entourage on October 1, was welcomed with a kiss on the hand by a political delegation on Getreidemarkt, at the end of what is now the Mariahilfer Strasse, and then rode on to Stubentor, the eastern city gate, to the thunder of cannon fire. Here the mayor symbolically handed the monarch the keys to the city and cleared the way to St. Stephen's Cathedral, a route that led down the Wollzeile under a sky of gold brocade. In the cathedral, the Christian hymn of praise Te Deum laudamus was sung, whereupon all the bells of the city pealed and once again the cannons roared. The emperor subsequently rode under three triumphal arches, which had been constructed in his honor, along the Graben, where wine poured from the fountains for the people, and along the Kohlmarkt to what is now Michaelerplatz. When he arrived at the Hofburg Palace, the cannons were fired for the third time to symbolize the end of the emperor's advent in the imperial seat.
There is a copperplate engraving of Leopold's return to Vienna on October 1, 1658, which is typical of the visual representation of royal advents in cities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Whereas such events had previously been illustrated as series of pictures, around 1600 stand-alone depictions emerged, which portrayed the procession in a meandering line against the backdrop of the city. The social rank of the participants progressively increased, in this specific case from the head of the procession at the Stubentor, with the emperor's dress coach only appearing at the lower edge of the engraving. During this ceremonious advent in the city, the monarch did not present himself as a commander in chief riding ahead of his troops, but as a representative of god on earth, whose arrival (Latin adventus) had to be prepared and announced by a long procession to make the people aware of their ruler's majesty. The emperor was the main actor in this sensory spectacle, which is why it is not an anomaly that Leopold later had his portrait painted in theatrical costume. That would have been inconceivable for Emperor Francis Joseph I in the nineteenth century, who almost always wears military uniform in official portraits.
The Austrian Homeland Protection staged a theatrical "Turks Deliverance Celebration" in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace, during which the speakers assumed the sovereign position on the garden terrace of the palace building, the central point of intersection in the star-shaped site. However, the leaders, with Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg showing the way, subsequently constituted the vanguard of the Home Guard troops and marched toward the inner city in steel helmets and with bull pizzles in hand. After roughly one and a half hours, they were the first to arrive at Schwarzenbergplatz, where they stood in a line to review the remaining parade. The Home Guard members lowered their standards as they marched past and turned their heads to face their leaders, who saluted to confirm that they had passed the examination.
Review of Home Guard troops
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