"Americans in Vienna: 1945-1955"
The Center for Austrian and German Studies (CAGS) at Ben Gurion University of the Negev and the Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies are inviting submissions for an April 27-28 2021 (online) conference, focusing on the varied presence of Americans in Vienna during the first decade after the Second World War. Papers from the conference will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Austrian-American History.
The occupation and administration of Austria after the Second World War by the armies of the Allied victors and the division of Vienna into four zones of occupation paralleled arrangements in Germany. But although we know a lot about Cold-War espionage, monetary reforms or the workings of military administration in postwar Berlin, accounts centered on Vienna seem invariably drawn to Orson Welles and The Third Man, while the approaches of older scholarship, such as the edited volume Österreich unter alliierter Besatzung 1945-1955 (Böhlau, 1998), deserve a fresh look. Arguably, Vienna not only fueled foreign imagination more than Berlin at the time, but its quadripartite division and Austria’s successful financial reforms informed the Allied practices that followed on foot in Germany.
The role that U.S. delegates, diplomats, army officers, film-makers and others played in reconstituting Austria’s state-apparatus and economy have not received sufficient scholarly attention from historians. While Vienna stood at the center of Cold-War diplomacy and espionage for over a decade, its political trajectory did not follow the example of German division. Rather, Austria was reestablished on the foundations of the First Republic and incorporated into the Western capitalist sphere. Americans in Vienna played a decisive role at key-moments as Austrians turned to U.S. representatives or the American administration for assistance. In turn, U.S. experiences in postwar Austria directly impacted its contemporaneous policies in Germany and its developing strategy vis-à-vis soviet Russia.
American and other military personnel in Vienna were responsible for administrating the civilian population in their sectors and coordinating policies across the emerging Cold-War fault lines. U.S. civil personnel were engaged in efforts of denazification and restitution, while American Jewish relief organizations provided material and organizational support to Holocaust survivors in Austria. American and Soviet spies established intelligence networks out of Vienna and ran operations to gain early advantages among the unfolding of Cold-War tensions. Indeed, for over a decade, Americans in Vienna stood at the forefront of Cold-War diplomacy, nation-building, and espionage. Submissions may relate to a wide variety of fields including cultural history, diplomatic history, Cold-War studies, comparative history, foreign relations, international organizations, economic and financial history, conflict studies, nationalism and state-making, gender or occupation studies.
The conference will consist of two sessions over Zoom. Speakers can expect a modest honorarium.
Submissions should be sent in English or German (300-500 words) to the scientific committee by 15 January 2021 at the firstname.lastname@example.org, accompanied by the CV of the author.
The authors of submissions selected will be informed by 31 January 2021.