The Full Wiki

Bruno Kreisky: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bruno Kreisky

Bruno Kreisky

In office
21 April 1970 – 24 May 1983
Deputy Rudolf Häuser (1970–1976)
Hannes Androsch (1976–1981)
Fred Sinowatz (1981–1983)
Preceded by Josef Klaus
Succeeded by Fred Sinowatz

Born 22 January 1911(1911-01-22)[1]
Vienna, Austria
Died 29 July 1990 (aged 79)
Vienna, Austria
Political party SPÖ
Religion Agnosticism[2]

Bruno Kreisky (January 22, 1911, Margareten  – July 29, 1990) served as Chancellor of Austria from 1970 to 1983. Aged 72 at the end of his chancellorship, he was the oldest acting Chancellor after the Second World War.


Life and political career

Kreisky was born in Vienna, as the son of a Jewish clothing manufacturer. At 15 he joined the youth wing of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, and remained politically active while studying law at the University of Vienna. In 1934, when the Socialist Party was banned by the Dollfuss dictatorship, he joined underground political work. He was arrested in January 1935 and convicted of high treason, but in June 1936 he was released. In March 1938 the Austrian state was incorporated in Germany, and in September Kreisky emigrated to Sweden, where he remained until 1945. In 1942 he married Vera Fürth.

He returned to Austria in May 1946, but he was soon back in Stockholm, assigned to the Austrian legation. In 1951 he returned to Vienna, where Federal President Theodor Körner appointed him Assistant Chief of Staff and political adviser. In 1953 he was appointed Undersecretary in the Foreign Affairs Department of the Austrian Chancellery. In this position he took part in negotiating the 1955 Austrian State Treaty, which ended the four-power occupation of Austria and restored Austria's independence and neutrality.

Kreisky was elected to the Austrian parliament, the Nationalrat as a Socialist at the 1956 election. He was elected to the Party Executive along with Bruno Pittermann, Felix Slavik, and Franz Olah, and thus became a member of the central leadership body of the party. After the 1959 election, he became Foreign Minister in the coalition cabinet of Chancellor Julius Raab (ÖVP). He played a leading role in setting up the European Free Trade Association, helped solve the Bolzano-Bozen (Alto Adige/South Tyrol) issue with Italy, and proposed a "Marshall Plan" for the countries of the Third World.

Kreisky left office in 1966, when the ÖVP under Josef Klaus won an absolute majority in the Nationalrat. In February 1967 he was elected chairman of the Socialist Party. At the March 1970 elections, the Socialists won a plurality (but not a majority) of seats, and Kreisky became Chancellor. He was the first Jewish Chancellor of Austria. In October 1971 he called fresh elections and won an absolute majority. He won comfortable victories at the 1975 and 1979 elections.

Kreisky turned 70 in 1981, and by this time the voters were reacting against what they saw as his complacency and preoccupation with international issues. At the April 1983 election, the Socialists lost their absolute majority in the Nationalrat. Kreisky declined to form a minority government and resigned, nominating Fred Sinowatz, his Minister of Education, as his successor. His health was declining, and in 1984 he had an emergency kidney transplant. During his final years he occasionally made bitter remarks at his party, who had made him their honorary chairman. He died in Vienna in July 1990.

Political views and programs

Kreisky (left) with Abul Fateh in Vienna, 1962.

In office, Kreisky and his close ally, Justice Minister Christian Broda, pursued a policy of liberal reform, in a country which had a tradition of conservative Roman Catholicism. He reformed Austria's family law and its prisons, and he decriminalised abortion and homosexuality. Nevertheless he sought to bridge the gap between the Catholic Church and the Austrian Socialist movement and found a willing collaborator in the then Archbishop of Vienna, Franz Cardinal König. Kreisky promised to reduce the mandatory military service from nine to six months. After the election the military service was reduced to eight months (if it is done at once or six months plus eight weeks later on).

During Kreisky's premiership employee benefits were expanded, the workweek was cut to 40 hours, and legislation providing for equality for women was passed. Kreisky's government established language rights for the country's Slovene and Croatian minorities. Following the 1974 oil shock, Kreisky committed Austria to developing nuclear power to reduce dependence on oil, although this policy was eventually abandoned after a referendum held in 1978.

Kreisky played a prominent role in international affairs, promoting North-South dialogue and working with like-minded European leaders like Willy Brandt and Olof Palme to promote peace and development. Although the 1955 State Treaty prevented Austria joining the European Union, he supported European integration. Austria cast itself as a bridge between East and West, and Vienna was the site for some early rounds of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Kreisky opposed Zionism as a solution to the problems faced by the Jewish people. He cultivated friendly relations with Arab leaders such as Anwar Sadat and Muamar Gaddafi, and in 1980 Austria established relations with the Palestine Liberation Organisation. He tried to use his position as a European Jewish Socialist to act as a mediator between Israel and the Arabs. He had a stormy relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. He once said that he was "the only politician in Europe Golda Meir can't blackmail."

Kreisky was notable for his apologetic approach to former Nazi party members and contemporary far-right Austrian politicians. For example, Kreisky praised a far-right populist Jörg Haider calling him "a political talent worth watching".[3]

When Simon Wiesenthal reported that four members of Kreisky's 1970 cabinet had Nazi backgrounds, Kreisky didn't remove them from the government, and responded to Wiesenthal. This incident marked the beginning of a bitter conflict, which hadn't ended until Kreisky died in 1990. In 1986, Wiesenthal sued Kreisky for libel. Three years later the court found Kreisky guilty of defamation and forced him to pay a substantial fine[4].

In 1976, the Bruno Kreisky Foundation for Outstanding Achievements in the Area of Human Rights was founded to mark Kreisky's 65th birthday. Every two years, the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Prize is awarded to an international figure who has advanced the cause of human rights.

Later in his life Kreisky tried to help some Soviet dissidents. In particular, in 1983 he sent a letter to the Soviet premier Yuri Andropov demanding the release of dissident Yuri Orlov, but Andropov left Kreisky's letter unanswered.[5]

Kreisky's legacy

Today, Kreisky's premiership is the subject of controversy. Many of his former supporters see in Kreisky the last socialist of the old school and look back nostalgically at an era when the standard of living was noticeably rising, when the welfare state was in full swing and when, by means of a state-funded programme promoting equality of opportunity, working class children were encouraged to stay on at school and eventually receive higher education, all this resulting in a decade of prosperity and optimism about the future.

Conservatives criticise Kreisky's policy of deficit spending, expressed in his famous comment during the 1979 election campaign that he preferred that the state run up high debts rather than see people become unemployed. They hold Kreisky responsible for Austria's subsequent economic difficulties.

See also


  1. ^ [1], Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. ^ [2], New York Times: "Bruno Kreisky was born in Vienna on Jan. 22, 1911, to Irene Felix and Max Kreisky, a textile industrialist. The family was of Jewish descent, but the son later described himself as a religious agnostic."
  3. ^ "The Death of a Right-Wing Populist". Der Spiegel. 2008-10-13.,1518,583790,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-29.  
  4. ^ Austria's Attitude Toward Israel: Following the European Mainstream
  5. ^ Kreisky's letter along with Andropov's resolution on it

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Leopold Figl
Foreign Minister of Austria
1959 – 1966
Succeeded by
Lujo Tončić-Sorinj
Preceded by
Josef Klaus
Chancellor of Austria
1970 – 1983
Succeeded by
Fred Sinowatz
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bruno Pittermann
SPÖ Party Chairman
1967 – 1983
Succeeded by
Fred Sinowatz


Simple English

Bruno Kreisky (January 22, 1911July 29, 1990) served as Chancellor of Austria from 1970 to 1983. He is remembered in Austria as one of the people who helped shape the Austrian State Treaty. This treaty is the foundation of modern-day Austria. It was signed in 1955.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address