Karl Renner: Wikis


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Karl Renner

In office
20 December 1945 – 31 December 1950
Preceded by Wilhelm Miklas (1938)
Austria annexed by the Third Reich between 1938 and 1945 (Adolf Hitler as Chancellor and Head of State of Greater Germany).
Succeeded by Theodor Körner

In office
27 April 1945 – 20 December 1945
Preceded by Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Succeeded by Leopold Figl
In office
30 October 1918 – 7 July 1920
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Michael Mayr

Born 14 December 1870(1870-12-14)
Untertannowitz, Moravia
Died 31 December 1950 (aged 80)
Nationality Austrian
Political party Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ)
Spouse(s) Luise Renner
Monument to Karl Renner next to the Austrian Parliament, Ringstraße, Vienna, Austria

Karl Renner (14 December 1870 – 31 December 1950) was an Austrian politician. He was born in Untertannowitz (Dolní Dunajovice) (Moravia) and died in Vienna. He is called the Father of the Republic because he headed the first government in republican Austria in 1918 and was once again decisive in establishing the present Second Republic in 1945, becoming its first President.


Early life

Renner was born the 18th child of a small farmer but, because of his intelligence, was allowed to attend a selective gymnasium. One of his teachers was Wilhelm Jerusalem. From 1890 to 1896 he studied law at the University of Vienna. In 1895 he was one of the founding members of the Naturfreunde (Friends of Nature) organisation and created their logo. Being interested in politics he became a librarian in parliament. During these early years he already opened up new perspectives in anlysis both of national conflict and of private law - all the while disowning his innovative ideas under a variety of pseudonyms lest he lose his coveted post as parliamentary librarian.[1]

Political career



When in 1918, after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he became the first head of government ("State Chancellor") of that newly established small German speaking republic which did not wish to be considered the heir of the Habsburg monarchy. He thus suggested the novel name "Norische Republik", or Noric Republic, for an altogether new state, a reference to the ancient Celtic "regnum Noricum", a kingdom that covered almost the same area as the new state and was later incorporated as a province in the Roman Empire. His suggestion was passed over in favour of "Republik Deutsch-Österreich," i.e. Republic of German-Austria, a name that in the Treaty of Saint-Germain of 1919 was prohibited by The Entente when they crushed the resolution of the Constituent National Assembly in Vienna that "German-Austria" was to be part of the German Republic. Even before the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy Renner had proposed a future union of the German parts of Austria with, even using the word "Anschluss",[2]

Renner was always interested in politics and in 1896 he joined the Social Democratic Party of Austria(SPÖ), representing the party in the Reichsrat from 1907 till its dissolution in November 1918. He was in the forefront of the Provisional and the Constitutional National Assemblies of those "Lands Represented in the Reichsrat" (the formal description of the Austrian half of the Dual Monarchy) that predominantly spoke German and had decided to form a nation state just like all the other nationalities had done. He was the leader of the delegation that represented this new German-Austria in the negotiations of St. Germain where the "Republic of Austria" was acknowledged but was declared to be the responsible successor to Imperial Austria. There Renner had to accept that this new Austria was prohibited any political association with Germany and he had to accept the loss of the German speaking South Tyrol and the German-speaking parts of Bohemia and Moravia where he himself was born; this forced him to give up his share in the parental farm if he, "the peasant proprietor who turned Marxist",[3] wanted to remain an Austrian government officer.

Renner was Chancellor of Austria of the first three coalition cabinets and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1918 until 1920, and from 1931 to 1933 he was President of Parliament, the National Council of Austria. In the time of authoritarian Austrofascism from 1934, when his party was prohibited, he even welcomed the Anschluss. Having originally been a proponent of new German-Austria becoming a part of the democratic German Republic, he expected Nazism to be but a passing phenomenon not worse than the dictatorship of Dollfuß and Schuschniggs's authoritarian one-party system which Austria was suffering. During World War II, however, he distanced himself from politics completely.


In April 1945, just before the collapse of the Third Reich, the defeat of Germany and the end of the war, Renner set up a Provisional Government in Vienna with other politicians from the three revived parties SPÖ (social-democrat), ÖVP (conservative, successor to the Christian Social Party) and KPÖ (communist). On April 27, by a declaration, this Provisional Government separated Austria from Germany and campaigned for the country to be acknowledged as an independent republic. As a result of Renner's actions Austria was to benefit greatly in the eyes of the Allies as she had fulfilled the stipulation of the Moscow Declaration of 1943, where the Foreign Secretaries of US, UK and USSR declared that the annexation (Anschluss) of Austria by Germany was null and void calling for the establishment of a free Austria after the victory over Nazi Germany provided that Austria could demonstrate that she had undertaken suitable actions of her own in that direction. Thus Austria, having been invaded by Germany, was treated as an unwilling party and "the first victim" of Nazi Germany. Being suspicious of the fact that the Russians in Vienna were the first to accept Renner's Cabinet, the Western Allies hesitated half a year with their recognition, but his Provisional Government was in the end recognised by all Four Powers on Oct. 20[4] and Renner was thus the first post-war Chancellor. In late 1945, he was elected the first President of the Second Republic.

Karl Renner died in 1950 and was buried in the Presidential Tomb at Zentralfriedhof in Vienna.

Political beliefs

For most of his life, Renner alternated between the political commitment of a Social Democrat and the analytical distance of an academic scholar. Central to Renner's academic work is the problem of the relationship between law and social transformations. With his Rechtsinstitute des Privatrechts und ihre soziale Funktion. Ein Beitrag zur Kritik des bürgerlichen Rechts (1904), he became one of the founders of the discipline of the sociology of law. His and Otto Bauer's ideas about the legal protection of cultural minorities were taken up by the Jewish Bund, but fiercely denounced by Lenin. Stalin devoted a whole chapter to criticising Cultural National Autonomy in Marxism and the National Question.[5]


  • Under the penname 'Synopticus': Staat und Nation (Vienna 1899).
    English: State and Nation In: Ephraim Nimni (ed.), National Cultural Autonomy and Its Contemporary Critics, London: Routledge, 2005 pp. 64 – 82 ISBN 0-415-24964-5
  • Under the penname Rudolf Springer:Der Kampf der Nation um den Staat (1902)
  • Grundlagen und Entwicklungsziele der österr.-ungar. Monarchie, die Krise des Dualismus, (1904)
  • Under his real name: Österreichs Erneuerung (3 vols., 1916/17)
  • Marxismus, Krieg und Internationale (1918)
  • Die Wirtschaft als Gesamtprozess und die Sozialisierung (1924)
  • Staatswirtschaft, Weltwirtschaft und Sozialismus (1929)
  • Die Rechtsinstitute des Privatrechts und ihre soziale Funktion (1929)
    English: The Institutions of Private Law and their Social Function, Transl. by A Schwarzschild, with an introduction by Otto Kahn-Freund, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1949, reprinted 1976, reprinted in International Library of Sociology 1996
  • Wege der Verwirklichung (1929)
  • An der Wende zweier Zeiten. Lebenserinnerungen (memoirs), 2 vols. Vienna: Braumüller 1946
  • Wandlungen der modernen Gesellschaft‎: Hundert Jahre Karl Marx: Erbe und Auftrag (1947) and Arbeit und Kapital (1950) (= Nachgelassene Werke i.e. unpublished works) Vol. 3, Vienna: 1953, reprint European Sociology 1975
  • Porträt einer Evolution Nachgelassene Werke vol. 2, edited by Adolf Schärf , Vienna: Verlag der Wiener Volksbuchhandlung 1953


  • Heinz Fischer, Hugo Pepper(ed.), Karl Renner. Porträt einer Evolution Lauchringen: Baulino 1984 ISBN 3-203-50166-6,
  • William M. Johnston, Karl Renner: The Austro-Marxist as Conciliator. In: The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History, 1848–1938 Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983 ISBN 0-520-04955-1 pp. 105–109
  • Ephraim Nimni (ed.), National cultural autonomy and its contemporary critics. Routledge Innovations in Political Theory,(16 essays) London: Routledge, 2005 ISBN 0-415-24964-5
  • Stephane Pierre-Caps, "Karl Renner et l'Etat Multinationale: Contribution Juridique á la Solution d'Imbroglios Politiques Contemporains", Droit et Societé 27 (1994), 421-441.
  • Ernst Panzenböck, Ein Deutscher Traum: die Anschlussidee und Anschlusspolitik bei Karl Renner und Otto Bauer. Materialien zur Arbeiterbewegung, PhD thesis, Vienna: Europaverlag, 1985 ISBN 3-203-50897-4
  • Pat Shannon: Review of The Institutions of Private Law and their Social Function In: Journal of Sociology Vol. 13, No. 3 (1977) p. 264 PDF
  • Jamie Bulloch, Karl Renner: Austria London: Haus Publishing, 2009 ISBN 9781905791897

See also


  1. ^ William M. Johnston, Karl Renner: The Austro-Marxist as Conciliator. In: The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History, 1848–1938 Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983 ISBN 0-520-04955-1 p. 108
  2. ^ Ernst Panzenböck, Ein Deutscher Traum: die Anschlussidee und Anschlusspolitik bei Karl Renner und Otto Bauer. Materialien zur Arbeiterbewegung, PhD thesis, Vienna: Europaverlag, 1985 p. 93
  3. ^ William M. Johnston, Karl Renner, p.108
  4. ^ Rolf Steininger, Austria, Germany, and the Cold War: from the Anschluss to the State Treaty 1938–1955 New York: Berghahn Books 2008 ISBN 1-845-45326-3 p. 52
  5. ^ Bill Bowring, Burial and Resurrection: Karl Renner's controversial influence on the nationality question in Russia. In: Ephraim Nimni (ed.), National-Cultural Autonomy and its Contemporary Critics, London: Routledge 2005, pp. 162 - 176

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Heinrich Lammasch
as Minister-President of Austria
Chancellor of Austria
1918 – 1920
Succeeded by
Michael Mayr
Title last held by
Arthur Seyß-Inquart
Chancellor of Austria
Succeeded by
Leopold Figl
Title last held by
Wilhelm Miklas
President of Austria
1945 – 1950
Succeeded by
Theodor Körner

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

"KARL RENNER (1870-), Austrian politician, was born on Dec. 14 1870, the son of a peasant, at Unter-Tannowitz, Moravia. He studied law at the university of Vienna, occupying himself especially with questions of administration, and early attached himself to the Social Democratic party. He became an official in the library of the Reichsrat, and under the pseudonyms of " Synopticus " and " Rudolf Springer " showed a fertile literary activity, especially in connexion with the problems of the Austrian State, whose existence he justified on geographical, economic and political grounds. On the nationality question he upheld the so-called " personal autonomy," on the basis of which the super-national state should develop, and thereby influenced the programme and tactics of the Social Democratic party in dealing with it. As a theorist he was reckoned as one of the leaders of Neo-Marxism. He had been a deputy since 1907 and after the revolution of Oct. 1918 he became state chancellor of the republic of Austria, headed the Austrian peace delegation at St. Germain, and took over, after Otto Bauer's retirement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which he conducted from the time of the retirement of the Coalition Cabinet in the summer of 1920 until the new elections in Oct. 1920. His principal works are: Grundlagen and Entwicklungsziele der oesterreichischen-ungarischen Monarchic (1906); Der Kampf der oesterreichischen Nationen um den Staat; Marxismus, Krieg and Internationale.

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