Austria in transition: 1918 - 1921

Based on a display given by Dr John Pitts.

"L’Autriche, c’est ce qui reste" - "Austria consists of what is left over." Georges Clemenceau, 1918.

When Emperor Charles I withdrew on November 11 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was in the process of disintegration. The disruption resulted in (1) attempts by rump Austria (the new "Deutschösterreich") in Salzburg and the Tirol to unite with Germany ; (2) a foreign occupation and plebiscite in Carnthia; (3) the formation of local revolutionary committees in many localities; and (4) the assignation of the Burgenland to Austria. Attempts to become part of a new German republic were forbidden by the Allies (mainly France, who were apprehensive of a stronger Germany). Such abnormal political and economic conditions created the necessity for emergency measures and stamp issues, as well as the opportunity for unnecessary and fraudulent issues.

This appendix presents many of the significant emergency and local stamp issues produced in Austria during a particularly turbulent period of its history - the 2 or 3 years immediately after the end of the Great War. If it is accepted that the people responsible for them were at that time the local people in power, and that the stamps were actually used through the posts, then technical considerations of administrative and political procedures should not be allowed to detract from their legitimacy as a collectible for the postal historian. These emergency and local issues, although mostly printed contrary to regulations, were actually and undoubtedly used in the mails. Some were ordered by the provincial governments (Tirol and Salzburg), others owed their existence to political or private intervention. Forgeries have been identified by Friedl and Pollak, and on the basis of their expertise the items displayed are considered to be genuine unless otherwise indicated.


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©APS. Last updated 3 May 2023