Austria's National Day: A Look Back and an Appeal for the Future

More+Events ♦ Published: October 26, 2023; 23:56 ♦ (Vindobona)

On October 26, Austria celebrates its National Day, a date deeply rooted in the country's history and at the same time an opportunity to look to the future. The day marks the anniversary of the proclamation of perpetual neutrality in 1955, a pivotal moment in Austria's postwar history. But what does this day mean to the people of Austria and how does it connect to the challenges of the present?

The Austrian Armed Forces presented themselves in a parade in downtown Vienna to honor the national day. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Dragan Tatic

On October 26, 1955, the Austrian National Council voted unanimously to declare perpetual neutrality. This step was a prerequisite for the withdrawal of the last Allied troops and thus marked the end of the occupation period after World War II. Austria regained its full sovereignty and at the same time pledged not to be in any military alliances and not to allow foreign military bases on its territory.

Significance today: review and appeal

68 years later, we face new challenges and uncertainties. National Day is thus not only an occasion for celebration but also for pause and reflection. In his daily command speech for National Day 2023, the Federal President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, spoke about the numerous crises currently shaking the world and Europe: climate emergency, pandemic, the war in Ukraine, terrorism, and the accompanying political and social tensions.

The Federal President emphasized the need for resilience and cooperation across all levels of government and departments to meet these challenges. He praised the Armed Forces for their indispensable contribution to the country's security but also cautioned that it would take years to rebuild the armed forces after decades of neglect.

In his televised National Day address, Van der Bellen stressed the importance of cohesion, compassion, and appreciation within Austrian society. He called for a decisive stand against hatred and anti-Semitism and stressed the responsibility of each individual to remain informed and critical to meet the challenges of the times.

A day of reflection and confidence

The Austrian National Day is thus more than just a review of historical events. It is an appeal to society to stand together, be resilient, and actively participate in shaping a peaceful and solidary future. In times of global uncertainty and crises, it is all the more important to preserve and carry forward this spirit of community and shared commitment.

Presidential Chancellery of Austria