This research project aims to gauge the geographical and temporal breadth of historical refugee crises in Austria. People seeking asylum in Austria not only reached the country from the east, such as those fleeing communism, but also from the south, for example during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s; some also came from western Europe, such as those fleeing the upheavals of the French Revolution. The time frame is a wide one and embraces the last three hundred years, beginning with the refugees from the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century up to the arrival of refugees from Bosnia some 25 years ago. Hence the research project includes the contemporary Republic of Austria as well as the Habsburg Monarchy. These two states are not directly analogous, and refugee crises before 1918 did not always 'physically' impact on the territories of today’s Austria. Nevertheless, those cases too were met by the policy and approach forged at the center, in Vienna.  

Despite all the changes over time, it is possible to sketch three continuities:

  1. an ethical impetus to support refugees either individually or through aid organisations based on the problem of socio-economic disruption concomitant with escape from war or persecution; 2) the significance of the state with regard to the political and legal framework that initially creates the prerequisites allowing refugees a legal and economic new start; 3) changeable public opinion in confronting the topic, demonstrating corresponding behavioural patterns.  

More information is available at: Refugees in Austria from a Historical Perspective

Publication: Kuzmany, Börries / Garstenauer, Rita (Hg.): Aufnahmeland Österreich. Über den Umgang mit Massenflucht seit dem 18. Jahrhundert (Wien, Mandelbaum 2017).