Austria. A federal republic in Central Europe and the former nucleus of the Austrian Empire. Austria is composed of nine federated states (Länder); it has an area of 83,879 sq km and a population of 8,935,112 (2020). Some 5,000 to 6,000 Ukrainians live in Austria. The country’s capital is Vienna.
Relations between Ukraine and Austria were sporadic until 1772, but trade relations between the Kyivan Rus’ and cities on the middle Danube River are known to have existed since the 10th century. The chronicles refer to contacts between the Galician prince Yaroslav Osmomysl and the Austrian margrave Heinrich II Jasomirgott. When the male heirs to the Austrian Babenberg dynasty died out, Prince Danylo Romanovych attempted to place his own son, Roman Danylovych, on the throne of the Austrian duchy by marrying him to the heiress to Austria, Gertrude of Babenberg (1252). In the 16th century Ukrainian Cossacks became involved with Austria when the Habsburgs attempted to enlist their support against the Turks. In 1594 Erich Lassota von Steblau, an emissary from Emperor Rudolph I, conducted talks with the Zaporozhian Cossacks concerning their participation in the war with Turkey and left an interesting diary of his trip to Ukraine. During the Thirty Years’ War many Cossacks served in mercenary units of the emperor’s army. Austria’s foreign policy during the time of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky included mediating between Ukraine and Poland, especially during the Swedish-Polish war. In 1657 Archbishop P. Parchevich, ambassador of the Austrian emperor Ferdinand III, conducted negotiations in Chyhyryn with Khmelnytsky concerning a truce with Poland, offering Austria’s assistance as a mediator. Ukrainian Cossacks formed part of the Polish Commonwealth army during the defense of Vienna against the Turks in 1683. The Austrian emperor Leopold I made Hetman Ivan Mazepa a prince of the Holy Roman Empire. Hetman Pylyp Orlyk spent a period of time in Austria as an émigré. The Cossack Hetman state in the 18th century engaged in lively trade relations with countries of the Austrian Empire, exporting cattle and agricultural products (primarily to Schleswig) and importing scythes (from Styria). Cultural ties, stimulated by the presence of Ukrainian students in Austrian universities, developed between Austria and Ukraine in the 18th century. The presence of Ukrainians, some of whom occupied high diplomatic posts (ambassador Andrii Rozumovsky; embassy spokesman Hryhorii I. Poletyka), in the Russian embassy in Vienna contributed to better understanding between the two countries.
With the annexation of Galicia in 1772 and Bukovyna in 1774 by the Austrian Empire, relations between Ukraine and Austria became more involved. (Transcarpathia was affected by Austria to a much lesser extent and then only until 1867.) Under Austria Western Ukraine experienced a political and cultural revival, which stimulated the rapid development of a national consciousness and which later, during Russia’s oppression of central and eastern Ukraine, enabled Galicia to assume the role of spokesman for all Ukraine. Ties with Austria fostered the spread of German cultural influences among Ukrainians. The Ukrainian question was an internal problem for Austria and assumed international implications only in periods of conflict between Austria and Russia (see Russophiles). Austria exhibited greater interest in the Ukrainian problem only during the First World War when in 1914 the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine came into being under the patronage of Austria and Germany. The union supported the Central Powers in their war effort against Russia during the First World War. In 1918 Austria-Hungary entered into relations with the newly formed Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) and, on 9 February 1919, signed the Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Austrian armies occupied part of Ukraine. Austria-Hungary and the UNR established diplomatic relations and exchanged ambassadors (Austria’s Count János Forgách in Kyiv; Ukraine’s Andrii Yakovliv, and subsequently Viacheslav Lypynsky, in Vienna). The newly created Western Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR) had a diplomatic mission in Austria (under Mykola Vasylko, later Volodymyr Singalevych), and from 1919 until March 1923 the ZUNR government-in-exile was based in Vienna.
Ukrainians in Austria proper. With a few exceptions, Ukrainians began to come to Austria proper only after the incorporation of Galicia and Bukovyna into the Austrian Empire. They came as soldiers of the Austrian army; theology students of the Barbareum and of other institutions of higher learning (in 1868 the Sich student society of Vienna was organized); members of the Austrian parliament; political leaders; civil servants; and finally as workers and domestics. Before the First World War, in addition to the military, about 3,000 Ukrainians lived in Austria, most of them in Vienna. Ukrainian student groups were formed in Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck (mostly theology students), and Leoben (the home of the Mining Academy). Ukrainian organizations were concentrated primarily in Vienna, where a Greek Catholic parish had existed since 1784 at Saint Barbara's Church.
The number of Ukrainians in Austria increased considerably with the influx of refugees from Galicia and Bukovyna during the First World War: in 1914–15 in Vienna alone there were about 15,000 Ukrainians, thousands were interned, under the pretext of Russophilism, in the camp in Thalerhof near Graz, and many were held in refugee camps in Gmünd, Wolfsberg (7,200 in 1915), Grödig (4,000 to 5,000). In Freistadt (upper Austria) there was a camp for Ukrainian prisoners of war from the Russian army. Both in Vienna and in the camps there were Ukrainian schools and large-scale cultural and charitable activities. In 1914–15 Vienna was the center of Ukrainian political activity.
After the retreat of the Russian armies from Galicia and Bukovyna in 1915, the majority of the Ukrainians in Austria returned home. During the breakup of the Austrian Empire (1918), the Ukrainian colony in Austria decreased further. Late 1919, however, saw an increase with the arrival in Vienna of the government-in-exile of the Western Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR) headed by President Yevhen Petrushevych. From 1920 to 1923 Vienna, along with Prague, was the principal center of Ukrainian political émigrés. After the incorporation of Galicia into Poland and the dissolution of the ZUNR government, the Ukrainian Galician émigrés for the most part returned to their native land. Only some 3,000 remained (primarily former army personnel, pensioners, workers, and a small group of students, residing mostly in Vienna).
After the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany (1938), only those Ukrainian organizations approved by the authorities were allowed to exist: the Ukrainian National Alliance (UNO), the Ukrainian Hromadas, and branches of the Ukrainian Institution of Trust in the German Reich. In 1939–40 many Ukrainian refugees from territories occupied by the USSR came to Austria, together with a number of students (to Vienna, Graz, and Innsbruck). Later on Ukrainians were brought forcibly to Austria as laborers by the Germans (see Ostarbeiter). With the defeat of the German armies on the eastern front in 1944, Austria was deluged by a new wave of some 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, 10,000 in Vienna alone. Upon their occupation of Vienna and a part of Austria, the Soviet authorities deported a great number of Ukrainians and suppressed Ukrainian organizations and institutions in Vienna. Some Ukrainians living on Austrian territory occupied by the Western Allies were also repatriated to the USSR. By 1946 about 30,000 Ukrainians remained in the Western zones of Austria.
The new Ukrainian emigration in Austria, as in Germany, was now concentrated mainly in the displaced persons camps under the administration of the United Nations welfare organizations UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) and later IRO (International Refugee Organization). Fifteen percent of the entire new Ukrainian emigration settled in Austria. The major concentrations of Ukrainians arose in Salzburg (the American zone); Innsbruck, Landeck, Kufstein in the Tirol, and Bregenz in Vorarlberg (the French zone); and Villach, Spittal in Carinthia, Judenburg in Styria, and Lienz in the Tirol (the British zone). Salzburg and Innsbruck became the main centers of Ukrainian life. The Ukrainian Central Relief Alliance in Austria was active in Innsbruck and then, from 1951, in Salzburg, and Ukrainian elementary schools and secondary schools were established. From 1946 to 1949 Ukrainian cultural and organizational life in the camps thrived, with the establishment of schools, publishing houses, newspapers, and theaters (the Theater-Studio of Y. Hirniak and O. Dobrovolska was organized by Yosyp Hirniak and Olimpiia Dobrovolska in Landeck and the theater of Hanna Sovacheva in Salzburg). Almost 500 Ukrainian students attended higher educational institutions in Austria, particularly the universities of Innsbruck and Graz.
As Ukrainians emigrated to other European countries and, from 1948, to overseas countries the number of Ukrainians in Austria decreased from about 12,000 in 1948 to 4,000 in 1950. The majority of those who stayed behind in the camps were the aged and the unemployable. Salzburg continued to be the center of Ukrainian life. The religious needs of the remaining Ukrainians (about 60 percent Ukrainian Catholic, 40 percent Orthodox) were met by five Ukrainian Catholic priests under the vicar-general Rev M. Hornykevych and by Rev B. Vyshyvany of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church.
After the departure of the Soviet Army from eastern Austria in 1955, Vienna again became the center of Ukrainian life. The central representative body for Ukrainians in Austria was the Union of Ukrainians in Austria, later renamed the Union of Austrians of Ukrainian Descent, under the leadership of Volodymyr Zalozetsky-Sas (until 1965) and then Yu. Kostiuk. In 1967 all Ukrainian organizations joined to form the Coordinating Council of Ukrainian Organizations of Austria. At present there are about 5,000 to 6,000 Ukrainians in Austria; 1,000 of them are in Vienna, and smaller groups exist in Salzburg, Kufstein, Innsbruck, Graz, Klagenfurt, and Villach. Almost 90 percent have become Austrian citizens. The Ukrainian Catholic parishes in Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck are under the jurisdiction of the Austrian Roman Catholic church. The Orthodox Ukrainians are organized in the Ukrainian Orthodox Brotherhood.
Lassota, E. von Steblau. Tagebuch (Halle 1866)
Korduba, M. ‘Proba avstriis'koho poserednytstva mizh Khmel'nyts'kym i Pol'shcheiu,’ ZNTSh, 84 (1908)
Kuzelia, Z. ‘Istoriia videns'koï Sichy,’ Sich – Al'manakh 1868–1908 (Lviv 1908)
Levyts'kyi, V. Iak zhyvet'sia ukraïns'komu narodovi v Avstriï (Vienna 1915)
Lozynskyj, M. Die Schaffung einer ukrainischen Provinz in Österreich (Berlin 1915)
Hnatiuk, V. Natsional'ne vidrodzhennia avstro-uhors'kykh ukraïntsiv (1772–1880) (Vienna 1916)
Pam’iatkova knyzhka Soiuza Vyzvolennia Ukraïny i kalendar (Vienna 1917)
Kupchanko, H. Nasha rodyna (New York 1924)
Baran, S. Vesna narodiv v Avstro-Uhors'kii Ukraïni (Munich 1948)
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Narodnoho Soiuzu 1894–1954 (Jersey City 1954)
Al'manakh Ukraïns'koho katolyts'koho bratstva im. sv. vm. Varvary (Vienna 1971)
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]