- Coat of arms of Austria
Coat of arms of Austria Versions
First Republic, 1919 - 1934
Federal State ("Corporate" State) 1934 - 1938
Details Armiger Republic of Austria Adopted 1945 Crest A mural crown Or Escutcheon Gules, a fess argent (arms of the Duchy of Austria, flag of Austria) Supporters An eagle sable gambed Or displayed Other elements The eagle bears a sickle Or in dexter talon and a hammer Or in sinister talon. The gambs also bear broken iron chains. Earlier versions As current version but without broken chains (1919 - 1934), Imperial-style double headed eagle (1934 - 1938)
The current coat of arms of Austria, albeit without the broken chains, has been in use by the Republic of Austria since 1919. Between 1934 and the German annexation in 1938 Austria used a different coat of arms, which consisted of a double-headed eagle. The establishment of the Second Republic in 1945 saw the return of the original (First Republic) arms, with broken chains added to symbolise Austria's liberation.
In translation, the blazon of the Federal Arms of the Republic of Austria reads:
Gules a fess Argent, escutcheon on the breast of an eagle displayed Sable, langued Gules, beaked Or, crowned with a mural crown of three visible merlons Or, armed Or, dexter talon holding sickle, sinister talon holding hammer, both talons shackled with chain broken Argent.
There are two different versions of the arms: One version in accordance with the Federal Constitution, in which the eagle is represented plain black, and another more artistic version in which the eagle's feathers are detailed. Both versions are used in parallel.
The symbols and emblems used in the Austrian arms are as follows:
- The Eagle: Austria's sovereignty (introduced 1919)
- The escutcheon Emblem of Austria (late Middle Ages, reintroduced 1915)
- The mural crown: The middle class (introduced 1919)
- The sickle: Agriculture (introduced 1919)
- The Hammer: Industry (introduced 1919)
- The broken chains: Liberation from National Socialist dictatorship (added 1945)
Discussions about the arms have been triggered in the past by differing political interpretations, especially by the use of the hammer and the sickle and the broken chains, since the crossed hammer and sickle are a widespread symbol of communism, as is the breaking of chains. Surveys have however confirmed, that understanding of the actual symbolism of the arms is widespread.
On the one hand the arms serve as a new republican symbol, on the other as a modified version of the historical Habsburg arms. The current version of the arms is often regarded as being reminiscent of the double-headed eagle of the Habsburg monarchy. According to this interpretation, the single headed eagle alludes, in the sense of the removal of the left hand, "Hungarian" head, to the removal of the eastern part of the Habsburg Empire. However, Addendum 202 to the 1919 Law on the State Arms and the State Seal of the Republic of German Austria states expressly that the "new" single headed Austrian eagle is based not on the double headed eagle (symbol of the Habsburgs since 1804, and previously of the Holy Roman Empire), but rather on the "symbol of the legions of the Roman Republic", the Aquila. The Austrian federal states have however retained pre-republican heraldic traditions (mostly heraldic images from the Middle Ages, but also diverse accoutrements such as archducal and ducal hats, and knights' helmets).
The tower arms
On 31 October 1918, the council of state agreed upon the colours of the republic (red-white-red) as well as the new coat of arms composed personally by chancellor Karl Renner. The coat of arms was composed quickly due to the need for having a seal at the peace talks after World War I. The coat of arms consisted of black tower representing the bourgeoisie, two crossed red hammers representing workers and a golden wreath of ears of corn representing farmers. The colours black, red and gold was deliberately chosen because they were the German national colours.
The new coat of arms was however withdrawn as it was met with heavy criticism from, for example, Adolf Loos and heraldists; the proposal was seen as too similar to commercial advertising. A decision by the council of ministers on 8 May 1919 replaced the tower arms with the eagle.
- ^ Lit.: Diem: Die Symbole Österreichs
- ^ Lit.: Diem: Die Entwicklung des österreichischen Bundeswappens, Abschnitt Das Staatswappen der Republik (Deutsch)österreich
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