Communist Party of Austria

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Communist Party of Austria

 

(Kommunistiche Partei Österreichs; CPA), founded Nov. 3, 1918, at a constituent conference in Vienna in an atmosphere of revolutionary enthusiasm in the country that gained force under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution. It joined the Comintern in 1919.

During its first years the CPA was small, and its leadership made ultraleft errors, refusing, for example, to participate in the first parliamentary elections, which were held in 1920. This decision was revoked only after V. I. Lenin pointed out its incorrectness in his “Letter to the Austrian Communists” (August 1920). The party was seriously weakened by factional struggle, which it overcame only toward the end of the 1920’s. J. Koplenig, who was elected general secretary of the party in 1924, played a large role in rallying Austria’s Communists. The CPA expanded its work to mobilize the Austrian proletariat for the struggle against reactionary forces. Communists participated in the revolutionary demonstration of the workers of Vienna on July 15, 1927. The Tenth Congress of the CPA (February 1929) put forth as the party’s most important task the intensification of the struggle against the threat of fascism. The party was able to expand its influence among the mass of workers. The Communists led a number of strikes (of construction workers, miners, and others) and organized many demonstrations by the unemployed.

In May 1933 the CPA was banned by the reactionary government of E. Dollfuss; it continued its struggle underground. With the members of the Schutzbund (a militarized Social Democratic organization) and nonparty workers, the Communists took up arms against reaction and fascism in February 1934 and fought government troops, the gendarmes, and the police in Vienna, Linz, Steyr, Graz, and other cities for several days. After the defeat of the February demonstration, thousands of workers broke with the Social Democratic Party, whose leaders had pursued a policy of capitulation, and joined the CPA.

The Twelfth Congress of the CPA (September 1934) demonstrated the increased solidarity of broad strata of the Austrian proletariat under the slogan of a united front. At the same time, it disclosed the growing threat to Austria’s independence presented by fascist Germany. The CPA vigorously opposed the annexation of Austria by fascist Germany in March 1938 (the Anschluss) and called upon the Austrian people to struggle for the restoration of the country’s independence. The party’s theoretically substantiated conclusion that the Austrian people had become an independent nation in a lengthy process of development was of great significance for the struggle. The CPA suffered heavy losses during the illegal antifascist struggle: more than 4,000 Communists were imprisoned and sent to concentration camps and more than 2,000 of them perished, including 13 members of the party’s Central Committee.

After the crushing defeat of fascist Germany and the liberation of Austria (April 1945), in which the Soviet Union played a crucial role, the CPA was active in overcoming the difficulties of the period of reconstruction. Representatives of the party were part of the Austrian government from 1945 to 1947. The CPA opposed the policies of the USA and other Western powers aimed at drawing Austria into aggressive blocs, and it initiated many postwar demonstrations by Austrian working people, including a very large strike in October 1950, in which more than 400,000 people participated. The party vigorously supported the State Treaty (signed in May 1955) and the implementation of a policy of strict neutrality by Austria. In February 1958 a conference of the CPA adopted the platform document “Austria’s Path to Socialism” (ratified by the Eighteenth Congress of the CPA in 1961), which analyzed, based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism, the prospects for building socialism in Austria.

The Nineteenth Congress of the CPA (May 1965) set forth the main goals on the path to socialism in Austria: renewing democracy and expanding the rights of the workers, winning for industrial and office workers the right to participate in the management of enterprises and of the economy, and carrying out an active policy of attracting allies to the CPA with the goal of expanding the broad movement of the masses for the struggle against the power of capital. The present rules of the party were adopted in 1969.

Delegations of the CPA have taken part in the International Conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties (1957, 1960, and 1969 in Moscow). The CPA approved the documents of these conferences.

A right-opportunist group (E. Fischer, F. Marek, and others) arose within the CPA in the mid-1960’s. It particularly stepped up its activity during the events of 1968 in Czechoslovakia and fell into antiparty, anti-Soviet positions. The Twenty-first Congress of the CPA (May 1970) promoted the organizational and ideological consolidation of the party, condemning the activity of rightist elements, which were removed from the directing bodies of the CPA or expelled from the party.

The Twenty-second Congress of the CPA adopted the Political and Ideological Principles of the CPA, which state that the foundation of a socialist system in Austria will be built in accord with general principles—the establishment of the state power of the working class (that is, the dictatorship of the proletariat) in one or another form, the guiding role of the Marxist-Leninist party, the socialization of the basic means of production, and planned economic development. The document also stresses the possibilty of bringing Austria to socialism through a transitional stage of antimonopoly democracy, with elimination of the dominance of monopoly capital and the establishment of democratic state power.

The party launched a struggle in defense of the economic and social demands of the working people, for the expansion of democracy, and against reaction and neo-Nazism. It is demanding the preservation and expansion of the nationalized sector of industry. It favors the strengthening of European security and Austria’s strict adherence to a policy of strict neutrality; it opposes the agreements that Austria signed with the European Economic Community in 1971, as well as any further involvement of the country in the Common Market.

The CPA has representatives in local governmental bodies, industrial councils, the leadership of trade unions, and other mass organizations of the working people.

The party is built on the principle of democratic centralism. Its supreme body is the congress. Between congresses, the party’s work is directed by the Central Committee of the CPA, which elects the Politburo. The chairman of the CPA is F. Muhri. The party’s central organ is the daily newspaper Volksstimme; its theoretical organ is the monthly journal Weg und Ziel. (See Table 1 for congresses and conferences of the CPA.)

Table 1. Congresses and major conferences of the Communist Party of Austria
 PlaceDate
Constituent Conference ...............ViennaNov. 3, 1918
First Congress ...............ViennaFeb. 9, 1919
Second ...............ViennaJuly 6–7, 1919
Third (All-Austrian Conference) ...............ViennaDec. 7–8, 1919
Fourth ...............ViennaJan. 23–25, 1921
Fifth ...............ViennaMar. 25–27, 1922
Sixth ...............ViennaMar. 10–12, 1923
Seventh ...............ViennaMar. 8–10, 1924
All-Austrian Conference ...............ViennaNov. 15–16, 1924
Eighth ...............ViennaSept. 12–14, 1925
Ninth ...............ViennaJune 18–20, 1927
Tenth ...............ViennaFeb. 16–18, 1929
Eleventh ...............ViennaJune 27–29, 1931
Twelfth ...............PragueSeptember 1934
All-Austrian Conference ...............PragueAugust 1937
Thirteenth ...............ViennaApr. 19–22, 1946
Fourteenth ...............ViennaOct. 29-Nov. 2, 1948
Fifteenth ...............ViennaNov. 1–4, 1951
Sixteenth ...............ViennaMay 13–16, 1954
Seventeenth ...............ViennaMar. 28–31, 1958
Conference ...............ViennaFeb. 19–20, 1958
Eighteenth ...............ViennaApr. 1–3,1961
Nineteenth ...............ViennaMay 27–30, 1965
Twentieth ...............ViennaJan. 3–6, 1969
Twenty-first ...............ViennaMay 28–30, 1970
All-Austrian Conference ...............ViennaFeb. 27, 1971
Twenty-second Congress ...............ViennaJan. 18–20, 1974

SOURCES AND REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Pis’mo k avstriiskim kommunistam.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41.
Dimitrov, G. M. Pis’mo avstriiskim rabochim. Moscow, 1934.
XVIIs”ezd i konferentsiia 1958 goda Kommunistricheskoi partii Avstrii. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from German.)
XVIII s”ezd Kommunisticheskoi partii Avstrii. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from German.)
Kommunisty v bor’be za nezavisimost’ Avstrii. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from German.)
Koplenig, J. Izbrannye proizvedeniia (1924–1962). Moscow, 1963. (Translated from German.)
Fiirnberg, F. Vliianie Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii na Avstriiu. Moscow, 1967. (Translated from German.)
Der 21. Parteitag der Kommunistischen Partei Österreichs. Vienna, 1970.

D. N. MOCHALIN [12–1571–1; updated]

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