(Defense League), a paramilitary organization of the Social Democratic Party of Austria in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Schutzbund was founded in 1923 in response to the demand of the popular masses for defense against reactionary armed organizations. The Social Democratic leaders pursued a policy of capitulation with respect to the reactionaries; they restrained the actions of the Schutzbund and barred Communists from membership in it.
In February 1934, Schutzbund members in Linz, followed by their comrades in Vienna and many other Austrian cities, took up arms against the reactionaries and fascists (seeFEBRUARY ARMED DEMONSTRATION OF 1934). Communists and unaffiliated workers fought alongside the members of the Schutzbund. Through the fault of the Social Democratic leaders, however, the demonstrators lacked leadership, and they were not supported by the main forces of the working class. The uprising was brutally suppressed after several days of bitter fighting.
After the events of 1934, many members of the Schutzbund left the Social Democratic Party and joined the Communist Party of Austria.