A courageous vanguard. The Republic is proclaimed

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On 18 May 1848 two journalists proclaimed a republic. A daring act, but without consequences.

For Austrians, 1918 is familiar as the year when the First Republic was founded. What is less well known is that some seventy years earlier, in May 1848, Leopold Häfner und Joseph Tuvora, two editors of the periodical Constitution, first proclaimed a republic in Vienna. Using the pretext that the Emperor had been abducted, they issued a call for the defence of freedom and demanded the setting up of a provisional government. The proclamation had no legal consequences. But it met with incomprehension among the common people, since they had little idea of what the term ‘republic’ meant. On the same day the two editors were involved in a brawl, and for this they received a prison sentence. This provocative act was characteristic of a time in which slogans were circulating, but with little agreement as to their meaning and implementation.

Anita Winkler