Karl Seitz

Karl Seitz

Austrian politician
Date of Birth: 04.09.1869
Country: Austria

  1. Biography of Karl Seitz
  2. Political Career
  3. Mayor of Vienna
  4. Later Life

Biography of Karl Seitz

Karl Seitz was an Austrian politician who served as the first Federal President of Austria from 1919 to 1920. He was also the mayor of Vienna from 1923 to 1934 and the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Austria from 1919 to 1934. Seitz was born into a family of small coal merchants. After his father's death in 1875, his family went through difficult times, and Karl was sent to an orphanage. Despite this, he continued his education and received a scholarship that allowed him to enter a pedagogical institute in Sankt Pölten. In 1888, he started working as a school teacher in Vienna.

Karl Seitz

Political Career

Seitz was a member of the Social Democratic Party of Austria and in 1896, he founded the Social Democratic Union of Teachers. In 1897, he became a member of the School Council of Lower Austria and stopped teaching to fully devote himself to politics. Among the members of the Social Democratic Party, he was one of the prominent experts in the field of education. In 1901, Seitz was elected to the Reichsrat, the parliament of the Austrian part of Austria-Hungary, and in 1902, he was elected to the parliament of Lower Austria.

During World War I, Seitz advocated for pacifism and in 1917, he participated in the Congress of Socialists in Stockholm. With the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918, the Reichsrat was transformed into a temporary national assembly on October 21, and Seitz was appointed as one of its presidents. On October 30, Seitz was declared the temporary head of state. The Austrian Republic was proclaimed on the next day after Emperor Karl I abdicated the Austrian throne (November 12), and Seitz became the temporary president. Almost simultaneously, he became the temporary chairman of the Social Democratic Party after the death of Victor Adler (November 11).

In 1919, Seitz officially became the president of Austria and the chairman of the Social Democratic Party, leaving his post as the chairman of the national assembly. From May 1919 to October 1920, he served as the head of the Constituent Assembly and also led the National Council (the lower chamber of parliament). On October 1, 1920, the Austrian Constitution was adopted, and Seitz served as the interim president in October and November. On December 9, he stepped down as president, refusing to participate in the presidential elections. While continuing his political career, Seitz held positions as the chairman of the party and the lower chamber of parliament.

Mayor of Vienna

On November 13, 1923, Seitz was elected as the mayor of Vienna. In this position, he successfully tackled various challenges, particularly in the areas of education and housing construction, which earned him widespread popularity.

Later Life

The establishment of Austrofascist dictatorship and the events of 1934 led to the ban of the Social Democratic Party. Seitz, who lost his positions as mayor and party chairman, was arrested but released without charges after a few weeks. Although most residents of Vienna considered his removal from power as unlawful, Seitz's political career came to an end. He remained in Vienna and in July 1944, he was arrested and spent some time in concentration camps in Ravensbrück and Plauen. Seitz was liberated in March 1945 and returned to Vienna after the fall of Nazi Germany in May 1945. He became an honorary president of the revived Social Democratic Party and a member of the National Council.