Denazification: After the military capitulation of the German Reich in 1945, Austria was faced with the problem of how to treat former National Socialists (National Socialism). On May 8, 1945 the provisional government passed a law which made the NSDAP and all its organisations illegal (Prohibition Act). All persons who had been members of the NSDAP or of one of its defence forces (SS corps, SA Storm Troopers, NSKK National Socialist Motor Corps, NSFK National Socialist Aviator Corps etc.) between July 1, 1933 and April 27, 1945 had to register with the authorities and were excluded from voting in the elections to the Nationalrat in 1945. In 1946 the Nationalrat passed the National Socialists Act, which classified the 524,000 registered National Socialists into various groups: war criminals, incriminated and less incriminated (facilitators or "fellow-travellers"). Volksgerichte (People´s Courts) passed 43 prison and death sentences for leading NS officials. The 480,000 less incriminated (1947) had to pay "atonement fines"; 170,000 persons were dismissed from the civil service and from private enterprises, although for many this was only a temporary measure. The Austrian People´s Party (ÖVP) and the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) soon tried to persuade the Allied occupying powers (Occupation of Austria 1945-1955) to ease provisions for the so-called "fellow-travellers". They argued that the less-incriminated had often turned to National Socialism because they had feared for their life or because they had been deluded by the Nazis. Furthermore, they criticised the removal of experts who were necessary for Austria´s economic recovery; the inevitable political re-integration of former National Socialists was another point of disagreement. In 1948 the Nationalrat finally passed a law of amnesty for the less-incriminated, who were thus allowed to participate in the 1949 elections to the Nationalrat. At the same time the candidature of the Verband der Unabhängigen (VdU - "Independents´ Association") was legalised. This party vehemently opposed the laws enacted against the National Socialists and became a forum for nationalist elements. Many of those incriminated were pardoned by the Federal President in the following years; in 1957 a general amnesty was granted.
Literature: D. Stiefel, Entnazifizierung in Österreich, 1981.