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Volkswehr, Deutschösterreichische, a people's guard and volunteer army established after the end of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy on November 5, 1918 by the provisional state government, organised by J. Deutsch and mainly comprising supporters of the Social Democrats, who held key positions in the elected "Soldatenräte" (soldiers' councils). Many had a radical approach, especially the communist-oriented "Rote Garde". The Deutschösterreichische Volkswehr introduced a new idea, that of raising soldiers to the rank of officers (Volkswehr-Leutnant), who were then incorporated into the army of the 1. Republic. The provisional Law on the Austrian Armed Forces (February 6, 1919) provided for compulsory military service of all male citizens between the age of 19 and 42 and the call-up of max. 24.000 men; the planned transition to a militia system failed due to resistance by the soldiers' councils. The Deutschösterreichische Volkswehr was organised in battalions comprising three companies each, were set up in every political district and commanded by Landesbefehlshabern (Provincial Commanders-in-Chief). In each province an artillery battalion was set up, while other units like cavalry, flying corps and special battalions were never properly established. Some districts had just one company, others had more than one. The number of members of the Deutschösterreichische Volkswehr varied (December 1, 1918: 46,000 men, July 1, 1919: 27,600 men). The Carinthian Volkswehr took part in the Carinthian Resistance Movement from November 7, 1919 to June 6, 1920. The Deutschösterreichische Volkswehr was abolished under the provisions of the Treaty of Saint-Germain, which allowed Austria only a professional army of 30,000 men, and which were met by the Law on the Austrian Armed Forces (March 18, 1920). The Deutschösterreichische Volkswehr is characteristic of the transition from the army of the Austrian monarchy to the Federal Armed Forces (Bundesheer).
Literature: L. Jedlicka, Ein Heer im Schatten der Parteien, 1955; W. Etschmann, Theorie, Praxis und Probleme der Demobilisierung 1918-21, doctoral thesis, Vienna 1979; E. Weinzierl and K. Skalnik (eds.), Österreich 1918-1938, vol. 1, 1983.
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