Austrian Schools


Figure 1.--These Austrian schoolboys at St. Pöta were photographed in 1897. The younger boys wear kneepants and knicker suits. Some wear blue sailor suits.

Germany was a leader in public education. Austria introduced the first compulsory school attendance law and many other German states followed the Austrian example. Germany and Austria by the 19th century had the premier education ststem in the world. Not all children in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, however, had access to these schools. Austrian boys like German boys did not wear school uniforms, except fpr a small number of boys who went to military schools. The boys simply wore their ordinary clothes. Younger boys at the turn of the century often wore the popular sailor suit. Older boys wore various styles of suits, usually without the Eton collars that were so popular in England. Sailor suits became less popular in the 1930s, especially after the Anschlus in 1937. Interestingly after the Anschlus, school children were one of the few groups that did not wear uniforms. Although boys and girls often wore their Hitler Youth uniforms to school. Boys also common wore lederhosen, although these durable leather shorts declined in popularity in the 1960s as jeans became increasingly popular.

Chronology

We have very little informarion at this time on early Austrian schools. Obly by the late-9th century with the advent of photography hdo we have much information. Most of our early information comes after the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Prussia defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) this ended the Hapsburgs' attempt to unify Germany. Rather the Hapsburg lands were recreated as a dual monarchy with extensive possessions to the east and south of Germany. The Empire was governed by a German and Hungarian ruling class. Other nationalities has lesser rights. The Empire had to deal with increasing demands from subject nationalities for autonomy or even independence. The issue of nationalities became the most difficult for the Empire. Sailor suits were still commonly worn to school by younger bous, but began to decline in popularity during the 1930s. Short pants generally replaced kneepants and knickers, although some older boys wore knickers. We do not yet have a separate page for Austria during the Third Reich. Austria was annexed to the Reich by the Anchluss in 1938. We do gave extensive information on NAZI schools and schoolwear during the Third Reich. Austrian schools were mostly single gender schools through the 1960s. There were coeducational classes in the country. Academic classes were usually held in the morning, the general classess like literature, grammar, mathematics, and others. There were activities in the afternoon. The activities were very often the same for girls and boys, except some specific ones. The afternoons were for sport, music, and others. We do not yet have any information on Austrian school uniforms in the late-20th century.

Austrian Empire

Austria came to dominate the Holy Roman Empire. Austria iyself was relatively small, but the Hapsburgs acquired non-German principalities, including Bohemia, Hungary, the Lowlands, and others. While Austria was not at first an empire, its dominnce wuthin the Holu Roman Empire resulted in the Archuke of Austria being routinely elected Holy Roman Emperor. The Protestant Revolution checke the Hapsburgs and Prussia began to emerge as a rival within the Holy Roman Empire. The secession fell upon Maria Theresa in the 18th century. She inherited the Austrian throne, but only me could be elected Holu Roman emperor so beginning wiyh Maria Theresa the Austriian archduke or in her case duchess began styling themselves emperor. Maria Theresa was a progressive ruler and instituted many reforms. The first compulsory school attendance law was introduced in Austria by Maria Theresa (1774). Other German states followed the Austrian example and Austria became a leader in pub;ic education. The same approach was not followed througout the Empire, especially in the areas controlled ny Hungarian nobels. We have little information on the clothes worn in early Austrian schools. HBC has no information on what Austrian school boys were wearing in the early and mid-19th century. Austrian boys wore the common early 19tyh century styles of skeleton suits and tunics, but I do not know to what extent the styles were worn to school. I'm not sure just when began wearing lederhosen to school, other than as rural dress, probably the mid-19th century. About this time the sailor suit was imported and became quite popular. At the time the Austrian-Hungarian Empire had a small navy which it deployed in the Mediteranean.

Austrian-Hungarian Empire (1866-1918)

Prussia defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) this ended the Hapsburgs' attempt to unify Germany. Rather the Hapsburg lands were recreated as a dual monarchy with extensive possessions to the east and south of Germany. The Empire was governed by a German and Hungarian ruling class. Other nationalities has lesser rights. The Empire had to deal with increasing demands from subject nationalities for autonomy or even independence. The issue of nationalities became the most difficult for the Empire. And one of those issues was the language of instruction in the schools. People tended to want their children taught in their own native languages. Kneepants became ibncreasingly common in the late 19th century. Sailor suits continued to be popular and were commonly worn to school by younger boys.

Independent Republic (1919-38)

Sailor suits were still commonly worn to school by younger bous, but began to decline in popularity during the 1930s. Short pants generally replaced kneepants and knickers, although some older boys wore knickers.

NAZI and war era (1938-45)

We do not yet have a separate page for Austria during the Third Reich. Austria was annexed to the Reich by the Anchluss in 1938. We do gave extensive information on NAZI schools and schoolwear during the Third Reich. The NAZIs gave particularly attention to education and control of the German educational system. They were well awarethat it would be difficult to convert many adults and only aminority of Germand had ever voted for the NAZIs in democratic elections. The childrn were a different matter. They were thus determined to mold the new generation to accept NAZI pinciples. As the leader of the NAZI Teacher's League, Hans Schemm, put it: "Those who have the youth on their side control the future." As a result, after the NAZIs seized power in 1933, they quickly began applying totalitarian principles to all aspects of the German education system.

Post-war era (1945-69)

Austrian schools were mostly single gender schools through the 1960s. There were coeducational classes in the country. Academic classes were usually held in the morning, the general classess like literature, grammar, mathematics, and others. There were activities in the afternoon. The activities were very often the same for girls and boys, except some specific ones. The afternoons were for sport, music, and others. One reader reports, "We all were afraid of the Soviet presence around the frontiers. My hatred toward the Communists was born during this period." Most boys wore shorts until long pants began to replace them in the 1960s. Lederhosen were commonly worn to school through the 1950s.

Late 20th century (1970-99)

We do not yet have any information on Austrian school uniforms in the late-20th century.


Figure 2.--Here is another Austrian image--schoolboys (about 12 or 13) entering their school in Vienna in 1938. All the boys wear short pants, mostly with suit-style jackets, some belted in back. Most of the boys wear ankle socks but a few wear knee socks. They seem mostly to have low cut shoes. I think they are younger gymnasium students. Note the hand-carried satchels. It's hard to tell about specific garments, but some of these boys appear to be wearing lederhosen. The boy at right appears to be wearing ledehosen. He also looks to be wearing ankle socks with kneesocks and boots.

Levels

We have no information at this time on the organization and grade levels in Austro-Hungarian Empire schools. The Empire fell in 1918 as a consequence of World War I. Since the Anchluss in 1938 just vefore World War I, the school system in Germany and Austria has been practicly the same. There were a lot of changes in the 1960s. There are Kindergardens, but they are not compulsory. They are two levels of primary school in Austria. Primary school is called the Volksschule. The basic level is called Grundschule. Sevondary schools include the Gymnasium and Berufsschule.

Styles

As Austrian boys did not wear uniforms to school, schoolwear was in fact a reflection of ordinary school wear. German and Austrian schoolwear seem quite similar in the 19th century. Austrian clothes may have been more stylish as the Austrians were more affected by French clothes style. Anti-French feeling in Germany, which was only unified in 1870, probably caused many to reject identifiably French styles. The photograph here shows many of the styles worn in the late 1930s. All the boys wear short pants, mostly with suit-style jackets, some belted in back. Most of the boys wear ankle socks but a few wear knee socks. They seem mostly to have low cut shoes. Since we see the boys from the back in this photo, it is hard to tell what kind of shirts they are wearing and whether they have ties on or not. Judging from the little bit of white that shows at the collar, it would seem that they wear mostly white shirts. Most of the boys are hatless but one wears what looks like a black or dark grey flat cap. This is obviously a boys-only school, possibly a gymnasium. Many of the gymnasiums were segregated by gender. The boys seem to be very middle class.After the Anchlus in 1938, significan differences between Austrian and German styles disappeared and this continued to the present day. American blue jeans and T shirts began to appear in the 1950 and by the 1960s had become very popular. American-style casual clothes appealed to the more casual post-War outlook. Austrian boys today, dress almost the same as American boys, jeans, T shirts, baseball caps, and baggy shorts.

Garments

The garments worn by Austrian boys were quite similar to those worn in Germany. Eton colars and kilts never caught on, but the sailor suit was very popular and commonly worn through the 1930s. Knee pants became increasingly popular in the 1890s and after World War I (1914-18) when the Austrian-Hungarian Empire was broken up, short pants became increasingly common. Most boys commonly wore shorts until the 1960s when long pants, especially jeans, became more common. One popular local garment was lederhosen. I have few details about llederhosen specifically, but the style was commonly worn in southern German (Bavaria), Austrai, and Switzerland. Boys would wear them to school with a jacket or sweater. They were worn for both dressing up, and because of their durability, for play. They continued to be commonly worn through the 1950s, but declined in popularity during the 1960s.

Hair Styles

Most Austrian schoolboys at the turn of the century wear short hair, but a few have nearly shaved heads. This was apparently even more common in Germany and Russia. It generally disappeared in austria during the 1930s.

Individual Schools

We have begun to collect information on individual Austrian schools. These individual school photographs provide interesting glinses of Austrian school life over time. This has not only involved chronological cariations, but major changes in the political regimes in Austria. We have relatively little information on Austrian schools at ghis time, but hope to gradually expand this section. We note several different types of schools. The Catholic Church played a major role in Austrian education until after World War II when the schools became more secular..

Individual Experiences

We are just beginning to collect personal expeiences at Austria schools from HBC readers.

French boy: A French reader tells us that he went to school for a time in Austria during the early 1950s.

Knabenhort

We note some kind of school group called a Knabenhort. In Austria and Germany today a Hort is some kind of after-school care club. In Austria-Hungary before World War I it may have some kind of school pr perhaps a youth organization. We note two boys in sailor suit uniforms about 1910. We at first thought these were identical sailor suits that brothers might wear. The cap tally, however, reads, "???inger Knabenhort". There is also some sort of emblem on theie sailor caps. This suggests to us that the sailor suits here were some kind of uniform for a school or youth group. We thought at first these were just standard sailor suits. But they seem to be uniforms. Hopefully our Austrian or German readers will know more about Knabenhorten.






HBC-SU





Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Austrian pages:
[Return to the Main school uniform page]
[Austrian boys clothes] [Austrian choirs] [Lederhosen] [Austrian choirs]
[Austrian royalty] [Austrian military schools] [Austrian families]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing school uniform pages:
[Return to the Main national school uniform page]
[Australia] [Austria] [Belgium] [England] [France] [Germany] [Ireland] [Italy] [Japan] [Korea]
[Mexico] [New Zealand] [Scotland] [United States]



Created: November 30, 1999
Last updated: 5:24 PM 12/7/2011