Salzburg during the World Wars
During the First World War Austria lost 6.000 of its 49.000 soldiers - a very big loss for such a small country. At that time Salzburg had a population of 20.000. Georg Trakl who was born in Salzburg, became one of the leading expressionist poets in the German-speaking regions. He had a traumatic childhood, took refuge in alcohol and drugs and ended his teenage life when he became a voluntary paramedic in a hospital in Krakow.
The population was starving again. Towards the end of the war there were rebellions and lootings in the city of Salzburg.
With the founding of the new Republic Salzburg was now part of the state German Austria. Only very few were convinced that this remnants of a monarchy, which had once been so gigantic, would be capable of surviving. In an unofficial referendum in 1921 not even 1% of those entitled to vote voted against an accession with Germany.
Still the people of Salzburg did not lose the courage and continued some projects. The Salzburg festivals, which were mentioned in an earlier chapter, are a symbol for a new upswing. The Christian social governor Dr. Franz Rehrl had given his best efforts to guarantee the positive development of the festivals. The festivals are the foundation for the mass tourism in Salzburg today.
Further the construction of the Hochalpenstraße, the Gaisbergstraße and the Alpenstraße began. The planning of the Tauernkraftwerke and the Fuscher Bärenwerk sent out a sign of modernity.
Despite the political turmoil and the introduction of the “Ständestaat” Salzburg performed quite well. Especially the tourism took a special position in and around Salzburg.
From 1938 the National Socialism influenced the city development negatively. The National Socialists tried to shape Salzburg according to their own values and ideas; e.g. they wanted to create a “Gauforum” in the Kapuzinerberg. The Staatsbrücke was re-erected and the Castle Klessheim, which served as reception building for international state guests, was furnished with a new driveway. The proximity to Obersalzburg was reason enough why many NS members took estates and houses. That way they could own an object befitting their social status. Salzburg was ought to develop to a “Mustergau”. The rest of the story is known.
In 1944/45 there were 16 bombings against Salzburg. One bullet even hit the dome of the Cathedral. This part of history ended on the 4th
of May in 1945 when Salzburg was without fighting handed over to the US Army.