The Treaty Of St. Germain

The Treaty of St. Germain, strictly the Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye, was signed with Austria after World War One had ended. The treaty was signed on September 10th 1919.


Austria had allied with Germany during World War One. At the start of the war the country was commonly referred to as Austro-Hungary in reference to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, by September 1919, the empire had collapsed and Austria as an individual entity had come into existence and the Allies signed a separate treaty with Hungary – the Treaty of Trianon.


The Treaty of St. Germain formally dissolved the Austro-Hungarian Empire though this was a ‘done deal’ by the time the treaty was signed.


The Treaty of St. Germain recognised the independence of Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.


In the case of Czechoslovakia, three million German-speaking Sudetens were included within the new Czech borders despite the fact that most German-speaking Austrians had been included within the borders of Austria itself. In later years Hitler referred to the Sudeten people as “those poor tortured people” until they were finally absorbed into Germany in 1938 after the Munich Agreement had been signed. However, in the lead up to St. Germain such niceties were overlooked and the Allied representatives were in no mood to be generous to any of the Central Powers – Austria included. In the Balkan region of the former empire, Slovenes, Croats and Serbs lived within a new nation – the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes later to be called Yugoslavia.


Land was also taken from Austria and handed to Italy who had joined the side of the Allies in 1915. Trentino, South Tyrol, Trieste and Istria were all handed over to Italy along with some of the Dalmatian islands.


The only land Austria received was from Hungary when Burgenland was removed from Hungarian control and put under the control of the Austrians.


Together with these land penalties, Austria was forbidden from uniting either politically or economically with Germany unless the League of Nations agreed to this.


The victorious Allies also refused to allow Austria to use its first choice name for the new republic – German Austria. The link with Germany was not accepted by the Allies and the new state had to adopt just ‘Austria’.


The Treaty of Versailles had imposed major military clauses on Germany. Austria faced a similar treatment but not on the same scale. The Austrian army was limited to just 30,000 men. While his figure may appear low, it has to be remembered that many members of the Austrian Army that had fought in World War One were from areas of the former empire that now had their own independence and armies. The figure of 30,000 was deemed about right to allow Austria to defend itself – especially as Communism had taken a hold in Russia and many in Europe feared its spread to the west of Europe. Therefore the policy makers at St. Germain did not want to leave Austria totally helpless from a military point of view – but they did not want to see any possibility of a resurrection of military might that had played a part in World War One. 


Austria, as with the other defeated Central Powers, was also required to pay for war damages – reparations.


“The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Austria accepts the responsibility of Austria and her Allies for causing the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Austria-Hungary and her Allies.”


The figure for reparations was not set at St. Germain. However, St. Germain did require that Austria had to start payments in May 1921 and that the payments would last for 30 years. In fact, no monetary payments were ever made despite the treaty. However, specific payments in animals were set out with due clarity and Austria was expected to start immediate payment with regards to farm animals.


“As an immediate advance on account of the animals referred to in paragraph 2 above, Austria undertakes to deliver in equal monthly instalments in the three months following the coming into force of the present Treaty the following quantities of live stock:


To the Italian Government


4,000 milch cows of from 3 to 5 years;

1,000 heifers;

50 bulls from 18 months to 3 years;

1,000 calves;

1,000 working bullocks;

2,000 sows.


To the Serb-Croat-Slovene Government


1,000 milch cows of from 3 to 5 years;

300 heifers;

25 bulls from 18 months to 3 years

1,000 calves;

500 working bullocks:

1,000 draught horses;

1,000 sheep.


To the Roumanian Government


1,000 milch cows of from 3 to 5 years;

500 heifers;

25 bulls from 18 months to 3 years;

1,000 calves;

500 working bullocks;

1,000 draught horses;

1,000 sheep.


The animals delivered shall be of average health and condition.”


As in Germany, the Ottoman Empire and Hungary, there was great anger in Austria over the terms of St. Germain. At the start of World War One, Austro-Hungary had been an empire of 30 million people and covered 116,000 square miles. By the signing of the Treaty of St. Germain, Austria was a land-locked nation with a population of 6 million and covered just 32,400 square miles.

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