Vienna Media News 03/2019 100 years of Red Vienna

The years 1919 to 1934 are chronicled in Austrian history as the era of Red Vienna. Backed by an absolute majority, the ruling social democrats ran the city (and have continually supplied Vienna’s mayor and a majority on the municipal council ever since 1945). The most groundbreaking achievements of Red Vienna – which continue to shape life in the city to this day – above even the root-and-branch social, health care and educational reforms implemented during its heyday, were the social housing construction projects initiated to combat the extreme shortages in the wake of the First World War.

In 2019 the Wien Museum will be devoting a special exhibition to the subject of Red Vienna. As the Wien Museum’s Karlsplatz branch is currently closed for refurbishment, the temporary Red Vienna. 1919 to 1934 show will be mounted at MUSA at City Hall instead. It will focus on the internationally acclaimed yet vehemently opposed reform project initiated by the Social Democratic Workers’ Party, who won an absolute majority at the Vienna City Council elections of May 1919. The goal of the reforms was to bring about a fundamental improvement to workers’ living conditions and help to democratize society to the fullest extent possible. One central area for the city’s new government was to address the acute housing shortage which had worsened in the wake of the First World War as private construction activity ground to a halt. Drawing on what was at the time a revolutionary fiscal policy of levying luxury taxes, more than 60,000 homes as well as numerous social, leisure and cultural institutions were built in the years leading up to 1934.

One particularly iconic Red Vienna construction project is the striking Karl-Marx-Hof in the nineteenth district, which was dubbed the Workers’ Versailles. This continuous social housing complex extends for more than a kilometer and contains around 1,300 apartments and various leisure facilities. The former washhouse and water reservoir at the Karl-Marx-Hof now contains a permanent exhibition on the topic. Das Rote Wien im Waschsalon takes a look at some of the stories, programs and personalities of the era. It also delves into construction activity, educational facilities, cultural attractions and festival culture.

100 years down the line, the Heldenplatz ’29. Red Vienna between Celebration and Fascism exhibition at the Karl-Marx-Hof’s Washhouse No. 2 looks at the major international socialist youth gathering that took place in Vienna in 1929, attracting some 50,000 young people from 18 nations. The opening ceremony on Heldenplatz transformed into an impressive demonstration against war and fascism. A show at the former washroom profiles Otto Felix Kanitz, the man who organized the event.

  • Red Vienna. 1919 to 1934, Apr 30, 2019-Jan 19, 2020, Wien Museum MUSA, Felderstrasse 6-8, 1010 Vienna,
  • Heldenplatz ’29. Red Vienna between Celebration and Fascism, Apr 11-Dec 22, 2019, Washhouse No. 2, Karl-Marx-Hof, Halteraugasse 7, 1190 Vienna,


Vienna Tourist Board
Helena Hartlauer
Media Relations UK, USA, Canada, Australia
Tel. (+ 43 1) 211 14-364

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