Because of its shared border with Germany and due to the fact that most of its population are German speaking, Austria’s theosophical history has been closely allied to that country. During the pre-Section years, theosophy was introduced into Austria by speakers and workers from Germany and there was a considerable following for the German General Secretary Rudolf STEINER. When the charter of the German Section was withdrawn (1912), largely because Steiner had issued an edict to the effect that members could not belong to the KRISHNAMURTI-dedicated Order of the Star in the East and remain members of the German Theosophical Society (TS), many Austrian members followed Steiner and resigned from the TS. In an effort to reconstruct the TS in Austria, Annie BESANT, then President, asked John Cordes to undertake the task and as a result of his work the Austrian Section was chartered in 1912. In August 1923, the Congress of the European Federation was held in Vienna. By 1925 there were 12 lodges and a total of 570 members.
With the occupation of the country by Nazi forces in 1938 all theosophical work came to an end apart from a few clandestine study groups, and all TS property was confiscated. It is due to this episode that the records of the early years are largely lost. In the autumn of 1945 TS work was resumed and after energetic efforts by members, much of the confiscated property was restored. Due to the division of Austria into four zones of occupation by Allied forces it was not possible to set a unified Section in place and a Federation was established in Graz.
The recovery of the branch in Vienna was to be a slow affair because one third of its members were Jews who either fled the country or died in German concentration camps. Matters were further complicated by the fact that Vienna was within the Russian zone and conditions were far from favorable. As a consequence of the condition in Vienna, TS work shifted to Graz, a town of 250,000 in south Austria.
At Graz Norbert LAUPPERT, in 1947, founded the publishing house “Adyar-Verlag” which has been responsible for the production of 31 theosophical books. In 1950 Adyar-Verlag was declared the official publishing institution for the German speaking area. Adyar-Verlag has now been relocated to Germany.
In recent years theosophical work in Austria has received stimulus due to the holding of important international events there. In 1953 the first Regional Summer school was held at Pichl for German speaking members of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia; this was repeated every year. In 1956 the European Congress was held at Baden and in 1966 the World Congress took place at Salzburg.
The following General Secretaries held office:
1912-1930 John Cordes
1930-1938 Fritz Schleifer
1945-1958 Fritz Schleifer
1958-1961 Dr. Norbert Lauppert
1961-1964 Fritz Schleifer
1964-1980 Dr. Norbert Lauppert
1980-1983 Julius Fleischanderl
1983-1986 Dr. Norbert Lauppert
1986-1995 Margarethe Lauppert
1995- Franz Durkowitsch
In 1996 Austria had three lodges:
Graz/Styria (Chartered November 17, 1921)
Vienna (Chartered September 11, 1924)
Linz/Upper Austria (Chartered September 1, 1946)
In 1996 the total membership stood at 124.
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