January 4, 1956

THEODOR KOERNER: Vienna, 4 – This afternoon Austrian President Theodor Koerner died of heart failure at the age of 84… The late president was born on April 24, 1873 in Hungary. He later entered the military, reaching the rank of captain at the age of 26. During the First World War he was a professor at the Vienna Military Academy and distinguished himself as chief of staff for Archduke Eugen. After the war ended in 1918, Koerner decided to join the Socialist movement. When the Marxist leader Julius Deutsch became minister for the military, he assigned Koerner the job of reorganizing the Austrian army «on a democratic basis.» In August 1923 the Socialists were ousted from the government and Koerner, now a general, was pensioned off. He was then elected to parliament and devoted himself to the organization of the Schutzbund, an armed Socialist civil guard set up to resist an attempted coup by the Right. Koerner, arrested after a workers’ uprising in 1934, was imprisoned for a year and then withdrew from active politics. After the Anschluss in 1938, he refused to cooperate with the Germans and was imprisoned. After the war he was elected mayor of Vienna, and then president in 1951.

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